Gary Bennett joined the Rotary Club of Kelowna in 2001. In 2002, he was elected to the Club’s Board of Directors and took on the challenge of being the Director of Fundraising. During his tenure as a member of the Rotary Club of Kelowna, Gary served on numerous committees, serving on an average of four committees per year.
He was President of the club in the 2006 – 2007 Rotary year. That same year, he became the Founding President of the Rotary Club of Kelowna Foundation, a position that he held for seven years.
The Rotary Club of Kelowna had a very good year during his Presidency in 2006-2007; Gary is shown above, on behalf of the Club, accepting the Central Okanagan Foundation’s Volunteer Organization of the Year Award at the Thirty-Second Annual Civic and Community Awards Ceremony at the Grand Hotel in May of 2007. Winning that award would not have been possible without the dedicated service of the members of the club.
In February 2007, the club approved a motion to establish the Rotary Club of Kelowna Foundation. During his seven years as President and the principal fundraiser of the Foundation, not only did the Foundation distributed tens of thousands of dollars into the community to a variety of deserving programs (please see the following pictures). but the investment portfolio under management grew to over $600,000. During Gary’s tenure as President of the Club Foundation, it was ensured that all funds disbursed came from private donations destined for immediate use, thus ensuring that funds donated to the Foundation’s Endowment Funds established by the Club and others were left to grow for the benefit of future generations.
In December of 2017, Gary joined the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna which is a morning club.
A few of the many initiatives supported are shown below
Several of the community youth initiatives currently supported by The Gary and Maureen Bennett Fund were initiated and, or supported by Gary during his time as President of the Rotary Club of Kelowna and as President of the Rotary Club of Kelowna Foundation.
Gary introduced the concept of the Strive Scholarship for students that have overcome significant challenges to the Club in the fall of 2006. Since that time several hundred students have received this scholarship.
The Gateway Program
Support for The Central School / Okanagan College Gateway Program began with a phone call to Gary from the Strive Scholarship coordinator at Central School. They approached The Rotary Club of Kelowna Foundation for financial support in getting the initiative started. During his tenure as Foundation President, the Foundation consistently provided funds for textbooks and scholarships. These monies were raised from outside funding, again protecting established endowments. Below, two Gateway Graduates and Program Coordinator Rob Law are honored at a Rotary meeting.