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Every Thursday at noon: Rotary Rotarians aspire to fulfill community service Noon to 1:00 p.m.

October 8, 2005

Hood River Rotary Club member Rodger Schock usually gets “fined” at least $1 every meeting for some remark that he has made or action that he has taken.

But the small business owner, who also holds the seat of county commission chair, doesn’t mind the good-natured ribbing. He believes that any problem can be solved if he can get the opposing sides together over a good cup of coffee. So, Schock has become the county’s unofficial goodwill ambassador which, he admits, has made him somewhat of a “moving target.”

“Give me a bad time if you like but I’m still an optimist,” said Schock.

He, like the other 135 Rotary members, knows that the money exhorted from his wallet each week by Sergeant-at-Arms Dave Waller or Mike Thompson is being used for a charitable cause. Besides, he’s in good company. At one time or another, every member antes up for an unplanned contribution into the general fund.

This week, Schock is surprised, and rather pleased, not to be called to task for some “offense.” Instead, Waller has focused on some empty space at a front table. He has decided to double the fine for all of the people sitting in the back of the room. His logic is that they should have worked harder to recruit new members or taken the time to bring a visitor.

While he’s at it, Waller levies a $2 penalty to fans of either the Oregon State Beavers or the University of Oregon Ducks. He believes both teams played so badly in recent competition that any and all supporters need to be penalized.

“We’re hoping that a month of practice might improve both of their games,” said Waller.

Fun aside, the Rotary Club also has serious business to conduct during each one-hour meeting. The local club, founded 78 years ago, draws government leaders and business professionals to the Gorge Room of the Hood River Inn at noon every Thursday. They come to get up to speed on current events over lunch. But, on a deeper level, they believe the community can be a better place because of their active involvement.

President Michael Schock (no relation to Rodger) routinely challenges each member to stay involved in some type of public service. He also presents the auction item of the week to collect more money for a long list of projects. This time, member Jean Sheppard makes the winning bid of $125 for a $90 gift certificate to Celilo, a new restaurant in downtown Hood River.

Each year, because of the “fines,” auctions and other fundraising drives, Rotary donates about $25,000 for youth scholarships, in addition to investing thousands into other projects. The money-making ventures are intended to be entertaining, such as a wine raffle, but the intent is serious. The motto of Rotary is “Service Above Self” and the club takes that credo to heart.

“We have a lot of fun and we do a lot of good and it just works well together,” said Michael Schock, who took office in July.

Rotary has been able, in recent years, to contribute $40,000 toward construction of the local skatepark, $10,000 for the erection of a pergola at the county library’s Georgiana Smith Memorial Park, and about that same amount toward construction of the new Hospice of the Gorge headquarters. In January, Rotary has committed to hosting a ski night that is expected to net $4,000 for the continuing Mt. Hood Towne Hall renovations.

Rotary members are also routinely educated about local, state and national issues — and often inspired — by weekly speakers. The topics presented by visiting dignitaries, such as U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, who makes his home in Hood River, range from land-use matters to legislative updates.

One of the latest speakers was Linda Adams, the county’s veteran affairs officer. Adams gained an almost unanimous showing of hands when she asked if any Rotary member had served in the military, or had friends or family members who had been in the armed forces. She said almost everyone had known a soldier at some time in their life and all citizens were the beneficiaries of that dedication to country. Therefore, Adams said it was important to thank a veteran at every available opportunity.

“I’m very passionate about my job and very compassionate to my vets,” she said. “I personally feel like every day is Veterans Day and I hope you feel the same way.”

The enthusiastic applause after Adam’s speech ended another hour of camaraderie in a group united by a shared vision and a common cause. At 1 p.m., it was time for the meeting to draw to a close. But not before Michael Schock had given one last reminder that each individual needed to make a difference in the life of someone else during the upcoming week.

Rotary asks its members to take The Four-Way Test in all their endeavors. The tests requests that they evaluate each potential word or action by these questions: Is it the Truth? Is it Fair to All Concerned? Will it Build Goodwill and Better Friendships? Will it be Beneficial to All Concerned?”

From an objective perspective, Rotary’s vision doesn’t seem that far off from that of Rodger Schock, its most heavily-fined member, after all.

*****

Around the Clock has now gone past half-way. The weekly Saturday feature, which started July 16, chronicles people and events of Hood River County, one hour at a time. Around the Clock will conclude in our Christmas Eve edition.

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