Bob Armessen says he was initially uncertain about the prospect of being awarded an OAM.
"It was completely by surprise," he said. "A shock to the system, completely unexpected.
"Initially I was just too embarrassed to accept, but then I thought, 'no, that's a recognition for what our Rotary club has done'. Their support, and Rotary International's support has been so important.
"I know I'm going to cop some flak this Wednesday night at the meeting," he laughed.
Mr Armessen, 74, has been awarded an OAM as part of the Australia Day honours list, in recognition of his service to the community through Rotary International.
Born in France, at age five his family relocated to Australia.
During his working life, the father of two was primarily involved in real estate and the building industry.
Prior to Rotary, he was a member of Apex, a volunteer community service organisation for Australians aged 18 to 45.
The West Wollongong resident has been a member of the Rotary Club of West Wollongong since 1994.
He has served in a number of roles for the club, including treasurer and board director, as well as being a former director of community service.
Since the mid-2000s, he's been the project leader and co-ordinator for the club's school and hospital equipment donations to Samoa and the Cook Islands.
Mr Armessen said this work had been satisfying.
"My wife and I were on a holiday in Samoa, and we saw a need there," he said.
"I called into the Rotary club there and had a chat with some people. They said, 'any help you can give us, we'd be more than happy'.
"We came back to Wollongong, mentioned it to the Rotary club members, and we decided to do something.
"We planned to send a couple of palettes of books over to start with. When we saw the response we got from suppliers, businesspeople around town, schools with books and so on, a couple of palettes morphed into a container.
"We sent a couple of containers over the next two years."
This led to the club sending 15 containers of hospital, medical, educational and sporting supplies, in conjunction with a Rotary club in the Samoan capital of Apia.
They later supplied 1200 desks, 3000 seats and tens of thousands of books to Samoan schools, and later, sent a container of items to schools and communities in the Cook Islands.
"It was phenomenal when we saw what we could do," Mr Armessen said.
"Everything was so well-received."
Robert Jean Armessen
For service to the community through Rotary International.
Rotary International - Rotary Club of West Wollongong,
Project Leader and Coordinator, school and hospital equipment donations to Samoa and Cook Islands, since mid-2000s.
Treasurer and Board Director, 2008-2014.
Former Director, Vocational Services.
Former Director, Community Service.
Former Club Sergeant.
Member, since 1994.
Sapphire Pin, Paul Harris Fellowship, 2017.
Paul Harris Fellowship, 2011.
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