The Rotary Club of Salmon Arm was chartered on Feb. 18th, 1946, at the former Institute Hall. The first Officers and Board of Directors were Frank Marshall, publisher of the Observer, as president; W. H. Grant, Vice-President and Gordon S. Robertson, Secretary/Treasurer.
The four directors were R. J. Skelton, Mayor of Salmon Arm; Chester Barker, Automotive Sales; Thomas Prescott and Howard Routh. Our club sponsored two new clubs: the Rotary Club of Salmon Arm Shuswap was officially launched on Nov. 13th, 1984, and the Salmon Arm Daybreak Club was sponsored on Sept. 6th, 1996.
In 1996, Ken Arthurs, became the first club member to become District Governor. The following year all Rotarians from Salmon Arm pulled together and put on one of the best Rotary District Conferences in the district's history. It was the largest conference ever to come to Salmon Arm. We did it again in 2007 when Jeff den Biesen was District Governor. A most successful District Conference was held in May. The Rotary Club of Salmon Arm has been very active and a leading force in the community.
Over the years, the Rotary Club of Salmon Arm has initiated and sponsored a number of community events and projects. The Annual Salmon Arm Queen Contest, one of the longest running projects in which Rotary was involved, began in 1949 and continued until the early 1990s. Another project was the Annual Talent Search which also began in 1949 and continued for some years. In the mid-1950s, Rotary supported the Annual Salmon Arm Regatta. The club also contributed to the Forestry project in the Fly Hills area. In the 1960s planning began for Rotary Village. Completed in 1965 and expanded in 1972, the project contains 34 units and was followed by Rotary Gardens with the first phase of 49 units completed in 1978 and twenty more units added in 1984.
Since the early 1970’s Rotary has been actively involved in the Youth Exchange Program. Through this program over 60 students from Salmon Arm have traveled around the world, staying with host families for a year to gain valuable experience. In return, our club has welcomed students from around the world.
In the 1990’s, Rotary in Salmon Arm was the initiator and a leading force in raising $1.2 million for the Southern Interior Rotary Cancer Lodge. Its completion was one of the finest moments for Rotarians in Salmon Arm. Nearly every aspect of the community has benefited from the work of Rotarians. Just some of the work includes Senior's Christmas Luncheons, Fall Fair Parade, (for more than 30 years!), Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation programs, C.N.I.B., Red Cross, Family Support, Day Care and McGuire Lake Park. There are ongoing projects such as Student Scholarships for High School and Okanagan University College students; further development of Marine Park, Rotary's involvement at the Annual Loppett and the Flower Baskets that have decorated the streets of downtown Salmon Arm since 1983.
But Rotary's activities have not been limited to the local community. Through Rotary International the Salmon Arm Rotary Club has assisted with many international projects, which are co-sponsored by Rotary International Foundation. Countries where Salmon Arm Rotarians have made a difference include Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Dominican Republic, Central Africa, Ethiopia, Brazil, Bosnia, and Ghana. Through direct contributions and through the Rotary Foundation local Rotarians have contributed more than an estimated $100,000 for international help. For the past several years the club has been active in several projects in Guatemala, working closely with a local agency. Projects include construction of a workshop for the handicapped, provision of wheelchairs and computers, involvement in a literacy program, and hands on health services. More recently, the club has contributed to Project Peanut Butter, a program that targets children suffering from SAM – Severe Acute Malnutrition – by feeding them a peanut based formula that restores health and gives the children a chance in life.
But there is much more work to be done. We know it will never end. But as Rotarians we are proud of the challenge that allows us the opportunity to provide "Service Above Self."