Service above self exemplifies new Rotary president

October 7, 2008

By Jim Feehan

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Peter Zevenbergen remembers a special gift he received from a Bellevue neighbor while trick or treating as a child. The parents of former Mariner John Olerud lived two doors down. 

The neighborhood children were in for a surprise when they rang the Oleruds’ doorbell in the early 1990s, Zevenbergen said.“John Olerud answered the door and handed out autographed baseballs,” he said. 

Zevenbergen’s autographed ball is long gone, but baseball was on his mind last month when the Newcastle Rotary sponsored a speed-pitch booth at Newcastle Days. The booth — with radar gun-toting Rotary members — was a favorite last year, based on the long lines of children waiting in line.

“Kids would ask one another, ‘How fast did you pitch?’” he said. “They would go back in line and try to top one another.”

In July, Zevenbergen, 30, was named president of the Newcastle Rotary. When he was 6, Zevenbergen’s teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“I thought being president of the United States would be cool,” he said. “The ignorance of youth. Now, I am happy settling for president of the Rotary of Newcastle.”

Zevenbergen, who works as a mortgage banker,  has lived in the Olympus neighborhood for almost three years. He enjoys attending the Concerts in the Park at Lake Boren Park and using Newcastle’s walking trails and park system.

“I like that I know my checker at the QFC and my young son gets excited to go to the fruit stand every time we drive by,” he said.

Zevenbergen said that when he and his wife, Marinell, an executive assistant at Banner Bank, moved to Newcastle, they didn’t know many people in the area. Rotary provided him an opportunity to better get in touch with the community. And he is no stranger to Rotary.

“When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to be involved in a couple of different Rotary programs, such as Student of The Month and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards,” said Zevenbergen, who was student body president at Bellevue’s Interlake High School. “I remember at the time that I wanted to one day be a part of Rotary and give back to my community in the same way that Rotarians gave to me.”

Earlier this summer, Newcastle Rotary held an auction. Based on previous fundraising efforts, the organization set a modest goal of $5,000.

“We are very proud to say the club raised a net of $11,000,” he said. “I think it really showed the potential of our community when our small club can come together.” 

With the fundraising goal met in the first weeks of Zevenbergen’s watch, Rotary can focus on its community service work, including scholarships to Renton Technical College, dispensing free dictionaries to third-graders at Newcastle Elementary School and the Santa Parade in December.

Newcastle Rotary member Carol Flores said Zevenbergen has strong leadership skills.

“He brings fresh, enthusiasm and energy to the job,” she said. “The auction was his brainchild and its success is a testament to his leadership.”

Fellow Rotarian John Jensen agreed.

“His head and heart are in the right place,” Jensen said. “It’s impressive to see a young guy step in and lead.”

After exceeding the fundraising goals, Zevenbergen said he has his sights set on growing membership that is up by more than 25 percent in the past six months. The organization holds weekly meetings at 7:30 a.m. Wednesdays at The Calcutta Grill restaurant at The Golf Club at Newcastle. 

“I believe that, in general, people desire to be a part of something that is bigger than just themselves and like to have the feeling of giving back to their community,” he said. “Rotary is a great way in which to achieve both.”

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