The Rotary Wine Fest, which changed over from a beer fest in 2003, was a social highlight of Princeton's year. On average the annual event raised about $10,000. Spotlight File Photo.

Princeton Rotary Club folds after 75 years

Events like Wine Fest and golf tournament - along with the money they raised - disappear as well

It marks the end of an era of volunteering and giving back.

The Princeton Rotary Club has folded after 75 years of serving the community.

“To be honest it makes me feel sick,” said Judy Short, once a proud member of the now-defunct organization.

“Succinctly, we could not get any members – period. Five older people cannot run a Rotary.”

When Short joined the club in 2008 there were 26 members.

“Prior to that there was way more, but the business people became less and less interested.”

In 1947, Princeton Rotary was founded as a businessmen’s service club. It held events and donated the funds to worthy causes.

At some point in the 1990s, women were allowed to join.

Short said today it seems that younger people don’t want to pay membership dues in order to volunteer, and they follow different interests.

The Princeton Rotary Club has been responsible for funding many of the amenities residents enjoy, including Rotary Park, the kitchen at Riverside Community Centre, and improvements to Cormack Marsh.

The club donated $30,000 to help purchase medical equipment for a room at the Penticton Regional Hospital, during its recent expansion, and annually contributed dollars to Rotary International’s drive to end polio world wide.

After Princeton’s Highway Rescue Truck was destroyed in a rollover in 2019, the club raised and donated $30,000 towards the new vehicle.

Following the November 2021 flood, Rotary distributed tens of thousands of dollars worth of high-quality clothing, donated by Mountain Equipment Company, in the Princeton and Tulameen areas.

Rotary sent local students on exchanges around the globe, and provided host families here.

sRotary also annually donated $3,000 in bursaries Princeton Secondary School graduates.

The residual funds in the Rotary Club’s account have been donated to the Princeton and District Museum, in order to establish a legacy fund, and to the school for continued bursaries, and other groups.

Short said she will miss the fun and entertainment created by Rotary events over the years.

Those included – but were certainly not limited to – the annual wine fest and summer golf tournament.

“This is what is so sad.”

Rotary also sponsored the town’s Canada Day and Christmas parades.

“Thank you to all the companies and businesses for donating to our club, so we could carry out the work and benefit Princeton,” Short concluded.

The Princeton Rotary Club was the last surviving general service club in town. The Elks Lodge no longer exists, and the Lions Club folded in 2014.

Lions president Dave Shalanski issued a statement on that occasion.

“For 42 years, our motto has been ‘We Serve,’ but with membership down to seven active members we are just not able to accomplish the goals that we have set for ourselves. We have tried repeatedly to encourage new members to join us, but in today’s world of cable TV, satellite dishes, computers, video games and organized sports, people are no longer looking for ways to fill their long winter evenings. Volunteerism has gone the way of the Dodo.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com


 
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Princeton Rotary raised $80,000, over a period of several years,  to build the kitchen at Riverside Community Centre. The kitchen is regularly used for events at the centre - everything from dances to concerts, forums, theatre and more. Then Mayor Frank Armitage helped Rotarian Judy Short cut the ribbon the ribbon on the kitchen door in 2015. Photo Princeton Rotary.