Rotary has a motto of “service above self,” and for the past 70 years, Campbell River Rotarians have been living that motto and making a difference in the community — as well as abroad.
The Rotary Club of Campbell River is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2016, and looking back at the club’s history, there are not many parts of the community that it hasn’t touched over those seven decades.
The club was founded in 1946 with 21 members. Since then, the Rotary Club of Campbell River has “put millions of dollars and tens of thousands of volunteer hours into making our community and our world a better place to live,” according to the club’s website.
The club’s first project was building the Scout Hall. Some of the other significant projects the Rotary Club of Campbell River has undertaken locally include the 50th parallel marker, Rotary Beach Park and Seawalk, Discovery Pier, Centennial Outdoor Pool, the Maritime Heritage Centre, the suspension bridge above Elk Falls Canyon, the Splash Park and Cari’s Infant and Toddler Centre.
Since 1986, the Rotary Club of Campbell River has donated more than $100,000 in bursaries to Campbell River students.
As well, the club has supported more than 100 local and foreign exchange students since 1969.
President elect Cathy Kaardal says many of Rotary’s local service projects have impacts that reach far beyond the city’s boundaries. For example, the new suspension bridge has brought an average of 1,400 people a week to Campbell River since it opened last May, she said.
“Definitely the Seawalk has really boosted tourism and people investing in Campbell River,” she added. “People retire here just because of that Seawalk.”
Rotary and community have become inextricably linked over the past 70 years. The community supports Rotary’s fundraisers each year, such as the Rotary Auction and the March for Children, and that money gets put back into the community to improve life in Campbell River. All funds raised by the local community are used for local projects.
“After 70 years, there’s a real confidence that the community trusts that Rotary will spend the money for the good of the community,” said Kaardal.
The Rotary Club of Campbell River has done many projects overseas as well and Kaardal says the International Line of Service has donated more than half a million dollars to international projects in the last 70 years.
Kaardal, who will become the club’s president in July, is a second-generation Rotarian. Her father joined Rotary in 1972 and she grew up with it, and she has been a Rotarian for 11 years. Kaardal wants to remind people that Rotary is open to anyone and it’s for people of all ages.
“I think a lot of people forget that anybody can join Rotary,” she said. “I see the perception is it’s just business people, but it’s not. Anybody can join. And it’s not just old people either. It’s people who want to work at doing great things in their community. The reason we do projects like the suspension bridge is we have members who are engineers and skilled people. We have such a huge variety of skillsets that because of that, all sorts of projects are embraced.”
Rotary Club of Campbell River members meet every Wednesday at noon at the Maritime Heritage Centre.
Kaardal and her son, Benjamin McGrath, have produced a video to celebrate the Rotary Club of Campbell River’s 70th anniversary, which was shared at this week’s meeting.
To learn more about the club, visit campbellriverrotary.org.
Discovery Pier has been a popular amenity since it opened.