Campbell River’s Craig Gillis (left) is shown here with Barry Rassin, president of Rotary International, at the group’s International Assembly in San Diego, Calif. in January.

Campbell River’s Craig Gillis leads Rotarians as district governor

District includes entirety of Vancouver Island and part of Washington State

A Rotarian from Campbell River is at the helm of dozens of Rotary clubs across the region, and he’s advancing a message of service that’s global in scope.

Craig Gillis is district governor for Rotary District 5020, an area that encompasses Vancouver Island and western Washington State.

“What you’re responsible for is visiting all 90 clubs, meeting with their leadership teams, their boards, playing a role in many of their service activities, and primarily promoting what is the worldwide theme for Rotary this year: be the inspiration,” he said.

Since Gillis began his work as district governor in July, he has visited 43 of the 90 clubs.

At the local level, Campbell River’s two Rotary clubs have spearheaded such projects as the Seawalk and the suspension bridge at Elk Falls.

But the efforts of its 1.22 million members worldwide also make significant contributions globally, Gillis said.

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“We work with a lot of vulnerable countries to bring clean water, latrines,” he said.

He noted that Rotary’s international efforts focus on six areas: basic literacy, clean water and sanitation, economic development, maternal and children’s health and welfare, medical care and peace.

“Our Rotary clubs look at opportunities to basically bring funds together so that we can reinvest those in the well-being of our communities and our world,” he said.

The organization has also been the primary driver in the nearly complete eradication of polio worldwide, he said.

“We’ve gone from hundreds of thousands of cases of polio to just a handful.”

The organization manages to contribute to social causes worldwide by raising money while keeping administration costs low and soliciting matching funds from governments, he said.

Craig Gillis is Rotary’s district governor for the area including Vancouver Island and the western part of Washington State. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror 

On a local level, Gillis underlined that he wants to see Rotary grow and increase its diversity.

“More hands, more hearts kinda give us more opportunity to reach out and do the work that we’re trying to do,” he said.

His appointment to the office is a one-year volunteer commitment that follows nomination by the local club, a panel interview and more than two years of training.

Gillis said he’s the fifth Rotarian from Campbell River to play the role of district governor.

There are 529 districts worldwide, and their governors assembled in San Diego, Calif. in January for an International Assembly, the last portion of training.

As part of the work, he’s been heavily involved in training Rotary presidents in the district.

Gillis, whose background is in the public education system, has lived in Campbell River for over 40 years.

He stressed that he wants to see Rotary live out its motto: service above self.

“What we do as a world organization is we work within our local communities and within the larger world,” he said.


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