Redmond Rousers rounding up bikes, other toys for kids in Peru

“Service above self” is the motto of Rotary International. The saying also defines the mission of the Redmond Rousers, a local chapter of the club, according to several members.

“We do good for people all over the world, but no one toots their own horn about it,” said Kelly Kyle, the club’s secretary and program chair.

Right now the club is collecting bikes, tricycles, wagons and similar toys to send to kids in Lima, Peru.

Javier Robles, a past Rotarian and friend of the Rousers, is refurbishing the used bikes and wagons so that they can be sent along with new toys that are collected.

Kyle explained that the Rotary Clubs in the Seattle area have a special bond with Lima because of a group-study exchange that they did recently. The people who participated worked with professionals in their occupation in another country.

“It was a true exchange,” said Kyle. “They got five people for a month, and we got five people for a month.”

The Redmond Rousers also sponsor local events.

For their next project, they will donate dictionaries to third-graders in the Lake Washington School District. Last year, 70 children got dictionaries from the Rousers.

“Our club emphasizes serving youth,” said Robert Damon, who has been with the club since it was chartered in 1989. “(Since the beginning) we have almost exclusively served the youth.”

While their mission to serve youth has remained consistent, the club has changed in many other ways through the years.

For example, the club earned its nickname, “The Redmond Rousers,” because it met early in the morning when it was first chartered.

But on July 1, the club started meeting for dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in the activity room at the Fairwinds Retirement Community.

Nick Glenn, the general manager at Fairwinds and a member of the Rousers, said that residents are welcome to join the club, adding that it has “a broad range of ages.”

Another change for Rotary has been the inclusion of women. In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that clubs such as Rotary could not exclude people based on gender.

“(Because of the Supreme Court’s decision) the discrimination issue became a non-issue,” said Kyle. “Everyone was allowed in all the clubs.”

Kyle said the Rousers are trying to change the stereotype that Rotary is a club for old, white males in power suits.

“Our club is very relaxed and laid back,” said Kyle. “In fact, hardly anyone wears a suit.”

Rotary does require some financial commitment. Dues are $120 per year, and Rotarians are expected to pay for their meals. Additionally, club members are asked to donate money to various projects.

Kyle said the Redmond Rousers are currently trying to recruit new members. “If people are interested in membership, they can contact any of us.”

Seeking donations

Donations of bikes, trikes, wagons or money for the Redmond Rousers to send to Lima, Peru may be dropped off on Tuesday, Aug. 11 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Fairwinds, 9988 Avondale Road N.E. in Redmond. For bike pickup or more information contact a club member whose contact information is available on their Web site.

Kaitlin Strohschein is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.