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Rotary Happenings: Kirklands receive Business Person of the Year Vocational Service Award

April 11, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club is proud to announce the recipients of our 2018 Business Person of the Year Vocational Service Award - this year two recipients - Billy and Salli Kirkland. The award was introduced in 2015 for presentation to a non-Rotarian business professional in our community who has shown and demonstrated exemplary professional standards in business and in going that extra mile with their civic involvement and contributions for the community's good.

Each year, club members are asked to nominate community business leaders who they feel demonstrates the criteria for this honor. Nominations must be accompanied by persuasive evidence of positive community involvement and an altruistic spirit in these endeavors. This year's nominations were reviewed by our 2018 award committee - Bill Rahe, Barbara Ellis and Clair Beckman - and a recipient or recipients selected.

Vocational service was Rotary's first focus when it started in 1905 and it has always celebrated those who in their lives demonstrate leadership, high integrity, mentoring qualities and serve their community and beyond with volunteer service and other acts of generosity.

Article Photos

Billy and Salli Kirkland with Barbara Ellis.

Along with the Vocational Service Award, the Kirklands received honorary Paul Harris Fellow recognition awards and Paul Harris medallions. The award represents the highest honor a Rotary organization can bestow a non-member. It is named for Rotary's founder, Paul Harris, who started Rotary with three business associates in 1905.

If you don't recognize Billy and Salli Kirkland's names, you couldn't possibly live on Sanibel or Captiva. The dynamic duo has been part of our islands' business community for over 30 years. As our communities grew, so did their business - from the humble beginnings of renting beach chairs and small sail boats at island resorts, to a multi-faceted network of businesses throughout the islands led by Billy's Bike Rentals on Periwinkle Way and its satellite location at Bailey's General Store.

Billy and Salli give their all and that means giving back to the community. They have been awarded the Southwest Florida Blue Chip Business Award and the E Awards for Hospitality from the Lee County Visitors & Convention Bureau in Fort Myers.

As individuals, each have taken on leadership roles in organizations they belong to. Billy currently sits on the board at The Community House and is a familiar presence at fundraising committee meetings for almost every fundraising event on the Sanibel. He generously donates his time, talent and treasure. He was there after Hurricane Charley with his backhoes and tree trimming equipment helping to clear the roads, so islanders could get back to their own homes and businesses. And who can forget The Community House's first "Dancing with the Island Stars" no twinkle toes was he but he pulled in the most financial backing for the event and facility. Whether it's hanging lights from the ceiling at The Community House or supplying bottled water for events, a generator or a clean-up crew, Billy is there. Ho! Ho! Ho! For the Sanibel Kiwanis sled run Billy's the guy. Billy fixes up old bikes and donates them to the kids in Immokalee. This list goes on and on.

Salli is not only by his side in many of these activities, she also stands out on her own. Salli was on the board of directors at The Community House for six years, serving as vice president and president. Salli was instrumental in the planning phase of The Community House renovations and, along with Marge Meek, took on the role of co-chair of fundraising activities for the new kitchen. Salli was a member and president of the American Business Women's Association on Sanibel and was awarded not only the local chapter's honor of ABWA Women of the Year, but went on to receive the regional's Women of the Year's title. Salli and her daughter, Venessa Flynn, began the island tradition of Fall Family Fun Night at The Community House, which year after year is an outstanding success with all the children on Sanibel. Salli regularly takes her fundraising activities off island around the country participating and in an array of bike fundraiser events all for charity. And, if that's not enough, she loves the role of grandma to her two granddaughters.

The Kirklands not only support each other at work, but also support each other in their endeavors in community involvement and fundraising activities. A couple of added notes from Billy - he referred to his great team of employees, they are key to his business and personal ranking in the community, and he reminded that Billy's Bikes aligns with Rotary's wheelchair project by providing handicap beach wheelchairs for free to anyone in need of such equipment on a short-term basis on island.

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit or The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are always welcome to attend.



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