A New Year’s resolution is tradition. A person decides to break a bad habit, accomplish a personal goal, change a behavior or improve her life. For a member of the Tualatin Rotary Club, resolving to do more comes with membership. Rotary believes in the power of every individual. Rotary works to change lives and improve living conditions. Rotary engages to expand educational opportunities around the globe and right here in our community. Rotary fights to end diseases and eradicate Polio from the planet. If you become a Rotarian, resolution is part of your core
Lisa Thorpe became a member of the Tualatin Rotary Club five years ago. She had been volunteering with The Tualatin Police Department’s effort with The Polar Plunge, Oregon’s frigid winter tradition of diving into icy waters as a fundraiser for Special Olympics. Lisa was hooked on the volunteer spirit. Larry Braaksma, a police officer invited her to attend a Rotary Meeting. He promised her a room filled with volunteers.
Lisa was intrigued by the Rotary motto, “Service Above Self.” She became a member and never looked back. Traditional resolutions are personal goals. Lisa wanted more. She wanted her actions to impact others. She wanted to make a difference in the lives of her neighbors and all global citizens. In a recent interview she said, “I wanted to be with a group of people who loved volunteering. And I found them at Rotary.”
Since becoming a member, Lisa has held many leadership positions. She was vice president and then club president. She was the first Tualatin leader to serve in a Covid year! Like many organizations, nothing was familiar during a pandemic. A club that relied on personal interactions went totally online. Events were canceled and volunteer opportunities were limited. Lisa rallied the members and managed to “dream the impossible” to keep the club thriving. When Tualatin High School InterCambio students were graduating, Lisa arranged that each of them would receive a gift from the club. On Zoom, members were able to watch all the high school mentors open their gifts.
The partnership that Rotary has created with Tualatin High School is joyous. Lisa has been involved with the InterCambio program. She has attended classes at the High School and helped students create job shadowing experiences. Lisa was able to arrange visits with the FBI and the State Police Forensics Lab. The mentorship that the Tualatin High School provides for Hazelbrook Middle School is dear to Lisa’s heart. “As a young Mexican American girl, I would have loved this program. I was not an athlete, or and A+ student but I was capable! I would have loved someone to convince me that I had potential. The attention, encouragement and tutoring that InterCambio provides is life changing. A peer mentor can make a big difference in the academic trajectory of a middle school student.”
Tualatin Rotary also provides a unique scholarship to first generation college bound students. A favorite moment for Lisa was when she announced the winner of the scholarship at the TuHS Awards’s Night. Most scholarships span the gap from $500.00 to $5000.00. When Lisa gave the Rotary’s Scholar $18,000 and the guarantee of a mentor for five years, the entire audience applauded. Lisa has become a mentor for a current college scholarship recipient. She is committed to assisting her student in any way that is needed. Attending college online was a challenge for everyone. Lisa once again had to adjust during the pandemic. Her mentee is thriving and finally at school in person.
Lisa resolved to be a volunteer and she will not stop. This year she is involved with the Foreign Exchange Program. She will work with our outbound TuHS students who will spend an academic year in another country. She will scour Tualatin to find families that are willing to welcome an incoming high schooler from abroad. Foreign exchange students typically spend three months in three different homes. Hosting a high school student is often a great experience for everyone involved.
Day by day, Lisa Thorpe is changing lives for the better. She is opening opportunities that were nonexistent. She is coordinating with other Rotarians to make an impact. She is encouraging our youth to meet their challenges and create a better world.
Rotary believes in the power of people and service. Nothing is truly impossible. If you wish to be in a room with hopeful volunteers, contact The Tualatin Rotary Club and attend the best luncheon in town. You can find them at tualatinrotary.org.