Rotary Club of Wellington North
The Role of Club Almoner
The tradition of the club is for each Rotary year to appoint one of its members to the position of club almoner.
The defining features of an almoner are around the idea of a trained person taking a responsibility for the welfare of those who belong to a group, on behalf of that group.
In the case of our Rotary club the role is like this – to offer pastoral care to the members of the club, and where appropriate, to their families, on behalf of the club.
The concept is very much built around it being an offer rather than any expectation; no almoner wants to be intrusive. There are two things to say about that;
Firstly, in most situations when a club member is going through a time of difficulty or sadness they already have in place their own support networks, eg family, friends, church, professional colleagues, GP plus members of the club with whom they have a long or close relationship. It most naturally falls to those people to be the help and support needed, and having still another layer of care can be cumbersome. In many cases pastoral care comes directly from the family’s pastor or priest. However, the role of the almoner is not to overtake those sort of supports, rather it is more something that is given officially on behalf of the club as a whole, even if the contact is minimal. It demonstrates a thoughtfulness from the club to the member and their family.
Secondly, the club almoner can only respond to situations he or she knows about; often it is presumed the almoner ‘knows everything’ – he/she doesn’t. Therefore, letting the almoner know where and when some pastoral care might be required is helpful. Most often this information, or a particular request of the almoner, comes from the club President, and can be alongside what the President is also doing.
The sort of things that can be done are: a visit to the home, a hospital visit, keeping in touch by phone and email, being someone the member or family can call, providing a confidential consultation with the member or even an officiating at a funeral.
Of course, discretion is required as circumstances can be delicate. As well, confidentiality is important too, something the almoner is usually well-versed in.
As well as this individualised kind of support there can arise occasions when a tragedy or sadness affects the whole club and there is a need to address this together. Here the almoner can play a part should it be the wish of the President.
Prepared by Lionel Nunns, July 2010