Great Rotary Duck Race: Picking the Recipient Agencies

EUGENE, Ore. — The Great Rotary Duck Race presented by First Tech Credit Union is just three months away. In that time, Rotarians hope to sell a record number of tickets.

The $5 collected from each ticket sold gets split up between five recipient agencies — local groups that help fight child abuse and neglect in Lane County. But picking those groups out of the dozens that apply for duck race money isn’t easy.

“It’s a fairly simple process, it’s just a difficult process for a lot of people to go through,” said Susan Hair, Rotarian and 2011 Mama Duck.

By the time the group of Rotarians gets to the point of touring the agencies, it already narrowed the applicant pool.

“It can vary from a dozen to more than 20, even 30 applications. In years past as many as 40 folks have applied,” said Rotarian Paul Spain.

Five of them will end up with checks come November.

“That is a really difficult process because everyone is helping the same population because we’re trying to reduce child maltreatment,” Hair said.

“We look for agencies that may be new in the community; that’s how the Relief Nursery really got started out was with the duck race funding,” Spain said.

Willamette Family Treatment Center is another agency that’s depended on duck race funds over the years.

“At some points, it funded our family reunification program, our child development program and most recently, this family safe house, which provides transitional housing and program services for women who’ve completed treatment and their children,” said Susie Dey, Willamette Family Treatment Center.

The Center for Community Counseling isn’t a new fixture in the community.  It’s been around for more than 30 years. But it is new to the duck race.

“This is our second year. Last year, we brought a whole new program that deals with grandparents who are trying to raise their grandchildren and it gives them the opportunity for counseling needs that really has helped a number of those who otherwise wouldn’t have any opportunity to for help,” said Steve Guerber, Center for Community Counseling.

The money generated from ticket sales does more than just boost the bottom line of this year’s recipient agencies, which also includes the Patrick McCurdy Education Foundation and Birth to Three.

“What we’ve really benefitted from is the visibility and the knowledge in the community of what our center does, the people we reach out to, and that’s generated other interest and obviously other funds that have come from other places,” Guerber said.

Dey says Willamette Family Treatment Center would not be the same without duck race funding over the year.

“It gave us the stability. It gave us the confidence to move forward and to develop these programs for women and their children,” Dey said.

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