I joined Rotary in 1989 to give me a connection to the community that I lived in, but did not work in. I worked in downtown Seattle, but lived in Kent, WA, a bedroom community. This was also the year after Rotary in WA admitted women for the first time. I could never understand why women were excluded since the first woman that was admitted to the Kent club had a vocabulary like a sailor! I really enjoyed the Kent club and eventually became President in 1995. At that time Rotary International was beginning its push to eradicate Polio – what a wonderful cause.
In 1996 I transferred to an entirely different type of community – we moved to Yakima, WA, an agricultural community located in Central WA with 75,000 residents. I joined the Yakima Sunrise Rotary club right away and found 75 new friends. Yakima Sunrise was a very social club! That club also had an major community fund raiser – the annual “Duck Race” where 12,000 plastic ducks were released into the Yakima river. A donor bought a duck and if it floated down the Yakima river landing first through 10th place your duck won a cash prize. One year the Yakima river was high, we lost 1,000 ducks and had a couple of Rotarians who get tangled up in the brush along the river’s bank so we moved on to another fund raiser.
In 2004 we transferred again, this time to Springfield, MO. I joined the Springfield SE Rotary club which had 240 members. A very large club and a real leader in the local philanthropic community. Their fund raiser was the annual “Rock N Ribs” festival - a regional bar b que contest held over a weekend that was attended by 5000 bar b que connoisseurs.
In 2016 my wife and moved to Boise after my retirement from banking. Once again, looking for a connection to the community, I joined the Boise Sunrise Rotary Club - one of the best and most committed of the 4 Rotary clubs that I have been a member. Our “Lobsterfest” fundraiser is very popular in the community drawing some 400 people every year to a gala auction/fundraiser. In 2020 we had to figure out how to hold Lobsterfest without meeting in person. We held an online auction (known as “Lobster Ghost”) inviting all the other 43 clubs in the Rotary District to join in. We hope to expand this fund raiser next year.
Along the way, I have made friends with other community leaders in each city we have lived in. Each Rotary club has its own personality and fund-raising effort. From “Don’t Meth with Us” in Springfield, to Hope House in Boise. Of course, we still are raising money to eradicate polio - there are only two counties in the World where polio has not been eradicated.
I have very fond memories of the people that I have met at Rotary and the causes Rotary has supported. Each week at our meetings we have an interesting speaker that talks on a topic relevant to our lives.
Rotary still has work to do. Our “Four-Way Test” is a model for our political and community leader’s world- wide. While Polio is near eradication, it is proving to be a stubborn animal, we must continue our efforts.