Creston Rotary Club president Heidi Muller (left) recently presented a $10,000 cheque to Trails for the Creston Valley’s Leslie Kelner and Adam Mjolsness for the purchase of land for the Riverside Park on the Goat River. (Photo submitted)

Celebrating 50 years of service

Rotarians are generous with their time and money.

For 50 years people of the Creston Valley have benefitted from an organization whose members dedicate their energies to Service Above Self.

The Creston Rotary Club was founded in 1968 by a group of like-minded businessmen and professionals who wanted to emulate the goals of Paul Harris, a lawyer in Chicago in the early 1900s.

“I was sure that there must be many other young men who had come from farms and small villages to establish themselves in Chicago,” Harris said in later years. “Why not bring them together? If others were longing for fellowship as I was, something would come of it.”

Harris brought together a small group of friends in 1905, and the Rotary Club of Chicago was born.

In February 1907, Harris was elected as the club’s third president, a position he held until the fall of 1908. Toward the end of his club presidency, Harris worked to expand Rotary beyond Chicago. Some club members resisted, not wanting to take on the additional financial burden. But Harris persisted and by 1910 Rotary had expanded to several other major U.S. cities.

A $26.50 donation in 1917 kicked off the creation of the Rotary Foundation, which has since raised more than $3 billion to support projects around the globe. More than 1.2 million men and women in more than 100 countries continue to work toward the ideals of Rotary, building on fellowship and goodwill to work locally and globally for the betterment of all.

Members are asked to ask themselves four questions about what they think, do or say:

Is it the TRUTH?

Is it FAIR to all concerned?

Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?

Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

In the 50 years since community-minded men gathered to form the Creston Rotary Club, the marks they and their successors have left are indelible.

The Community Complex Creston Room was originally constructed by Rotarians. Rotacrest Centre was a Rotary project, as was the nearby children’s playground. Trails have been constructed in town and on Thompson Mountain and the boardwalk on Balancing Rock Trail was rebuilt. Benches dot the trails in the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area. The list is long and impressive.

In 1990 women were brought into the Creston club and, in the same era, some members formed a second club, the Creston Valley Rotary Club, which continues to meet weekly on Tuesday mornings at the Community Complex. The original club still meets at noon on Wednesdays, and now calls Jimmy’s Pub and the Creston Hotel home.

The two clubs often partner in projects, and each has its own priorities, too.

Construction of Millennium Park was undertaken by the Creston Valley club and the Creston club worked with designer Gary Smith to build the Japanese Garden within.

In recent years, Centennial Park has been transformed by the addition of Rotary Splash Park, outdoor exercise equipment, a new gazebo, changing rooms and washrooms. The Creston club collaborated with Creston Public Library and the Creston Valley Garden Club to build the Lawrence Lavender Reading Garden in honour of the man with a long history Rotary and the library board of directors.

Recently, the Creston Rotary Club has added two “Play Me” pianos downtown and contributed $10,000 to the purchase of land for Riverside Park.

The Creston Valley Rotary Club completed construction of a roof to cover a logging display at the Creston Valley Museum, one of its many hands-on projects its members enjoy.

For nearly two decades the Creston Club has maintained close ties to communities in Honduras, building water systems and schools and contributing to the education of children in several communities.

For many years, both clubs hosted and sponsored International Youth Exchange Students, and the long history of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camps continues.

Take a walk around town or a drive around the Creston Valley, or chat with people from all walks of life, and the part that the Creston Rotary Club has played is remarkable. Dedication to our local and international communities continues unabated.

Consider what the world might be like if Rotary International hadn’t partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other organizations to tackle the scourge of polio nearly 40 years ago. Since the first Rotary vaccination project in 1979, the incidence of polio around the globe has been reduced by 99.9 per cent, in part by the vaccination of 2.5 billion children.

Rotarians are generous with their time and money, but projects large and small, local and international, go ahead only with the backing of the broader community of residents and businesses that support Rotarians in their fundraising efforts.

“Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?” In the Creston Valley and countless other communities, the answer can only be a resounding “YES!”

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