Submitted by David Swindale.
Rotary Clubs operate on an annual budget and club presidents serve one-year terms from July to July. Jason Whalen, Mayor of the City of Lakewood served as our club president from July 2022 to July 2023. During his tenure the club spent $98,813. for local, regional, and global programs and projects and club members volunteered countless hours of community service. The club meets weekly on Fridays at the Tacoma Golf and Country Club. Notable accomplishments include:
Since Rotary International made its goal to eradicate Polio in 1979 the Rotary Club of Lakewood has contributed over 1.4 million dollars to support that effort. In the 1950’s there were 50,000 polio cases per year, today there are just a handful of cases worldwide!
The club maintains several committees that provide funding and volunteer hours for local, regional, and international charitable causes. The Community Concerns Committee provides up to $25,000 annually to local organizations including: The Family Renewal Shelter, Lakewood Baseball Club, LeMay’s Christmas Promise Bikes, The Emergency Food Network, Lakewood Arts Festival, Mary Bridge Children’s Christmas Fund, West Pierce Fire Cares Fund, Claire’s Closet, Caring for Kids Christmas Toy Drive, The Lakewood YMCA, and Community in Schools.
Volunteer efforts included packaging and distribution Break Bags from the Emergency Food Network. Break bags go out to Clover Park School District schools to provide food for needy households over Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Lakewood Rotarians delivered 40 bicycles as part of Christmas Promise, a program sponsored by LeMay Inc. to assemble 400 bicycles which are given away to children in needy homes around Pierce County.
The Military Appreciation Committee provided funding for Wreaths Across America, a program which purchases and places wreaths in VA cemeteries. The Committee prepared food bags for the Support the Enlisted Project Food which distributed them to over 700 military families currently experiencing food shortages.
The Club provided the Major Projects Committee with $6,000 which was supplemented with $5,000 from Rotary District 5020, to help replace swings at Fort Steilacoom Park playground. The playground was originally constructed with a substantial gift and volunteer labor by the Rotary Club of Lakewood. Club members spread the new bark below the play equipment on Saturday April 22nd – Parks Appreciation Day.
The World Affairs Committee partnered with other Rotary clubs, the Rotary District and Rotary International to fund several projects including: a pediatric cardio center at Hetauda Hospital in Hetauda, Nepal; to implement and improve academic performance through equipping and organizing elementary classes at Shree Mahendra Gram Secondary School, in Sudal Bhaktapur also in Nepal; and provide a Mobile Emergency Clinic in Ukraine. The Club also supports several ongoing projects in India and Mexico.
A new initiative started this year was to sponsor the Dolly Parton Imagination library covering all three Lakewood zip codes. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library gifts books free of charge to children from birth to age five, through funding shared by the Dollywood Foundation and local community partners. The Rotary Club of Lakewood raised $28,700 dollars during its First Annual Wine and Beer Festival to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program to Lakewood. Those funds were more than matched by the Lakewood City Council on May 1, 2023, when the Council allocated $77,426 from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and with a matching funds from the State Office of Public Instruction.
Ongoing programs supported by the Rotary Club of Lakewood include:
• The Lakewood Free Little Pantry. Currently, there are 8 pantries in Lakewood and Steilacoom where Little Free Pantries are located. Some are self-sustaining, others need support. The theme of “Give what you can and take what you need” is the essence of it. There is 24/7 barrier-free access.
• The Courage Classic Bicycle Ride is a benefit for MultiCare’s Mary Bridge Hospital. Since the first Courage ride 31 years ago, Rotarians, participants and donors have helped establish a $10 million endowment, keeping a community promise to achieve a sustaining source of funding for child abuse prevention and treatment programs in Pierce County.
• The World Affairs Seminar was held at Carroll College in Wisconsin this year from June 24th to June 30th. The theme is Climate Change –Youth Take Action. All expenses were paid for two Clover Park High School students to attend.
• Our Youth Exchange student was Hans Buun for Denmark. While in Lakewood Hans attended Lakes High School and lived with three host families. Hans noted you can’t turn right on a red light in Denmark, American football is not an option at his high school Sports are taken more seriously here and the sports facilities are much nicer than in Denmark. He especially enjoyed the diverse student body and the robust school spirit. He will forever be a proud Lakes Lancer and taxes are much higher in Denmark.
To support the activities of the club, member dues are collected, members give generously during each meeting celebrating and sharing events in their lives (trips, birthdays, and anniversaries, …) and hold fundraisers. Last Year the club held a Beer and Wine Festival, a Beer Festival, and a Ladies Night Out. Member dues are used to fund operations while funds raised during events go to the club’s charitable giving.
On March 24th the Club held its major fundraiser at the Clover Creek vocational college the First Annual Wine and Beer Festival. Major sponsors included Le May Enterprises/Waste Connections and Connelly Law, other sponsors include Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, MultiCare, CK Financial, Ed Selden Carpet One, and Diamond Designs. The goal was to raise $100,000 for all our projects in the Lakewood community. The total raised was $126,972!! A raging success.
The Beer Festival event raised over $2,000 for the Rotary Foundation. With matching money from the Gates Foundation and Rotary International, $8000 will help fund the eradication of polio.
Each week speakers are invited to give a presentation at the club. A few of the great speakers we heard from Speakers include.
Ron Banner, the Superintendent of the Clover Park School District, Dick Muri, Mayor of Steilacoom, retired Pierce County Sheriff, Paul Pastor, Superior Court Judge Jack Nevin, Washington Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu, Rotary District Governor Dale Roberts, Brook Fisher Clark, a Longview Rotarian and United Way Executive, Lara Paige of the Gates Foundation, Denny Sapp a highly decorated solo Blue Angel Demonstration Pilot in 1975 and 1976, James Nance, a New York Times best-selling author and Aviation Analyst for ABC World News and Good Morning America, Pierce College Chancellor, Michele Johnson Ph.D., Pierce County Director of Human Services, Heather Moss, Terri Card, Outpatient COO for the MultiCare Behavioral Health Network and CEO of Greater Lakes Mental Health (GLMH), and Treasurer of the State of Washington, Mike Pellicciotti.
Do you want to make a difference in your community and the world?
The Rotary Club of Lakewood is known locally and internationally for the service projects we sponsor and participate in. Our Rotary Club is also a great place to network, share ideas, learn new things, and hear from some of the most outstanding speakers from around our city and the world.
The best way to see if the club is right for you is to come along to a meeting and check it out! You’ll always be made to feel welcome. For more information, contact our Membership Chair Connie Coleman-Lacadie at 253-906-1346, or visit our webpage at www.lakewoodrotary.com.
Meetings are held every Friday at noon via Zoom for those who wish to join us remotely, and in person at the Tacoma Country & Golf Club, 13204 Country Club Drive SW., Lakewood, WA 98498