Williams Lake Daybreak Rotary Club president Ken O’Brien. (Photo submitted)

Williams Lake Daybreak Rotary is driving force behind Stampede parade, weekend food program

Did you know January is Rotary Awareness Month?

From its popular, bi-annual book sale, to feeding local school children in need and, of course, the beloved parade at Stampede time, Williams Lake Daybreak Rotary has a lot to offer the community and its members.

“It’s a good way to get involved and it helps the community in many ways,” said Williams Lake Daybreak Rotary President Ken O’Brien.

O’Brien took over as president in March 2019 after their president Sheila Mortensen passed away.

O’Brien has been a Rotarian for about five years, and prior to that was a local Kiwanis Club member since he moved to the lakecity in 1981 as a young lawyer after growing up in Kitimat.

The club meets every Tuesday at 7 a.m. for breakfast at either Denny’s or CJ’s Restaurant and is very active in the community.

The Rotary Used Book Sale, for example, has members collecting donated books from various drop off locations in the community thorough the year and putting on the popular sales.

O’Brien said the sales give residents a chance to “hunt for books at moderate costs” while also raising money for worthy causes.

Williams Lake Daybreak Rotary is also responsible for bringing the Starfish Pack program to Williams Lake, which sees members fill backpacks with healthy food and drop off at participating schools weekly from October to June.

Read More: Starfish Pack program looking to fill backpacks for needy children in Williams Lake

Since starting in Williams Lake the program has grown to serve 30 backpacks to needy children in three local schools thanks to business sponsorship and fundraising.

And, of course, Daybreak members are also the organizers of the Williams Lake Daybreak Rotary Club Stampede Parade.

“We’re just starting to think about the parade now,” O’Brien said.

The parade committee solicits help from retired Rotarians, Community Policing and other volunteers to pull off the large event.

This year the club also hopes to see a new bridge over the creek in the Williams Lake River Valley to replace an old log bridge. O’Brien said the new bridge, which is being funded by the City, Cariboo Regional District and Province, was a longtime goal of Mortensen and the club intends to place a commemorative plaque in her honour once the project is complete.

O’Brien said he was drawn to the Daybreak Rotary Club as a way to give back.

Prior to retiring in 2017, he had a long, successful 36-year career serving as a lawyer.

O’Brien articled with Vanderburg and Company where he worked for 19 years before starting his own law firm with Shelley Nixon, also a longtime lawyer and his wife of 22 years.

Being a Rotarian isn’t too time-consuming and is something that can be worked into a schedule while working, or in retirement, or both, as O’Brien has done.

“It seemed like a good idea to carry on into retirement,” said O’Brien, who also likes to travel, cross country ski and stay abreast of politics in his free time.

The club is always looking for new members. “We invite people to come and meet us to get a sense of who we are and what we’re all about.”

Anyone interested can contact Ken at ken.obrien@telus.net or 250-267-7083.

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