Our Club's History

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A BRIEF HISTORY
 
Any discussion about the Okotoks Rotary Club would be incomplete without a brief overview of the larger Rotary picture, namely Rotary International and the Rotary District 5360 in which our Club is situated.
Rotary was founded in 1905, in Chicago, by a gentleman by the name of Paul Harris. Paul’s idea was that business ‘men’ should get together to enjoy each other’s company to enlarge their circle of business and acquaintances. Four men met weekly at each member’s place of business in turn, and each represented a different business and profession.
The rotation of meetings was designed to acquaint the members with each other’s vocations; hence the name ROTARY was adopted.
The second Rotary club was founded in San Francisco, in 1908. And by 1910 the program grew to 16 clubs and the National Association of Rotary Clubs was organized.
After clubs were formed in Canada and Great Britain, the name was changed in 1912, to the International Association of Rotary Clubs. And in 1922 the name was shortened to Rotary International with Paul Harris being its first President, headquartered in Evanston, Illinois. By 1947 when Paul Harris passed away there were some 6000 Rotary Clubs worldwide.
Today, there are 35,000 Rotary Clubs world-wide with 1.2 million members who contribute over 16 million volunteer hours each year.
Okotoks Rotary Club
The Okotoks Rotary Club was formally created in May of 1988, as a 1987-88 initiative of the High River Rotary Club to start a club in Okotoks. Incidentally, the High River Club was chartered in 1928 (90 years ago)! In 1987, then High River President, President Ferg Downey, asked 5 members, 3 from High River and 2 from Okotoks, being Moray Keith and Dick Scotnicki, to see if the committee could garner enough interest in the Town of Okotoks to organize a club.
The membership drive in Okotoks started in January ’88 with lots of phone calls, one on one luncheons and get-togethers in people’s homes during evenings. Real success came when Brian Quigley, Fred Burley and Dave Jones agreed to assist; these people were movers and shakers in Okotoks and showed strong leadership in getting many others interested in Rotary.
The first informal meeting was held in early February when Ed Whalen, the prominent sportscaster, humanitarian and Rotarian from Calgary, spoke about Rotary and how membership in the organization enhanced his life and career. That initial meeting attracted 15-20 potential members.
The target set to officially constitute a viable Club was 25 committed people. Meetings were held on alternate weekly mornings and evenings to get an idea of when to meet. In the end, enough people liked what they saw and heard and by late February an interim executive was elected made up of Brian, Fred, Dave and Dick.
By April the makings of a Club was well underway with 27 committed people. The decision was made to go for a Charter. A formal election was held with the following people constituting the first officers of the Club:
President                       R (Dick) Scotnicki
President Elect               Dave Jones
Vice President                Dave McFaden
Secretary                       Jim Lewis
Treasurer                       Fred Burley
Directors                        Warren Andrews, Brian Quigley, Charles Dixon
  • In mid May, Dick received a personal letter from the then President of Rotary International advising that the Okotoks Rotary Club was officially chartered. The actual Charter is dated May 5, 1988 so that is the date that the Club recognizes as its formal beginning.
  • However the Charter Night was officially held November 5, 1988, at Foothills Composite High School with over 200 persons in attendance
 
That first Rotary year was really great. High River donated the Rotary Bell and Rotary Crest on our Lectern, the Calgary Downtown Club donated a large Rotary flag, and another Calgary Club donated road signs for each end of Town. Sid Smith, our oldest Charter Member, who passed away in 2007, built the lectern, a large storage box for all our paraphernalia and the flag stand.
The Club did a number of fun and exciting things in that first year including:
  • The first annual barbecue was held September 21,1988 at Barney and Charlotte Germaniuk’s acreage
  • The Club established several objectives that were all met. The most noteworthy was to grow the Club by 30% or by 8 new members to 35.
In 1989 the Club embarked upon its first events and fundraisers:
  • Feb. 11        Wild Colonial Boys Concert at the Elks Hall
  • April 13       RCMP Concert Band at FCHS (spearheaded by Rick Oncescu)
  • June 17       First Annual Soap Box Derby (Spearheaded by Barney Germaniuk, Dave Jones and Warren Andrews - 60 entries)
  • June-Sept   Moving and setting up jumps at Spruce Meadows
  • Late fall       Sponsorship of hockey game between Canadian and French National Hockey Teams.
The Club learned a valuable lesson from the sponsorship of that hockey game which was supposed to be a big fundraiser. Well, not many people showed up and the Club litterly lost its shirt to the tune of $1700!
Following that first memorable Rotary year, the Club achieved numerous successes with events for the good of Rotary and the community. 
The Club continued with Octoberfest, Spruce Meadows and a Pub Night into 1990. Fundraising efforts at Spruce Meadows then changed from hard bull work to not so hard selling programs into the mid 90’s.
A Rubber Ducky Race on the Sheep River was held in 1992 and 1993. The event garnered a lot of publicity for the Club, but the unpredictability of the river’s water flows caused difficulties and cancellation.
The first annual golf classic was held at D’Arcy Ranch in 1992. This has been a major fundraiser since that time and the proceeds have greatly benefitted the High River Hospital, the Town’s pathway system and the Foothills Country Hospice, to name a few of the beneficiaries.
In 1994-95 and 1995-96 the Club held Trip of the Month draws. Tickets of $100 each. The Club made good money but ticket sales in the second year became quite difficult.
The Club took over the Annual Rib Cook Off from the Town Economic Development Commission in 1995 and then became a partner in the Okotoks Pro Rodeo Society in 1996. The Club also does a major casino as the provincial gaming commission allows.
On an Annual basis, these events provide a substantial pool of funds from which the Club has been able to finance numerous major projects, charitable events and emergent situations.
  • In 1991, under the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, the Club sponsored a student by the name of Kathy Savage from South Africa for a year. Kathy lived with member families and attended FCHS while in Okotoks
  • In 1992 /1993 our major fundraising went to STARS
  • In 1994 the Club developed Rotary Park in front of the Library, we also purchased a difibulator for  regional ambulance
  • In 1995  we helped finance a new E911 Centre in Black Diamond as well as monitoring equipment for the High River Hospital
  • In 1996 the Club helped finance the initial groundwork for Can Oxy Park, since renamed Riverside Centennial Park. In 1996-97 we financed the conversion of part of the Elks Club into meeting room space
  • In 1997 the Club provided the financing that enabled the Foothills Foundation to purchase a Van for Seniors;
  • We helped finance the Partners Community and Family Resource Network Centre
  • In 1997-98 the Club undertook its largest initiative by donating $ 100,000 towards the Foothills Community Centre.
  • In 1998 funding was given to the construction of riverside pathways
  • In 1999 the Club purchased a thermal imaging camera for the Okotoks Fire Dept.
  • In 1999 the Club partnered with the Skookum Rotary Club of Shelton, Washington, USA, to fund the building of a hospital in Latvia (in the birth place town of one of our own Rotarians)
  • In 2000 the Club financed the move of Heritage House from Northridge Drive and Elizabeth St to a location immediately west of the Station Cultural Centre
  • In 2001 we again financed riverside pathways
  • In 2002 the club provided the funds for a birthing bed for the High River Hospital
  • During the period 2003-2010 the Club directed much of its fundraising toward major projects such as:
    • the Foothills Country Hospice $160,000
    • the Rotary Performing Arts Centre $50,000
    • the food concession facilities at Foothills Centennial Arena $50,000
    • DAWGs stadium Field House $50,000
    • Rowan House; Sheep River Trust; Country Hospice all saw additional funding
    • We introduced a program that providing bicycle helmets to any and all kids in an effort to provide local bike safety.  
    • The club completed 2 International projects in Africa that included building a school and another proving clean drinking water to another school
  • 2011 to 2018 other key recipients have been:
    • Play Ground at the Westmount School a project driven by the Rotary Pub Club of Okotoks
    • Handy Cap access at Scott Siemen Arena, in the MD Foothills, another project driven by the Rotary Pub Club of Okotoks
    • Score clocks & bleacher seats in the Aldersyde Field House
    • KidsSport; Rowan House; High River Cancer Center; Hospice
    • We establishment a $25,000 endowment fund with the Calgary Foundation to provide post-secondary funding to Okotoks students who face financial burdens to proceed with their education
    • The provision of a Dictionary to every grade 3 student, every year, in the region… over 800 dictionary’s on average each year; and the Young Authors elementary school program
    • Our annual projects like Leaders of Tomorrow program in partnership with the Western Wheel and the Town of Okotoks; Rotary Youth Leadership Camp (RYLA); Adventure in Citizenship in Ottawa; Adventure in Technology at the Univ. of Saskatchewan; Rotary Alberta Entrepreneurship Camp in Cyprus Hills, AB;  
    • 4 years ago we reinstated the Youth Exchange program sponsoring Okotoks High School students to spend a year living and studying in a non-English speaking country and hosting a student from that same country to a year going to school in Okotoks
    • $87,000 was raised for the Foothills search and Rescue… to replace their mobile Command Centre (a $250,000 project)
    • We held our 1st Angel Investor night in 2018 where we distributed $23,000 to 15 community not for profit organizations
    • We provided volunteers and funds to the Highland Games; Kraft Hockeyville competition; The Avenue of Tress; Mustard Seed;
    • The club also gave back to the club that sponsored it… during the 2013 High River flood the club provided funds to be used by High River Rotary in helping its community recover
    • A couple of International projects were completed as well as two of our members, Larry Logan and Jeff Foss, travelling to Sri Lanka to work on a water project to bring water to a community. Larry stayed on and his wife Barb joined him so that they could spend a week in India on a Rotary District 5360 Friendship tour… the India District was also hosted by our club her in Okotoks.
    • Members went to Mexico as part of a District project to build houses… one trip also included our Youth Exchange Student
    • We had 6 members and their spouses go to south Mexico to assemble and hand out Wheel chairs to needy citizens of various villages and towns… this was a multi-club project
  • Another on-going project has been working with the Okotoks Food Bank… This included a donation of $25,000… two Rotary Members, Paul Rockley and Bill McAlpine, being the major drivers in ensuring the Okotoks Food Bank secured the funding to pay-off their mortgage… our Rotary Club’s annual spring Mac and Cheese luncheon supports the Food Bank with funds to provide families with meat year round… in 2018 club members assisted the Food Bank in the harvesting of their vegetable garden
Throughout all of these years, the Okotoks Rotary Club has continued to provide funding and support toward Silent Santa hampers for needy families at Christmas, ringing the Bells for the Salvation Army; the Food Bank, regional families in need.
This year our Soap Box Derby celebrated its 29th year and our Golf Classic its 26th year. These two events along with our Lobster Boil and Mac and Cheese events form our on-going fundraisers.
 
All told, during the period 1989-2018, the Club has channeled close to $2 million into the community, the region and beyond.
 
Finally, I would also be remiss if I did not conclude by recognizing the many Presidents that have served the Okotoks Rotary Club with distinction since 1988.
They are:

1988   Richard Scotnicki – Charter Member

1989    Dave Jones – Charter Member
1990    Dave McFadden - Charter Member
1991    Warren Andrews - Charter Member
1992    Rick Oncescu - Charter Member
1993    Davis Edels - Charter Member
1994    Ted Shacklady
1995    Gerry Niven / Rick Oncescu
1996    Craig Russell
1997    Sam Clowser
1998    Vance Billey
1999    Al Clements
2000    Bill McAlpine
2001    John Lockhart
2002    Dale Kurta
2003    Bev Geier
2004    Paul Rockley
2005    Stu Donaldson
2006    Stephen Clark
2007    Stephen Clark/Udo Adams
2008    Udo Adams
2009    Dick Nichol
2010    John Lockhart/Ted Shacklady/Paul Rockley/Bill McAlpine
2011    Marvin Pawlivsky … Tanya Thorn (Pub Club)
2012    Sandi Kennedy … Tanya Thorn (Pub Club)
2013    Jack McLean … Brian West (Pub Club)
2014    Jeff Foss … Tannis Andrejcin (Pub Club)
2015    Trish Henderson
2016    Trish Henderson/Jeff MacFarlane
2017    Jeff MacFarlane/Steven Eddy
2018    John Lockhart/Trish Henderson/Sandi Kennedy
2019    Larry Logan
2020    Agi Zacharias
 
 
I am sure there are several projects, fundraisers and activities that have been missed, shortened and in some cases not fully represented as to there value and true contributions… it is a given that some names have been missed… but overall I am confident that this snap shot of our history provides the reader with a representation of the contribution the Rotary Club of Okotoks has provided its community… I know everyone could agree by this version that the many club members who have proudly displayed their Rotary Pin have truly shown they have done so in the spirt of “Service above Self”
 
I want to thank the contributions of Dick Scotnicki and Bill McAlpine and others, whose 10 year and 20 year History documents, form the early part of this history snapshot
 
On Behalf of the Rotary Club of Okotoks, 2018, I wish to thank everyone who has joined us on this, our Pearl Anniversary… John Lockhart, President