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Good turns deserve another for Nilsen

POULSBO — Bruce Nilsen thought he was escorting Miss Poulsbo Canon Henness to breakfast last Friday morning.

But he ended up with a lot more than bacon and eggs.

Poulsbo resident Nilsen, owner of Nilsen’s Appliance Centers, was named the Poulsbo/North Kitsap Rotary’s second-ever Community Member Paul Harris Fellow Dec. 10. As a typically shy and humble man, Nilsen said he realized very shortly into the surprise introduction that he was about to be called up to the podium.

“I thought, ‘Oh no,’” he said with a laugh, recalling his first reaction to realizing he’d been named the Paul Harris Fellow. “I do this stuff in the background.”

The award, named for the man who founded Rotary International in 1905, is given to any Rotarian who gives a certain amount to the Rotary Foundation. Individual clubs are also eligible for the award through group giving points.

This year, the Poulsbo club decided that it would begin accepting the Paul Harris Awards it was eligible for and dedicate them to non-Rotarians who exemplify the rotary’s mission in the community. Al Bowman of Bainbridge Island received the first award in May.

When he’s not serving as one of the driving forces behind the Miss Poulsbo Organization, organizers of the Miss Poulsbo and Miss Kitsap pageants, Nilsen is often quietly making contributions to his community. As owner of Nilsen’s since 1984, he has provided new and used appliances free of charge to groups like the Fishline, ShareNet, the Kitsap YMCA ALIVE shelter, Habitat for Humanity, the Rotary club’s transitional house project and even local schools. Besides donations of the plug-in kind, Nilsen also gives donates to local Little League teams and is on the Kitsap Hospice Board.

Rotarian Ardis Morrow, who nominated Nilsen for the award, said she wanted to let the community know just what he’s done over the years.

“He keeps his contributions so secret it’s hard to know just what he does,” Morrow said. “He keeps very secret and to himself.”

Despite a little embarrassment, Nilsen said he was honored to be recognized by the Rotary with the Paul Harris Fellow award. But true to form, he said while he will enjoy the gift, he will certainly share it with his loved ones.

“We do this as a family. It’s not just me. It’s my wife and my girls so I accept this in their honor,” Nilsen said. “But that isn’t why we do it. We do it to help people in the community.”

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