by Kirby Lindsay, posted 10 August 2012
As happens every year in July, the Rotary Club of Fremont (a.k.a. the Fremont Fun Club) has a new president. Mark Steelquist – a former B.F. Day Elementary School parent and volunteer – has agreed to lead our service club, a local, all-volunteer organization that accomplishes roughly a dozen philanthropic projects every year.
A Year ‘On The Bubble’
Steelquist praised Rotary International, and how it “does a good job of sequencing up the incoming president.” While a Rotary Club President spends one year “on the bubble” as Steelquist called it, the post actually requires a three-year commitment.
The first year, generally, a candidate spends as president-elect (attending Rotary International training, networking with other president-elects throughout Rotary, and learning about opportunities for their club.) The third-year is given to being immediate past president, for the support of the current president and the tending to unfinished business from the year past.
Todd Holec noted that this year Fremont Rotary not only named a president, but also president-elect Al Sousa – a role traditionally left vacant at this club for most of the year. The club also boasts a wealth of active immediate past presidents – Chris Pierard as the official I.P.P., and Holec, who could be considered the I.P.P.P., as past president from the 2010-2011 year, and the official Foundation Chairperson.
When asked if he’d felt prepared for his year as president, Pierard admitted, “I think it’s difficult to prepare. It takes some time to fully prepare,” he acknowledged. And “a single term is a blip on the screen,” Steelquist offered.
Holec also observed that, “you are never fully prepared,” about his year as president, “you are volunteering for leadership. You are going to accomplish as much as you set out to accomplish.” Yet, Holec also sees his role as president, as a “long-term commitment, like Mark said.”
Volunteers At Work
“I learned a lot about working with volunteers,” Pierard admitted of his year ‘on the bubble,’ “I’ve owned a business, and had employees,” he said, and he found working with volunteers to be a different experience.
Pierard found engaging club members of primary importance. This can be tricky, particularly in Fremont which Pierard identified as, “much more diverse than most clubs.” Diversity, in this case, covers the socio-economic, political, occupational and/or religious persuasions of its members. The Fun Club also reflects the individualistic tendencies of the community it serves, while uniting people who share the values expressed in the club’s tag line, “Do good. Feel good. Drink beer.”
Steelquist has been a Rotary International member for 15 years, and previously served as president for the Rotary Club of Kent. He only moved to the Fremont Rotary – a small, yet active club – about a year ago, and while this club observes all the tenets of Rotary International, it does put a personal spin on everything.
Steelquist feels equipped to lead this club because, as he simply stated, “we have a great membership!” He plans to engage in “continual dialogue,” with the membership, plus, “we’ve got a leadership circle that works together well,” he acknowledged, “and I can trust them.”
“The hardest thing is knowing the members in the club,” Holec observed, “and what they can contribute.” It has proven necessary to know what each volunteer will commit to do – and to know what they may actually accomplish. “Our club is very intimate,” he said, “and getting to know what you can expect requires that you stay connected.”
“We all have busy lives,” Steelquist admitted about the membership, and “to keep it fun, we have to keep it clear.” To better clarify what the Fun Club will do, and the direction it will take, this fall members will take part in a ‘Visioning Process’ facilitated by the Rotary District leadership. The 4-hour meeting can help identify the central issues, causes and message that Fremont Rotary wants to focus upon, “to reconnect with what we want to do,” Steelquist described. “Of all the things we can do,” he said, “what is it we are going to stand for.”
A Variety Of Philanthropy
The Fremont Fun Club already stands for ‘doing good.’ This Rotary Club has a strong track record of creating one-time-only philanthropic projects such as the night out for Walk For Life at The Backdoor @ Roxy’s in March 2012, building the ‘Todd Majal’ shed for the Wallingford Boys & Girls at B.F. Day, a Gym-A-Thon at Anytime Fitness to benefit the B.F. Day Playground, etc.
In May 2012, Fremont Rotary, “had a real successful event, a very general fundraiser, at Fremont Brewing, to raise money for the club general fund,” Pierard reported. This reflected a new direction for fundraising – raising money to be budgeted throughout the year toward smaller (mostly local) causes.
Already every week, club members give to the general fund through ‘The Troll.’ This is a basket, passed around during the meeting, with the basic rule being, “the more you talk, the more money you put in,” explained Pierard. Members have taken this opportunity to promote their business or cause, ask for support in troubled times, crow about their successes or generally blather. The men agreed that Fremont Rotary has a few members who do like to talk, so ‘The Troll’ provides a steady trickle of income into the general fund. (In addition, members also give their pocket change each week to the Rotary International campaign to eradicate polio world-wide.)
For its next step, Holec talked about developing a year over year fundraiser, perhaps a hybrid of the one-night-only events that have proven so successful. “We raise less money relearning a process,” to create a single-night event, Steelquist explained, “and it’s not involved in involving more people.”
For those who wish to learn more about Rotary International, and the Rotary Club of Fremont, contact a Rotary member about attending a weekly meeting at Hale’s Ales Brewery. Find contact information on the Fun Club website, or its new Facebook page – or look for Steelquist, Pierard, and/or Holec out and about in Fremont, doing good, feeling good and, possibly, drinking beer.
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- Fremont Rotary Acknowledges Past, Present And Future
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- Fremont Fun Club Needs Your Books!
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- From Congress To Fremont Rotary
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- (more) Fun Comes To Fremont
- by Kirby Lindsay, August 11, 1999 in The Seattle Press
©2012 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.