Danielle Bethell, president of the McNary High School Athletic Booster Club, is congratulated by by Bob Zielinski, president of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Danielle Bethell, president of the McNary High School Athletic Booster Club, is congratulated by by Bob Zielinski, president of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Danielle Bethell nearly missed her big moment at the Jan. 23 Keizer First Citizen Awards Banquet.

“We almost didn’t come,” Bethell said, referring to herself and husband Nathan. “My daughter was having a rough day today. She wanted us to stay home, so we almost stayed home. But I’m really glad that we didn’t.”

That’s because Bethell was honored that night with the President’s Award from Keizer Chamber of Commerce president Bob Zielinski.

“Some people know how to motivate others to get things done,” said Zielinski, who shared Keizer First Citizen honors with wife Pam four years ago. “Others show up like worker bees and complete projects, doing anything and everything they can that is needed to complete the function. My choice of the person to receive the President’s Award has both of these characteristics, plus this person has an amazing talent to be able to create a project by envisioning the good things that can happen in the community.”

Zielinski also referenced Bethell’s volunteering at the Keizer Iris Festival, at McNary High School Blue Day, Keizer Rotary and most recently as the leader of the MHS turf field project.

“So that gives it away, I guess,” Zielinski said. “It’s pretty limited who worked on all of those projects. She is the president of the McNary (Athletic) Boosters Club and one I’m very proud of.”

During the introduction speech, Bethell figured Zielinski was referring to Ted Anagnos, a longtime Keizer volunteer and contributer who won the President’s Award in 1990 and the First Citizen award in 2001.

“This is unexpected,” Bethell said. “Ted’s the epitome of everything I look up to in this community. Thank you for all of your support.”

Bethell, who recently started working as a financial advisor, said joining Keizer Rotary three years ago was a life changer for her.

“I joined Rotary because I had been looking for a long, long time for individuals that were like minded,” she said. “David Smith is someone I met one day through the Keizer Little League project I had started. He said, ‘You should become a Rotarian.’ I said I don’t know what that is. Isn’t that for old people? He said come to a meeting and see what you think. So I did. I realized that was the place for me. So I joined that October and decided my first project would be gathering up groups of individuals in the community to redo the vandalized fields at Keizer Little League Park. It all kind of went from there. I have enough energy and I like to talk to people.”

The way Bethell sees it, the desire to help a community is within everyone.

“I think people in general really want to help, but we all get so caught up in our daily lives of meetings and work to make the bills, keep the kids happy and all of that,” she said. “We’re not sure quite where to go. I’m not afraid to ask for help. I’m not afraid to ask anyone and everyone for anything they can provide to get something done.”

For Bethell, that started with looking at her three children.

“I am filled with the most joy when I am able to help them make their dreams come true,” Bethell said. “I started with the Keizer Little League project. My next big project after that was the turf field project, but I kind of fell into it. I wasn’t really looking for it. There was a group of people formed to do the project. They were having some challenges getting the community really rallied. It goes back to I’m not afraid to ask for help and here we are.”

Big projects don’t intimidate Bethell. If anything, it’s just the opposite.

“I get excited by a challenge,” she said. “I lose sleep over determining if my timeline is accurate for it. Even right now, I’m working with McKay High School. I helped them form an athletic booster club. We’re working to establish a timeline to give them a turf field. That community has a lot of internal struggles. I see opportunity in that struggle. I can’t wait. I already have a design for the field. We have engineers, a vendor. I’m very excited for that.”

While appreciative of the award, Bethell emphasized that’s not why she volunteers.

“I think awards are really awesome, but I’m not in it for the recognition,” Bethell said. “I’m in it for the long-term experience.”