Posted by Pete Leenhouts on Aug 11, 2018
I had been aware of Rotary for many years and had been approached by several friends over those years to consider joining Rotary.

For various reasons, none of which were great reasons, I just wasn’t inclined to join another organization. I had become so overwhelmed with my past and current volunteer efforts that one more didn’t seem possible during those times.


Fast forward to around 2011. I was the VP of HR and Administration at a regional health insurance company. A Rotarian from the Springfield, Oregon Club contacted our CEO and said she wondered why no one from our company was in her Club. The CEO asked two of us if we were interested in going to some meeting. I decided what the heck, I better give this a try. That yes led to one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.


I quickly joined the Springfield Club and very soon after was asked if I would be the Youth Exchange Officer.  Wanting to please my fellow Rotarians, many of whom I didn’t really know all that well at that time, I said yes. I’ve always liked kids and thought this would be a good way to contribute to the Club. I found out shortly thereafter that I had signed up for one of the best opportunities that Rotary has to offer.


I eventually became the recruiter for all outbound short-term and long-term youth exchange students for the entire Springfield/Eugene area. This was a greatly rewarding challenge.  Over the years I recruited at least 30 high school students to go on exchange, to live in another country for up to 11 months and then see them return far more mature and self reliant than when they left. Exchange offers kids a lifetime in a year!


In January of 2017, I retired from my position and we moved from Eugene, Oregon to Port Ludlow, Washington. I didn’t immediately seek out a new club, wanting instead to settle into retirement and complete a few projects around the house. In the fall of 2017 a local Rotarian asked me if I would be interested in joining the East Jefferson County Rotary Club (EJCRC). I attended one meeting and knew this was what I wanted and needed to do at this point in my life.


Since joining the EJCRC I’ve been elected to become the Club’s President on July 1, 2019. I am truly honored that I was chosen to serve in this capacity. So, are you considering becoming a Rotarian, if not, why not, and if you’ve thought about it and still aren’t sure, please, be my guest at a future meeting.


Rotary offers us so many ways to serve our communities and the world, literally! What has Rotary done for me?  Well, it’s brought a deeper sense of purpose to my life.  It’s given me so many more friends that share similar interests, and as a newcomer to both Springfield/Eugene and Port Ludlow; it has made a significant difference in making me feel at home.


Paul A. Wynkoop





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