Douglas presented Rotary’s highest honour
Receives Distinguished Service Award for years of work in the club and community
Bette Douglas has helped make a difference in her community.
The longtime member of the Amherst Rotary Club was recognized by the organization on Sept. 8 when she was presented the club’s highest honour, the Distinguished Service Award.
“When I grew up in Amherst Rotary was a group of old men in three-piece suits meeting every week at the Fort Cumberland Hotel. They ran the town. As I got older I realized what Rotary was and how important it is to our town,” Douglas said. “When I was asked to join I was so impressed to be part of this organization.”
Quoting John D. Rockefeller, she said every opportunity comes with an obligation. She joined Rotary with that thought in her mind. She said would not join unless she could make a contribution.
“I have loved every moment of it,” said Douglas, who served as club president and was the district governor – the club’s first since Norman T. Avard a half century ago.
As a Rotarian, she made it her goal to get to as many clubs in the district and to meet as many Rotarians as possible. When approached to become the district governor she thought back to Rockefeller and why she joined Rotary.
Born in River Hebert, Douglas moved to Amherst when she was three and is the mother of three sons, has three grandchildren and a great granddaughter.
After going to Mount Allison University and the Banff School of Arts Management, Douglas entered the theatre business. She established an arts program at the Memramcook Institute in 1987, acted as a judge for ACTRA and for the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award, while also being asked to adjudicate youth theatre festivals in Newfoundland and Labrador.
She founded Tantramar Theatre in 1991, expanding the local arts scene with summer theatre festivals, dinner theatres and concerts for up and coming musicians while providing theatre training for young people.
For the past 23 years she has offered training programs to assist people entering or reentering the workforce and through the restorative justice program she has embraced young people who needed community service hours.
She’s a longtime member of the Amherst Heritage Advisory Committee and was honoured by the town with a lifetime achievement award for her work in the arts.
Douglas has also used the theatre to raise money for the Cumberland Health Care Foundation’s Above & Beyond Campaign and has worked with local lawyers during Law Week.
She has also co-ordinated numerous fundraisers in support of the Tantramar Theatre including the Chair-itable Auction in which Adirondack chairs were made by inmates at the prison in Springhill and painted by area artists.
During that time she met a man who created stained-glass. She offered to sell his work in Amherst, where she made several hundred dollars for him before his release from prison.
She held a second auction with chairs and a third auction using tables.
In 21 years in Rotary, Douglas has been president and chairwoman of the public relations committee for the district and was assistant district governor before becoming the district governor, during which Amherst hosted the District 7820 conference.
During her term as district governor she was responsible for 46 clubs in Nova Scotia, P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador and the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon.
She is also a Paul Harris Fellow and a recipient of the Governor’s Citation and Rotary Foundation District Service Award.
Bette Douglas is presented with the Amherst Rotary Club’s 2017 Distinguished Service Award by club president David McNairn during the club’s annual lobster dinner at Camp Tidnish on Sept. 8.