Though they didn't exactly plan it that way, Charbonneau residents Jake and Dianne McMichael have dedicated much of their retirement to helping youth in the Wilsonville community.
Dianne reads books to local schoolchildren and helps raise money for foster care programs while Jake has been deeply involved with the Rotary Club of Wilsonville's youth exchange program and a new Rotary Club at Wilsonville High School.
Together, they make a community-minded couple.
"These are both very caring and warm people who have made it a point to reach out in the community and enhance the community and give back," Rotary member Curt Kipp said. "It's hard to envision a world where they don't want to be involved in something and contribute. It's just what they do."
Jake and Dianne were together named finalists for the Rotary Club of Wilsonville's First Citizen award, given annually to impactful members of the Wilsonville community.
The Rotary 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 Holiday Inn Wilsonville. Along with the McMichaels, fellow volunteers Kyle Bunch, Katie Green and Ericka Katz Consilio also were named finalists for the award.
Jake joined the Rotary around 2000 and is the only member to ever have served as president twice, agreeing to hold the post a second year after John Wysock died during his tenure.
"In the Rotary, you are involved in something that is greater than yourself, not only in the local community, but internationally," Jake said.
To the latter point, Jake is proud of his and the Rotary's efforts to help West Linn resident Debbie Ethell provide a better learning space for Kenyan students. Last year, the club donated hundreds of desks for students there.
After helping reignite the program, Jake continues to play a major role in organizing the Rotary's youth exchange program, including sending letters to prospective participants, interviewing candidates and other administrative
"This is something they (exchange participants) will remember for the rest of their lives. This is a big deal for them," Jake said. "They come back much more mature."
And Kipp said Jake has been "instrumental" in starting the Interact Club, a program where Wilsonville High students form their own Rotary Club.
Overall, Kipp said Jake has been one of the most consistent volunteers in the club.
"I don't know of too many people who have a greater sense of duty and commitment," he said.
One Rotary event Jake and Dianne have done together is volunteering in the storybook corner at the Rotary's Through A Child's Eyes (TACE) annual event, where Coffee Creek Correctional Facility adults in custody spend a fun afternoon with their children.
"That is (storybook corner) important to us because a lot of these kids don't have a book at home," Dianne said. "If you can't read in this country you can't do anything."
Dianne also reads books to children every week at Boones Ferry Primary School. In certain cases, she follows the children she reads with throughout their lives.
For example, Dianne was heartened to learn that one of her former pupils who struggled in school recently had graduated college.
"I love it," Dianne said of reading to kids. "One year I decided I wasn't going to do it, but then I went back because I missed the energy that the kids have."
Dianne also has been a member of the Boys & Girls Aid Cypress branch, which is a Charbonneau offshoot that raises money for the foster care-focused organization.
There, she has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars via an annual crab and rib dinner and has organized a program where the branch donates sports bags for children to receive on Christmas.
"I think I started (volunteering for Boys & Girls Aid) because I looked at our grandkids and said, 'We're so blessed.' They're smart. They have everything. And so many children don't. So I just wanted to do whatever I can to help those kids who need it the most," Dianne said.
When they received the phone call that they were selected finalists for the First Citizen award, Jake and Dianne weren't thrilled about it. They thought other community members would be more deserving and said they don't volunteer to receive recognition.
In fact, Jake felt more satisfaction when he heard former youth exchange program participants talk about their experience living in another country during past Heart of Gold events.
Giving, rather than receiving, is the McMichaels' forte.
"Service is what First Citizen represents and they are a perfect fit for what we're looking to recognize in our club," Kipp said.
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