Prestea Community Library in Ghana

By Bill Griffin, District Stewardship Subcommittee Chair, District 6970

The vision for the Prestea Community library project began in the Catholic Church of the Epiphany where Father John Bosco Maison serves as pastor and three members of the Rotary Club of Daytona Beach West (District 6970) attend each week.  Father John created the vision for a library in his home town of Prestea, Ghana to honor his mother and her passion for literacy and education.

Many of the children of Prestea leave school early to work in the gold mines that surround the area.  Due to the lack of books, they do not have the opportunity to develop literacy skills and a love for learning. Many may not realize the freedom that reading can deliver – a luxury to most in Daytona Beach West.

Library Dedication

Gloria (left) and Fran Markette (right) with two Prestea youth acknowledge the spirit and support of Rotary. Photo by Larry Young

The Rotary Club of Daytona Beach West received a Rotary Foundation District Grant of $6,500 during the 2014-15 grant cycle to purchase books, periodicals and computers for the library.  Rotarian Fran Markette and Father John Boscos connected with key citizens of the Prestea community, including librarians Gladys Agandaa and Peter Anafo to assist in establishment of a bona fide library operation.  The librarian assisted with the development of a book list, the acquisition of the books, and the delivery to Prestea.  Having a committed local contact was of utmost importance for the success of this project.

The church helped raise the funds for the library construction.  The Rotary Club of Daytona Beach West co-sponsored fundraising classical piano concerts with the church over the past three years performed by fellow Rotarian and renowned pianist Francesco Attesti from the Tuscany area of Italy.

Library Dedication

Students and residents at the opening ceremony and dedication of the Prestea Martha Eshun Maison Library. Photo by Fran Markette

Church members contributed additional books, school supplies, youth clothing and recreational items to fill a shipping container that was delivered and distributed to the teachers, youth and residents of Prestea at the time of the library dedication.

Rotarians Fran and Gloria Markette traveled with Father John Bosco and fellow church members Larry and Susen Young for the library dedication in June 2015. They delivered books, installed the computers, met the residents of Prestea and shared the mission and values of Rotary during their stay.  The Rotary Foundation District Grant brought Rotary to life within the church community.  Through the grant, district 6970 was able to partner with other organizations, facilitate “Doing Good” with Rotarians and Rotary clubs. The Rotary Club of Daytona Beach West is a better, more vital club because of the grant and the Prestea Community Library in Ghana.

Library Dedication

Prestea residents reading the new books at the library dedication. Photo by Fran Markette

Give to The Rotary Foundation and support education and literacy projects similar to the Prestea Community Library, and share your stories of service projects in the comments below.



Millions for HOPE – A teamwork best practice

 by Pam Russell – RRFC Zone 26 2013-2016, District 5340

When challenged to raise money for The Rotary Foundation, RRFC Pamela Russell, E/MGA Brenda Cressey, Past Trustee Steve Brown, and Major Gifts Officer Mike Dunlap worked with Rotary District 5340 as they set a goal of raising $15 million by October 2015 for their “Millions for HOPE” (Health, Overcoming Poverty, and Education) event.  Within the first six months, they had already achieved $10 million. This great achievement stemmed from leaders working together to provide training and ongoing support on donor identification and cultivation in the district.

Past Trustee Steve Brown talking with Ron Kohl and Antonio Grillo-Lopez, both significant donors in the campaign

Past Trustee Steve Brown talking with Ron Kohl and Antonio Grillo-Lopez, both significant donors in the campaign

The leaders engaged with the district governor, district governor-elect and their entire district committee to support their campaign, “Millions for HOPE”. With strong participation from the top 20 clubs in the district, the excitement was building. A key success for cultivating donors was to encourage them to specify where they wanted their donation to go. The donors chose to give to The Rotary Foundation in support of current work, Rotary’s future, a polio-free world or a specific project important to the donor.   This also allowed the district to reach their goal of $15 million in only 10 months.

On 17 October 2015, the “Millions for HOPE” Gala kicked off with a jazz performance and continued with dinner, a DJ, and dancing.  With more than 500 Rotarians in attendance– including local Rotaractors and President K.R. “Ravi” Ravindran, everyone was in high spirits. After the final numbers were announced, an anonymous donor spoke with Past Trustee Steve Brown.  The word was passed to President Ravi and he announced that there would be a match bringing the total donation to The Rotary Foundation to more than $31,000,000!

“Providing millions of dollars to The Rotary Foundation means providing millions of beneficiaries with opportunity” states RRFC Pamela Russell. “Raising $15.5 million as a team was already a huge accomplishment. Then to have a donor match it! It is hard to imagine what the impact is going to be. We are so pleased for District 5340 to have such a profound legacy” she continued.

A balloon drop to celebrate the success of the campaign.

A balloon drop to celebrate the success of the campaign.

It is important to realize that working as a team, the organizers were able to support the district’s successful campaign and event, leading to a meaningful impact for the beneficiaries of Rotary service projects.  The skills you have as regional leaders can help districts with their Million Dollar campaigns and other events.

If you are interested in the training resources, contact E/MGA Brenda Cressey and RRFC Pam Russell. Check out the Facebook album of celebration photos.