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Service, compassion put business owner Kyle Bunch in the running for Rotary Club of Wilsonville's First Citizen award

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Kyle Bunch is a nominee for Rotary's First Citizen award.

When Wilsonville resident Debi Laue attends a community event, she tends to spot one person with a smile on his face enthusiastically volunteering in whatever capacity is needed. That person is Kyle Bunch.

And it's this ubiquity that led Laue to nominate Bunch for the Rotary Club of Wilsonville's First Citizen award, which is given annually to an impactful member of the Wilsonville community.

Bunch, who volunteers for the Rotary Club of Wilsonville, Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce, Grace Chapel, Coffee Creek Correctional Facility and other entities, subsequently was named a finalist for the award.

"It's the cumulative effect," Laue said. "When you see the same person everywhere you go and they're volunteering, it makes a big impact. He leads by example."

The Rotary Club of Wilsonville will announce the winner of this year's First Citizen award at the 2020 Vision for Service: Heart of Gold Dinner and Auction at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Wilsonville Holiday Inn. Along with Bunch, fellow volunteers Ericka Katz Consilio, Katie Green and Jake and Dianne McMichael also were named finalists for the award.

This was the second time Bunch has been named a First Citizen finalist.

"I think for anyone who is a finalist or is nominated for this, it's not the motivation, the reason why we do what we do," Bunch said. "Obviously, I'm very honored people see the value of the contributions I bring to Wilsonville."

The Wilsonville chapter of Bunch's life story started about seven years ago when he bought the American Family Insurance branch currently across the street from Black Bear Diner. Though it's the first business he's owned, Bunch was confident that becoming deeply involved in community activities was a key to success.

Remembering his dad's time volunteering for Canby's Rotary Club, Bunch decided joining Wilsonville's would be a good idea. Clearly, he has made the most of the opportunity.

Bunch served as the Rotary's president in 2016-17 and helped restart the club's exchange student program during that time. The next year, he was the Wilsonville Rotary Foundation president.

Recently, he became one of the people in charge of the Wilsonville Rotary's Through a Child's Eyes (TACE) program, which provides an afternoon for incarcerated mothers at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility to spend quality time with their children.

Inspired by his experience volunteering at TACE events, Bunch has deepened his volunteer efforts at the prison — now leading a fellowship program where he helps adults in custody explore their faith and find a sense of purpose.

"For a lot of them it's hard to have depth in relationships there. There's not a high level of trust. They may not have a lot of access to resources," Bunch said. "To have something that's a motivation for that changed behavior outside of their own emotions or how they are feeling is a huge piece for them."

Bunch said that the meaningful conversations he's had with these women has taught him to view those who are imprisoned with more humanity.

"It's hugely changed my perspective, being able to be in situations where I can remove that criminality from the person and really focus on everything besides that," Bunch said. "A lot of the women I've interacted with through TACE or the prison fellowship, if I met them outside of

Coffee Creek I probably would have no idea (that they were incarcerated)."

Bunch really felt like a Wilsonville mainstay once he joined Grace Chapel. At the nondenominational church, he and his wife lead a ministry for young people navigating early adulthood. There, they teach them how to build healthy relationships, manage money and lead a purposeful life. Meanwhile, Bunch has coached middle school football teams and now coaches his daughter's youth softball team.

Bunch said he has benefited from strong mentors and now views himself as a mentor himself.

"I feel like it allows me to be able to use the experience I've had or mentorship I've gotten and wisdom I've gotten to be able to help people," he

said.

Some other ways Bunch has been involved in the community include serving in various roles on the Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce, joining the task force for the plan to redevelop Town Center, and completing the Wilsonville Citizens Academy. In his roles on the chamber and the task force, he tried to be equanimous.

My hope is (that) I was able to set some example of, 'It's OK that we aren't going to agree on everything. We have to work through those disagreements,'" he said.

Bunch's inclination that forming many relationships in the community would help his business seems to have proven correct. He said that when he started he had 180 policies and $90,000 worth of premiums. Now, he said he has 2,300 policies and $2.1 million worth of premiums.

"It's (local relationships) continued to be a huge reason why our business has grown," Bunch said.

But to him, the Wilsonville community is more than just a customer base. His home, work and volunteer efforts are all here. And he wouldn't have it any other way.

"Both professionally and personally we're very much ingrained here," he said. "We love the community."


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