As the executive director of Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels, Pam Almeida is well aware of the community contributions made by the Valley Rotary – even if many of her fellow residents are not.
Just two years ago, the local service club donated $10,000 to the Meals on Wheels cause. Last year, another $4,500 helped provide more nutritious food for area seniors and disabled residents. The donations came at a particularly opportune time, considering the agency – like many nonprofit organizations in Spokane and throughout the country – had been struggling financially.
Almeida said the Rotary gift arrived without much fanfare, but made a significant impact.
“No one knows about a lot of the help they give,” she said.
Almeida was so impressed with the group that she decided to become a Rotarian herself, joining the club earlier this year.
“I liked their commitment to service,” she said. “They’re involved in the community because of what they stand for.”
From something as simple as replacing an American flag outside the Spokane Valley Police Precinct to sponsoring an annual scholarship program for area students, the organization has made it a point to support worthwhile civic endeavors since it was established in 1947. The list of service projects in recent years includes a range of efforts from supporting rehabilitative programs like Daybreak to picking produce on Green Bluff farms to benefit Second Harvest.
Under the auspices of Rotary International, local Rotarians also contribute to worldwide efforts such as the eradication of polio and projects that provide fresh water to developing countries.
“It’s nice to be able to give something back,” said Steve Florence, a Valley Rotarian since 1997.
Like many in the club, Florence said the organization has been a source of fellowship while serving as a vehicle for effective change. One of the club’s projects throughout the years involved sponsoring a mile along the Centennial Trail for maintenance and cleanup. Other undertakings have involved purchasing a defibulator for the Spokane Valley Senior Center and a lift chair for a local senior.
“They just help people in a nice, quiet way,” said Karen Parson-Clark, director of the Valley Senior Center. “The Rotary has always been there for us.”
Kay Bryant, who served on the Central Valley School District board of directors for over 12 years, said being part of the Rotary means being part of a diverse group of civic-minded friends who believe that altruism is not a thing of the past.
“You have people from all walks of life, from retirees to people just starting out in their professional lives,” Bryant said. “You see pretty quickly that you can make a difference with a group like this and the resources we have.”
Bryant helped draw attention to a project during the school year at Broadway Elementary that resulted in over $900 being raised to purchase nearly 500 books for kids in the free and reduced fee lunch program. There has been talk of starting similar programs at schools in the West Valley and East Valley districts.
“We don’t publicize ourselves,” Bryant said. “It’s just our way of making an impact.”
Gary Bowe first joined Rotary as a resident of California in 1984. When he moved to the Inland Northwest in 2007, he became part of the Valley club.
“Whether you’re traveling in other areas around the state, country or world, you can be in a Rotary Club and be among friends,” Bowe said. “I’ve benefited from being around the quality of people that are involved in Rotary.”
When Valley Rotarians like Hank Grinalds pass on, they often leave funds that continue to benefit worthy causes. In the case of Grinalds, the resources go to help local seniors through groups like Meals on Wheels and the emergency assistance fund at Spokane Valley Partners.
“Hank specified that it should benefit seniors in the community,” Bowe said. “Those funds have helped a lot of people.”
After the new flag was raised at the Valley Precinct last week, Sgt. Wes Eylar summed up the often unheralded service of a club that has made Spokane Valley a better place for over six decades.
“We’re really appreciative of the Rotary Club and the way they step up,” Eylar said. “They don’t ask for recognition. They’re just doing things for the betterment of the community.”
Want to find out more?
To learn more about the Spokane Valley Rotary, call Steve Florence at 953-7262.