Online fellowship

Brian Norris, the newly elected president of the Latitude 38 Rotary eClub, says service clubs are changing with the times to appeal to a new gereration and busy lives.

Brian Norris, the newly elected president of the Latitude 38 Rotary eClub, says service clubs are changing with the times to appeal to a new gereration and busy lives.

FOR anyone who likes the fellowship and humanity of a service club, but hasn’t the time to commit to the conventions of meetings and dinners, there is another way.

The Rotary e-Club is the service club that embraces the time-poor and the next generation, providing the same altruistic opportunities to give back to the community, but in a tech-savvy way that doesn’t require the level of formality of the traditional clubs.

So when long time members of the Sale Central Rotary Club, Brian Norris and Kerrie Schmidt, found work and family commitments no longer allowed them to fully participate in the club’s activities, the move to an eClub was a no brainer.

Kerrie founded the Latitude 38 eClub — an online club of District 9820 — about 10 years ago and it wasn’t long before husband Brian, a former Rotary district governor and past president of the Sale Central club, joined.

Brian, who was installed as president last month during at the club’s changeover meeting, attended by District 9820 governor Janne Speirs, said the online platform suited him and his wife well, allowing them to continue to lead busy work lives, and still be involved in humanitarian work in a more time-friendly way.

Brian said eClubs were also a way to appeal younger people to service clubs, which have been struggling to retain and grow numbers in the past 15 years or so. The online clubs still bring together a network of like-minded people with a focus on benevolence, and have the added benefit of appealing to people who are adept at digital technology, or would like to be.

In essence, he said, Rotary clubs and the eClubs did the same things, and had the same goals and purpose of servicing the community.

Service still underpins membership. The difference is that members meet online, with all their operations supported by web technologies and electronic communications.

“At the moment the project we are all working on is an official development assistance project in Cambodia, and we had a trip there a few years ago,” he said.

Apart from educational and welfare projects in Cambodia, the club supports Rotary’s polio eradication program, and is actively involved in community service projects in Australia.

While the majority of Sale eClub’s members are from Gippsland, Brian said membership was not restricted to locals. The eClub has members from all over the world, including Cambodia, Vietnam, as well as Bendigo, the Mornington Peninsula, Canberra, New South Wales and north Queensland.

“We have an e-meeting once a month, and that works for people who can’t commit to weekly meetings,” Brian said.

“Many of us go to big things like district changeovers and district conferences, so we do get to meet most members.”

And for those who still get the urge to physically participate, there’s still the opportunity to get involved in a hands-on way.

“We do work closely with the local Rotary club as well, and are rostered on to Monday Tucker, so we get also the chance to be out in the community,” Brian said.

Some of the goals the Latitude 38 eClub is working on this year include:

• Increase membership;

• Increase interaction by establishing

a monthly fellowship meeting;

• Promote Cambodian projects;

• Establish two other projects — at least one in Australia;

• Establish a twinning arrangement with another eClub;

• Have a good attendance at the district conference;

• Contribute $2000 to the foundation through member personal gifts, and

• Contribute $500 to PolioPlus.

For information on membership email Brian at

More information is on the club’s website.

Gippsland Senior
More coming soon!!!