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De Young named Rotarian of the Year

Carol De Young, owner of Countryside Plumbing and Heating in New Richmond, poses with her Rotarian of the Year plaque she received from the New Richmond Rotary Club last month. (Photo by Micheal Foley)

Carol De Young, a 14-year member of the New Richmond Rotary Club, was named the organization’s Rotarian of the Year at the club’s annual meeting held last month at the New Richmond Heritage Center.

After asking each member to cast a vote via email, club president Jean Needham presented the award during the banquet.

“I was pleased to see that there was strong support for Carol,” Needham said in an email statement. “She has been one of those members that quietly, without expectation of recognition, jumps in and does the work that the club needs to have done.”

Needham pointed to several of the club’s major initiatives as key reasons why De Young was chosen by her peers for the honor.

“For 14 years she has been involved with the STRIVE program managing the scholarship dollars. For nine years she has coordinated the artists for the St. Croix Art and Culinary Show, and she has always arranged for top-quality, interesting participants,” Needham said. “She is the one who brings the camera and makes sure that our events are preserved, and most recently she has assumed responsibility for the Rotary’s website. She is the member that you would want every member to be.”

During the club’s weekly lunchtime meetings at Ready Randy’s, De Young’s reputation as a participant and winner is solidified. At each meeting, a wheel is spun to determine which participating member wins a 50-50 pot. More often than not, the wheel lands on De Young’s name. Her secret is simple: Participate.

All the attention over the Rotarian of the Year honor feels a bit strange for De Young, who says she considers herself more of a background person.

“I don’t like being in the spotlight,” De Young said. “I always just try to do my share in the jobs that come along, whether it be projects, like the roadside cleanup, the rose sale, Feed My Starving Children and all the other things. Part of being in the club is doing my share. I don’t do any more or any less. I’m just one of the crowd.”

De Young, who owns Countryside Plumbing and Heating with her husband Jim, said the thing she likes best about being in Rotary is the fellowship with her fellow local business people.

“A lot of the people I knew on the street because they owned this business or that business, but to get to know them on a more personal level,” De Young said. “You find out that you have similar problems and share family background. Of course I’m a big one for flaunting my grandkids. I love learning about other people and what their kids are doing, who’s getting married, who’s having babies, who’s going off to kindergarten or whatever.”

De Young said the weekly meetings serve as an escape for business people from the tunnel vision they can sometimes get while focusing on their business goals.

Aside from the fellowship, De Young enjoys the good the club does in the New Richmond area.

“The main reason I’m in Rotary is that I feel I’ve been successful in the community, and it’s my way of paying back for that success,” De Young said. “That’s why I’m so passionate about the STRIVE program.”

The STRIVE scholarship program provides an incentive to local high school students to boost their GPA in preparation for a secondary education.

“I am very passionate about what a great group it is,” De Young said. “I tend to be more focused on our community. I really admire the people who do the international projects, and even the district projects, but my passion is definitely the community, because they’re the ones who got me where I am.”

Micheal Foley
Micheal Foley worked at RiverTown Multimedia from July 2013 to June 2015 as editor at the New Richmond News. 
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