Trustee Brenda Cressey

By Brenda Cressey, Trustee and Rotary Member of South Portland-Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA

Several years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to take part in a multi-project mission with more than 100 Rotarians, spouses, Rotaractors and even a few new Rotarians from Rotary District 5280. We flew to Panama to visit project sites, perform cataract surgeries, and deliver wheelchairs.

There were several “Rotary moments” on that trip, but the truly unforgettable moment for me was when a grandfather, having no legs, was presented with the gift of mobility in the form of a bright red wheelchair.

The gift of a wheelchair gives a man without legs newfound freedom of movement.

Seeing his grandson in tears reminded me that we not only changed that grandfather’s life, but the life of that young boy who had been lovingly carrying his grandfather everywhere since he became big enough to do so. Moments like that one are why I never miss an opportunity to promote the World Fund and encourage others to support it with their generous giving.

As an alum of The Rotary Foundation, I have also visited project sites in Mexico several times, working with local Rotarians to develop a long-term partnership that continues to this day.

Another time while on vacation, I was asked by a local Rotary club to visit a local family in dire need. Driving down a dusty road with a member of the club, we arrived at a home not much larger than 10 feet by 10 feet made of concrete blocks, cardboard, and tin. A dirt floor and a few boards made up a single bed with rags for blankets in the sparse home. A mother and father were raising 10 children there.

The father, whose legs had been crushed at a construction site, sat in a makeshift wheelchair. A member of the club had found the woman sobbing on the sidewalk the previous evening and learned that she only had a single tortilla left. The club responded, enabled by the World Fund and the gifts of generous donors.

I have had the privilege of supporting the World Fund as a regional Rotary Foundation coordinator, Endowment Major Gift Advisor, Trustee, Vice-Chair, and Chair of the Rotary Foundation. It is with this experience that I can tell you that now, more than ever, we need your help.

The Rotary Foundation funded a record amount of grants last year including 3,450 district grants and 8,439 global grants. I am so proud of all the good we were able to do to help communities all around the world, but the demand continues to grow.

That demand has put an incredible financial strain on the World Fund.

I decided to launch a Raise for Rotary fundraiser to highlight how important it is for us to support the World Fund. We need a strong World Fund to enable the ongoing work of Rotary members around the world.

Your gift, no matter how big or small, will make a difference. Visit my Raise for Rotary fundraising page and consider launching one of your own.