Joan Sjostrom accepts a Paul Harris Fellowship pin from club President Elaine Love. Sjostrom was recognized at the meeting for 50 years of community service in Castle Rock and Douglas County and her time in Rotary. This year is the 25th anniversary of when Sjostrom was president of the Rotary Club of Castle Rock. The Paul Harris pin is recognition for a certain level of giving to the Rotary International Foundation. 
 
 
Long-time Rotarian and Douglas County resident Joan Sjostrom was honored Wednesday for her life of service to the community.
Sjostrom was celebrated at the Jan. 2 Rotary Club of Castle Rock meeting. It was the 25th anniversary of her year as president of the club. She was presented a plaque and a Rotary Paul Harris pin recognizing her contributions to the Rotary International Foundation.
Sjostrom began her Rotary career in 1989, shortly after the United States Supreme Court ruled that Rotary International could no longer prohibit women from joining. Sjostrom was the first woman in the club and likely one of the first women in the United States to become a Rotarian and serve as the president of a local club. One area of focus for Sjostrom is raising funds for service projects and she is consistently a top seller of Rotary peaches and tickets to the annual Ducky Derby.
Sjostrom, who grew up in Denver, moved to Douglas County in 1968 with her husband and four children and settled on property west of Castle Rock. When the family arrived, the population of the county was less than 8,000 people, compared to more than 300,000 today. Access to services was limited, and Sjostrom quickly became heavily involved in community service in Douglas County and Castle Rock.   
She helped found a Castle Rock branch of Beta Sigma Phi in 1970, a leading service group in the area at the time, and served as its president in 1973.
She was a founding member of the Castle Rock Historical Society, served on its board for several years, and volunteered at the Castle Rock Historical Museum for more than 13 years.  Her interest in history expanded to the Douglas County Library branch in Castle Rock, where she volunteered in the local history department for more than 10 years.
In the 1970s, the closest Lutheran Church was more than 20 miles away, so the Sjostrom’s joined a few other families to start a mission congregation and Sjostrom’s steadfast support helped make Faith Lutheran Church in Castle Rock a reality.
When no emergency medical services were available within 25 miles of Castle Rock, Sjostrom and a few other citizens volunteered so that the Swedish Emergency Medical Center in Castle Rock could be available to local residents.
Recognizing the growing need in the area for those at risk of homelessness or similar crises, Sjostrom was an early supporter of the Douglas/Elbert Task Force, now the Hope & Help Center. She served on the board from 1987 to 2010. She is the center’s longest serving volunteer and still volunteers there every week.
She is also part of the foundation of the strong educational system in Douglas County.  She volunteered at local schools for many years, beginning in 1968 when she supported the Douglas County school choirs in the Annual Starlighting event in Castle Rock.  Sjostrom was instrumental in guiding the district during the early years. During her ten years serving on the Douglas County Board of Education, school enrollment nearly doubled and several new schools were built.
In 2005 Sjostrom was awarded the Minoru Yasui Volunteer award for community service. In recognition of her service, John Hickenlooper, mayor of Denver at the time, declared July 28, 2005, Joan Sjostrom Day in Denver.
Sjostrom attended Colorado State University, worked as a bookkeeper for nearly 20 years, and was an owner and manager of a travel agency in Castle Rock for 12 years.
The club members, and others who attended the meeting, gave Sjostrom a standing ovation and thanked her for her 50 years of community service.
After receiving the award, Sjostrom thanked the crowd.
“I appreciate every person here,” Sjostrom said. “I don’t know if I deserve it, but thank you for the honor. This community and this club have been like a big family.”
 
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