Community leaders to be honoured at Rotary gala

·3 min read

SAINT JOHN • Three Saint John community leaders will be receiving the Paul Harris Fellowship Award at the Rotary Club of Saint John's annual gala on Oct. 20.

The award, named after a Chicago lawyer who began the Rotary organization in 1905, is "one of the highest honours" a person can receive through the organization in honour of their contributions towards their community, according to a Rotary Club press release.

Monica Chaperlin, Roxanne Fairweather and Lisa Keenan are this year's Paul Harris recipients through the Rotary Club of Saint John. They'll receive their awards at the club's annual gala at the Delta Hotel on Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. A dinner will follow at 7 p.m.

Since 1997, Chaperlin has been the coordinator of the Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative (BCAPI), a group of business leaders who work with government officials and community organizations on anti-poverty efforts.

She said she was "shocked and surprised" when she was named an award recipient.

"I am just one of many," she said.

Jay Kimball, president of the Saint John Rotary Club, said this year's recipients and their community contributions "fit very well with what Rotary stands for."

"We've got three wonderful candidates," he said.

About 350 guests are expected at this year's gala, he said, noting it's a public event and the club would welcome more attendees.

Keenan, chair of the board of directors for Port Saint John, is also receiving the award. She has been a Rotarian for about 25 years now.

"I was one of the first female members of the Rotary club in Saint John," she added.

A lawyer by profession at Brenton Kean in Saint John, Keenan has been recognized in the past for her community involvement, including being named the Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year in 1997 and winning the Neil McKelvey QC Pro Bono and Volunteer Service Award "for outstanding volunteer service from the legal community," according to a Rotary club press release announcing the Paul Harris winners.

"I am extremely humbled and certainly honoured that the fellow Rotarians would bestow this honour upon me," Keenan said. "To be classified as a Paul Harris recipient is really the icing on the cake for me."

Along with Keenan and Chaperlin, Fairweather, co-owner and co-CEO of Innovatia, is also receiving the award. She's been on the board of governors of the University of New Brunswick since 2003.

Fairweather is being recognized for large contributions she's made in the education sector specifically toward students in kindergarten through to Grade 2, according to the release. She is also involved with the leadership board of BCAPI and is the chair of the Elementary Literacy Friends (ELF) program, where she has established a partnership with Innovatia.

"ELF focuses on increasing literacy throughout the province by providing volunteer tutors to Grade 2 students. ELF has mentored over 5,500 students to date and delivered over 120,000 hours of literacy instruction," the release said.

About 1.3 million people belong to the Rotary organization around the world, the release states, with clubs working together to "promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water, and promote sanitation and maternal health by supporting education, and growing local economies."

Visit sjrotary.ca for gala ticket information.

Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal