Reflections of 2015

holiday team photo

(From left) Nora Beamish-Lannon, Nick Smith, Michelle Gasparian, Maura Rogan, Christine Sanders (front left) Melanie Davis, Renee O’Keefe.

As 2015 comes to close, the Regional Leader Support team wanted to take a moment and share a reflection on the gifts of 2015 and what they are most looking forward to for 2016.

2015 has been a year of true blessings. Our staff team continued to develop, with several colleagues moving into new positions and new talents joining our group. I have been fortunate to work with an amazing team to support your good works in your communities and globally. On a personal note, I’ve loved watching my daughter grow into a true toddler, and I’m looking forward to completing my MBA in 2016!  – Christine Sanders, Manager

2015 was a year of endings and beginnings for me.  In August, I left a volunteer management position at a social service organization that I held for seven years and joined Rotary.  Three weeks later, my oldest child left home for college.  I am happy and grateful to report that both of us are very happy in these new chapters in our lives.  We are working hard, learning new things every day, and meeting wonderful people! I am looking forward to supporting you and your important efforts in 2016! – Maura Rogan, Senior Supervisor

In 2015-16, I celebrate my 15th year anniversary and attended an amazing celebration   dinner hosted by our Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko. I enjoyed getting the opportunity to celebrate our milestones with other colleagues dedicated to supporting the volunteers and RI’s organizational goals. I’m looking forward to the next 15! – Melanie Davis, Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator Specialist

In 2015 I celebrated my tenth anniversary with my partner with a trip to Scotland, and marked my one year anniversary with Rotary International. Next year I will complete my MFA in Creative Writing (a poetry collection due in Spring 2016), and will enjoy continuing to learn about Rotary and how to support our amazing volunteers.  – Nick Smith, Rotary Coordinator Specialist

This year I was able to attend my first Rotary Convention in my hometown of São Paulo, Brazil.  It was a wonderful opportunity to see our largest event up close, as well as to spend some time with my family afterwards.  I look forward to seeing what new adventures are in store for 2016, working with you all to make a real difference in the world! – Michelle Gasparian, Rotary Public Image Coordinator Specialist

stpehanie and arlo

Endowment/Major Gift Advisers Specialist, Stephanie Norton with her son, Arlo. 

2015 was the happiest year for me. I am thankful for my health, my husband, my parents, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends, and for my beautiful baby boy Arlo. I’m looking forward to working with all of you when I return in 2016! – Stephanie Norton, Endowment/ Major Gifts Advisers Specialist

I had the good fortune to join the amazing team at Rotary in the start of 2015. The time spent here this past year has made me so thankful to work for an organization whose volunteers are doing such inspiring work throughout the world. I look forward to more learning and growing in 2016! – Nora Beamish-Lannon, Administrative Associate

2015 brought me my son, Emmett, and the opportunity to work with the experienced Regional Leader Support team of Rotary. I look forward to growing with Rotary and connecting with each of the regional leaders as they dive into their roles and serve their communities in 2016. – Renee O’Keefe, Senior Engagement Associate

To our regional leaders, we thank you for your commitment and service. Please share your gifts of 2015 in the comments below, and we look forward to the many gifts of 2016!


Why is The Rotary Foundation important?

By Usama A. Barghouthi, RRFC, Zone 20B

Without projects, a Rotary Club would be a “meet and eat” social club, trying to keep members engaged while trying to attract new members to their weekly meeting. In Zone 20B and in District 2452, speakers are not easily found, so the club patiently waits for the next interesting speaker to come about. But meetings and speakers will come and go, and the club returns to what it was doing, meeting and eating.

In the Rotary Club of Amman-Petra, Jordan projects bring enthusiasm for its members. We look for projects with a large number of beneficiaries, projects that change lives, projects that have long-term effects, and projects that make us proud. It is with these projects that The Rotary Foundation enters. It is like the magic wand that gives the club the power to do the unthinkable- the power to be a change-maker, a life-changer, and have an effect on lives.


Members of the Rotary Club of Amman-Petra prepared food packages with the Jordanian Foodbank (JFB) in July 2014.  From left: RRFC Usama Barghouthi, Rima Tantash, JFB member, Rafic Hamarneh, Ghassoub Kawar, Yousef Nusseir, JFB member, JFB member, Yousef Batshon. Front: Amjad Nasser and son. 


Educate your districts and clubs on the ways to support Rotary. But don’t stop at just educating and giving. Increase your impact by connecting with other Rotarians and spreading the word about projects happening in your region. Here are some simple best practices to try:

  • Maintain a shared list of Rotarians who visit your club or you visit theirs, then reach out to them for help with your projects.
  • Reconnect with Rotarians you meet in business meetings, conferences and conventions, tell them about what projects are taking place and how they can get involved with Rotary.
  • Join Rotarians in action groups and collaborate with experts in a particular field.
  • Talk to your governor, district leaders, district committee chairs, and senior Rotarians about ways to grow your club and increase your impact.

So as we celebrate #givingtuesday, support projects in your community, your country, in your world by donating to The Rotary Foundation and grow your relationships with districts and clubs in your region.

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.

Club99 in Little Rock partners with Heifer USA to help Small Ag Farmers get a hand up.

Rotary International

Rotary International Little Rock, Arkansas – Photo credit: Jacob Slaton

In honor of Rotary’s Economic and Community Development month, we are featuring the great work of District 6150’s Rotary Club of Little Rock, Arkansas and Heifer International, who have joined strengths and skills to create the “Seeds of Change in the Delta” project.

The Arkansas’s Delta region has struggled to cope with rural poverty. As families search for employment and entrepreneurial opportunity, there has been a growing need for grassroots economic and community development. Through Seeds of Change, District 6150 is spurring community development by connecting rural farmers and urban food markets- providing sustainable livelihoods for the farmers, and greater access to healthy, locally produced food for Arkansas’s consumers.

Seeds of Change began in September 2014, with a Global Grant from The Rotary Foundation. In the year since its inception, the project has provided farmers with business-training workshops including bookkeeping, debt/financing, expense and inventory control, and pricing. Its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) network provided over 200 Arkansan households with high-quality produce, while building meaningful connections between producers and consumers.  With headquarters in Little Rock and deep ties to the community, Heifer International is a key partner in District 6150’s efforts.

Ultimately, the Rotary Club of Little Rock wants to expand Seeds of Change to other clubs and districts. Working with Heifer International and Rotary, they have created a video which they are now using to market their program to other clubs, and to recruit new farmers.

Interested in hearing more about the Seeds of Change project? Contact and the Rotary Club of Little Rock for more information. Don’t forget to check out Rotary’s Economic and Community Development resources page to learn about other Rotary projects growing local economies and strengthening the bonds of local communities. If you have an economic or community development project happening, please tell us about it in the comments below.

Updated information has been added to this original post on 3 November 2015.