A Proud History
A Proud History
Rotary Hawthorn was founded on 24 August 1953 with 25 Charter members, under the Presidency of Ron Fowler and has earned a well-deserved reputation as an active, hardworking and fun-loving Rotary club.
The highest recorded membership was 94 Rotarians in 1994.
We are proud to have had five District Governors over our 65-year history:
  • 1970-71        Geoff Stevens
  • 1977-78        Ray Chambers
  • 1994-95        David Rosback
  • 2006-07        Bernie Walshe
  • 2012-13        Dennis Shore
We now have 8 Paul Harris Society members, and currently, count 32 Paul Harris Fellows amongst our membership.
Rotary Hawthorn has worked on many very worthwhile local community projects. Some of the more significant include:
  • Formation of Hawthorn Community Chest, providing a means whereby HCC could fundraise for local charities
  • Purchase of Survey Street, providing accommodation for newly arrived immigrants, subsequent sale leading to Survey Street Perpetual Trust Fund
  • Annual Ron Carr Award for Enterprise, to a young person who has displayed initiative in successfully setting up a local business
  • Paint Your Heart Out campaign, to paint the homes of needy locals 
  • Establishment of the John Head Memorial Trust, to alleviate poverty and distress in Hawthorn
  • Hands-on work at Camp Quality, to support children suffering from terminal illnesses
  • Assistance to the Low Vision Clinic, to help blind people
  • Development of Fritsch Holtzer Park in Hawthorn, landscaping a disused brick quarry, using 12 unemployed youth in the project 
  • Refurbishment of the Hawthorn Citizens Youth Club in Auburn Road
  • Raising of funds for the Neuro-Sciences Ward at the Royal Children’s Hospital
  • Refurbishment of Servants Community Housing as boarding accommodation for homeless people
  • Serving an annual Christmas lunch for socially isolated people in Boroondara
  • Helping rebuild flood and fire-affected communities
  • Rotarian at Work Days
  • Supporting the Salvo Hawks Football team 
Our Youth Program have included:
  • Annual International Youth Exchange program
  • Annual exchange of Year 10 students with the Rotary Club of Evandale in Tasmania
  • Providing mentoring programs and career coaching for secondary school students 
  • Providing Public Speaking coaching at Swinburne University 
  • Providing scholarships for young people to attend the prestigious Science School, MUNA (Model United Nations Assembly) or one of the leadership or personal development camps run by District 9800
On the International scene we have worked mainly in the Pacific region in projects such as:
  • Setting up the Hawthorn Kitchen in Phuket in Thailand 
  • Working bees at Donations In Kind (DIK) warehouse, to pack containers of much needed school items for East Timor and medical equipment for hospitals in Cambodia
  • Providing disaster relief for people made homeless by natural disasters
  • Providing funds for the Grandmothers in Zambia for purchase of mattresses for their 75 orphaned grandchildren
  • Supply of materials and labour to rebuild the orphanage run by the Carmelite order near Dili
  • Collection and reconditioning of unwanted hand tools into 610 toolboxes for shipment to Timor
  • Setting up a Rotary Cricket Blood Bank in Gujranwala, Pakistan
  • Supporting education and community development programs for families in remote regions of East Timor and northern India …Lille Fro photo
  • Contributing to one of the world’s largest charitable foundation, the Rotary Foundation, which in turn spends $60 million a year on international projects, such as these by Hawthorn:
    • Matching 3 H Grant (from Rotary Foundation) to set up a literacy project for Kurdish women in remote Turkey
    • Matching Grant to teach skills in chicken rearing, tailoring and basic living to rural Zambians
    • Matching Grant to immunise 4000 children in the city of Mumbai, India against hepatitis B
    • Matching Grant for the benefit of rural villagers in Zambia, training of villagers in basic hygiene, and the construction of pit latrines
    • Matching Grant for the purchase of a vehicle for use in Zambia, and shipment of a container of badly needed school requisites, clothing, children’s storybooks and toys, sports equipment 
Possibly our club’s most ambitious International Service project yet, the Hawthorn Kitchen at Phuket in Thailand was initiated in 1986 by David Rush who was the International Service director. While visiting Thailand, David had learnt that there were school children who were too embarrassed to go to school because their parents could not afford to supply lunches or suitable clothing.
David envisaged a self-help program to assist with this need. A cashew nut plantation was established with funding from Hawthorn and Phuket Rotary clubs. The children harvested the nuts, sold them and used the proceeds to purchase chickens and hot vegetables. Simple kitchen facilities were also provided at the schools as part of the scheme. The children’s health improved, they could attend school regularly and literacy rates at school were improved. The beauty of the scheme was that it encouraged self-help and was not just a handout of money.
In later years financial contributions from the two Rotary clubs and The Rotary Foundation enabled the scheme to be expanded to include the shipment to Thailand of high protein biscuits. Monitoring by the Phuket Rotarians afterwards revealed a marked improvement in the health of the children. The success of the project was evidenced by the Thai government’s award in 1987-88 of the year’s best Disadvantaged Children’s project.
President Ian Warren was the initiator and guiding hand behind our major project to turn an old disused quarry area in Rose Street, Hawthorn East into a pleasant, landscaped outdoor area for use by the entire community. Funding from Hawthorn was leveraged with funding from the newly formed Boroondara Council and the Commonwealth government to create a project with a total value in excess of $1m. Twelve young, unemployed persons worked on the project and acquired skills in landscape work and general work ethics which they would not have had otherwise. The project was commemorated by a plaque at the entrance to the park.
Twenty-two years later, in 2018, Rotary Hawthorn held a tree planting day, attended by 200 local citizens.