For only the second time in its 74 year history, the Seattle-King County First Citizen Award will be presented to an organization.
Rotary International District 5030, which encompasses 53 clubs stretching from Mill Creek to Enumclaw, will be honored at a civic banquet on June 13 in Seattle. Collectively, the clubs in the district have approximately 3,200 members.
The only other organization to be honored with the First Citizen award was Children’s Orthopedic Hospital (now Seattle Children’s) in 1944.
“Rotary has a rich history of community leadership, volunteerism and public service, and an impressive record of worldwide collaboration,” noted Roni Strupat, First Citizen Committee chair, in announcing this year’s selection. “Rather than single out an individual, we are delighted to honor an organization with remarkable dedication – and results — in meeting the challenges associated with hunger, poverty and illiteracy. Rotarians reflect the spirit of the First Citizen award by giving generously of their time, expertise and treasure, whether during periods of prosperity or periods of hardship,” she remarked.
Herb M. Bridge, the 2001 First Citizen and a longtime member of the Rotary Club of Seattle, agreed the recognition is timely and well-deserved. The award was conceived to commemorate positive civic endeavors taking place in the midst of global turmoil and economic hardships, he remarked, adding, “Since Rotary’s formation in 1905, this organization has dedicated itself to serving at many levels – vocational, community and international – regardless of cultural ties, ethnicity, or economic standing. Its global impact has touched millions of people.”
“It is an honor to accept this prestigious award on behalf of the 53 clubs in our district. Every member should be proud of this civic recognition of our commitment to service,” said Ann Liberato, the 2011-2012 Rotary International District 5030 Governor.
Among some of Rotary’s noteworthy accomplishments within District 5030 are:
- Partners for Work, a project developed by the Rotary Club of Auburn in 2003. It creates employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities by utilizing Rotarian business leadership as a vital link between job candidates and paid work.
- The Third Grade Dictionary Project, a literacy program that provides dictionaries to all third grade students living within the area of the district’s 53 clubs.
- Rotary First Harvest (RFH), a project started by two members of the University District club in 1982. Since then, RFH has gathered more than 100 million pounds of produce for food banks in Washington state and other needy parts of the region. Along with feeding the hungry with surplus nutritious food, the RFH project has expanded to include improving food distribution and transportation systems, developing innovative hunger relief solutions and replicating the concept in other geographic areas.
Liberato hopes the award will further understanding of Rotary’s worldwide impact and inclusiveness. “What many people may not realize is that Rotarians are a mix of young to old, all ethnicities, and all religions united around service and the greater goal of getting to know each other to achieve a more peaceful world. The organization is a wonderful combination of friendship, networking and service locally, regionally and globally.”
Like other First Citizen Award recipients, Rotary has myriad achievements within King County and beyond.
One of the most significant may be its international flagship program to eradicate polio. “We are reminded in this global economy that if we do not eradicate polio it is only one airplane ride away from infecting the United States once again,” Liberato remarked. The campaign, spanning more than 25 years, is nearing completion thanks in part to generous cohorts, she stated. Liberato singled out partnerships on PolioPlus with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and PATH (a nonprofit catalyst for global health) as an example of Rotary’s collaborative spirit.
Since 1985, when Rotary International created its PolioPlus immunization program, the organization has contributed more than $1 billion and countless volunteer hours to protecting more than 2 billion children in 122 countries. With its community-based network worldwide, Rotary is the volunteer arm of a global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio. At its 2009 Rotary International Assembly, the organization received a $355 million challenge grant from the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
At the local level, Liberato said there are numerous parks around King County that Rotary Clubs have donated and maintain. And, she added, “Many of our young people obtain Rotary scholarships that provide opportunities for higher education at both vocational and university levels.”
“Rotary is all about giving back to their communities, said Liberato, a member of the Rotary Club of West Seattle. “I find it amazing that, as far as I know, we are the only organization in the world whose club members pay their own way for international service projects. “Rotarians who participate in a National Immunization Day in India or help install malaria nets in Zambia have spent their own money, along with investing their time, to make a difference.”
Rotary International is a volunteer organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service, and help build goodwill and peace around the world. Its 1.2 million members are affiliated with 34,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Its clubs are not affiliated with any political or religious organizations but unite around the ideal of “Service Above Self.”
Among other issues Rotary International addresses at home and abroad are peace (through its sponsorship of World Peace Fellows), international education (through scholarships for study abroad and student exchange programs), humanitarian projects, literacy (through programs in resource-strapped developing countries) and water management (through installation of wells and water treatment and distribution systems in developing countries).
About the First Citizen Award and Banquet
Since its inception in 1939, the First Citizen Award continues to celebrate community leadership, volunteerism and public service. Past recipients hail from humanitarian organizations, charitable and educational institutions, arts groups, environmental causes and various civic endeavors.
The Seattle-King County First Citizen Award and civic banquet, believed to be this region’s oldest such recognition, has no fund-raising expectation, but instead is designed solely as a not-for-profit celebration of community involvement.
Recent past recipients include former Seattle Mariner Jamie Moyer and his wife Karen (2011), U.S. Senator Slade Gorton (2010), retiring Seattle Symphony conductor Gerard Schwartz (2009), and Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen (2008).
The June 13, 2012 event honoring Rotary International District 5030 will be held at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel. Tickets for the First Citizen banquet and details on sponsorship options will be available online at Seattle First Citizen
About the SEATTLE KingCounty REALTORS
The SEATTLE KingCounty REALTORS is a nonprofit professional trade association whose goals include promoting business practices that reflect a strict code of ethics and supporting policies that preserve and expand real property rights and housing affordability. Based in Bellevue, SKCR has approximately 5,000 members and is one of 1,800 local associations of the National Association of REALTORS.