Rotary Club of Three Creeks celebrates fifth anniversary with huge benefit to community
CLARK COUNTY, Wash. – In the same year that 20 percent of Clark County residents relied on food banks and pantries, the Rotary Club of Three Creeks quietly celebrated its fifth anniversary.
Even without big fanfare, in 2020-21 alone, the Rotary club donated $21,000 cash, and 108 volunteer hours to three local food banks.
“Rotary’s mantra is ‘Service Above Self’”, said Club President Nelson Holmberg. “Members of our club take that very seriously and it’s why we’re successful. It’s our brand and it’s who we are. Since our club’s inception, we’ve made quite an impressive impact for a group of 27.”
The Three Creeks club – primarily serving Hazel Dell, Felida, Salmon Creek and Ridgefield – was chartered by Rotary International on October 7, 2016. Since then (through October 7, 2021), the club completed 62 service projects, for a total of 1,674 service hours within the community. If each volunteer was paid $25 per hour for their service in these projects, that impact equates to $41,850.
“All I can say is wow – with a capital ‘W’”, said Rotary District 5100 Governor Jim Boyle. “This club has always kind of blown my mind, but to see in terms of the numbers what impact it has made to the community in just five years is beyond impressive; it’s admirable.”
To put the financial total into context, the impact is even more impressive. Examples of how the value of service translates to the community include the following points. These are based on Rotary International’s seven areas of focus: Promoting Peace, Fighting Disease, Providing Clean Water, Supporting Education, Saving Mothers & Children, Growing Local Economies and Environment.
That’s just the direct volunteer service impact of the club. Financially, the club has already raised $120,000 in four years through its annual fundraiser. Three years of Dancing with the Local Stars raised $65,000. The dancing fundraiser is a popular event in the community that is paid for by sponsorships and volunteer efforts, so that 100 percent of donated funds can be awarded as grants into the community.
In March 2021, the fundraiser shifted to an online Dining with the Local Stars format, and raised a record $55,000, even during the height of the pandemic. The 2022 fundraiser will again be Dancing with the Local Stars (www.dancingwiththelocalstars.com), scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 26 at ilani Casino Resort in Ridgefield.
The club recently established, launched, and provided seed funding for the locally controlled Rotary Club of Three Creeks Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit separate from the club itself to collect tax-deductible donations and award grants and financial gifts following the strategic priorities set by the club.
In 2018, after the second fundraiser, club members voted to determine giving priorities for the club and the top four selected were children, veterans, homeless and hungry.
“After establishing the giving priorities during a club meeting, we invited nonprofits from across the community to participate in a round of ‘speed dating’ at another club meeting to make their pitch to the club about why we should partner with them in giving,” Holmberg said. “It was absolutely an eye-opening experience to understand all of the need in our community.”
Since that vote, the club has selected North County Community Food Bank as one of its partners and has granted $30,000 to the Battle Ground-based organization. Clark County Food Bank and FISH Vancouver are other direct benefactors of Three Creeks major grants.
In 2020-21 alone, the club granted nearly $40,000 to nonprofits that fit into the giving priorities established by club members. Members even virtually “passed the hat” during a club meeting on Zoom to raise $300 in a pop-up fundraiser for Martha’s Pantry.
“Rotarians have a knack for recognizing needs within the community,” Holmberg said. “When it became evident in 2020 that food insecurity was a major issue, our club responded – quickly – and provided $21,000 and lots of volunteer hours that were needed by three of the county’s major food banks so that they could fully provide groceries to their clients.”
Included in the total hours of volunteer service to the community are four toy drives that filled barrels for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office Santa’s Posse program, amounting to approximately $4,000 of new toys donated by Rotarians.
“And all of this doesn’t even consider the more than $20,000 individually donated by members over the same five years to The Rotary Foundation, which makes an international impact, over those five years,” Holmberg said. “We’re making a big difference locally and we’re also doing our part, as a small club, to make a difference in the world. I think we all are pretty proud of that.”