Four finalists announced for 2017 Wilsonville First Citizen

Four leaders from the Wilsonville community have been selected as finalists for the 2017 Wilsonville First Citizen award, which is presented annually by the Rotary Club of Wilsonville. This year’s nominees for the prestigious award are: Angie Gibson, volunteer with Boy Scouts, and Wilsonville’s K-12 schools; Kathy Johnson, volunteer with Relay for Life and the Wilsonville Library; Jordan Scoggins, Wellness Instructor and founder and advisor of Jr. Scoops Student Activity Club at Wood Middle School; and Sue Woebkenberg, AARP Tax Program longtime volunteer.

The finalists will be honored, and a winner announced, at Partners in Service: The 2018 Heart of Gold Dinner and Auction, which will be held Saturday, March 3 at the Wilsonville Holiday Inn. This will be the 17th annual edition of the banquet, which was started in 2002 to honor Wilsonville’s community leaders who enrich the lives of all local residents. It is also the Rotary Club’s largest fundraiser of the year, proceeds from which support education and community enrichment efforts in Wilsonville.

Tim Crowley, president of the Wilsonville Rotary and chair of the First Citizen Committee, expressed his excitement about the number of nominations that were received for this year’s award. “This is an extremely dedicated group of volunteers who are nominees for the First Citizen award this year,” Crowley said. “Each of our four finalists has brought unique, valuable skills and contributions to our city and has made Wilsonville a better place to live and thrive. We can’t wait to honor them all at our Heart of Gold Dinner and Auction and recognize the person who will be chosen as the 2017 First Citizen.”

Proceeds from the event support the numerous projects of the Wilsonville Rotary Foundation, including local omelet breakfasts to raise funds for schools; the Wilsonville Chess Program to help students learn discipline and problem-solving skills; the Through A Child’s Eyes program, a partnership with Coffee Creek Correctional Facility that strengthens families and helps female inmates be better parents both before and after release; the free Wilsonville Rotary Summer Concerts for residents and a fund raiser for polio prevention; college scholarships for Wilsonville and Arts & Tech high school graduates; international student exchange programs, inbound and outbound, that enrich Wilsonville students and their families; and annual projects that have brought solar energy to Africa and clean water to schools and clinics in the Third World.

The four finalists will be introduced individually at the Heart of Gold event ­ – after a silent auction and throughout an evening that includes a lively auction of big ticket items – and at the end of the evening the First Citizen honor will be awarded to the chosen finalist. Each nominee was selected based on her or his active engagement in the Wilsonville community which improves the lives and well-being of its residents. Details on the finalists include:

Angie Gibson is a volunteer well known for always being there if something needs to get done in any number of schools and other organization’s in which she is involved. An almost 20 year resident of Wilsonville and a native Oregonian, Angie’s volunteer ethic, nurtured in her youth, has compelled her to give her time, energy and expertise to support K-12 school associations, clubs, and events over the years at Boones Ferry Primary, Wood Middle School and Wilsonville High School; and with the Boy Scouts as Advancement Chair and Merit Badge Counselor. Angie’s professional career as an accountant has enabled her to take on financial roles in the various organizations and events in which she had been engaged; which often tend to be the jobs that nobody else wants or has the expertise to do. She credits the companies in Wilsonville for which she’s worked, including her current position at Mentor Graphics and previously at In Focus, for allowing her the time to volunteer in order to help build high quality schools and student experiences. “Angie is what volunteering is all about,” noted her nominator. She is known as a ubiquitous presence at any one of Wilsonville’s schools at least twice a week, working with kids before school, helping at lunch, or supporting activities in the evenings.  Angie said, “My personal motto regarding service is do at least one thing for every organization that you support, either give of your time, talent or treasure, to the extent you are able in that season.  It’s because of each of us doing that one thing that we are able to provide such amazing community for one another.”

Kathy Johnson: a long-time volunteer with Relay for Life and at the Wilsonville Library. She started Wilsonville Citizens For Public Art (with Steve Spicer), and volunteered for about three years with them. She was also Recorder for The Friends of The Wilsonville Library for about 10 years. Currently Kathy volunteers for the Twice Sold Tales library bookstore whenever they need her. She has worked on the Relay for Life Committee for about eight years, including as the Survivor Chair, the Luminaria Chair, and the Event Chair during those years. Kathy has also worked as Senior Drive-up Teller for ten years. During that time she prided herself in taking the best care of her customers as she could, trying to make their lives a bit brighter and happier when they came to her drive-up window at Bank of America. While working at BofA Kathy volunteered at The Canby Center as a Grant Writer and was able to get them funding for two projects, as well as funds from BofA for her volunteer hours. She also received the Bronze President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Obama.

Jordan Scoggins is known as a dedicated educator at Wood Middle School who goes above and beyond his position as Wellness Instructor in his impact on students and the school culture. Jordan is founder and advisor of Jr. Scoops Student Activity Club. Through the Club, he teaches middle school students how to make and sell artisan-quality ice cream, real-world business skills, and using sales profits to help others in need. He is known as a masterful teacher and guider of students who is developing 6th through 8th graders into the next generation of first citizen though their rigorous after school operating of a successful business, as well as giving of themselves to help others. He encourages students to take the reins of their projects, seeking professional counsel when they need it from him, but doing all the work themselves. The Club’s motto is, “Helping the community one scoop at a time.” The maturity of the students and the success of their activities have caught the attention and support of other Wilsonville organizations – such as Xerox, Rotary Club of Wilsonville, and the Kiwanis; from which they have received grant support. Jordon provides important teaching and guidance to students, including how to write business plans, how to maintain commercial food service equipment, the fundamentals of marketing, financial management, and many other aspects of running a successful business. His nominators said the students are not “just a group of kids who make ice cream – they are far more than that.” And that is all about Jordan’s ability to engage students in meaningful, relevant experiences, all as a volunteer.

Sue Woebkenberg moved to Oregon in the late 1970s and has been a resident of Wilsonville since 1991. After more than 30 years in the corporate and public sectors as a CPA and Controller, Sue began her volunteerism in Wilsonville. She is now well known as a dedicated volunteer, heading up the AARP Tax Program for years at the Community Center in Wilsonville. This began when Sue read articles in the Spokesman about free tax service at the Community Center and the periodic requests for volunteers for preparing the tax returns. Unlike most people who hate doing their taxes, Sue always liked doing them. Eventually she became the Local Volunteer Coordinator for the Wilsonville site’s AARP Taxaide program. Sue said, “After volunteering with this program it is difficult to leave. We target low to middle income and senior population. When I started with the program in tax year 2007 we did 2 tax appointments per hour. This year we will do 6 tax appointments per hour. We have always had to turn people away.” Sue trains a team of tax preparers, studies the new laws, recruits other volunteers, and also helps out at other centers when needed. Her nominator said, “She spends hours at home filing tax forms for elderly clients, and is very professional and conscientious with all of these honored citizens. Sue puts her personal life on hold for these four months each years to offer invaluable help to seniors and others who can’t always afford the high cost of filing tax forms; and for whom it gets more and more difficult.”

Heart of Gold information: Several hundred attendees come together each year for the Heart of Gold event, and is one of the top fundraisers in Wilsonville that provide direct funding back to the community in ways that benefit all residents. Tickets to the gala awards dinner and auction are $60 each or $480 for a table of eight. They can be purchased online at, or in person from any Wilsonville Rotarian. More information on the Wilsonville Rotary Club can be found at:

For those looking ahead to next year, the club is already accepting nominations for the 2018 award, which will be awarded in early 2019. Nominations may be submitted to, or sent to


It’s time: nominate Wilsonville’s First Citizen by Dec. 31

With the passing of Thanksgiving, and Christmas on the horizon, this is a perfect time of year to reflect on the people who truly make a difference in our lives.  Each year, the Rotary Club of Wilsonville recognizes the volunteers in our community with our First Citizen Award. We need your help to identify those people in Wilsonville who exemplify the meaning of “community service.”  It could be your neighbor, family member, business associate, or just an acquaintance. Please take a moment to nominate the person(s) who has touched your life and made our community such a wonderful place to live. 

Nominations will be accepted through December 31, 2017, with the finalists announced in January of 2018. The First Citizen will be awarded at Wilsonville Rotary’s annual Heart of Gold gala on March 3, 2018 at the Holiday Inn in WilsonvilleTo nominate a community member (or couple) who is an exceptional contributor please go to or send me an email at

I can’t wait to see you all at our Heart of Gold next year to celebrate our theme, “Partners in Service”.  It will be a Western theme with a BBQ style dinner. We encourage you all to wear your best western attire!  There will be an award for the best dressed Cowboy and Cowgirl!  Thank you all for making a difference in the lives of others by supporting the activities of the Rotary Club of Wilsonville. We truly are “Partners in Service”.

Sophia and Samantha: impressive international exchange student leaders

Sophia Sommerscales of Wilsonville High School talked about her experiences as a Rotary Youth Exchange student in Natal, Brazil.

The Youth Exchange program through the Rotary Club of Wilsonville continues to attract amazing young women and men from across the globe, and sends our incredible youth abroad. The Club recently sponsored Sophia Sommerscales who visited Natal, Brazil; and Samantha Barbara Buholzer Prieto who is currently in Wilsonville, visiting from Puebla, Mexico. On Thursday, November 30, both of them spoke to the Rotarians about their international experiences.

Sophia talked about the challenges of learning Portuguese, which was more difficult than she expected, and with her Spanish speaking skills not offering much help. She arrived in Brazil in June and stayed for three months, but wished she could have stayed longer. She loved buggy riding in the dunes and going often to the beautiful beaches. She also played soccer and engaged in a lot school activities, enjoying all of the other students whom she met. Regarding her favorite foods there, anything from her “uncle’s” bakery, sun-dried beef, and seafood dishes. By the time she left, Samantha felt that she was able to understand about 90% of what she heard in Portuguese. Her family will soon welcome Julio, her “brother” in Brazil.

Since her arrival, Samantha has been “embedded” with a few different Wilsonville families, exploring Oregon and engaging in Northwest and American traditions and events. Some of her favorite times so far have been the Oregon Dunes, playing soccer at Wilsonville High School, and learning about traditions like Halloween and Thanksgiving from her two host families so far, Mary and Mark Stewart; and Laura LaJoie and her husband Mike and

Samantha (center front) with her host families and other Rotarians at her welcome breakfast.

their daughters. She has also had a chance to attend Homecoming; go to San Francisco where she biked through the Golden Gate and went to Alcatraz (her favorite trip so far!), and Crater Lake.


Samantha also spoke about the many proud traditions in her culture in Mexico, including Wise Men’s Day, Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo and the Day of the Dead or Ofrendas. Her favorite places in Mexico are The Palace in Mexico City, Cancun, eco-archeological sites such as the pyramids, and the famous Puebla cathedrals. Samantha is also a dog-lover, and a talented artist (drawer).


Win a vacation at an Italian Villa: Heart of Gold Raffle

Need a stocking stuffer for one of the people on your Christmas gift…you for you!? The Rotary is selling $50 raffle tickets for a 7-day stay at a villa in Italy! With only 199 tickets maximum being sold. Ready to purchase your ticket(s)? Go to the Wilsonville Rotary order area.

Description: The wonderful private garden that greets you every time you enter Casa Bacco sets this home apart from many homes in Cortona, as most do not have an outdoor space. Imagine relaxing in the private courtyard with a glass of local Tuscan wine and some fresh pecorino cheese, or preparing a meal in the fully equipped kitchen to savor with your friends and family in the outdoor garden.

Casa Bacco is a spacious and luminous home that spreads out over 2 floors. The 3 bedrooms all have queen size beds and the house can accommodate 6 people. Two of the bedrooms offer stunning views over the rooftops of Cortona and down the bucolic Val de Chiana below. The other bedroom looks out over the courtyard garden and the neighboring homes.

Miro, your host and the owner of Casa Bacco, has restored this beautiful home, which was in his family for several generations. He has gone above and beyond to ensure his guests have all the amenities and comforts needed. Casa Bacco is very inviting and offers a relaxed, cozy atmosphere in which to spend your time!

Not too early to volunteer for TACE summer event at Coffee Creek

Coffee Creek event creates strong bonds between inmates and their kids.

Do you want to become a TACE volunteer? Rotary’s International Award winning Through A Child’s Eyes mother/child bonding program — in partnership with Coffee Creek Correctional facility — is scheduled for July 14 and 15, 2018. We are looking for volunteers for either day from 9:30-3:30 p.m. 

It is very heartwarming to see these children spending important bonding time with their inmate Moms. They experience a carefree day enjoying a barbecue, getting a family picture taken, and playing crafts and games together.  Warning!  You’ll be challenged to keep a dry eye when it comes time for the families to say goodbye at the end of the day.

Requirements to be a volunteer are: you must pass a simple background check, take a one hour class on a choice of dates, be a non-judgmental role model, and be willing to dispense unconditional love. You would be assigned a game or craft that kids and their Moms will engage in throughout the fun and active day.

This is the 15th year for this remarkable program held outdoors but within the prison fences. Many of the volunteers have been with us for over a decade.  If you are interested and would like more information, please talk to a Rotarian, or contact Doris Wehler at 503-682-0426 or

Youth Exchange comes full circle

By Jake McMichael, Youth Exchange Program Chair, Wilsonville Rotary

The Wilsonville Rotary Youth Exchange Program has now come full circle, what with the return home of two WHS students, the first of our “Rebound” category. Amanda Weatherly and Biz Harms have been welcomed home this month from a year abroad studying in Slovakia and Austria, respectively. Each will be the program speaker at several Rotary luncheon meetings in September, telling us about their exciting year in a foreign country.  As we welcome home the 12th grade “Rebounds”, we are in the process of interviewing five new 10th grade applicants for both the short and long term exchange programs for the 2018-2019 school years. These WHS students will undergo considerable training by the local Rotary District during their 10th grade year to prepare them for their adventure abroad in the 11th grade.

Bracketed by these two bookends, we have three WHS 11th graders involved in the exchange program this year. Lily Burhop will be departing in late August to Cherepovets, Russia, which is about half way between St. Petersburg and Moscow. She has been in contact with her host family who will meet her in St. Petersburg and drive to her new home where she will be the big sister in a family of younger siblings. There are presently two WHS juniors abroad in South America under the Rotary Short Term Exchange Program (STEP). Lila Durig is spending the entire summer in Argentina, while Sophia Somerscales is in Brazil for the summer.  The STEP is a family-to-family exchange.  The Durigs and the Somerscales will be hosting their “host sisters” from the respective host S.A. families during their summer vacation period in December – February, our winter.

We recently said a tearful goodbye to our long term 2016-2017 inbound student from Switzerland, Anna Knill.  Anna was a Super Senior at WHS who won our hearts with her outgoing and loving personality.  She excelled academically and in sports, being captain of the WHS Girls Swim Team this past year. We are looking forward to the arrival of our new inbound student from Mexico on August 18th (just in time for the eclipse). Samantha Barbara Buholzer Prieto is a dual citizen young lady, whose father emigrated from Switzerland to Mexico. She has been accepted at WHS and will be here for her 11th grade year. We have several host families involved with “Sam”, and we are looking for additional families interesting in hosting Sam for a three month interval.

Involvement in the Youth Exchange Program as a long or short term participant and/or as a host family can be an exceptionally rewarding experience. You should check it out. Contact Jake McMichael at, 503-312-9596 Cell, 503-694-2127 Home.

Using Music to Heal the World

(This op-ed was published in the Wilsonville Spokesman on July 19, 2017)

Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, David Sanborn, Dinah Shore, James DePriest, Judy Collins and Itzhak Perlman: what do all of these people have in common? Yes, they are all wonderful singers and musicians. But did you know that they also share something else? All had polio in their youth.

While polio seems very distant from our lives here in Wilsonville, it wasn’t so long ago that it was a dark specter that appeared every summer. The disease defied the happiness of long summer days swimming, picking berries, playing baseball and simply being a kid. Could it reappear in the U.S? In our community? Of course it could. Just as Zika, H1N1, Ebola, and other global contagions have come, so could polio again, which is really only a plane ride away.

Polio was deemed eradicated in the U.S. in 1979. Ten years after that polio cases still totaled 350,000 worldwide. But by 2013, global polio numbers were down to just over 400 cases, thanks to major efforts by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, and generous foundations, including Bill Gates. And today? We’re down to seven cases this year in two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are more than 99 percent of the way there, and we did it in less than 40 years. Without eradication, experts predict polio will rise again quickly, with as many as 200,000 new cases a year over the next 10 years.

Most at risk of getting polio are the most innocent: children under the age of 5. While there is no cure for this devastating disease, there is a vaccine which prevents polio. And if you attended a Wilsonville Rotary Summer Concert in the past and put money in the End Polio Now buckets, then you have probably paid for a vaccine that may have saved a child’s life or prevented untold pain and suffering.

With the recently announced extension of the two-for-one match by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary’s ambitious goal this summer of collecting $12,000 over the four concerts would be enough to vaccinate more than 36,000 children with the Gates’ match. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Wilsonville residents donated enough to impact that many children’s lives?

It seems fitting to share music together, to dance together, to watch our children splash together in the fountain in Town Center Park as we celebrate our community and how powerful we can be when we join together in common cause. Whether you can give $1 or $20, your donations really mean something at our free, annual Rotary Summer Concerts. We can’t wait to share all four of these special evenings with you this summer. Thank you for being a part of this great community.

Tim Crowley is the president of the Rotary Club of Wilsonville. He lives in Wilsonville and is the owner of Crowley Landscape Management, Inc.

Looking Into Space With The Hubble Space Telescope

From the dawn of humankind to a mere 400 years ago, all that we knew about our universe came through observations with the naked eye. Then Galileo turned his telescope toward the heavens in 1610.

In the centuries that followed, telescopes grew in size and complexity and, of course, power. They were placed far from city lights and as far above the haze of the atmosphere as possible. Edwin Hubble, for whom the Hubble Telescope is named, used the largest telescope of his day in the 1920s at the Mt. Wilson Observatory near Pasadena, Calif., to discover galaxies beyond our own.

But according to our speaker on July 13, retired Lockheed Martin senior staff engineer Tom Styczynski, all that changed dramatically in April of 1990 when the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, marking the first significant advancement in astronomy since Galileo’s telescope.

In a talk entitled The Hubble Telescope:  Insights From A Former Hubble Engineer, Styczynski provided Rotarians and guests with a detailed account of the long and complex development process of the telescope, and particularly of his own very important role, in what has turned out to be a very successful endeavor.  Styczynski was intimately involved in numerous ways during the 1980s and even after the launch before he went on to other projects.

The Hubble was the first major optical telescope to be placed in space, the ultimate mountaintop. Above the distortion of the atmosphere, far above rain clouds and light pollution, the Hubble has an unobstructed view of the universe. Scientists have used Hubble to observe the most distant stars and galaxies as well as the planets in our solar system.

And now, thanks to four servicing missions and more than 25 years of operation, our view of the universe and our place within it has never been the same.  The Hubble is expected to remain in service until the middle of the next decade.

Message from the President: Tim Crowley

Have you ever wanted to make a difference in someone’s life?  Have you ever wondered if what you do every day really makes a difference?  If you’re like most people, you’ll answer with an enthusiastic “Yes!”  I know for me personally, not only do I want to make a difference in my community, but I also want to improve the lives of others around the world that were not fortunate enough to be born in a country of such abundance.

I am so excited to be the Rotary Club of Wilsonville’s President for 2017-2018. This year, the theme of Rotary International is “Making a Difference.”  In March of 2013, I joined Rotary to build relationships within my community and grow my business.  But I became a Rotarian, and I remain a Rotarian today, because I know without a doubt that I am making a difference in people’s lives right here in Wilsonville, and all around the world. What I do as a Rotarian, what we do as a Rotary Club, and what Rotary International does collectively, truly makes a difference.

What do we do to make a difference in Wilsonville?  We strengthen our schools by raising funds with our Pancake and Omelet Breakfasts; we teach critical thinking skills to our children through our Chess for Success program; we make the hopes of a higher education a reality by awarding numerous scholarships to local high school students; we foster and encourage a spirit of service by recognizing and rewarding the efforts of students at our regular meetings; we build character and teach life skills by sponsoring a local Boy Scout troop; we strengthen our community and enrich the lives of our residents by providing our free Summer Concert Series; and finally, we touch the lives of inmate mothers and their children by creating an environment that strengthens the family relationships and strives to end the cycle of crime with our award winning program Through A Child’s Eyes. This powerful two-day event just concluded its 15th year and has been so successful, it is being modeled throughout the state.

Those are just our local programs!  We also make a difference around the world by providing support for local university students to bring renewable energy sources to remote areas in Tanzania in the Solar Hope project. We have a vibrant Youth Exchange Program that literally changes the course of young people’s lives by providing a “world” experience and perspective. We partner with other Rotary Clubs to complete humanitarian projects and promote peace in all parts of the world. We are saving lives and eradicating disease by being a leading fundraiser for END POLIO NOW. This amazing effort has brought about a dramatic drop in new Polio cases, from approximately 350,000 new cases in 1989, to only 7 new cases in 2017.

That’s a long list of “stuff”, but how do I know for a fact we are “Making a Difference”?  I’ve felt it and I feel it all the time! I got goose bumps when the school counselor told our club what it meant to the students receiving our scholarships. I cried tears of joy and gratitude, when I heard an inmate tell her son, “I love you.”  I’ve been choked up too many times to count, hearing about the international efforts of volunteers risking their own lives to administer a life-saving vaccine in the fight against Polio, or providing the basic necessities that we take for granted in this country.  There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, that the Rotary Club of Wilsonville is “Making a Difference.”

Skip to toolbar