Posted on Jul 15, 2019
President Keith thanks Charlotte Recreation chairman Bill Fraser-Harris

Charlotte Shelburne Hinesburg Rotary


Trinity Room 

Our guest and speaker for today’s meeting was Bill Fraser-Harris, the Recreation Commissioner for the Town of Charlotte. His topic was “volunteerism,” near and dear to the hearts of all Rotarians. 

Bill moved to the United States in 1980 after growing up in the UK. 

He’s been the Charlotte recreation commissioner for 17 years, as well as the Mozart Festival volunteer director, all while owning a small landscaping business.

Bill has been dedicated to volunteerism in Charlotte and around the world for most of his life.

Bill noted this is his first ever public appearance (lucky us!!), and as he started his presentation he noted that putting the word “volunteerism" on the wall felt redundant in front of the Rotary. Before coming to speak to us, Bill checked us out online and was humbled by the work of our club and Rotary in general. 

Bill said he doesn’t  know why he volunteers but it feels good. He started volunteering when he was 16 years old, signing up for leadership roles in school and this has continued throughout his entire life.

His work in restaurants followed suit.  Serving food is a service industry and restaurant owners tend to be integral parts of the community where they work. 

The aspect of volunteerism that Bill loves the most is how it levels the playing field- there are  no societal barriers when people come together to serve.

He notes that Charlotte is an interesting community (a few knowing chuckles rippled through the group…) in that the town lacks a central focus. There are several active groups, such as the Congregational Church, the Senior Center and the like, who are serving their memberships well. When Bill moved to Charlotte, his goal was to create some continuity. Unfortunately, when he tried to organizer town wide events there was very little interest, as folks are already in their structure, in their cliques, and it was challenging to pull together a group to create a community building event.

Bill didn’t give up- he put together individual events like Mozart concerts at the town beach, bike and swim events, and the annual town beach party.

The Recreation Commission did a survey and found that people wanted a new playground but didn’t want group activities, so they raised $42,000 and a new playground will be built in July of 2019.

There are some successes in Bill’s community building mission- social media outlets like Facebook  and Front Porch Forum make building community much easier with their broader reach. As an example, Bill shared that put a post in FPF with a link to the beach party on Saturday and within 20 minutes over 650 people had viewed the FB link. 

Another Charlotte Recreation Commission project is the Whiskey Bay natural area, but he was a bit hush hush about this and didn’t want to give the coordinates in order to keep the Thompson Point folks happy. Hmmm, okay…

The Charlotte Recreation Commission also hosts an annual Soccer Jamboree which is coordinated by the town’s full time recreation director, and maintains the very popular ice skating rink at the school.

Bill shared pictures of the new Charlotte Beach attendant hut, which was built by the Rotary members.

In closing, Bill said he doesn’t know why he volunteers, but it’s clear from his talk that he volunteers because he has a passion for doing good work in his community. His kind heart and jovial spirit are an inspiration to us all. Let’s hope he joins us!!


John Hammer shared with us why he joined Rotary.

John was on the Selectboard or Conservation Commission (he can’t remember which) when he was called by Jeff Small and asked to speak at the Rotary meeting to talk about the Morgan Horse Farm.

Back then, he found that Rotary meetings offered a great opportunity for networking and for socializing. Rotary offers vibrant and energetic start to the morning, and he’s here because he loves to connect with the people of Rotary. 

The motto of Rotary, “Service above Self” has always driven him, but part of his commitment to service is that he can’t say no. John quipped that if he got paid for all his volunteering he’d be a rich person, which of course (while perhaps not rich in dollars he is certainly rich in community, friendships and good will). 

John noted that part of the reason doing things for others is so addicting is that it generates endorphins, and that the bedrock of humanity is doing things for other people.

There’s also a deeper sense of Spirituality (and while John didn’t dive too deeply into this, the concept is certainly worth exploring and this notetaker hopes he will return to this in detail at some later date), and the idea that if you do something good for people it makes you feel even better. Ultimately service is kind of selfish, because you get back more than you give. 

Rotary enlivens and energizes him- the sociability is really great, and as one gets older it becomes more important.  He’s a Rotarian because of you all.

John has been able to travel around go to the other rotary meetings. “It’s golden” he says- to travel all over the world and pop in to Istanbul or some other place and go to the Rotary meeting and immediately become a part of the community and taken in as a friend. The common bond of Rotary transcends culture and locale, breaks down societal barriers and offers all Rotarians an opportunity to experience the world as a compadre, so to speak. John invited John Dupee to please share his Rotary experience with the club next week.


Club business:

Changing of the Guard was an awesome event- thanks to Bob Sanders and crew.

Richard Fox did a great job organizing the District festivities.

Susan Grimes volunteered at the race on Saturday- it was great fun. The next race on Aug 10 at Shelburne Sugarworks.

Ric reported on membership- Sally Wadhams, Dennis Delaney, Heather Lynch,  Marcett Ockert, Mike Abrams have all left the Rotary.

Russ Blodgett is a (new) member, so congratulations to Keith for the first member to join during his role as president. 

Ric challenged all members to bring someone to a meeting. Our club goal is one new member every month

And if you haven’t yet, pay your dues! $230 due now!


Bob Sanders reported that there is no more Sign Up Genius, so we’ll be going back to the 

old fashioned sign up sheet with 2-3 person teams taking responsibility for setup and take down.

Susan and Nancy will take on devotional

Carrie will continue note taking.

We’ve added a greeter position to the list of duties who will take on greeting guests and speakers when they arrive in the morning.


Bob shared news on the golf ball drop. Members sell tickets that correspond to a numbered golf ball, and on August 17 (Shelburne Day) they are dropped them from a fire engine ladder. The Club needs to sell 1000 tickets to make it a 50/50 raffle so every member is expected to sell 20 tickets for $10 each.

We will be selling tickets at the Shelburne farmer’s market on Saturdays from 9-1. For those interested,  arrive at 8:30 to set up the tent. There are 6 Saturdays between now and the August 17 so sell those tickets.


Put October 11 on your calendar! Car raffle is that night! We have two balls left but Ric is on it.

Todd reports that Farmer’s Market is going well.

Erik is the new chair of PR committee. He will drive social media and communication for the entire club.

Next week’s speaker is Linda Gilbert to talk about Hands to Honduras

7/24 Susan Grimes classification talk

7/31 club meeting

8/7 Kristen DeStitger chair of radiology at UVM


Board meetings are third Thursday of the month, 7:30 am


Next week breakfast will start at 7:30 and meeting will start at 8am.


Notable Happy fines: 

France was happy to be with her brother for his last breath. 

Bill Fraser-Harris gave in memory of Ian DeGroot. 

Richard Fox reminded the Club that July 27 is Night at the Ballpark. Portion of tickets sold at Centennial Field come back to the district.

John Dupee and his wife are celebrating their 54th wedding anniversary.  

Not to be outdone, Terry Kennaugh and his wife are celebrating their 58th anniversary.

Keith Walsh, in his first meeting as president pointed out that Rotary is the trust and friendship and fellowship of the group.

He ended the meeting with a dope, a quote and a hope:

Dope: What do computers do when they get a hole in their shoe? Reboot it. (bahahaha)

Quote: Better soil your hands than your character

Hope: The spiritual journey is one of constant transformation. To grow, you must give up the struggle to remain the same, and learn to embrace change at all times.


See you all next week!