Karen Basso, the current president of the Prince Rupert Rotary Club, is a self-described ‘lifer’. (Keili Bartlett / The Northern View)

Heart of Our City: Rotary president is expanding Horizons

Karen Basso helps raise funds for community projects in Prince Rupert

Karen Basso loved her childhood.

Born and raised in Prince Rupert, she and her family spent a lot of time taking advantage of the area’s natural elements. Her late father, Neil Forman, taught her how to ski and that’s how they spent many weekends in the winter when he wasn’t working at his business, Certified Welding and Machining.

“He was involved in the golfing community, the ski hill on Mount Hays, the hill out at Rainbow Lake,” Basso said. “He always gave back something, so it’s my turn to.”

One way Basso gives back to her hometown is through the Prince Rupert Rotary Club. She’s been a Rotarian for almost a decade and is currently halfway through her year as the regional club’s president.

“There’s just so many things you see around town that the Rotary has been involved in. There’s the tennis courts, signage, the waterfront park. You just think, maybe that’s something I’d like to be a part of. It just happened that somebody asked me and I went, ‘OK’,” she said with a laugh.

Recently, the Rotary Club raised $50,000 after expenses through their annual three-day auction. Basso said she was so busy that although she placed a few bids, she didn’t end up getting anything. She doesn’t seem to mind though, as she’s already looking forward to how the Rotary will be able to put that money back into the community.

WATCH: THE ORIGINS OF PRINCE RUPERT’S ROTARY AUCTION

“We give all that money away,” she said. “I do like helping organizations reach some goals, whether it’s funding or whatever.”

That’s how Basso got involved in the Prince Rupert Regional Community Foundation (PRRCF), where she’s a director. About 10 or 11 years ago, she was the president of the Performing Arts Society and had applied to PRRCF to receive funds for a project. When she attended the cheque presentation, they asked her to join.

“So I did,” she said with another laugh. “It’s all about community, right?”

When she’s not directly involved in fundraising, her baking often appears in her stead.

“I love to cook, I love to bake. People call upon me when they’re doing baking auctions,” Basso said. “I’ve done many of those.”

WATCH: BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE 2017 ROTARY AUCTION

And that’s all in her downtime. Aside from being part-owner of her father’s business with one of her brothers, Basso has been working with Quadra Travel for 26 years. She had her first taste of travelling when she went to Europe on a school trip in high school.

“It’s nice to get away,” Basso said. “We livew in a rainforest and I like sun and sand. I’m fortunate enough to be able to escape multiple times during the year.”

Even though she likes to travel far and often, and helps plan vacations for a living, for Basso there’s no place like home. She’s a self-described ‘lifer’ and is proud that she’s never moved anywhere else.

“I love it here. I just love the air, the three-minute commute to work, the people. That’s what keeps me here,” she said.

While her involvement in organizations such as PRRCF and the Rotary Club takes a lot of commitment — Basso attends weekly member meetings and a monthly executive meeting for the Rotary plus fundraisers — giving back to the community she calls home makes it all worth it.

“A lot of our current members have been in this club for 30, 40 years,” she said. “I admire them. I admire them all. Nine years is nothing. I think I’m talking myself into staying for a very long time.”

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keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

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