Service Above Self – August 2023


75 Years of Rotary in Orinda

    “Service Above Self,” the title and theme of this new column, is the official motto of Rotary International. It was chosen in 1950 because it conveys the philosophy of unselfish volunteer service, which is one cornerstone of what it means to be a Rotarian.
    Service above self is also the cornerstone of what it means to be an Orindan. A community built on service and volunteerism, Orindans serve in many ways: clubs, schools, churches, government boards and coaching, to name a few. Others choose public service careers in education, firefighting, public safety, healing, the military and city administration. Many of us participate in more than one (or two, or three) ways.
    I am a member of the Rotary Club of Orinda which is celebrating its 75th year of service during this 2023-2024 club year, which began July 1. In part, we want to honor many local organizations and people who embrace service above self.
    So that’s what this column is about. Each month will include something about our club’s history and I will also focus on others who make service a cornerstone of their lives.
    I am starting with some public servants who are the glue which binds our community together, our Parks and Recreation Department.
    You may not know these people or their leaders, Todd Trimble, Director, Steve Erhardt, Facilities and Sheena Wellman, Recreation. But if you have done anything at all in Orinda, you’ve benefited from their service.
    Big fan of local youth sports? Does your child play at Orinda fields or courts? Is pickleball your jam? Playing in adult leagues or pick-up games? Do you enjoy the public art in Orinda? Food trucks? Summer concerts? Outdoor movies? How about your kid’s Lego, drama, art or coding summer camp?
    These are all brought to you and managed by the Parks and Rec crew. Because of their hard work, we get to enjoy many opportunities you can’t always find in cities our size.
    Behind the scenes, Trimble and his team keep Orinda beautiful, clean and safe. They oversee our public art installations, collaborate with our many garden clubs, manage the Bigbelly Smart Waste and Recycle System, take care of all the city buildings and manage fire fuel mitigation at Orinda parks, properties and open spaces.
    I’ve worked side-by-side with Parks & Rec teams for more than 15 years in various capacities, including as a Rotarian. They partner with us for the Spring Egg Hunt, Opera in the Park and many other projects.
    I’ve seen the tireless, professional work they do firsthand (Trimble was hauling tables before 7 a.m. on July 4) and am fortunate to consider them friends. Because they do their jobs so well, you may never notice they are around. But I encourage you, the next time you are at the Community Center or see them on a field or taking care of our buildings – stop. Introduce yourself.
    Thank them for all the service we never have to think about, but which makes every day brighter for us all.

Clay Deanhardt can be reached at

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