Posted by Assistant Governor, Anne Frueh
At the Rotary Club of Balwyn changeover in June, Chris Finely was completely surprised to be recognised with a Paul Harris Fellow. His citation included:
  • six hour shifts on duty at the Camberwell Sunday Market
  • dedicated mentor for one for our indigenous tertiary scholars throughout the scholar’s undergraduate degree
  • volunteering at Rotary Inner Melbourne Relief Network and the Box Hill Mini Steam Rail
  • collecting food from Second Bite
  • volunteering at Alzheimer’s Australia
  • does the Great Cycle Challenge for kid’s cancer research each year
  • if that is not enough, he disappears in his caravan for a couple weeks from time to time to volunteer with Blaze aid
This is a Rotarian who last year felt he should offer his resignation because he attended very few meetings. His offer was of course immediately rejected. Chris is “doing Rotary”.
Chris Finely grew up in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne where his married and raised his family. He attended Carey Grammar which was 100m from home. Returning to his alma mater, Chris influenced thousands of students, passing on his passion for science and conservation of the natural environment whether it be in the classroom or on camps and trips. His has never retired. When his finished at Carey, his simply moved from paid work to unpaid work.
When Jim Hopper, a past president and charter member of RC Balwyn and fifty-year Rotarian, invited Chris to join Rotary, Chris accepted. This was at the age of seventy-five proving that age is no barrier to volunteering. Around this time Chris also fulfilled the long-held wish to dive the Great Barrier Reef on SCUBA after doing all the necessary training required for a seventy-five-year-old.
Chris’s response to his PHF recognition follows:
"I felt a bit like the proverbial stunned mullet last night. Lost for words. These are some of the thoughts that occurred as the evening progressed. I would have said how rewarding volunteering has been...
- The heartfelt thanks from the farmer who can contain his animals on his own property for the first time since the fires or floods.
- The emotional retelling of the half hour trauma spent by a wife on the phone to her husband, who was on a quad bike lost on their own property due to the thickness of the smoke from the approaching fire.
- All that time she thought it was the last conversation they would ever have. He did survive. This retelling was clearly a help in the grieving process.
- The smiles on the faces of the recipients as they enter the RIMERN building to select some household items.
- The smiles on the faces of the carers as the disabled kids ride the Mini Rail.
- If every “God bless you” from a Soup Van recipient were a dollar I would be a millionaire.
- "You have really made a difference” from a Bloke who is looking after his wife with dementia, is fantastic reward.
BUT, there is an ulterior motive. You live longer if you volunteer. So, I hope to be doing this when I am in my 90’s. Thank you for considering me for this recognition."