Rotary celebrates its Centennial with service

Juneau's three groups dedicate special projects for 100th anniversary

Posted: Sunday, July 03, 2005

Rotary celebrated its 100th anniversary on Feb. 23, 2005. In more than 31,000 communities worldwide, Rotary clubs are organizing Centennial Community Projects that celebrate Rotary while providing for needs in their communities.

The Rotary Club of Juneau finished its Centennial Community Project, the Auke Bay community picnic shelter, in September 2004. The shelter is an open-air structure in a neighborhood of trees and berry bushes overlooking the Auke Bay boat harbor.

The Auke Bay School Site Council approached the Rotary Club of Juneau with the idea for a multi-use building that could be used for school programs. The Rotary organizing committee and several parents agreed that the project would benefit the entire community by providing a readily accessible shelter to conduct a variety of school and youth activities. With the cooperation of the city of Juneau, a concept drawing was developed and eventually a structure was engineered in late 2002.

Construction began in June 2003 with a handful of volunteers. By the time the project was completed a year later, 37 different Rotarians and family members had contributed more than 600 hours to create this shelter. This year also is the Rotary Club of Juneau's 70th anniversary. They will purchase a Rotary wheel and plaque to be mounted on the side of the picnic shelter commemorating the centennial of Rotary International.

The Juneau Glacier Valley Club has committed to expanding the Sept. 11 memorial at Riverside Rotary Park as its Centennial Community Project. The club has been dedicated to the park's improvement since 1987, and the park was officially named Riverside Rotary Park in April 1989 after the Juneau Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee voted to rename it.

In July 1990, Rotarian Roy Box took on the committee chairman job and the responsibility to ensure the park was maintained in a manner that served the community, represented the spirit of Rotary and the Juneau Glacier Valley Club. The club organized to do further cleaning, grass planting and to provide amenities such as park benches, grills, an oval asphalt walking path and swing sets.

With help from community members and the city, the membership installed a slide, additional playground equipment, lighting, a telephone, a drinking fountain, a parking lot, a horseshoe pit and a covered shelter, turning the park into a destination for young kids and families.

Following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, planning began to create the first memorial to pay tribute to the lives lost in that disaster. The memorial commemorates the victims of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the downed aircraft in Pennsylvania, and acknowledges the efforts of the rescue and recovery crews. A flag pole and dedication plaque have been placed as a permanent reminder for the community.

In 2004, the club's idea was to further develop the memorial as part of "Our Promise Never to Forget." The project required a new design and a way to fund the improvements. The final design is a broken pentagon, representing the Pentagon building. Each side measures four feet in length, representing the four lost airplanes. The two missing sides represent the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The memorial is concrete and Pennsylvania marble, representing the strength found in heroes. The Forget-Me-Not flowers symbolize the rebirth of patriotism and the promise never to forget. The flag represents the unity of the nation. The head of the memorial's pentagon is aligned with the North Star, a symbol of all Alaskans.

The funding turned into the buy-a-brick campaign with Rotarian Brent Fischer raising the required funds by selling bricks that will be engraved with a name or message of tribute or honor. "We are very pleased with the amount of support from the community. It's been heartwarming. People want to be a part of it," said Rotarian Brent Fischer. The club raised more than $35,000 which will be used to offset the entire cost of the construction.

When the new memorial is complete in August, a dedication will be Sept. 11.

The Juneau-Gastineau Rotary Club began planning for its Centennial Project by partnering with the Juneau Parks and Recreation Department. The desire was to complete a project that would focus on children and provide a long-term structure that would benefit a large group of individuals. The Centennial Project Team decided to build shelters at the sports areas near Lena Point. High winds and exposure to the weather made for some challenging conditions for children and parents at the Lena Loop Park fields.

Rotarian "ringers" Eric Carver and Lloyd Coogan - both general contractors - served as construction team leaders. Project management was headed by Rotarian Ron Hansen, civil engineer. The rest of the club divided into teams: builders, painters, support staff, sign design and production, and publicity. By the end of the project, all 50 members of the club had worked at least on one team.

Construction of the four shelters began fall of 2003 and was completed in challenging weather conditions. Centennial President Tom Sullivan said, "There is nothing more fun than working in Juneau's horizontal rain, especially for some members of this club." The final touches, painting, and signs were completed in spring of 2004, and the project was officially dedicated in summer 2004 at the beginning of baseball season.

Dozens of children use the shelters. On each shelter, Rotary emblems bear the name Juneau-Gatineau Rotary in celebration of the first 100 years of an organization dedicated to "Service Above Self."

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