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Rotary Club's "Service Above Self" Awards Celebrate Town Volunteers

Vienna Rotary continues to award the $146,000 profit from last year's Viva!Vienna! festival to local organizations

When Lauris Eek joined the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department in 1978, he said he just wanted to help people -- and maybe ride in an ambulance, too.

But after a few years, Eek found himself in a role slightly different than the one he imagined: running the department's weekly bingo fundraiser.

For 22 years, Eek ran the game and helped it grow, moving from  plastic  to magnetic chips; from paper to computers. Today, more than 100 people show up each week. With a buy-in of about $20 per person, it's an effort that raises thousands of dollars for new vehicles, equipment and firehouse improvements each year.

"If you had told me when I walked through the door that I'd be running the bingo game, I would have laughed in your face," Eek said. "But you find the right position for you."

Eek was one of the volunteers honored this year with the Rotary Club of Vienna's "Service Above Self" awards, given annually to volunteers nominated by the Town of Vienna and the fire and police departments. "Service Above Self" is the rotary's international motto.

Volunteer Fire Chief John Morrison said people in town always see the men and women who volunteer on firetrucks and ambulances, but often don't realize there are many more people behind the scenes, too.

"Management is as crucial as operation," Morrison said.

Also honored with the awards were Vienna Animal Control Officer John Barker, who began work in town in June 2009, and former Town Manager John Schoeberlein, before retiring May 1. Mayor Jane Seeman accepted the award on behalf of Schoeberlein.

Barker has impressed the department with his experience, skill and  new strategies for the department's property room, said Police Chief Robert Carlisle, who called Barker a "family man" active in his church and as a soccer coach.

The Rotary also presented checks to organizations in Town, part of the $146,000 the club plans to donate to local clubs, groups and non-profits this year. The money is raised by the annual Viva!Vienna! festival; all proceeds from the festival are given out through similar awards each year.

Organization and rotary leaders did not say how much each check was worth, but that it varied from group to group.

Director of Parks and Recreation Cathy Salgado accepted a check for the department's summer camp scholarship program, which gives local children tuition to summer programs they otherwise would not be able to attend.

"It just keeps getting bigger and bigger," Salgado said. "This is going to come in handy."

Morrison also accepted a check on behalf of the fire department, who will use it toward the purchase of a $120,000 canteen, which will replace the current 1977 canteen that brings food and water to rescue personnel on scene, and a $575,000 fire engine. 

The rotary also donated to the police department's Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program. The money will be used to buy new equipment and suits for the officers who train the women in self-defense techniques.

"They get beat up pretty hard," Carlisle said.

Historic Vienna Inc. received a check , including the May 21 secession vote re-enactment and the June 18 recreation of the "Battle at Vienna."

"This kind of contribution makes these [kinds of celebrations] possible," HVI member Anne Stuntz said.

Manuel Eduardo Rangel Meza May 11, 2011 at 09:59 PM
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