As The World Turns, So Does Rotary

wh-4p-olOn May 24th, the Bonners Ferry Rotary Club celebrated its 10th anniversary with a reception and dinner at the Kootenai River Brewing Company. In addition to more than 60 Bonners Ferry Rotarians and their guests in attendance, the District Governor (DG), DG Elect, Past DG and the Assistant DG as well as a group of Rotarians from Sandpoint were also present for the dinner and recognitions that followed. 

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Outgoing Board of Directors -- Bill M, Wilma, Dave G, Pat, Linda A, Norm, Ron, Greg


         TThis night was also reserved for what is called the annual changeover dinner. An evening steeped in tradition.  It is a right of passage for both the incoming (Greg Johnson) and outgoing (Wilma DeVore) President.  It also represents one of the most unique facets of Rotary, a new President every year.  Rotary is one of the only organizations in the world that turns over its leadership team on an annual basis not only at the local club level, but also all the way to the top of the Rotary International organization.  The changeover dinner offers the outgoing President the opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and highlight the good works the club has accomplished.  It also allows the incoming President to share their visions and how those visions can come to life over the next 12 months. Board members and officers are celebrated through a swearing- in ceremony that highlights the commitments these volunteers have made to the community through Rotary. We use this time to reminisce, remember those Rotarians who came before us, and celebrate those who will join us in the future.  For the first 10 years, 6 members, still active in the Club, have served as President…..Don Bartling, Norm Braatz, Jim Paulus, Dave Walter, Clarence Jones, and Bill McClintock. 


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Growing up in Idaho or moving here from somewhere else, everyone knew there were Rotary Clubs but many of us didn’t know much about what they did. Beginning in 2002, we would see the logo of the Rotary Club of Bonners Ferry around town and read about events in the news media, but who were they and what did they do besides meet once a week for lunch? 

Every Tuesday at noon, the Bonners Ferry Rotary Club meets at Mugsy’s Restaurant in downtown Bonners Ferry to share lunch and fellowship, followed by a 15-20 minute program.  A sampling from this year included presentations from Boundary County “Live”, Boundary County Zoning Administration, Mario’s Mexican Restaurant, Juvenile Probation, Pearl Theater, The Write Stuff, Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Program, Rod Benders, Boundary Volunteer Ambulance, Boundary County Little League, Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative, Penguin Plunge, Ball Creek Ranch, Kootenai River Brewing Company, Ace Elder Care, Boundary County Community Board of Guardianship, Job Service, Grandview Cemetery, and updates from Boundary County, Bonners Ferry, Boundary Community Hospital and the Boundary County School District.

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Beginning with 25 charter members in 2002, 10 members are still involved today,,, Don Bartling, Wilma DeVore, Craig Johnson, Greg Johnson, Clarence Jones, Darrell Kerby, Walt Kirby, Ron Sukenik, Dave Walter and Lon Woodbury.  Publicity about the Club’s formation in 2002 stated, “The final step in the organization of a Rotary Club for Bonners Ferry was taken by a group of representative business men and women of the community and from the Sandpoint Rotary Club.”  More details followed, “The charter for the Bonners Ferry Rotary Club was formally delivered to the Club following election of the officers – Don Bartling, President, Gene Andrews, President-Elect, Diane Cartwright, Secretary, Dave Walter, Treasurer and Ron Sukenik, Sergeant-at-Arms. It is interesting to note that in its application for club membership in 2002, the Rotary Club stated, “Our club will strive to have 40 members by 30 June 2003.” Today, ten years later, we have 40 members plus 2 honorary members.  “When the new charter was presented, the Sandpoint Club and other organizers gave a short history about how Rotary was formed in 1905 by Paul Harris, a Chicago businessman and it was pointed out that the object and ideal of Rotary was “Service Above Self”. “The Chicago founding members chose the name Rotary Club because they rotated the location of their weekly meetings to be held in each other’s offices.”    

Bonners Ferry Rotary is very active and contributes to many community and international projects and organizations.  Some of the local community organizations that have been supported by the Rotary Club include the Food Bank, Cancer Support Groups, Chamber of Commerce, Friends of the Arts, Earth Day Fair, Fry Healthcare Foundation, GROW Community Gardens, ‘Pawsitive’ Works, Phoenix Project, Little League Baseball, Boundary County Museum, Lacrosse Team, Boundary Volunteer Ambulance, ‘Run for the Fallen’, Parks & Recreation Soccer, Selkirk International Loop, Domestic Violence, Selkirk Saddle Club, Special Olympics, swimming pool shade, transportation needs, food bank shelving, bicycle path signs, a wheelchair ramp, the ‘Welcome to Bonners Ferry’ sign, and the Visitor Center.  This year we delivered free firewood to the needy.

We have committed and participated in many international projects associated with polio eradication, clean water for a community in Ecuador, and a hospital for cardiac care in India. We participated in a Rotary mission to the Philippines for cleft palate surgery and hosted a 2-day friendship tour of 23 foreign exchange students from around the world.

We consider our proudest achievement to be the college scholarship program and our support of local schools. Image During the past 10 years, about 50 cents of every dollar on average goes to fund college scholarships.  In addition, we helped to upgrade the ‘Accelerated Reading Program’ from a desktop to a web-based version, and we have made financial contributions to the High School Baseball Team, High School Softball Team, PTO Basketball, Becker Auditorium, Badger Boosters, Cheerleaders, BoCo Backpack Food Program, Distinguished Young Women of Bonners Ferry (Jr. Miss), Spelling Bee, Student Council, Youth Exchange, Citizens For Students, and the Senior Class All-Night Party.     

To support our local and international commitments, we conduct several fundraisers, three of which are held in September. The first of these is the 10th annual Kootenai River Bike Ride. We also participate in the 344-mile WaCanId (Washington, Canada, Idaho) Bike Ride along the International Selkirk Loop .  And we will host the annual CommUNITY Breakfast & Silent Auction at the Middle School. Our primary summer time event is SWISH, the 3-on-3-basketball tournament held in downtown Bonners Ferry.  We have just completed a very successful Yard Sale at the Fairgrounds and always begin each year with the Rotary Calendar Raffle, where one could conceivably win money every day throughout the year. 

In summary, the Rotary Club contributes approximately one-third of the money it raises for community and international projects and about two-thirds for local school projects including college scholarships. 

To cap off the evening on May 24th, Rotary Club “Service Above Self” awards were bestowed upon Rotarians David McIntosh for his work with the student exchange program and to David Sims for heading up the task of delivering free firewood to needy families in Boundary County.  Ron Sukenik was selected as “Rotarian of the Year” for the awesome work he does for Rotary going above and beyond expectations for nearly all of the operational aspects of the Club.  Dean Satchwell was honored with a “Certificate of Appreciation” for his idea to create a bike ride along the Kootenai River. This year we will be celebrating the 10th annual Kootenai River Ride, one of the largest and most successful fundraisers that the Club undertakes each year.  Wilma  DeVore was presented the Paul Harris Fellowship from Norm Braatz for her year of leadership as President.

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Wilma DeVore Receiving Her Paul Harris Fellowship from Foundation Chair, Norm Braatz

Finally, the Club’s highest honor, the “Service Above Self” award to a member of this community was bestowed on Pam Moe.  Currently involved in several community projects, she is not only a leader of these organizations, but a hard worker.  Among many projects, Pam has headed up the Badger Boosters, the Junior Parent Committee, and has been a major coordinator for the “Fill The Bus” food drive.  She has served as an AmeriCorps volunteer and has been involved in the SWISH organization since its inception.  What convinced the selection committee are the remarks received from family and friends. “Pam often gives up opportunities to be with friends so she can perform at community service type events.”  Pam Moe truly represents Rotary’s ideal of “Service Above Self”.

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Pam Moe Receiving the "Service Above Self" award from Ron Sukenik and Wilma DeVore

You will find a wide variety of people who share their Tuesday lunch time and fellowship while helping make Bonners Ferry and Boundary County a better place to live.  There are currently 40 active members and 2 honorary members who represent many different careers and age groups. This diversity is what makes the Rotary unique and guarantees that they’ll always have new ideas for giving back to this community for each coming year.