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Rotary: Eric Small leaves a large legacy

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Rotary on the Sunshine Coast. In 1989, the intrepid Eric Small forged ahead with his plans for a local Rotary Club.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Rotary on the Sunshine Coast. In 1989, the intrepid Eric Small forged ahead with his plans for a local Rotary Club. In spite of the cautions of the then district officials that someone had been there and tried that and didn't succeed, Eric continued to rope in former Rotarians now retired on the Coast. Soon he had enough to charter a club, the Rotary Club of Gibsons/Sechelt with meetings to be held in Gibsons. And the icing on the cake was 18 months later when the Sechelt folks decided to go their own merry way and meet in their town.

From those humble beginnings another club was formed in Sechelt, the Rotary Club of the Sunshine Coast, in 2000, which held their meetings at noon. And in turn that club a few years later sponsored a club in Pender Harbour.

Along the way some of the clubs struggled, economic times, transfers and in some cases, member deaths all took their toll. But today, 20 years later, although sadly, Small is not here to commemorate the occasion, there are still four clubs on the Coast.

And if you look around our communities, it's hard to find any sector that Rotary hasn't touched. Thousands of dollars have been invested in subsequent generations through the many scholarships handed out each year in Rotary's name.

In Gibsons there is a baseball park, a performance park in Winegarden Park, kids' parks and playgrounds, a seniors' room in the Recreation Centre, donations to libraries, contributions to kids' reading programs and many more projects displaying the Rotary wheel.

In Sechelt there is a concession stand and bathrooms at one park, playground equipment, volleyball nets and bathrooms at another brand new park, kids who've been able to participate in sports, arena dressing rooms, Grade 4 students with dictionaries with their names engraved, school libraries donated to and more.

Further up the Coast, Pender Harbour is also active in their community with donations to seniors' housing, fire departments and kids' sports.

And I can't begin to list all the causes around the world that have been helped by local Rotarians. Children in the Jakarta dump were fed and educated, children with dire physical handicaps were helped in Burma and soon Kenya will have one more water well to stem thirst and disease. And together we have managed to almost defeat polio along with millions of Rotarians worldwide.

And all this would not have been possible without the support of the good folks of the Sunshine Coast. So we're throwing a giant party so folks we've helped and generous supporters can get together and celebrate all things Rotary.

The big bash takes place on June 18 at the Sunshine Coast Golf and Country Club. The Creek Big Band will provide the dancing tunes and Jackie and her great staff will provide a feast beyond compare. Tickets are $50 and dress is business formal. All proceeds will go to Polio Plus. Call 604-886-4555 to reserve your place.

Come and raise a glass to the legacy of Small. We only wish he could join us.