Debbie Bradford of Houghton, Michigan was awarded the thirteenth Fritz Bernegger Award from the New London Rotary Club during a luncheon reception at Midtown Bar and Grill June 27. The award was created in 1987 to honor Bernegger, a highly dedicated Rotarian.
New London Rotary President Bill Fitzpatrick explained the purpose behind the award. “The award is a way for the local Rotary to immortalize the memory of Fritz Bernegger’s numerous contributions to Rotary International and specifically to the New London Rotary Club. Fritz Bernegger, founder of Hillshire Farms meat packing company, was a lifelong member of the New London Rotary Club and exemplified the ideals of Rotary as established by Paul Harris, founder of Rotary.”
New London’s Rotary Club reviewed several nominations based on the following criteria: Club involvement, community service, vocational attributes and international service.
From the Houghton Rotary Club came these submissions for Bradford:
Sharing leadership during the annual Christmas gift-giving project – Instead of a traditional Christmas party, our Club contributes time to purchasing and wrapping gifts for disadvantaged families in our local area. Debbie has been organizing this event for many years. Her level of supervision is amazing. In spite of the complexity, the operation always seems to run smoothly. Even the minor glitches get resolved quickly, as if Debbie had prepared for them in advance.
Sharing financial donations – Debbie sets an example to other Rotarians by contributing financially to the Rotary Foundation and other service projects. We recently had a program on Freedom Pens that are being produced by a local industrial arts teacher and his students. Before the end of the meeting, Debbie had written her check and handed it to the Rotarian hosting the program. Her example led to over $400 being collected for the project.
Sharing time as Club Secretary – Debbie has served the Houghton Rotary Club in the role of secretary for several years. She takes attendance, prepares new member packets and certificates, orders supplies, prepares and prints minutes for the Executive Board, and assists the treasurer with her duties. She provides continuity and guidance for incoming presidents, as well.
Sharing organization of Salvation Army Bell Ringing – A Houghton Rotarian who was organizing our annual bell ringing schedule was stricken with cancer early in December. He was worried that the project would fall apart without someone taking over for him. Debbie assumed the task and brought sign-up sheets to the next luncheon meeting. The project was accomplished without any problems.
Sharing her love of children and the community – Debbie has been a Girl Scout leader for years, with four troops in her past. She shares her patience with the girls in her troop, but sets high expectations for achievement. The children adore her and they learn many life-skills.
As a Houghton Rotary Club member since 1991, Bradford has accomplished the following: President – 1993-94; Secretary – 1994-2008; Treasurer – 2008-Present; Paul Harris Fellow – 1994 & 2010; Houghton Rotarian of the Year – 2001; Governor’s Rotarian of the Year -2000 and 2008; Youth Exchange Host Parent – 1994, 1995 and 2003. There are 72 members in the club and eight members are over the age 80.
Bradford also participates in additional clubs and organizations: Rice Memorial Foundation – Board member; Portage Lake Minor Little League Coach – 1991-1995; Oak House, Inc. (Adult Foster Care Home) – Treasurer 2001-Present; Copper Country Women’s Softball League – Player/board member 1993-2005; American Business Women’s Association – 1980-1986; Girl Scout: September, 1965 through present, lifetime member.
Bradford belongs to Grace United Methodist Church and has been a volunteer treasurer – 1995 – Present; is a Sunday School Teacher – Junior and Senior High School Level, College; and achieved a Cross and the Flame Award 2002 for her involvement with the youth. She was given the 2005 Athena Award from Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce.
“With her impressive list of accomplishments, it was clear to fellow Rotarians and myself that Debbie fit the criteria of the Bernegger Award,” said Fitzpatrick.
As Bradford accepted this award, she was proud to say that her father had been a District Governor for Rotary and that she shared his enthusiasm for a club that puts service above self.
Bradford said that she was raised in a Methodist family with Girl Scouting a foundation in her life from the age of seven. “My parents instilled in our family of 14 the ideal of community service and I still look for ways to enrich my life by doing for others,” said Bradford. “I don’t know anything else, that’s what I was taught from the time I was very young.” She said she recalled her parents helping families in need many times, even donating a gravesite once to a family that could not afford one. She recalls them selling many items for Rotary to help raise funds for needy programs.
She went on to give the New London Rotary some examples of how her club accomplishes their fundraising goals and what has been successful for them through the years. She enjoys the commaradarie of Rotary, especially events that include spouses. These ideas were welcome, and Rotarians continued their discussions well after the event came to an end.