At a luncheon at the King Edward Hotel, a group of men elected the local Rotary Club’s first president J.J. Horn. The year was 1929.
For the next 91 years, the club has expanded and grown, trying to enhance the quality of life in Revelstoke and around the globe.
“If you took it away, there would be a hole in Revelstoke,” said Maggie Spizzirri, a club director for the Revelstoke Rotary Club.
|The grand opening of the shade sails at Kovach Park last summer, which were a Rotary project. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)|
The club’s purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service, advance good will and promote peace around the world. Globally, there are over 1 million members.
Locally, the club has funded many projects in Revelstoke. To mention a few, they developed the campground at Williamson’s Lake in 1934, adding a bath house, diving tower and slides in 1957. The club also bought X-Ray equipment for the Queen Victoria Hospital in 1936.
Recently, Rotary helped to install a shade structure at Kovach Park, provide funds for the new bike park, and fundraised for the new hospital helipad completed in 2018.
The local club also has been a part of projects around the world, such as building a bridge in Ethiopia, donating library books to a school in India, clean water systems for three schools in Thailand, a water line and roofing materials for a village in Mexico and a neonatal IV pump in Thailand at a refugee camp near the Burmese border.
|The ribbon cutting at the new heli port for the Revelstoke hospital in 2018. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)|
Over the years, the Revelstoke Rotary Club has also donated shelter boxes for disaster relief, including for Hurricane Katrina.
“We have a global reach,” said Spizzirri.
While Rotary membership nationally is decreasing, the local chapter said it’s growing in Revelstoke.
“A lot of our members have been here for decades,” said Sally Robertson, president for Revelstoke.
Although it was a group of men that elected the club’s first president, Robertson said local membership is now roughly 50:50 for men and women. She continued the average age of members is also decreasing.
“A lot of new members are in their 30s.”
She continued that no one gets paid in the organization. Everyone is a volunteer.
“You get out of Rotary what you put into it,” said Robertson.
The youth exchange is one of the Rotary Club’s bread and butter programs.
|Rotary Club exchange students Kaeson Newsome, Maya McDowell and Olivia Gerber (L-R). Photo was taken last year. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)|
The Rotary Club youth exchange program involves students between 15 to 19 years old with opportunities in more than 100 countries.
Both long term (full academic year) and short term (several days to three months) exchanges are offered. The club has offered youth exchanges in Revelstoke for more than 30 years. They cover the costs of room and board, as well as school fees. And in some cases, they also provide an allowance and ski pass.
Currently, there is an exchange student in Revelstoke from India.
“The program exposes children to a world of opportunities,” Robertson said.
Since the Rotary Club is global, it also has access to large funding resources. For example, the Revelstoke chapter raised $11,000 for installing waterlines and environmentally friendly toilets into a school in Ghana. However, according to Spizzirri the club’s international ties brought the total amount raised to roughly $75,000.
“Revelstoke contributes to the world, but also the world contributes to Revelstoke.”
Currently, the club is looking for another community project to fund. Robertson said they are looking for a project aimed towards seniors and youths that will enhance quality of life and is connected to the outdoors.
The club should make a decision by the end of the month.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Robertson.