With 130 residents involved and thousands of dollars invested each year, the morning Rotary Club of Gig Harbor has contributed a decade’s worth of public service projects to the city.

“We do both large and small projects throughout the year,” club president Paul Alvestad said. “We put money aside each year in the budget for these projects because we want to give back to our community.”

Most recently the club, through grant money and volunteer efforts, helped the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce renovate its offices. The chamber presented the newly renovated building at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 5.

The chamber approached Rotarian Brett Marlo to help refinish the floors of the building, site of the old Gig Harbor Library before it became a part of the Pierce County Library system.

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Design features in the newly renovated Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce building were created out of 100 percent natural, sustainable materials and is meant to reflect the local environment in Gig Harbor.

Danielle Chastaine Photographer

“They talked to me about some of the renovations and I was like, ‘Let’s think a bit bigger,” said Marlo, who owns Brett Marlo Design Build in downtown Gig Harbor. “I thought the building was super cool and it would be really nice to bring a sense of Gig Harbor into the building.”

The dated building, which featured porous tiled walls and old carpet, got a new sleek design, with environment-friendly features Marlo helped design.

Marlo said she wanted the building to feel like a natural piece of the city.

“We stuck with the nautical things, the blues, grays and greens — a cleaner look,” she said.

In the last 10 years, the Rotary Club has provided 40 local projects to the city and peninsula.

“Hands-on opportunities are really important for Rotary,” Marlo said.

The club spends $5,000 a year on “small projects” and about $70,000 on bigger projects, Alvestad said.

“We’ve got international, youth, community service and vocational service projects,” he said, adding that the club makes money from its auction and annual wine event.

“We have about a $117,000 budget total and community service gets the largest portion,” Alvestad said.

Projects include renovations of the Wilkinson Farm Greenhouse, a picnic shelter at Sehmel Park and the Rosedale Park picnic shelter.

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Bulb lighting surrounded by fishnet is one of many nautical-themed decorations in the newly renovated Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce building.

Danielle Chastaine Photographer

One of Alvestad’s favorite projects was the Midway School House at the Harbor History Museum. The club contributed money and volunteer hours to restore the original school house and move it to the museum, where it’s used as a living museum piece for Peninsula School District students.

“We were really proud of that,” Alvestad said.

Rotarians choose to give back through projects in Gig Harbor for many reasons, he said.

“People basically have a desire to give back to what the community has brought them,” he said. “For me, I grew up in this community and it’s part of me. For new people, they’re glad they moved here and they want to make it better.”

Chamber president Warren Zimmerman said the group never could have renovated its building alone.

“This is the first stop for many tourists and has to reflect the harbor,” he said. “Volunteers spent countless hours in this office cleaning and putting the floor in by hand. They did a really really good job.”

Danielle Chastaine: 253-358-4155, @gateway_danie


Some of the projects the morning Rotary Club of Gig Harbor completed in the last 10 years:

The Orthopedic Guild Thrift Store

The flagpole and pavilion in Skansie Park

The Sehmel Park potting shed and trail bridges

The Donkey Creek viewing platform

The Rotary Aviation Zone at the Tacoma Narrows Airport

The Rotary Bark Park

Parts of the Cushman Trail

The annual YMCA Strong Kids Campaign

Portions of St. Anthony’s Hospital

Funding for the Harbor History Museum

Cash and food donations to Fish Food Bank

Funding to buy jaws of life for the Gig Harbor Fire Department

The Galloping Gertie Light Post in Stutz Park

Replacing the sports fields at Discovery Elementary

Providing dugouts at the Gig Harbor High School baseball field

Funding the Washington State Women’s Correctional Center Re-entry program


Rotary clubs focus on promoting local economies and creating committed communities. Gig Harbor has three clubs — morning, mid-morning and afternoon. The morning club had to cap its membership and has a waiting list.

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the clubs can learn more at gigharborrotary.org.

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