Here’s the second installment of a new column aimed at showcasing the work of fraternal and service organizations in Lynnwood, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace. This one profiles Lynnwood Rotary.
Rotary International was started in 1905 in Chicago by Paul Harris. According to the Rotary International website, the first club was formed “so professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas, form meaningful, lifelong friendships, and give back to their communities.” While it may have begun as a meeting of four like-minded businessmen in one of their offices, it quickly became a group with service to the community at its core.
The Seattle branch was the fourth local club, founded in 1909. Within 16 years, there were local clubs on six continents. In 1955, the Lynnwood Rotary Club was formed.
In an interview, current Lynnwood Rotary President Mark Johnson said that the unofficial motto of Rotary is “Service Above Self.” The local and International Rotary websites are full of examples of service projects and fundraisers that they have engaged in. In our local area, Lynnwood Rotary sponsors breakfast and golf tournament fundraisers for charity, as well as an annual rummage sale held at Meadowdale High School that takes over much of the school.
A particular focus of Rotary fundraising efforts is the effort to eradicate polio worldwide, which began in 1979 by raising money to send 500,000 doses of polio vaccine to the Philippines, and which was declared a goal of Rotary International in 1985 and has nearly been completed. Since 1985, Rotary International has raised over $850 million towards anti-polio efforts.
Other, more local efforts include a partnership with the Edmonds School District carpentry programs to facilitate students building houses, providing both hands-on vocational training and housing to families in need. They also support the Lynnwood Food Bank and First Harvest, reading programs in local schools, and scholarships for local students. Recently Lynnwood Rotary participated in an effort to deliver 1,000 pairs of shoes to Clothes for Kids to support schoolchildren in Lynnwood.
Regular participation at Rotary events is emphasized by the Rotary organization. With local clubs meeting throughout the world, it is possible to go to a meeting nearly every week. It is also expected that Rotarians will participate in the events of the club of which they are a member. Club President Johnson said that they have two members of their group who are battling for the perfect attendance supremacy, one of whom has 36 years of perfect attendance, and another with 38 years. “There’s a lot behind it,” Johnson says. “By trying to get perfect attendance you meet Rotarians all over, and it’s like a family, helping out people in areas where they are traveling.”
In the local area there are a number of other Rotary Clubs — in Edmonds, south Everett, Shoreline and Lake Forest Park. Rotary also has other clubs, including Rotaract, where according to the Rotary International website “people ages 18-30 develop leadership and professional skills through service.” They also sponsor youth groups in local high schools, including Interact clubs, which have a similar goal for 12- to 18-year-olds. The Lynnwood Rotary Club has 62 members currently, and Rotary International boasts 1.2 million worldwide.
“Why am I in Rotary?” Johnson asks. “For me it’s not the typical answer — a lot of people join to give back to the community, but for me its’s because of the broad…service and the variety of people you get to meet. You get to have the social interactions with a broad spectrum of people. It’s a diverse group of people, even in my line of work I wouldn’t get to meet.”
The Lynnwood Rotary Club meets on the Edmonds Community College campus at noon every Thursday. If you are interested in finding out more about the Lynnwood Rotary Club, contact club president Mark Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Lynnwood Rotary website, where applications for membership can be found, is rotarycluboflynnwood.com, and Rotary International can be found at www.rotary.org/en.
— By Matt Appel
Matt Appel is a resident of Lynnwood, where he is a stay-at-home father and part-time church treasurer. He is a Freemason and interested in organizations that help people. If you have a group or event you would like to see covered here, please contact him at email@example.com