It seems a long time ago now..... perhaps 3 or 4 years, since my first lady of Rotary, Joan Daniels, invited me to a Christmas Party. Never would I refuse Joan anything.
She is my mentor.
When we arrived at the building there was an enormous Rotary wheel above us and the building was named "Rotary House". I was amazed.
I had never heard of this building.
The Managing Director, Eric Wright greeted us warmly. He calls Joan "Rotary Royalty".
Inside, each apartment door was named for a donor. Most of them Rotari- ans or Rotary Clubs. I learned the history of the place and why it was built. I learnt that one person's idea started it all off; John Oppie as his child had leukaemia. Bernie Lamers (Rotary Club Preston) co-founded the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry then planned, project managed and fundraised tirelessly for BMDI/Rotary House. For that and his other humanitarian service he has been named this year as the first Zone 8 Rotarian Of The Year.
Then the District Governor of that year 1992-93 made it his focus.
He appointed a committee chaired by John Martyres. In that year Clubs raised over $1 million towards what was then knows as the Bone Marrow Research Institute associated with Rotary Melbourne Hospital.
Then 1993-1994 District Governor from my own Club Rob Dunn said it was the most important project he had undertaken in his Governor year, and that he and Past District Governor Gordon McKern continued to encourage Clubs to raise $2 million to earn naming rights of Rotary House.
Gordon's monthly newsletters are full of Club reports of fundraisers each month, pulling together with this District wide initiative.
So that was the beginning of it all.
Now, the Fight Cancer Foundation keeps it running, largely with proceeds from the Red Ball and a few Rotary Clubs stay helping.
Rotary has an opportunity to be part of the future too, as District 9800 has signed a collaboration deed to assist with the redevelopment of a new building.
BMDI Rotary House is located at 4-12 Blackwood St, North Melbourne
Rotary, in partnership with Fight Cancer Foundation, has made an enormous difference to the lives of people living with cancer since 1990. District 9800 helped fundraise $4M to create a world-class Cancer Research Centre in Melbourne, which continues to produce results that improve the outcomes of cancer patients around the world.
Again in 2003 Rotary took up the cause of families fighting against cancer by throwing its considerable weight behind BMDI Rotary House in North Melbourne.
The centre comprises 13 self-contained apartments for regional, rural and interstate families who must travel to Melbourne to access specialist cancer treatment.
Close to three major treating hospitals, more than 70 families find a home away from home at BMDI Rotary House each year, helping to alleviate some of the financial and emotional stress and uncertainty brought by a diagnosis of cancer. Most importantly, it keeps these families together during the toughest battle of their lives.
The need for comfortable, affordable accommodation for rural and interstate families requiring treatment for cancer is high. BMDI Rotary House is always at capacity and the waiting list of families desperate for a safe place to stay for up to six months is long. What happens to these families if they can't access accommodation like that of BMDI Rotary House? They might spend their life savings on motel rooms, couch surf or decide to skip the treatment they need all due to the prohibitive cost of accommodation.
Rotary House, Rotary and Fight Cancer Foundation's ambitious new project, aims to provide more families going through cancer with a home away from home. With 30 custom-built apartments that cater to the specialised needs of people recovering from a bone marrow transplant, each year the new facility will provide almost 11,000 nights' accommodation to families who need it most.
Your support and that of your clubs will make a real difference in the lives of families fighting against cancer and help them face it together.
You can donate to the Rotary House Appeal by visiting www.fightcancer.org.au/donate and all donations are tax deductible.
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