The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Sunrise is celebrating 10 years of service, fellowship and fun in the Cayman Islands. Over the last decade the Club has created a unique identity with its commitment to promote literacy and develop young people among the many community projects it supports.
The Club was originally chartered in April 2002 with 40 members and Alastair Paterson as its first president. At the time there were two existing Rotary clubs in Grand Cayman, one meeting at lunchtime and the other in the evening.
A need was recognised for a breakfast club, which would attract young professionals, business people and civil servants. The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Sunrise was formed to meet this need.
The Club was an immediate success and among its charter members were the current Deputy Governor Franz Manderson and Sybil McLaughlin, a national hero. Very few of the early members had been Rotarians in other clubs. Their interest in Rotary was created by a desire to serve the community with a like-minded group of peers.
The other two existing Grand Cayman Rotary clubs provided the operating funds to launch the new club and one of the biggest challenges for the inaugural board of directors was to raise funds for its projects to benefit the community.
The young club was tested early in its existence with the damage to Grand Cayman as a result of Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Working with the other two clubs, a joint fund was created that raised over $1 million to assist the community with the rebuilding and recovery effort.
Over the course of its 10 years, the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Sunrise has forged a unique identity for itself. It is committed to promoting literacy in the Cayman Islands and to the development of young people.
This is achieved with reading programmes in several schools and the provision of computer assisted learning programmes.
“Rotary Sunrise, some years ago, decided to focus our funds and energy on making a significant impact on improving literacy in Cayman,” explains Rotary Sunrise President Andrea Bryan.
“We read one-on-one in schools weekly with children who are significantly behind; provide English dictionaries to high school children; provided a Computer Assisted Literacy Solution to two churches for their after-school programmes and distribute a book, toy and reading guide to every mother of a newborn at our hospitals.”
Young people are introduced to the ideals of Rotary through the Club’s Rotaract Club chartered in 2006 and the EarlyAct programme introduced at George Town Primary School in 2011.
“Great emphasis is placed on supporting our youth, from contributing to an apprenticeship auto-mechanic training programme, to sponsoring and advising annually a Junior Achievement company,” says Bryan.
“We sponsor a Rotaract club for young persons aged 18-30 and a primary school EarlyAct club both like Rotary, provide service to our community and are very active.”
Members are also invited to take their children to the meetings where they are encouraged to actively participate.
In 2010 Sunrise partnered with local author Nasaria Suckoo-Cholette to publish a character development book for young people and launched an annual youth photography competition to introduce this art form to children. Since 2008 the Club has annually sponsored a Junior Achievement company. Junior Achievement is a volunteer-delivered, K-12 programme that fosters work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills. It uses experiential learning to inspire youth to dream big and reach their potential.
Rotary Sunrise is also committed to the health of the community in the Cayman Islands and in 2006 was a major supporter of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society’s drive to purchase a state-of-the-art mammogram machine for the Cayman Islands Hospital. Over the last three years it has partnered with the Cayman Heart Fund and the Youth Obesity Task Force to battle the problem of obesity in young people.
Another huge contribution to the community recently has been the beautiful Cecile Crighton Community Park in Spotts-Newlands, says Bryan.
The Club also credits the Cayman public for its generous support. Many have participated in signature fundraising events including the Club’s Casino Games Nights, car raffle and Pyjama Golf evenings. Funds raised at these events are all used to support programmes and are never used to fund the administration of the club.
Discussing the success of the Club over the last decade, Paterson, who is still a member, says it is due to the Club’s composition, good leadership and enthusiasm from its members.
Fellowship and fun has been the cornerstone of the Club’s success over the last 10 years in the service arena and members have enjoyed many memorable events together, he says. “Wine tastings are a Club favourite with many of our own members providing a surprising level of expertise in wines from many regions of the world.”
Today, Rotary Sunrise has over 90 members, almost half of which are female. The majority are between the ages of 30 and 55 from a variety of professional and business backgrounds and more than 20 nationalities. This makes the Club truly international and more diverse than most.
Rotary Sunrise Grand Cayman meets for breakfast at the Grand Old House, which is the birthplace of Rotary in the Cayman Islands. Its meetings are on Wednesdays from 7am to 8am.