Generally, people are happy to help out their neighbor . . . even if the neighbor lives all the way across the county. There are a number of organizations that spend their time, money, and efforts lending help to others. Part of the Jaycee Creed says “Service to humanity is the best work of life.” I’ve belonged to a number of different groups that spend time, money, and effort improving our community and helping people from Tacoma/Pierce County Christmas House to Tacoma Area Coalition for Individuals with Disabilities and a number of others in-between, while Peg has Caligraphy Guild and P.E.O. I promised my wife that I would never run for office again in any organization. So, we will share a story about the last time I held a position.
I was elected president of the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8. The number is important because it shows how long Rotary in Pierce County and Washington State has been around. Rotary began in 1905. The first club was formed in Chicago. Seattle was the 4th and Tacoma was the 8th. Most clubs just name their group, but don’t mention any number. You will find Rotary Clubs in many different countries around the world.
The year went fast and was very enjoyable for me. We ran many programs that either helped our community or others that reached around the world to help far away neighbors. There were two complaints during my presidency told to me in person. Both thought I had over-stepped my bounds as president. I had, but nothing was done about it, so life continued. I think the changes that were added are still being used. We had a very successful year and ended with a fairly new community fundraiser: The Great Indoor Golf Tournament. The Indoor Golf Tournament was held at Shoenfeld Furniture. It was a putting contest in and around obstacles and furniture. Everyone loved the event. People had a great time and we made a lot of money to divvy up between a number of non-profit organizations. One of my best friends followed me as president and didn’t want to run the program, so it was picked up by the Tacoma South Rotary Club who has run it ever since. I think they’ve distributed a million dollars via their event over their years. It’s held at Harkness Furniture.
My involvement in other clubs and organizations told me that you can’t just work your members to death or get them to just keep donating funds. They need some kind of result that is fun and slightly unusual. The Rotary year ends at the end of June and there is a large district meeting held usually in the late spring. Our district is 5020 and we represent Rotarians on Vancouver Island, B.C. and Western Washington from Pierce County south to Woodland including the Olympic Peninsula. Our district meeting was being held in Vancouver, B.C.. My wife, Peggy and I planned out a great celebration. I asked our Executive Director to book the suite on top of the hotel nearest the ferry landing. Next, I asked Past President Tom Hosea and his wife, Past President Judy Hosea to be in charge of refreshments for a large Friday night get together. Peg and I booked tables at a restaurant in the same block as the hotel, arranged for horse drawn carriages, and tickets to the musical My Fair Lady. I knew Rotary awards would be given out on Saturday evening and that the Friday night dinner would run long.
In addition to our members, I also extended invitations to the Fife-Milton Rotary Club and the Tacoma South Rotary Club. We got the word out and collected for the various tickets. We were on steady ground knowing what we had to deal with but, there were more things to do.
Once Peg and I arrived in Vancouver for the event we checked in and then walked around hand in hand. I knew that generally the city or some other group paid to have a bag piper welcome the incoming ships. We spotted him and introduced ourselves and told him why we were there. We asked if he was available for hire. He was. I turned and pointed to the hotel and showed him where our suite was. I gave him the time we wanted him at our room and gave him a down payment.
We walked around a bit more and found a guitar player strumming and singing. He had a nice voice. We asked if he was available for a short gig on Friday evening. He was. Again, we pointed to our room on the top floor of the hotel. He asked if he could bring a fellow guitar player and singer. We settled on a price and shook hands.
Peg and I double checked with the restaurant. I think they had a great price on lobster. We tried them out and then went to bed early. Friday was busy. Tom and Judy showed early and set up a bar, glasses, and pop, beer, mixers, and snacks . . . soon we began filling the room. The guitar players showed up on time and then Rotarians and friends really started coming in. People were having a great time and then at five o’clock I welcomed everyone, introduced and thanked our entertainers and then introduced our bagpiper. He played one song and then piped us and led us as we all marched behind him to The Captain’s Table. The restaurant was ready for us. The food was excellent, we had bargained for a good price, and then the carriages started arriving. Some people went to the musical My Fair Lady, which was very nicely done. Others headed to the Rotary evening event.
People still talk about that District meeting. Some people came who hadn’t been to a regular meeting in ages. It was a great seeing friends from Fife-Milton as well as Tacoma South joining us. Everyone was chatting, laughing, and had a great time . . . and yes, The Great Indoor Golf Tournament is still helping people in Pierce County. The event is staged by Harkness Furniture. I think Tacoma South Rotary has reached a million dollars since taking it over. Sharing, working together, and just plain being friendly is the secret for most successful local organizations. We can’t just ask people to donate time and money. We need to show them how much fun working together can be. Recognition, friendship, and joint efforts work like magic.