Anyone who has used the pier at Kal Beach, attended the Rotary Christmas Carol Festival or Seniors Spring Breakout, sat in the gazebo at O’Keefe Ranch, walked on the Polson Park walkway, been a member of the Scouting movement, or benefited from the many non-profit organizations supported by Rotary knows what it means to the community.
It all started with the Vernon Rotary Club which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. The club, the first Rotary club in the Okanagan, received its charter Feb. 18, 1925, when Rotary International which began in Chicago to promote ethics in business and community service was only 20 years old.
Russell Shortt has been a member for 45 years and is president -elect, taking on his duties July 1.
“I have met many service-minded people and they have become my good friends. The club has been an important part of my life professionally and personally,” he said.
Jack Peters, a 40-year member is past-president, past-district governor and co-chairperson with Derek Hall of the 90th anniversary celebrations.
“There is such good fellowship and opportunity for service,” said Peters.
“In 1975, we founded what is now the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan which keeps growing as a funding source for so many valuable organizations. We are involved with many projects for youth with scholarships and the exchange program which is enriching for the local and international youth who take part and for us as a club.”
Vernon Rotary has been active since the start in helping found other Rotary Clubs, including Kelowna in 1927, Revelstoke in 1929, other clubs in the Okanagan and a Rotary Club in Ukraine.
International activities have a broad scope from health to peace and conflict resolution.
“Rotary International helped start the United Nations as we had an international humanitarian perspective,” said Shortt.
Rotary is the only service club to have a seat (non-voting) at the United Nations.
The Vernon club supports Operation Eyesight Universal and the international Polio Plus, aimed at eliminating the disease worldwide.
It also works with issues like literacy, the environment, hunger and children at risk. The Vernon Club has sponsored St. Vincent’s Orphanage in Delhi for 35 years.
“We invited Rotarians, friends of Rotary and families to join us as we look back at our history and ahead to many more years,” said Peters.
The 90th anniversary celebration takes place Friday at the Schubert Centre with a reception at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m.
For more information and tickets call Derek Hall at 250-549-2123.