#WomenWednesday Rotary Profile – Erica Lee Garcia

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We are pleased to profile Rotarian, Erica Lee Garcia. Erica joined the Rotary Club of Kitchener just over a year ago. An engineer, she leads her own consulting and professional services firm and is a heavily involved with Engineers Without Borders.

Why did you join Rotary?

I was invited by my aunt Patricia Dimeck; she spoke so highly of the international projects she’d volunteered on that I was motivated to check out what it was all about.

There was a Rotary club in my hometown (Walkerton) so I knew about Rotary exchange students and the musical festival, but it never really occurred to me join myself.  But the giving back element of Rotary seemed a natural continuation of the volunteering I’d been doing since childhood, and I loved the idea of knitting that experience into my life here in KW. team

How would you describe your “Rotary path”?

It’s a short but exciting one:  I joined just over a year ago, and just about immediately became a counsellor to Jessica, our club’s inbound exchange student from Taiwan.  I attended a few district events and met some great young Rotarians whom I have agreed to mentor.

I also helped to give away a Mercedes as part of the club’s fundraising car draw.  That was so much fun!

I am now helping the PR committee boost all our membership and fundraising initiatives and contributing to the Club’s first PR handbook.  

How does Rotary align with your own values?

I always look for opportunities to give of myself and to contribute to the world I want to see.  I aspire to be creative with my professional skills and how they can be applied outside the box toward furthering the changes that I believe in. I also look to cultivate a community with like-minded individuals wherever I can; you get more done and it’s more fun than trying to go it alone!

Rotary fits in perfectly with this. 

What have been a defining moment in your life? 

After working nearly a decade as an engineer in manufacturing and mining, I quit a well-paying job that didn’t align with my values in 2009 and went traveling.  I ended up volunteering in Ecuador and Argentina on various non-profit helping initiatives that utilized my skills as a manufacturing engineer and change agent in very unexpected ways.

When I came home I started doing freelance consulting to help businesses reduce their costs by improving their business processes always toward the goal of bettering the work experience for people.   Then I started a mentoring and coaching service for young engineering students and recent grads to give them the benefit of some of my experience and help them find their way.

While speaking at an Engineers Without Borders Canada conference at Queen’s University (my alma mater) I was approached by that organization to partner on speaking to kids about engineering in new and creative ways.

Deciding to become an entrepreneur was without a doubt the most important turning point of my life so far.  I enjoy the social aspect of Rotary since I work by myself a lot and that can get lonely!  Also, I enjoy the chance to network and learn from experienced and accomplished professionals in many different industries in my Rotary club.

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Watching Jessica give her year-end presentation at our club meeting was a wonderful experience for me; she was so happy and animated as she spoke of her year in Canada and showed us photos of all her exciting excursions and activities.  I felt really proud of her and glad that I had the chance to support her.

As we speak she is making her way across Canada with several fellow inbound Rotary exchange students and having a blast!  When I was a teenager I met Mirjam, a Rotary exchange student from Holland who attended my high school.  Today I am still in touch with Mirjam who emigrated to Canada as an adult.  She lives close by with her husband and young girls, and they love it here, so I know the power of a Rotary exchange to change lives!

Whatever Jessica does in the future, it feels great to have touched a young person’s life and to have had the chance watched her grow.

What are your future Rotary goals, both short‐term and long‐term?

Engineers Without Borders Canada is very well-aligned with Rotary’s international projects, so I dream of further connecting those two wonderful organizations to create some powerful impact overseas.  Also, I sing with Grand Harmony, a local chapter of Sweet Adelines International, and I think that a Rotary singing event would be great fun!

If you could tell another woman one thing about Rotary membership, what would it be?

It’s a very professional and welcoming environment.  Think about joining up – your contribution will be greatly valued and you will meet lots of great people.

There’s no catch, and lots of great opportunity!  I’d welcome the chance to chat with anyone who is considering Rotary membership and not sure if it’s for them.

To find out more about Rotary and how you can have an impact locally or globally, contact us by email at RotaryKitchener@gmail.com or visit our website, our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

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#WomenWednesday Rotary Profile – Patsy Marshall

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On June 25th, Rotarians of District 7080 will welcome new District Governor (DG), Patsy Marshall. We are thrilled to profile our incoming DG in this edition of Women in Rotary.

A member of the Guelph Trillium Rotary Club, Patsy has had a distinguished record of service in Rotary. As a passionate, dedicated Rotarian, she has been involved in a variety of club and district committees, has served on her club’s Board of Directors, and was President of her club in 2000/2001. During her year as President, her club chartered the Rotary Club of Guelph South. It has since become a vibrant club.

Patsy was an Assistant Governor with the Guelph Wellington Cluster, in 2010 and 2011, taking on a variety of assignments. She continues to be actively involved as a member of the District Training Committee, especially with President Elect Training (PETS) I and II, and Club Leadership Training. She is a member of the District Foundation Committee, the District Conference Planning Committee, and is an engaged, certified instructor with the Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI). Patsy speaks at Camp Enterprise, and at the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) program, as an avid supporter of young adults. She has encouraged other clubs to support Youth Services.

Patsy is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow and is a member of the Paul Harris Society. In addition, Patsy has been involved with numerous community boards and committees, as a leader and as a member, throughout her lifetime. In 2012, she received the Woman of Distinction Award for Training and Education, from the YW/YMCA of Guelph. She has also received the J. David Stewart Award from Conestoga College, in 2007, for excellence in teaching and leadership.

Married to Jim, owner of Vac-Man, they live in Guelph and have two grown children; Peter and Heather, a daughter-in-law Natalie and a son-in-law Matt. In addition to family outings and getting together with friends, international travelling and gardening are passions for Jim and Patsy.

As a farm girl, Patsy was educated at Medway High School in Arva, and then attended the University of Guelph (B.A.Sc. 1974 and a M.Sc. in 1976). Her career has been in health care and education, and her vocational classification is Adult Education. She served in senior leadership roles in respiratory medicine for eight years and was Director of Education for Homewood Health Centre (a psychiatric hospital) for eight years. Patsy has owned her own training and development company, Train on Track, for over 20 years and focuses on training soft/people skills to develop the human side of business. She continues to offer leadership and management training programs to several Top Fortune 500 companies. In addition, Patsy continues to teach with Conestoga College, Sheridan College, the University of Guelph, Brock University, and BlCVeWlIUAIfiSlthe University of Waterloo. Patsy’s distinguished career has provided her with unique leadership opportunities as she has developed colleagues and coached many high performing teams.

Patsy is excited about the new challenge ahead as District Governor for 7080, supported by fellow Rotarians, family and friends. She hopes that during her year, her District will continue to be a resource to clubs, encouraging Rotarians in District 7080 to reflect on what Rotary means to them and their contributions to the world of Rotary as they Light Up Rotary! 

Q. Why did you join Rotary?

I liked what my [Rotary] sponsor told me – sounded like I would be joining other professionals to make a difference in my community and around the world. And there would be fun!

Q. How would you describe your Rotary experience in one word?

Rewarding.

Q. What was your Rotary Path?

I began my professional career as a teacher at the Rotary Children`s Centre (Guelph) with five special needs children aged 18 months to three years of age—all in diapers. At that time, I didn`t know what Rotary was, or what the wheel affixed to the building meant.

I joined the Rotary Club of Guelph Trillium in 1996. By 2000-2001 I was President. After this, I joined the District training team. From 2008-2010, I had the privilege to be the Assistant Governor of the Guelph-Wellington Cluster. In 2011/12 I was invited to be the District Governor Nominee Nominee. The last two years have been a whirlwind. Now I am looking forward to the honour of accepting the role of 7080 District Governor 2014/15.

Along the way, I have received multiple Paul Harris fellows and I enjoy being one of the facilitators with the 7080 Rotary Leadership Institute team.

Q. What was the greatest challenge you`ve ever faced?  

As a child, I required major surgeries for a bone condition which impacted my physical ability. My parents were brave and prepared me for what was to come.

Because the surgery I had as an infant had not been successful, I had to wear steel braces until my 13th birthday. When I went in for surgery again, this time with a more successful outcome, my mother told me that I would need to learn to walk all over again. I thought she was joking. She wasn`t.

I still remember my dogged determination to get on my feet as soon as possible. After being in a body cast for five months, and two months of rehabilitation, I was chasing those young interns and my orthopaedic surgeon around!

Most children at school were wonderful, too. They always included me. I played baseball and was goalie in soccer – although I let more balls go in the net, than I stopped. My brother and sister were supportive, too. I was not treated differently which really helped me to overcome adversity and become self-confident.

I bring the lessons I learned during my childhood to every challenge I face.

Q. What`s the best advice about Rotary you`ve received?

Remember to consider the big picture items in Rotary. I received this sage advice from Past District Governor, Ian Ferguson.

Q. Rotary does Rotary align with your own values? 

I have always been a giver and Rotary enables me to share my vocation to make a difference in people`s lives.

Q. What Rotary initiatives are you passionate about?  

So many things!

And, of course, Club fellowship and connections with similar-minded individuals. All of the above come with membership, and being an active member.

Q. Do you think Rotary membership adds positive value for woman?

Yes; all of the above and brings a sense of inner peace.

Q. If you could tell another woman one thing about Rotary membership, what would it be?

You will never regret becoming a Rotarian.

Q. What do you consider to be your greatest Rotary moment?

Being told I would become a Rotary District Governor!

To find out more about Rotary and how you can have an impact locally or globally, visit the Guelph Trillium Rotary Club website, or check out the District 7080 Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

#WomenWednesday Rotary Profile – Anna Giesbrecht

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We are thrilled to feature our first Rotaractor, Anna Giesbrecht. Anna is one of the people working hard to form the Rotaract Club at the University of Waterloo. Anna and her team recently celebrated the successful approval of their constitution by Feds, making the UWaterloo Rotaract Club an official club on campus. Congratulations!

Why did you join Rotaract?  I joined Rotaract because my friend had been very involved with Rotary throughout his life and was very passionate about the experiences he had the opportunity to par-take in. I began learning more about what Rotary and Rotaract were, about how they strive to serve others in their local communities and around them. This is something that resonates with me so I decided to join for more opportunity to serve others.

Can you provide me with your “Rotaract path,” highlighting experiences and accomplishments?  My time in Rotaract hasn’t been very long. My friend Timothy Souza had started looking for people who would be interested in joining a University of Waterloo Rotaract club last December, and once I learned more about what Rotaract was I decided to join. Since then a team of us have been working on getting UWaterloo Rotaract started; electing a Board, Chairs, getting people out to meetings. During this time I became the secretary, which has been an interesting experience as I’ve never done it before, and we were able to get our constitution approved by Feds, thus becoming an official club on campus! Since the last few months have just been setting the foundation for the group we’re taking the summer to plan meetings and events for the fall term.

Tell me about your values and how Rotaract/Rotary aligns with these?  One of my strongest values is to treat others with the same respect as you wish to be given. I also believe that we all have a duty to look out for one another, to help each other prosper and heal. I found that this aligns with what Rotary stands for as they openly promote ‘service above self’. This is part of what really drew me to Rotary, as their goal is to help others and help create strong community bonds.

What are your future Rotaract/Rotary goals, both short‐term and long‐term?  Currently, to continue to help UWaterloo Rotaract grow, get more members, do more events, raise money and awareness – make a difference. In the short term we need to find people to sit on the Board and be Chairs for the Committees for once we leave. In the long term, I personally hope we can do an international trip with the group – whether it be to a Rotary conference or to learn more about how other people live and what we can do to support them.

If you could tell another woman one thing about Rotaract/Rotary membership, what would it be?  It’s a great place where your voice can be heard, where you can take leadership and affect change – both within the organization and around it.

Do you think Rotaract/Rotary membership adds positive value for woman? If so, how (e.g. networking, mentorship, community involvement, leadership, etc.)  Though I haven’t been involved for very long I can definitely say joining can add positive value for a woman. It gives the opportunity to meet women from all walks of life; different career paths, different ages and backgrounds. To form connections and relationships with these people offers so much more opportunity for learning. I think having women form mentoring relationships with each other would be very beneficial as you can learn about life through one another’s experiences. As well, to encourage each other to take leadership positions within Rotary is essential for Rotary’s growth and development over future years.

To find our more about the UWaterloo Rotaract Club, visit them on Twitter at @uwrotaractclub.

#WomenWednesday Rotary Profile – Jacqueline Mulvey

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It is a pleasure to share Jacqueline Mulvey’s profile with you as part of our Profiles of Women in Rotary. Jacqueline joined Rotary over three years ago feels that belonging to Rotary has “changed her life.”

A lawyer for almost 20 years, Jaci is a sole practitioner in a General Law Practice with a focus on family law and real estate.  She practices out of a century home in downtown Kitchener that she and her husband purchased and restored. They have three amazing children, Emily age 15, Ben age 13, and Ella age nine.

It was a long-time client who introduced Jaci to Rotary.

With a busy practice and family life, Jaci felt she didn’t have enough time to be involved with Rotary. But, after a single breakfast meeting at the Walper Hotel, Jaci was hooked.

When she entered the room for her first meeting, she felt she belonged. She found the members welcoming, and it wasn’t long before she was calling them friends.

Jaci got involved immediately in the Club’s local Allocations Committee. The Committee’s responsibility is to allocate funds to community projects, including schools and other child-focused organizations. The Rotary Club of Kitchener Grand River’s primary focus (and the mission statement for their club) is to help local children, particularly those who are underprivileged. It has been a rewarding experience, and she has been involved with this Committee ever since. Jaci states that she “loves being a part of helping under privileged children in our community”.

Jaci has also been involved in the Kidsability Fun Fair committee for the last five years. The event is a local Rotary initiative, combining all five clubs. It provides a fun-filled day for the children involved with KidsAbilty and their families. A day for them just to be kids.

The annual event has had a tremendous impact on Jaci. She finds herself teary-eyed when she witnesses first hand, a child with leg braces have the opportunity to take their braces off to jump in a bouncy castle just like his/her peers. She finds the smiles on the children’s faces “contagious and unforgettable”.

At last year’s Fun Fair, Jaci was standing with a few other Rotarians when one of the parents approached them. She thanked them for putting on such a wonderful event and told them that they “had no idea how much this event meant to her son.”

A mother herself, the comment resonated with Jaci. She understood the specialness and power of Rotary, but more importantly, that the difference she made as a Rotarian was felt not just globally, but locally, and certainly to this one Waterloo Region family.

Last year, Jaci proudly stepped into the President-Elect role for the Kitchener-Grand River Rotary Club. She feels that being a part of Rotary has opened her eyes to something wonderful; a local group of people with a similar interest in making a difference in their community and in the world. This June she will attend the Rotary International Convention in Australia where she looks forward to having the opportunity to meet Rotarians from all over the world.

The values of Rotary, service above self, is something Jaci believes applies in her family life as well. She hopes that her involvement in Rotary will have an impact on her children; that they will realize the importance of helping people in need in their community. She has brought her children to Rotary meetings and events, and indicates that she would be so proud if one or all of them were Rotarians one day!

To find out more about Rotary and how you can have an impact locally or globally, visit the Rotary Club of Kitchener Grand River website, check out their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

#WomenWednesday – Audrey Wipper

AW Twitter header - lrgAudrey Wipper – Scholar, Horsewoman, Benefactor, Rotarian

Audrey Wipper has been a member of the Rotary Club of Kitchener since 1993, holding distinction as the third woman to join the club—but that that is not her only distinction!

Born and raised in St. Catharines, Audrey attended McGill University. She graduated in Arts in 1952 before moving on to complete a Master’s Degree in Sociology and further graduate studies at the University of California – Berkley. In the early 60s she went to East Africa and worked out of Makerere University in Kampala.

A pioneer in the field of scholarship on African women and development issues, her PH.D studies focussed on various religious movements involving both Christian and indigenous women in western Kenya. After receiving her Doctorate she returned to Kenya for post-doctorate studies. While there she was offered a position in the new Sociology Faculty at the University of Waterloo where she spent the rest of her career. She retired as Professor in 1996.

Over the years Audrey has had an active academic career authoring many books and editing journals, many most having  to do with conditions in Africa including: Towards a General Explanation of Protest Movements in Colonial Kenya, Equal Rights for Women in Kenya? and Bishops and Prophets in a Black City – African Independent Churches in Soweto.

For much of her life, Audrey owned her own horse and enjoyed riding most days. She was involved in competitive riding and dressage where she often travelled to shows pulling her horse trailer. Her Master`s thesis was on people who rode horses, hunters and jumpers.

As busy as her life was, Audrey maintained regular attendance at Rotary meetings. Her incredible work earned her a rare eighth level Paul Harris Fellow–the highest in the Club. In 2005, Audrey went to India as part of a Rotary National Immunization Campaign against Polio and helped vaccinate hundreds of children.

In 2009, Audrey approached club leaders to set up a fund that would support the university education of African women. It was her belief that educated African women could have a profound effect on their society and family. In this effort, and with a substantial personal contribution, the Audrey Wipper Educational Fund was created.

The Fund is administered by the Rotary African Women’s Education Fund (RAWEF) Committee. Since its inception, the fund has enabled 13 young women who survived capture from their Ugandan school dorm by rebel soldiers in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, to complete secondary and post-secondary education. The women, from Uganda and Kenya, are expected to return to work in their communities in order to provide leadership.

To find out more about the women who have benefit from the Audrey Wipper Educational Fund, visit http://www.rawef.com/ .

 

 

#WomenWednesday Rotary Profile – Jennifer Jones

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Jennifer Jones, Rotary International Director 2015-2017

Jennifer is the President and CEO of Media Street Productions Inc., a television production company in Windsor, ON. She is a proud member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland and is a Past District Governor of District 6400.

In Rotary, she is the Chair of the Strengthening Rotary’s Advisory Group and has served as the Moderator of the 2013 RC/RPIC Institute, Vice Chair of the RI Communication Committee, North American RPIC Coordinator, the Advisory Board for Rotary Canada and the RI Promotions Committee’s for Lisbon and New Orleans. She is serving a third term as Seminar Leader at the International Assembly 2014 and has been a featured speaker at this event on three occasions.

Jennifer also contributes much of her energy to local organizations. She is the Chair of the Board of Governors at the University of Windsor and the immediate past Chair of the Board of Directors at the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.

She has been recognized with many awards and recognitions including Rotary’s Service above Self Award, the YMCA Peace Medallion, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and Wayne State University’s Peacemaker of the Year Award – a first for a Canadian.

Jennifer is happily married to Nick Krayacich, a local family physician. They share a love for many things including travel, cycling, golf and relaxing at their family cottage. They share a thirst for adventure and reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa in January 2009.

As champions of The Rotary Foundation, they are members of the Arch C. Klumph Society, the Paul Harris Society and are charter members of the Bequest Society.

Meet Jennifer…

PDG Jennifer Jones has been selected to serve as Rotary International Director in 2015-2017. As of December 1, 2013, she is officially our Zones 28-29 Director-nominee.  What a great time for all of us to get to know Jennifer as she begins her preparations.

What are two of your most memorable Rotary experiences?

How do you select just two…. there are so many Rotary experiences that have framed the way I think, feel and act. I think for most of us it’s the intimate, shared experiences as a Rotarian…the joys and the sorrows of life are that much richer when you walk alongside those who you cherish.

A day I will never forget was being a club president on 9/11. By about 10am I began receiving emails and phone calls asking if we would be cancelling our meeting. I knew this was an important time for us to be together and share our feelings…so the meeting went on, but certainly not as had been planned.

Our members all arrived that day and as Canadian’s we stood belting out the Star Spangled Banner and weeping with our neighbors to the south.  Rotary punctuates more than anything that we exist without boundaries and borders and that day as human beings we were all united.

A second memorable experience that I have been recently reflecting upon was being the Host Organizing Chair of the Rotary World Peace Summit in April 2008 in Windsor, ON. It was a dynamic, three-day event in which over 1000 people attended including 400 young people. Rotarians came from far corners of the world and we opened the doors to the community to attend. More than 3500 people participated in a parade of flags along the Detroit River and an outdoor opening ceremony. It was breathtaking.

There were many notable speakers including UN Ambassadors, Nobel Nominees, Rotary Senior Leaders and on Sunday morning a “spirited” keynote address from Robert Kennedy Jr.

What first attracted you to Rotary?

I first attended Rotary because I was asked. It may sound cliché but I think this is the case for so many Rotarians. I was 27 – had just started my business and didn’t have a family history in Rotary. I really didn’t have much of an idea of what I was getting into at first but once I walked through the doors and saw like-minded people, some who I knew and some I didn’t, I was hooked. Right away I was asked to chair our club’s big Lobsterfest fundraiser. While terrified, I agreed. Ahhh…youth! It was a great lesson for me about engaging new members in Rotary. You have to give them something meaningful to do.

 How has Rotary changed your life?

The most profound way that Rotary has changed my life is how it’s affected my family and my circle of friends.  My husband Nick is a Rotarian, as is my mom. As a matter of fact, the last official act I performed as a District Governor was installing my mom into Rotary.

The embarrassing part of this story is that I am not the sponsor of either one. Sometimes we look right past what is in front of us and miss the opportunity to share service with those closest to us.

They both had the opportunity to serve as club presidents last year. We all attended PETS together.  Nick doubled the size of his club and my mom hosted an incredible international Rotary Peace Walk.

As of late, we have reflected upon how our membership in Rotary has deepened our marriage – making this life journey even more special by sharing in service.

What are your goals for service on the Board of Directors?

While the role of the Director is one that governs the organization at large – I think there are opportunities to continue to grow relationships within our paired Zones – everything we do needs to be focused on improving the club experience …and this is a theme that is central to all of my thinking.

We are truly entering into what will be one of our most historic times as an organization with the end of polio and strengthened brand communications.

However, our biggest task in North America is to continue to focus our attention on the North American Membership Plan and make it real to Rotarians so they are able to take action.

And finally on a more personal note, I’m quite excited to work with President Nominee Ravi Ravindran. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with him over the past several years and he is an outstanding Rotarian, incredible business mind and a progressive thinker.

What do you see as Rotary’s biggest challenges?

Membership is definitely our biggest challenge. If we don’t have Rotarians we don’t have Rotary and then nothing else matters. We can’t rely on the same old business model and expect things to change. Albert Einstein once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

What about you would surprise your fellow Rotarians?

While attending University for a degree in communications, I worked full time in radio at AM800 CKLW. This is the station that launched all of the Motown greats including Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and so many more.

I began as the world’s worst overnight disc jockey and then transferred quickly into the newsroom where I found my passion. I loved being an anchor and reporter and breaking news as it happened. These were formative years and the most profound lesson learned was about the power of story telling – a skill that I now rely on daily in sharing Rotary with others.

There are many other things that people wouldn’t know but one other memorable surprise would be that I starred in a movie called “The Gift of Time”. It was shown nationally and was sent to Hollywood to qualify for the Academy Awards. It was a cute little flick but as you can see, I kept my day job! As I reflect upon the name of the movie – isn’t that what Rotary is all about!

#WomenWednesday Rotary Profile – Melanie Schrauwers

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It is a pleasure to share Mélanie Schrauwer’s story with you as part of our Profiles of Women in Rotary. I first learned about Mélanie while at a Rotary training session. I was intrigued when I heard that it was the men in her Rotary Club who organized the baby shower for her most recent child, Mila! I knew that I had to speak to her.

What I learned is that Melanie is a very busy mom, entrepreneur, and Rotarian…but also someone who may very well have found that elusive recipe for balance.

How does Rotary align with your values?

Rotary’s motto, ‘Service Above Self’ has always held a special place in my heart. Our family thrives when helping others. We try to always be kind, generous and compassionate with our neighbours, friends and people of the world. To serve others is a priority.

What keeps you coming back every week?

The Rotary Club of Burlington Central consists of 65 friends who meet weekly. We can lean on one another professionally and personally! We have a lot of fun, with a common goal—to make a difference in our community.

What is/was the greatest challenge you’ve ever faced?

Prior to going on maternity leave, I struggled with my career and the direction it was taking. Making the decision to start my own business was a big one. I received an incredible amount of support from my Rotary friends. They never ceased to encourage me. I really do feel like I can do anything.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

My kids and our family are what I am obviously the most proud. However, being a Rotarian allows me to teach our kids the importance of being involved in something other than ourselves. I am proud to be able to teach them that.

What was a defining turning points in your life?

I moved to Ontario, from Chicoutimi, QC, when I was 18 and didn’t speak English. I worked hard to pick up the language and make a decent life for myself. I will never forget those who helped me along the way. Rotary gives me a chance to ‘pay it forward.’

What do you consider your greatest Rotary moment?

While visiting Fort Worth, Texas, I had a chance to attend the District Conference dinner with a friend. She is the person who sponsored my Rotary membership and my dearest friend. They do say to invite your best friends to become Rotarians!!  The focus for the event was polio. Members of organizations such as Centre for Disease Control, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Past Director of Rotary International, Phil Silvers, spoke about the polio situation as of May 2013. The presentations were interesting and incredibly eye-opening. I am proud to be a part of an organization so dedicated to ridding the world of this terrible disease.

What are your future Rotary goals?

Short-term, I would like to become more involved on the District level. Not a position, per se but, promoting Rotary to younger people, even young parents. Being a part of the membership growth campaign.

Long-term, I would like to take my family on an international trip. Whether it be a vaccination mission or other projects. Since Mila is only one, this is super long term goal!

If you could tell another woman one thing about Rotary membership, what would it be?

GET INVOLVED! Break the mold. One of my fellow Rotarians, an older gentleman, calls the 18 women in our club the “powerhouses”! We get things done!

Rotary membership adds positive value for woman. Having women with so much experience become my friends has given me courage, knowledge and the “can do” attitude I didn’t have before! There is no limitations for women today. The only limitations are the ones we inflict on ourselves!

Is there anything you would like to add?

Rotary has changed my life. It has made me a better person and has given me a feeling of “belonging”.

To find out more about Rotary and how you can have an impact locally or globally, visit the Rotary Club of Burlington Central website, check out their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

"Téo Schrauwers, 6, enjoys looking through The Rotarian as much as his Rotarian mom."

“Téo Schrauwers, 6, enjoys looking through The Rotarian as much as his Rotarian mom.”