Tualatin Rotary Club presented their “Service Above Self” award to Jessica Cousineau — a lawyer, mother of four and Rotarian. She serves on the boards of the Foundation for Tigard-Tualatin Schools and Community Partners for Affordable Housing. As a member of the Tigard Grange, she helps manage a donation site for the Caring Closet (an organization providing used clothing to students). She also helps collect books for Rotary’s participation in Books on Wheels, giving area children access to reading materials in their homes.
Jessica was introduced to Tualatin Rotary when her son participated in their youth exchange program. While he was in Austria, she attended their meetings and became inspired to join the club after seeing how much they accomplished. She and her husband, Steve, have continued to help ensure other Tualatin students have this opportunity. This year, while their daughter was on exchange in Colombia, they were able to host students who were displaced due to COVID-related issues. Because of international airports closing, it was often difficult for these students to get home. One of the Guatemalan students they hosted had to fly to Mexico and was then walked across the Guatemala/Mexico border by the Guatemalan Consulate, who happened to be another Rotarian!
Several years ago, as club President, Jessica introduced the idea of Tikun Olam to the club. A Hebrew phrase, meaning to repair the world, Jessica knew it would be an excellent description of the work the club does. For example, Rose Money, of Family Promise of Tualatin Valley (a homeless shelter), spoke to the club at one of the weekly meetings that year. Because of this, the club decided to help, purchasing furnishings for their day center in Tualatin through the Rotary Signature Projects grant. Club members also became regular volunteers with the shelter, helping to provide meals and encouragement to the families. Most recently the club placed one of their Peace Poles at the day center, helping to demonstrate our community’s interest in promoting peace in our community.
Jessica also serves as a mentor to one of Tualatin Rotary’s college scholarship recipients. Focused on first-generation college students, this program provides a 4-year monetary award and a mentor for the duration of the scholar’s time in college. Currently, there are 4 students being mentored by club members, and another will be chosen next year.
When asked how she accomplishes everything Jessica admitted that she juggles many balls. There is a quote from Sir Clem Renouf that speaks to Jessica, and other members of the club, “Rotary takes ordinary men and women and gives them extraordinary opportunities to do more with their lives than they ever dreamed possible.”
Our community is enriched by local residents with the will to serve others. If you’re interested in what projects Rotary has going on, or how you can join, visit www.tualatinrotary.org.