Posted by Nick Aroutzidis on Jul 22, 2017
July 27, 2017: John Paradis “Changing role of Fire Department”.   Gord Sherwin will introduce our speaker.

Head Table:  Our President Linda Bathe, invites, Gord Sherwin, Reg White, Gezahgn Wordofa, Gary Wreford,  John Wright, Jim Young and Katelyn Aitcheson, to join her at the head table.
This Week:  Our speaker this week was Dr. Michael Stephenson, founder of the Sanctuary Relief Health Centre in Kitchener.  Mike is a family doctor who saw the need for specialized health services for refugees.   The initial patient list has grown from six to over 2,000, with hundreds more on the waiting list.  The Centre’s staff now includes family doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, a gynecologist, a dietician and social workers. 
Mike noted that he has yet to meet a refugee who planned to come to Canada.  All refugees are forced to leave their homes, their loved ones, their belongings, etc. to flee violence, persecution and other trauma.  Many have been victims of imprisonment and torture.
The mission of the Sanctuary Relief Health Centre is to help refugees to solve their health problems to enable them to start a new life in Canada.  Mike related an anecdote about a patient who had arrived in Canada with serious PTSD because of torture.  It was gratifying to assist in the recovery that enabled the man to open his own business less than a year after his arrival. 
Here are the reasons why the Centre was founded and is growing:
  • Refugees frequently arrive with unusual problems, such as parasites.  The Centre has developed expertise in researching the identity and treatment of exotic parasites.
  • Many arrive with pill bottles that are not labelled.  The Centre has to ascertain what these medications are.
  • Many patients require specialized treatment for the trauma caused by imprisonment, torture, witnessing the death of family members through violence, etc.
  • Refugees may have diseases which are unusual in Canada.  Tuberculosis is common amongst refugees.  The Centre has also seen examples of cerebral palsy caused by a lack of qualified health care at the time of birth. 
  • Access to health care services for refugees is complicated, since it is a mixture of federal and provincial funding.  Most community health care providers find it challenging to understand the system.
  • Language is often a barrier.  The Centre needs interpreters to assist patients in over 20 languages. 
  • It is unfortunate that the increased influx of refugees has occurred during a time of provincial financial restraint.  There is no government funding for ancillary services, such as transportation to and from the Centre, payment for interpreters, outreach services, etc.
Mike identified the strengths of the Centre.  They include:
  1. Community volunteerism
  2. Access to under recognized resources, e.g. foreign-trained professionals
  3. Technology
  4. Access to the resources of three post-secondary educational institutions
  5. Free electronic health records
  6. Interpreters on site
  7. The Centre is an early adaptor of everything
  8. Partner organizations
  9. Becoming a hub of services, i.e. one stop shopping for refugees
  10. Community support and donations.
In response to questions from Rotarians, Mike advised that:
  • No one knows how many refugees there are in our area, because of the number of different government programs.
  • The Centre does not restrict access to any patient because of geography.  In fact, the Centre is trying to offer their services remotely.
  • The wait time for referrals depends on the circumstances.  In an emergency, services can be provided in less than 24 hours. 
It was enlightening and moving to learn of the challenges faced by refugees and the services that Mike and his colleagues are providing. 
Colleen Brown introduced Dr. Stephenson and Dan Kane thanked him on behalf of the club. 
Scribe:  Steve Lichty
  • Hub was announced as a new Platinum Sponsor of the Dragon boat Festival.  Hub will be entering a team as well and has challenged our Rotary club to do the same.  Are we up to the challenge?  The Dragon boat Festival Committee is looking for a volunteer to serve as the Social Media lead.
  • Katherine Hahn announced that she and her son, Evan, will be travelling to India as members of the 2018 Polio Team.  Thank you, Katherine and Evan. 
  • The International Committee has received a letter of thanks for our donation to the clinic in El Salvador.  We are now looking for a new international project.
  • Arlene Pol introduced our New Generations Exchange student, Rodrigo Mohr.  Rodrigo will be with us until mid-October.  He loves music and theatre.   If you will be attending any musical or theatrical events, please consider inviting Rodrigo as your guest.
  • President Linda gave an update on the recent board meeting.  The board is looking for someone to serve as the Public Relations Chair to develop strategy and oversee public relations.  The board is investigating the different types of membership that are now permitted by Rotary International and reviewing the potential of the Cooper site.  The Catch the Ace Committee is continuing to work on our new fundraiser.  Rotarians were reminded to advise President Linda if we would like our donations to the Stratford Perth Hospice to count towards the pledge from Rotary.  Your permission is needed before we can share your contact information with the Hospice.

We have a Platinum Sponsor!

The members of the Dragon Boat Sponsorship Committee are thrilled to announce that this year's Dragon Boat Festival's $3,500 EventPlatinum Sponsor is The HUB. The HUB, located at 27 Market Place on the Square in Downtown Stratford, is an industrial funky space where you’ll find live music, a full and diverse menu plus one of the largest beer selections in the City.


We have been Challenged!

In the spirit of our Dragon Boat Festival, The HUB is putting together a dragon boat team. They have challenged The Rotary Club of Stratford to also place a team in this year's event. Since it our event we should be in it! We are looking for members that want to take up that challenge. Contact Robert Ritz at if you are interested in joining our team to meet The HUB's challenge.


Seeking Social Media Rep

The Dragon Boat Sponsorship Committee is seeking a member to be our Social Media representative who will be responsible forpromoting our sponsors on Twitter over the next year. This is a key position on our Committee and a great way to be engaged inRotary. Contact Robert Ritz at  for more details if you are interested.

Draw: Today prize was donated by Brent Shackleton and Gerry Thuss was the winner.
Guests: Today we welcomed; Joe and Betty Huhn (Beth, Maine), Graham Bleaney, John Woollatt, Jared James, Colleen Devine, Joy LeCount (Wawaka), JoNel and Amelia Kurtz (Wawaka), Rodrigo Mohr (Mexico) NGE., Sandy Sanderson, Jeff Lursten (FCRC), John Devlin, and Marg O’Reilly.
Make-ups: No report
July’s Attendance Committee:  Bob Lightfoot (I/C), Tina Buechler, Jim Snider, Bill Braun, Rheo Thompson, Dan Vito, Steve Lichty, Reg White, Bill Lemmon.
August’s Attendance Committee:  Bob Gulliford (I/C), Nick Aroutzidis, Jim Hayes, Mike Gruszcynski, Bryan Lapier, Arlene Pol, Steve Monteith, Dan Scarborough, Josef Frank, Norm Bird.