At the club's AGM on Monday, Dec 5, community member Bjorn Helby was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow. Here's why...
About seven years ago, a civil war broke out in Syria that resulted in a large outflow of refugees to other parts of the world including Canada. Members of the Rotary Club of Ottawa had a great desire to help with that effort. We struck a partnership with the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral which had experience and expertise in refugee matters. That partnership enabled us to sponsor a Syrian family of two adults and four children and then a second family of two adults and two children. At that time, this sponsorship was one of the most significant projects for our club in years. Today, I am happy to report that both families are thriving here in Ottawa.
To implement this project, a joint steering committee was set up with members from both our club and the cathedral. The chairman of that committee was Bjorn Helby, a member of the Christ Church Cathedral community.
Chairing our committee was a massive task with an enormous learning curve. The project involved extensive fund-raising, dealing with bureaucracy at many levels, personnel management, logistics planning, and ensuring the necessary support to the refugee families was available when they arrived.
Bjorn led all of this with tremendous energy, enthusiasm and good humor. He logged countless hours before and after the families arrived and provided continuing personal contact day and night in times of emergencies. His cheerful demeanor in the face of setbacks set a glowing example for the other members of the committee. He was tireless in helping secure lodging, employment and legal help and in ensuring that other areas were looked after including education, health and social issues.
Bjorn is still the very face of Canadian welcome for the two families, and they hold him close in their hearts, trust him and see him as a true friend. 
His work with Rotarians and members of the Christ Church community exemplifies what it means to build friendships and good relationships. He delivered outstanding service to the community that is consistent with the goals and objectives of the RC Ottawa. The club, therefore, is pleased to present Bjorn Helby with a Paul Harris Fellowship
by Angela Kelly and Peter Houliston, Rotary Club of Ottawa