A Rotary Year Unlike Any Other – East Jefferson Rotary Club Shines Amidst Pandemic

by Rick Smith, President, EJC Rotary

I can’t tell you how honored I am to have served as President of this great club over the past 12 months. I am extremely proud of the way the club has responded to the challenges that have resulted from the pandemic. It hasn’t been an easy task and the ability to socialize and converse in person, one of our club’s greatest strengths, was limited, yet we still managed to accomplish quite a bit over the last year to help those in need in the community.

Rotary pantry.

I would like to share this past year in a review of our accomplishments and a few special thanks to those who went above and beyond to help our club accomplish these goals.

Over the last couple of years, we have cultivated a great relationship with the Community Wellness Project (CWP),  jccwp.org, and partnered with them to support the Little Free Pantry at Irondale Church and to construct and establish a second Little Free Pantry at the Chimacum Grange. Modeled on Little Free Libraries, Little Free Pantries (LFP) are “take what you need, leave what you can.” Each is a centrally located cupboard that holds non-perishable food, available for all, regardless of need. In addition to the LFP’s, we also helped with the Chimacum High School produce garden—weeding and tending to the plants over the summer. A special thanks to Kathryn Lamka and Abbie Jorgenson with CWP; we look forward to our continued partnership and the diverse initiatives you support.

In addition to gardening at the high school, we had a Grange cleanup day at the Chimacum Grange this last spring to get it ready for the summer. We organized a gardening day at the Native Plant Garden at HJ Carroll Park in June; and last fall, we helped the Holiday Meals organization serve and deliver meals to over 150 people in the community.  Thank you to the Rotarians involved in these service projects.

The Rotary Club has had a long-standing relationship with the Tri-Area Food Bank, and we continue to support them with donations and volunteer hours. I volunteered with the food bank a handful of times this last summer, and I am always amazed and delighted by the amount of inventory preparation and work that goes in to such a vital resource in our community. It warms my heart, seeing firsthand the impact of John and Sue Laird’s team at the Chimacum food bank.

Although the pandemic has impacted our ability to connect in person with those in the community, I am proud of two longstanding fundraisers that went on uninterrupted over the last year. The biggest challenge we faced in fundraising involved our annual Rose Sale. Traditionally this has been done with sales solicited primarily in person by Rotarians. With the social distancing mandate, you can imagine the difficulty this presented to our club and the hesitancy of members to engage their Rotary networks. However, showing agility and nimbleness, the club migrated our Rose Sale online thanks to the help of John English with the Port Townsend Rotary Club and his webpage expertise. We had another successful year and managed to raise $4,393 to support local community projects and scholarships. Thanks to all of you who purchased roses and supported this program

The other more visible fundraising project we continue to grow in the Tri-Area is our Holiday Flag program which supports the scholarship fund of the EJRC. For $50 per year, we will fly a flag at your business or residence for five patriotic holidays (Presidents, Memorial, Independence, Labor, and Veterans Day.) As a Rotarian putting up flags several times a year, I feel a great sense of pride and joy each time I put up or take down a flag. For more information about this program or to participate, please contact Ned Luce at nhluce66@gmail.com. Again, thank you to those in the community who are currently flying flags and supporting this program.

Rotary members setting up flags.
Submitted photos

Why we fundraise

Our Rotary club’s willingness to take on projects and fundraisers is what allows our club to have an impact on our community. Donations and proceeds from our work has allowed us to support the following programs:

  • Local Scholarships
  • Connected Students Initiative – The goal is to bring affordable internet connectivity to every student in Jefferson County.
  • Levi’s Chair – Track mobility chair for a local 6-year-old boy
  • Dove House of Jefferson County
  • PSO Bluebills

I am excited for the Rotary year ahead as we transition to our incoming President, Pete Leenhouts. I thank all of you in the community who have had a hand in supporting our club. If you would like to find out more information about the East Jefferson Rotary Club or how you can join us at one of our weekly meetings, please contact me richard.j.smith@edwardjones.com or 360-437-5113.

Upcoming Events:

What: East Jefferson Rotary Car Show

When: Saturday, September 25, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for spectators.

Where: Port Ludlow, above the Marina in the parking lot across from the Port Ludlow Yacht Club

Registration for cars available in advance: $15, and at the door, $20

Registration for cars: 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.

Prizes, Awards and “goodie bags”

Contacts: Ned Luce at nhluce66@gmail.com or Pat Cooper at cooperwp@aol.com

What: Cycle Marrowstone Bike Ride

When: TBD – August 2022

Where: HJ Carroll Park – 16, 27, and 47-mile routes

Cost: $50 pre-registration – $60 day of the ride

Support: Rest Stops, Mechanics & Medics

Activities: Vendor Village & Free Lunch