We hear a lot about Rotary Clubs around the world these days. If you’ve flown on a major airline, watched TV, listened to radio or read your local newspapers you’re aware that Rotary International is very close to being the organization that will eliminate Polio for everyone in every country of the planet. Started by Paul Harris in Chicago in 1905 the vision of Paul Harris was to create a professional group with the same friendly spirit he felt in the small towns of his youth and Rotary became the world’s first community service club. Later as the organization grew to international proportions as a legacy to Paul Harris a foundation was established in his name and those contributing $1,000 to the foundation are recognized as Paul Harris Fellows (PHF) and honored for their contribution.
Locally Rotary Clubs on the Kenai Peninsula have become synonymous with foreign exchange students, scholarships, Soap Box Derbies, creating parks with handicapped access to the Kenai River and numerous other community service projects and international friendship exchanges. The Rotary motto, “Service Above Self” has become a model for many local business owners and managers through the years. Recently, the Soldotna Rotary Club, founded in 1979 as the first Rotary Club on the Kenai Peninsula and the first club in Rotary District 5010 to earn a 100% PHF membership award (all members reaching the $1,000 contribution level) held a PHF awards banquet. Not to only honor Rotarians reaching their PHF, but community members who have exemplified service above self that had been recognized by club members. Their award also represents a $1,000 contribution to the Rotary Foundation in their name by the club or individuals. “The idea came from our Rotary Foundation Chair Mark Dixon to honor Non-Rotarians for their selfless contributions to our community. Tonight our club selected Guy Hayes for his multitude of service to the youth of our community and Brenda Dunn, who has worked tirelessly at the Fireweed Café at the Peninsula Food Bank for many years. We were proud to honor and recognize their service and this is our way of saying their efforts are greatly appreciated,” said Pyhala.
“It was our way of not only recognizing other members of the community back in New York who are serving and meeting the needs of others, but to also promote the Rotary Foundation. The Foundation is a global entity that works without deference to borders, politics, socio-economic status or religion. It’s filling a need that none of the world’s political leaders are able to figure out how to, whether it be eradicating polio, dealing with famine or natural disasters by bringing shelter boxes, eliminating illiteracy, you name it and Rotary is involved with doing it and the foundation is just that our foundation to spring projects forth from, to do these good works that the leaders of nations are unable to figure out. We hope this will become an annual event, there are a lot of good people in this community that deserve to be recognized,” said Mark Dixon.