By The Herald Editorial Board
For more than 100 years, Everett Rotary, in alliance with other Rotary groups in the city and throughout Snohomish County, has put to practice the motto of “Service Above Self.”
That service in recent years has resulted in an impressive record of community support and fundraising including more than $100,000 for the effort to build supportive housing in Everett at Clare’s Place; $100,000 for a culinary training program at HopeWorks, which trains formerly homeless youths and adults for careers in the field; $100,000 for a college readiness program with the Everett School District and more than $100,000 each year in scholarships for Snohomish County students that over the yeas have totaled more than $3.75 million.
But Rotary’s service also has extended beyond Everett and Snohomish County.
Rotary takes the ethic behind “think globally and act locally” and adds an additional mandate to act globally, too, said Ed Petersen, a longtime member and past president of Everett Rotary, with outreach intended to address a range of issues at home and abroad including community development, public health, education, climate change, poverty and more.
For the Everett Rotary, that global action has focused recently on the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
This week, Everett and other Rotary clubs in Snohomish County are celebrating the eighth anniversary of their relationship and work with the community of Dajabón, Dominican Republic, a market town of about 24,000 people located in the island nation’s northwest near its border with Haiti. Following past visits by Rotary members to Dajabón, this week eight members of that community have come to Everett, Snohomish County and the Puget Sound region for a visit of their own.
“This visit with strengthen our collaboration with Dajabón Rotarians and help inspire new projects to support the community there,” Petersen said.
Along with a special dinner tonight at Hotel Indigo on Everett’s waterfront, the group will have toured the Boeing Future of Flight Museum, Seattle’s Pike Place Market, the Space Needle and attended Everett AquaSox and Seattle Mariners games, in particular to cheer on Dominican Republic native and Mariners star Julio Rodriguez.
Rodriguez’s father, Julio Sr., is a member of Dajabón’s Rotary club. And while Rodriguez’s father wasn’t able to make the trip north, Petersen said, the group extended an invitation to the ballplayer for the dinner, but understood, he said, that the outfielder is busy in the season’s final weeks and in the thick of a race for the league championship or a wildcard spot.
As exciting as taking in a pennant-chase game can be, the visit by Dominican Rotarians also is a chance, said Petersen and fellow Rotarian Walt Grennwood, to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of the partnership in Dajabón, which began in 2015.
Fundraising and volunteer efforts have supported several projects, not only in Dajabón, but also in Guatemala and Honduras. Among the work in the Dominican Republic, Rotary has supported:
A greenhouse garden project, with more than $106,000 in support from Rotary clubs in Everett, Mukilteo and Lake Stevens, that has built enclosed shade gardens for the growing of vegetables for sale in Dajabón’s markets. Along with supplying food for the region, the program also provides training in organic gardening and business and financial management for local residents.
A literacy initiative, backed by $24,000, for books for children’s homes and seven schools this year and last year, and three more schools next year.
An investment of $61,000 in a project to secure daily water service in the region, including two large water tanks and a 13-kilometer aqueduct serving six villages and 1,000 households that now only get water two to three days a week.
And an extension of its successful greenhouse program that is building similar gardens at a school serving a low-income neighborhood that will provide meals at the school and offer lessons in nutrition, biology, math and more.
It’s been common of late to hear some question the efforts and financial support by individuals, organizations and governments of needs outside one’s own city, state or nation; that one’s home should come first. Not to argue against that priority, but Rotary and its ethic of “Service Above Self” proves that we and our neighbors are capable of serving the communities in which we live and the larger global community at the same time.
For more information about Everett Rotary, go to EverettRotary.com.