Rotary Club Satellite Group Blossoms on KP

Flower baskets in Key Center are the first signs of growth for a new KP service club.

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Volunteer Dan Stokes hangs the first baskets Memorial Day weekend. Photo: Bob Anderson
“We’re people of action, and we like to see things happen,” said Lisa Larson, president of the newly formed Key Peninsula Rotary Club. “We want to make our community beautiful and be proud of where we live.”

The first club project was inspired by America in Bloom, a nonprofit that encourages communities to plant flowers and greenery in public spaces. Lakebay resident Kathy Lyons said she discovered the project through a friend in Castle Rock, a small town in southwestern Washington that participated in the program. Lyons felt the project themes of community pride and engagement would be a good fit for the KP, and she pitched the idea to Larson. Larson invited her to join the developing Rotary club, and Lyons is now leading the club’s “KP in Bloom” initiative.

Hanging flower baskets and sidewalk flowerpots were placed around Key Center in late May and early June, for the purpose of lifting spirts during the COVID-19 quarantine measures. The baskets will be maintained by local business owners, and Lyons hopes to recruit a wide range of community members to participate in ongoing projects.

“In Castle Rock, they included kids, students, seniors, everyone, and they made their town really beautiful,” Lyons said. “We’ll start out small, but hopefully we can involve lots of people.”

Further developments will include planter boxes and flowerpots, as well as efforts to add greenery to the southwest corner of the Key Center intersection.

The KP Rotarians will be organized as a satellite of Gig Harbor North Rotary, enabling them to be supported by the established club while avoiding the difficulties of setting up an entirely new chapter. The satellite will be officially incorporated when the Rotary Club administrative year begins in July. Membership requires an official application, as well as maintaining annual dues and regular meeting attendance.

Lyons said about a dozen individuals have submitted applications as of press time, and she feels that the ongoing beautification projects have generated more interest.

“We put up a Facebook page, and in just a short time we had a 115 people following us,” she said. “Pretty good for a small town, I think.”

Rotary International is a service club founded in the early 20th century to promote a variety of humanitarian and community improvement causes. There are currently three Rotary clubs based in Gig Harbor.

Gig Harbor North Rotary President Bob Anderson said the idea for a KP Rotary club has been around since last year, but only solidified in March, shortly before the quarantine.

“We think it’s a great opportunity because there are 20,000 plus people on Key Peninsula, and there’s a great combination of need, potential volunteers, and service opportunities,” Anderson said. He views the establishment of a direct Rotary presence on the KP as a natural next step to previous Rotary efforts. Gig Harbor Rotary clubs have contributed to KP projects such as the Gateway Park Pavilion, fundraising for organizations like Children’s Home Society and Communities in Schools of Peninsula. And, in full disclosure, Rotary Club of Gig Harbor recently awarded grant funding for web development to the Key Peninsula News.

Eager to get rolling, Larson and Lyons said the established local Rotary clubs have encouraged them to limit their focus for the time being, but they look forward to expanding their community service activities next year. One potential project would further decorate Key Center with banners designed by local students in collaboration with Two Waters Arts Alliance.

Other, more traditional options include raising funds and resources for other community aid organizations. Local clubs also support Rotary International programs, such as polio vaccination.

“One of the differences with Rotary is that it exists at a local, district and international level,” Anderson said. “The potential impact for making a difference is much greater.”