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  • Writer's pictureGig Harbor Living Local

Local Rotary’s Unwavering Service

Gig Harbor’s Rotary “order bombs” to support local business By Rachel Kelly

No one could say that 2020 was “just another year.” It was full of challenges; challenges that are still reverberating into the new year. However, I think we’ve shown ourselves to be adaptable and inventive. The same has been true of the three Gig Harbor Rotary clubs, whose motto of “Service Above Self” never wavered. Sure, how it played out may have changed, but the commitment itself did not. If anything, this last year was full of opportunity. From the celebration of longtime member Walt Paulson’s 38th year, to the support of local restaurants through “order bombing,” 2020 was a year for the books. The Rotary of Gig Harbor has a long-time tradition of making world-wide change, from bringing clean water to rural areas in the world to funding cleft palate surgeries.

However, it’s their commitment to the support of local business that resounds in our community. And with 120 members adopting a motto of service, their support and initiatives can rally long-lasting impact. This last year was unique in that it brought us all closer to home. The same was true for the Rotary Clubs. Pre-pandemic, the morning Rotary Club had a habit of supporting local restaurants through monthly patronage. Once monthly they would meet and eat at varying locations in the downtown and greater Gig Harbor, showing their support for their local community.

This last year, however, dining in large groups became impossible. And yet, restaurants were in need of local support more than ever. At the time, takeout was a less popular way of dining. For some, ordering takeout was even novel. Many community members had contented themselves with eating from home, and restaurants around the area were suffering. So club member Jim Castino came up with an idea. Instead of dining in, Rotary members would take out. And instead of dining once a month, they would dine once a week. He called the initiative “order bombing” and included all three clubs in the effort.

Their first patronage was Moctezuma’s. Jim contacted the restaurant ahead of time to ask which days were their slowest, and then decided on a date to expect the arrival of Rotary Club members. Jim then spread the word through their Rotary website (called ClubRunner), sharing various details such as date, location and the restaurant they would be ordering from. Members ordered an additional 40 to 50 take-out orders on that day. Members had fun posting pictures of themselves picking up their takeout orders and posting online, spreading the word and making it fun. After their initial success, the Rotary Club began to “order bomb” throughout the community. They attempted to include not just downtown, but the greater Gig Harbor community as well. “It’s all Gig Harbor,” says Jim Castino of Gig Harbor Rotary, who initiated order bombing. Though he’s sure that the Rotary may have missed some restaurants, he hopes that the effort sparked even greater local initiative for restaurant support.

Thankfully, the local patronage didn’t stop there! The Rotary Clubs of Gig Harbor partnered with the Downtown Business Alliance to patronize retail. For six weeks, various local businesses were highlighted to the larger community. The initiative, sparked by the rich relationship already present between Gig Harbor Rotary and the Downtown Business Alliance, only just wrapped up last month. In fact, the Rotary Clubs of Gig Harbor have an online fundraising auction coming up in March themed: “The Best Tastes of Gig Harbor.” This will not only support and highlight local Gig Harbor businesses who donated to the auction, but it helps to fund future Rotary Club initiatives. The auction is a perfect example of how the support of local business is symbiotic. Local business contributes to a thriving community, one that pursues positive change. Local business always gives back. They are worthy of our support.

However, the pandemic persists. So what’s next for Gig Harbor Rotary? Jim says that they’re thinking of dedicating a Take-Out Tuesday (or Thursday), with a list of local restaurants to choose from. Now, so far in the year, we’ve all become pros at ordering online or over the phone for pick-up. We’ve all discovered our favorite places to “dine out,” whether that be in front of the fire or on the waterfront. But with a dedicated day of the week, and reminders on the Rotary website, Jim thinks they can consistently keep the local support going.

It is with newfound innovation and tried and true compassion that we charge into the new year. Sure, we may do so with a little more trepidation than we did last year. However, whatever this year has to throw at us, we know we can handle it. We will continue to hold fast to the relationships that we have invested in. In faith, we delve into the integrity of our community, sure that there will be someone to catch us if or when we fall.

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