They lift up those around them.
They take on projects that have positive, lasting impacts within their communities: fundraisers for scholarships and nonprofits, collection drives for veterans and food banks, cleanup campaigns, helping families in need.
They’re Rotary members. With a motto of “Service Above Self,” making the world a better place is just what they do.
“I saw the Rotarians giving back to the community, and I just wanted to be a part of it,” said Post Falls Rotary Club (North Idaho, US – D 5080) President Christi Fleischman, who has been in Rotary nearly six years.
“I saw the impact, and I felt like, if I live here, how can I not be a part of that?”
North Idaho is home to at least a dozen Rotary Clubs, from Ponderay to Moscow, and dozens more can be found across the Northwest and into Canada.
Clubs in Post Falls, Hayden and three in the Lake City — Coeur d’Alene, Coeur d’Alene Sunrise and Coeur d’Alene Evening “Rotary on the Rocks” — are filled with members eager to do good for their fellow humans.
The clubs are all under the umbrella of Rotary International, a global service organisation dedicated to bringing people together for humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world.
“It’s just amazing what they do,” Fleischman said.
The first Rotary, the Rotary Club of Chicago, was formed in February 1905 by Chicago attorney Paul Harris, who had a vision of giving professionals with diverse backgrounds a way to exchange ideas, foster relationships and give back to their communities.
The club’s name comes from how the group’s originally rotated meetings among offices of its members.
“Rotary” also means something that revolves around a centre, much like how Rotary members rally around the causes and people they support.
“A rotary is a wheel,” Fleischman said. “It’s constantly moving.”
In just the past few months, Rotarians in Kootenai County have gotten a lot accomplished.
The Post Falls club held a yard sale to benefit the Inland Northwest SIDS Foundation and the Post Falls Food Bank.
Its roughly 30 members also adopted a Post Falls street to keep clear of trash, volunteered to help renovate a Veterans of Foreign Wars building, held a towel drive for the veteran service nonprofit Newby-ginnings of North Idaho, gave toiletry bags to a St Vincent de Paul shelter, and they have lots of other projects going on all the time.
International committee chair Mara’d Sjostrom helped found the Post Falls club in 1995.
She said she’s particularly proud of the pergola the club built at the Post Falls Library.
“That was large construction that was quite involved for a small club,” Sjostrom said.
“It provides shade and a place for people to gather and read.”
The Hayden Lake Rotary Club is small but mighty with 12 members who are working on projects for the Northwest Expedition Academy, such as raising chickens and keeping a vegetable garden.
“They have kids who tend to the vegetables in terms of care and collection and selling them,” said Hayden Lake Rotary Club President Joe Bohart.
“The whole idea of the project is to get these kids involved start to finish in a project that otherwise they wouldn’t get until they’re teenagers.”
Members are also volunteering to help kids having academic struggles.
“We’re sending in a group of club members to mentor these kids,” Bohart said.
“This will help make a difference in the lives of these kids over time.”
The Coeur d’Alene club, which meets Fridays at noon, famously blankets the community with roses every fall as it raises thousands of dollars for various causes and nonprofits in the area.
Coeur d’Alene Sunrise recently volunteered time to help ElderHelp of North Idaho, and the Coeur d’Alene Evening members just raised nearly $1,500 ringing holiday bells for the Salvation Army.
Rotary comprises 1.2 million members and more than 35,000 clubs worldwide.
Just about anywhere something good is happening, the Rotary International 6-spoked wheel logo can be found.
Source: Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press