Both service groups mark major milestones

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tigard Rotary President Judy Miller talks to Rotarians at the groups regular meeting at Nicolis Grill & Sports Bar last week. The club celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.The Tigard Rotary is still going strong after half a century.

The service organization celebrates its 50th anniversary this month and shows no signs of slowing down.

But it’s not alone. The city has two active clubs, the Tigard Rotary, which meets on Thursdays, and the Tigard Breakfast Rotary, which meets Tuesday mornings. Both groups are celebrating milestones this year.

The Tigard Rotary’s golden anniversary comes amidst the Breakfast Rotary’s 20th anniversary, said Todd McDonald, president of the Breakfast Rotary.

The two groups are wholly independent, working on different projects with different members. But whichever club they belong to, Rotarians say the groups play an important role helping local communities and people around the world.

“There’s a spirit that goes with wanting to link arms and do something beyond themselves,” said McDonald, who has been a member of the Breakfast Rotary for the past seven years.

Like a family

Having two Rotaries in town isn’t uncommon. Sherwood and Hillsboro also have more than one Rotary, McDonald said.

Started in 1964, the Tigard Rotary still has members dating back to its earliest days.

Like many in the club, Dianna Weston joined after a fellow member introduced her to what Rotary was all about.

The service projects intrigued her, she said, but it was the group’s international reach that drew her in.

“It’s an international organization,” she said. “In a way, I could know people all over the world with just a phone call or an email, and that’s besides the local service opportunities and friendships.”

Rotary’s international reach is impressive — there are 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide.

The Rotary is a lot like a family, Strickler said.

“I look forward to seeing everybody,” said Jim Strickler, Tigard Rotary’s club director. “There is a camaraderie from everyone pulling and working together on a common cause, and friendships grow out of it.”

When Strickler lost his job a few years ago, the Rotary stepped in to help him through a difficult time.

“They said, ‘Your lunches are covered, just keep coming,’” he said. “There is a great amount of support for each other. We look out for each other. They are giving in really all aspects.”

Current projects

The Tigard Rotary gives money to groups in Guatamala for students to attend school, supplying them with books, backpacks and other necessities. Closer to home, the group awards $10,000 in scholarships each year to Tigard high school students.

Both local clubs have donated to worldwide efforts to end polio.

The two Rotaries also work together on projects, donating dictionaries to elementary school students in the city and distributing warm jackets to needy families every winter.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Tigard Rotary has purchased a set of outdoor fitness equipment for the recently purchased Dirksen Nature Park. The equipment will be installed later this year, said Judy Miller, Tigard Rotary president.

“That will be one of the first things to go in at the park,” she said.

Each summer, the Tigard Rotary rewards students who often go unrecognized by the rest of the community, Strickler said.

“It’s a big deal for families,” he said. “There was one dad who came up to me after his son won an award. It was the first award his son had ever gotten, and he said that because of that award, his son wanted to go to college. He had tears in his eyes.”

McDonald would like to see the organizations take an even more active role around town.

The Breakfast Rotary is currently raising money for a new K-9 police dog for the Tigard Police Department. It’s an expensive proposition, costing as much as $15,000, McDonald said.

“This project involves more than just us. We probably couldn’t do this on our own,” he said. “We need to reach out to the community, and we should be doing more of that, so that the community can see what work we are doing and where the money goes.”

The Tigard Rotary will be celebrating its golden anniversary with a special celebration on Thursday, March 27.

The event will be held at noon at Nicoli’s Grill & Bar, 17880 S.W. McEwan Road, in Tualatin.

The ceremony will feature special guests, including founding member Deb Fennel, Tigard Mayor John L. Cook and state Rep. Margaret Doherty.

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