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10 Questions for Former Cupertino Rotary President Beverly Lenihan

Meet Your Neighbor is a feature in which we profile unique members of the community to showcase the best of what Cupertino's citizens have to offer.

In the 10 years since she joined the Cupertino Rotary Club (which last year raised more than $1 million in charitable funds), Beverly Lenihan, 69, has certainly been busy. From organizing and embarking on a service trip to Colombia to serving as last year’s Cupertino Rotary Club president, Lenihan has spent the last decade dedicating herself to serving both the Cupertino community and those in need around the world. Here, Lenihan answers our questions about serving the community and life as a Rotarian.

1. What are some of the ways the Cupertino Rotary Club benefits and serves the Cupertino community?

The Rotary itself is a service organization—Cupertino Rotary does both local community projects and international projects, not just in Cupertino but in the greater community. We raise money and give to people who need it! 

2. Describe the role of a Rotary Chapter president—what are some of the duties that they have?

The primary role is to oversee the board, and we have fiscal and governance responsibility to make sure everything runs in a responsible manner. But more than that, the presidents in the last couple of years have responsibility for the cabinet, which includes the operating heads of all the different committees. So that includes two board meetings a month, with lots of responsibilities in between.

3. How does one become a member of the Cupertino Rotary Club?

Cupertino Rotary is run on a sponsorship form of membership. Anyone joining has to have a sponsor who brings him or her in as a prospect. If they like it, they go to an informational meting and we learn more about them at that time. Then they fill out an application, which is reviewed by the membership committee, then by the board and then by the full membership. 

4. What are some of the qualities you look for in a potential Rotary Club member?

We want them to be at a stage in their lives where they feel that serving others is more important than serving themselves, and they’re looking for opportunities to do that. And of course, there’s a fellowship that comes with that—you meet new friends and maybe expand your social circle to people you may not have met otherwise.

5. How does the Cupertino Rotary work with the Interact clubs in the nearby high schools? 

“Interact” is the name that Rotary International gives to the high school groups, and there are thousands of them around the world. We are fortunate enough to have an Interact in every high school in the nearby area. We allot a bit of our budget to each club, and this is used as seed money for them to branch out and work on their community service projects.

6. What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on as a Rotary Club member?

It’s probably an international trip that I organized and did in Cartagena, Colombia—there was a school down there that had just built an outside arena, and they needed an overhang, chairs, sporting equipment, etc. It was a small project by current terms, only about $15,000, but I learned how to write the grant applications, and it was a very involved process. The big payoff was the trip itself, when I and a few others went down there, and that was wonderful, because I really understood how the people of Colombia live today, and we were able to do service work as well—that’s when I became a true Rotarian.

7. What made you decide to become a Rotary Club member?

I joined the Rotary in 2001, and I joined because I came to Cupertino not knowing anyone, except the man I was going to marry. In 2001, I met someone socially who happened to be in the Rotary, and he became my sponsor. I joined off and running, joined a committee, and after staying on the community, I was asked to be on the board.

8. Are there any big projects the Rotary is planning on doing this year?

Yes. This year, of the things we want to do is identify some larger projects that we can involve people in. We know if we can leverage our funds, we can come up with some great projects. We’ve done some great partnership things with the library foundation, and I’d like to see that grow more this year as well.

9. What’s your favorite part about being in the Cupertino Rotary Club? 

I’ve always had a heart for helping other people, especially those less fortunate than I, and that goes back to my Girl Scout Days. I had a long career in high technology and marketing, but I’ve always had a passion for service, and with the Rotary, I can do that all the time.

10. What’s one thing people should know about the Cupertino Rotary Club?

No matter where you are, there’s always someone less fortunate that you are. All you have to do is open our eyes and find who those folks are and figure out how we can help with our resources, time and money. I’m much more fulfilled as a person, because I can reach beyond myself in order to help others.

(and here comes a bonus question!)

11. What’s your favorite part about living in Cupertino?

I love the diversity of the community—there’s all kinds of diversity. I love the fact that you can come to any place in the community, and it’s always a diverse experience. You’re always able to learn something new, and I love the energy—I get to be involved in what I see as a greater world community.

Susanne Millar September 13, 2011 at 01:38 AM
I had the experience of speaking with Beverly several times after a fire destroyed the home of some friends of mine in Cupertino. While Beverly wasn't able to have the Rotary donate funds directly to the family, due to Rotary rules, she did everything in her power to gather rotary members and encourage them to give to the family and help them out of their dire situation. I will always appreciate how kind Beverly was and how the Rotary must be a pretty cool organization to have some so gracious and giving as their leader.

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