Rotary phone book bringing community, business together

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From little things, big things grow.
The Yass Rotary Phone Book has come a long way from its humble beginnings as an exercise book in the early 1990s.
With this year’s edition just around the corner, the club is urging all residents and businesses to email their updated contact details before January 20.
Through the years, Brian Rosser, Bill Nesbitt and Russ Whitehurst were instrumental in extracting the contact details of all and sundry to create a database of local residents and businesses.
What started out as a 40-page exercise book with very few advertisers has now grown under Yass Rotary’s instigation into a professionally-bound 160-page publication with a 7500-strong print run and an impressive fundraiser for the local charity’s community projects.
It’s been a pet project of rotarian Peter Gibbs for the past few years, and he accepts it’s become an integral part of his identity now. 
“And [local printer] Nic Carmody has been very much involved in it, initially printing and organising the set up; we wouldn’t exist without someone as cooperative as Nic has been.”
He concedes he cannot go a day without bumping into someone and encouraging them to send in their updated details.
“I have been entrusted by the Yass Rotary Club to undertake this as the major project for the Club on a biennial basis,” he tells Scoop.
“When I see people down the street, or someone going into Mass on Sunday night… I always ask ‘what’s your address now?’ It’s just part of being me; I’d hate to think of how much time I put into it!
“Last issue, I’d watch TV and go through the phone book, it probably took 300-400 hours, but it’s an ongoing thing.”
The format for the last issue underwent a major facelift, with professional binding instead of staples. This year’s publication will be further improved with a new directory format organised by industry (rather than business name) and details posted online.
“We could do it cheaper and smaller but the large print is for our more visually challenged, especially our seniors like me,” Peter says.
“My idea for the layout of the book came from a professional printing organisation who approached me in regards to preparing the book for us.”
“They prepared a book for the Rotary Club of the Whitsundays. This drove me to thinking that we could just build on the basics of the past books.”
He encourages residents and business owners to email their latest details so it remains up-to-date.
“The difficulty in the end comes from updating the data; it comes from my local knowledge about deaths or people who move away.
“The business plan that I am preparing should allow this to continue into the future without my input.”
It’s a project that involves the whole community, from the Yass Valley Council, which sponsors the front cover, to the Yass and Murrumbateman 1st Scouts groups that help deliver it in towns and villages as a fund-raising exercise.
“So it is a real community asset first and foremost – not just a fundraiser.”
Bridget Breen Guiney agrees. The business coach has been employed to help bring out the next issue.
“It really is very much a synergy, we all work well together,” she said.
Proceeds have gone towards supporting a long list of Rotary community projects.
These include $10,000 for a Horton House bus, $20,000 for a shed immediately after the Yass High School fire, $10,000 for BlazeAid at Bookham, $20,000 for Yass Skate Park, a $32,000 rebuild of the Rotary street stall, emergency and Tsunami relief funds, and more.
This year’s proceeds will be put to use funding a proposed activity trail along Yass River, replacing the mobile Rotary BBQ trailer, overseas aid projects and providing emergency relief to Yass and district residents as needed.For more information, email your updated contact details to, or write to Yass Rotary Club Phone Book, PO Box 106, YASS 2582.

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