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Rotary Club honours 5 community stalwarts

Chad Joe, founder and president of West Coast Mining, is one of five individuals who were recently awarded a Paul Harris Award by the Rotary Club of the Sunshine Coast in Sechelt.

Chad Joe, founder and president of West Coast Mining, is one of five individuals who were recently awarded a Paul Harris Award by the Rotary Club of the Sunshine Coast in Sechelt.

Though Joe is not a member of Rotary, he has shown a deep support for what the club is all about.

“I have a hard time doing something just for the sake of going through the motions,” said Joe.

His tireless work for local fundraising efforts such as Comedy on the Coast and Rotary’s annual whisky-tasting dinner and auction made him a natural choice for the award, said club president Sheila Gamble.

An example of Joe’s all-in community spirit happened about 12 years ago, after Joe’s son Jack was sick and had to spend several days in hospital in Vancouver.

“In those days, they used to have to ship sick children to the city. But if you were a single parent with no family, that would put you in a tough spot.” There was no financial help to get these parents and children home again.

“We were just trying to find a way, initially, so that people could get back to the Coast,” said Joe. But after speaking with Jane Macdonald, now executive director of the Sechelt Hospital Foundation, Joe realized what the community really needed was more pediatricians and specialized equipment for babies and young children so families wouldn’t have to leave the Coast in the first place.

Thus, Comedy on the Coast was born. Joe used his influence to bring in top-notch comedians for the annual night of laughter and fun at the Raven’s Cry Theatre.

“In the eight years we put on Comedy on the Coast, we raised $250,000. When Sechelt Hospital expanded, we outfitted all the birthing rooms with these things called Panda Warmers. It’s like a capsule. If a baby is born with a health issue, it never has to leave this pod. We outfitted three rooms with Pandas. We also provided an infant crash cart for the emergency room along with an ENTONOX [nitrous oxide/oxygen] machine – essentially laughing gas — to help kids who are stressed about being in emergency.”

For Joe, contributing to the community comes with the territory as a member of a small, tight-knit community. “There are all kinds of other people out there putting on events. Fundraising events. And our community supports them all. Businesses like Claytons, Pharmasave – all these businesses that are staples of our community – our community supports them and they support the community. There is very little give and take here. It is all give-give.”

Joe’s connection with Rotary began with the club’s annual whiskey-tasting dinner and auction.

“Fifteen years ago, I was collecting good whiskeys,” said Joe. When he learned about the Rotary event he thought it would be a unique opportunity to offer up some nice bottles of whiskey for auction. “It turned out some of my whiskeys were quite exceptional.” One bottle that he paid $130 for a few years earlier had become quite coveted and rare. It auctioned for close to $1,500. Another year, one of his donated whiskeys sold for almost $2,500.

Over the years since the whiskey gala started, more than $100,000 has been raised to support Rotary efforts to build a better community here as well as provide support to several schools in Ndandini, Kenya and other international projects.

“Well, you know, the bidders are sampling up to seven other whiskeys before the auction starts, so maybe you spend money foolishly,” Joe said with a laugh. “But they know it is going to a good cause. Maybe to drill a well in Kenya. So, it is OK to spend a bit more than necessary. If I knew the money was going to help a community, I would do that all day.”

Paul Harris Awards are given to individuals who donate $1,000 to the Rotary Foundation, but clubs can also nominate individuals for the awards.

Cam and Laurean Reid were nominated by the club for their tireless work on community projects. Cam, a past president of the club, is currently working with realtor Bob Michor to co-ordinate the refurbishment of the Sechelt Skate Park while Laurean manages the club’s project to install high visibility house numbers so first responders can more easily find addresses at night.

At age 18, Skylar Moore is the youngest Rotarian ever on the Sunshine Coast and the club’s youngest Paul Harris recipient. She was awarded for her work as president of the Rotary’s Interact Club at Chatelech Secondary School last year.

Club secretary Janet Stevens was awarded for her work as chair of the Dad and Me Dance committee and her quiet, competent ability to keep the club running smoothly.

Joe hopes to be able to become even more involved with supporting our community soon.

“I’ve been so busy for so many years. I haven’t had a chance to do the things I want to do. I am still a year or two away from committing to something like Rotary or Toastmasters. I don’t want to do it part time. I want to be committed. I just gotta find the time.”

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