On Monday June 23 one of the highest awards in Rotary was bestowed on Kitty McKinley, leader of Challenge 2000 in Johnsonville. She was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and presented with a plaque, medal and lapel pin.
The plaque reads: In appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world.
During his presentation speech, the Wellington Governor of Rotary, Tony Fryer, compared Kitty’s intelligence, enthusiasm, energy and dedication to those of Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary. As with Paul Harris who lived in the early 20th century, a vision for a better world, compassion and a profound sense of social justice lie at the heart of her life and work.
Kitty’s citation gave a brief overview of her dedication, service and professional excellence in a variety of areas. While noting her expertise as a social worker as well as in leadership, team-building, staff training and facilitation in the professional world, the citation focused on her work with young people—especially those at risk—and their families. Her capacity to recognise the potential in everyone, and stand with them while they learn to believe in themselves is the foundation of much of her success.
The other side of the coin is Kitty’s skill in providing imaginative training for leadership and challenging opportunities for young people whose lives are more blessed. Empowering and inspiring young people to work with young people is one of Kitty’s great legacies.
After 10 years at Catholic Social Services then a short break, Kitty founded Challenge 2000 20 years ago. In both agencies she has worked to make a difference for good in the lives of individuals and in society as a whole. Warmth, optimism, openness and hospitality are her hallmarks. One of her particular gifts is to inspire and encourage people of different socio-economic and cultural worlds to accept and welcome one another, to listen and understand one another’s lives and stories, to work and socialise together and to recognise one another’s inherent dignity. Another is her ability to think outside the square, to see beyond the now, to make miracles happen.