hen Peace Arch News publisher Linda Klitch arrived at Semiahmoo House Saturday, she thought it was to accept an award for community involvement on behalf of the paper’s parent company, Black Press.
Little did she suspect she was among the guests of honour, chosen as this year’s Paul Harris Fellowship members by the Semiahmoo Rotary Club of White Rock.
While not a member of the club, Klitch was presented the award in recognition of her outstanding service to the community.
Stunned to be a recipient, she told assembled members at the club’s dinner how grateful she was for all the organizations and individuals that play an important role in helping people.
“One can never do enough,” she said.
Also honoured at the dinner were several longtime club members, including the late Terry Parr, whose posthumous award his years of hard work in the club was accepted by his wife, Carol. Other recipients were Nita Hollick, for her focus on youth, including chairing the club’s annual golf tournaments; and club secretary Stuart Kirkpatrick, recognizing all his work behind the scenes.
The fellowship (named for the man who founded Rotary International in 1905) is an honour bestowed mainly on Rotary members who have demonstrated a high level of selfless involvement in making a contribution to the community. But each year the club honours someone else else in the community who has met the same high standard.
Such recognition has been earned many times over by Klitch, said member Stewart Peddemors, who delivered the speech honouring her.
“It’s about ‘service above self’ – not about you, but about the service you have given,” he told Peace Arch News, noting Klitch has been part of countless initiatives, organizations and fundraisers in White Rock and South Surrey in the decade since she was appointed publisher.
On her behalf, and for each other fellowship recipient, the club will donate $1,000 to the Paul Harris Foundation, Peddemors said.
“It always comes back to the community in the form of special projects,” he added.
In his remarks, Peddemors recalled his and other Rotarians’ first encounter with Klitch in 2000.
“I first met this red-haired fireball who had just rolled into town on a warm spring night. No sooner had I met this person, taking over one of our great community institutions, the Peace Arch News, than I began to get cross-examined about the community and how to become involved.
“It did not take long to understand this striking new addition to our community was a champion, and that we had won the lottery,” he said.
Klitch’s involvement with the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce, the White Rock and South Surrey Foundation and Vintage Affair, and the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation are only a few of many examples of her support and leadership in the community, Peddemors said.
“Through her position at the Peace Arch News she was able to support many organizations, so that they can do their good work.
“Over a number of years it gets to the point where you really build up a high level of trust.”
Together with Black Press chief operating officer Rick O’Connor and Klitch’s husband, Dave, Peddemors cooked up the cover story that had her leave her stepson’s engagement party early to attend the Rotary event with Dave.
“It’s always a closely-held secret,” said Peddemors of the fellowship, which is “the highest award Rotary can give.”
“Not only is it a surprise for the individual, but the recognition is important enough that you want to make a statement with it.
“I was a recipient five or six years ago, and I had no inkling when I arrived at the dinner. All of a sudden a friend of mine got up and started talking, and I realized he was talking about me.”