Issaquah Rotary is part of district given First Citizen Award

July 3, 2012

By Daron Anderson

Rotary International District 5030 — which runs from Mill Creek to Enumclaw — has recently found itself in distinguished company.

The district, which includes the Rotary Club of Issaquah, joins the Gates family, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and former Seattle Mariner Jamie Moyer as recipients of the Seattle-King County First Citizen Award for their commitment to community and public service.

Don Oellrich, president of the Rotary Club of Issaquah, said being part of the district that received the award is an honor.

“Rotary has proven to be far beyond my expectations as to the good it can bring,” he said. “While still affording an opportunity for networking among business people, the real reward is doing something of lasting value to the community.”

The Seattle-King County First Citizen Award has recognized “outstanding community leaders who have served the needs of our communities and the people of Seattle and King County for the past 74 years,” according to SeattleFirstCitizen.org.

Joan Probala, a member of the First Citizen Committee and president-elect of the King County Association of Realtors, said the award is one of the oldest ongoing honors in the greater Seattle area. One recipient is named each year.

“We recognize our friends and neighbors who are doing something good for the rest of us,” she said.

This is the second time an organization has been a recipient of the First Citizen Award. The first was Children’s Orthopedic Hospital, now Seattle Children’s, in 1944.

Roni Strupat, First Citizen Committee chairwoman, has been on the committee for 22 years. She said District 5030 has done many things for the community and the world, which has made it a potential candidate for years.

“Rotary is an important part of our community, and they certainly have contributed their time and effort and it has made our community a better place,” she said.

The Rotary Club of Issaquah has approximately 55 members who meet weekly.

From funding removal of land mines in Vietnam to providing $15,000 in annual scholarships to seniors at local high schools who commit to pursuing higher academic and vocational educations, the Rotary Club of Issaquah promotes community leadership, volunteerism and public service locally and internationally.

The club holds the annual Rotary Run during the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival. In recent years, the event has registered more than 1,500 runners and walkers. Proceeds support the Issaquah Schools Foundation, which provides materials and program support for local schools.

Each year, members of the community send recommendations and the award committee evaluates the candidates before making a selection.

“We look for people who are contributing members to the Seattle-King County area,” Strupat said. “It’s not about money, but philanthropy … and about giving up themselves and their time for our community.”

Oellrich said it is gratifying that Rotary is being recognized. Rotary members have a “Four-Way Test” and philosophy to ensure their work is true, fair, beneficial and builds good will and friendships, he said.

“Those are the principles that we try to apply,” he said. “We’re all human and we try to do the best we can. But it is these principles that we like to draw attention to when we celebrate this achievement.”

The First Citizen award banquet was held at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel on June 13.

Daron Anderson is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.

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