Posted by Valrie Wafer, Director , Rotary International

Dear Rotarains, Rotaractors and the whole Rotary family in District 7070,

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give”- Winston Churchill

I don’t have to explain this quote to Rotarians, we live it everyday.  We have found that secret recipe to life, the ingredients that make the loaf of bread that feeds our community.

 My first year in Rotary I was asked to join a district committee; RADAR (Rotary Action for the Development of Aids Resources), founded by my very good friend Joanne Ashley.  The mandate of this committee was to educate and raise awareness of the Aids pandemic and the tragic result of the orphans being raised by their grandmothers.........

One year later, I found myself in Kenya, at an orphanage for the children left behind, affected by this terrible disease. Rather than sadness or despair, I saw hope as they were receiving shelter, food and an education that would raise this generation to be all that they could be, just as we would hope for our own children.  We were there to observe a district grant my current club had initiated to assist women in small business opportunities, but it was so much more.  As a new Rotarian this was my first.  My first time to Africa, my first time on a mission trip, a first time visiting international clubs and my first exposure to our Rotary Foundation.

I remember thinking….what is my role? 

How will this change me?

And where do I go from here?

Those answers didn’t come right away, in fact it may have been a few years later.  I had a lot to learn in Rotary and how my experience may fit in.  But the more I grew, the more the answers became evident. 

My (our) role? 

To give what we can to make a difference, my charity of choice is the Rotary Foundation and I choose to give monthly and direct my dollars to the Annual Fund.  This choice is driven by that first exposure to the difference our Foundation can make in rural Kenya at an orphanage of children who will go on to be bankers, teachers, doctors and future leaders to drive their economy and strengthen the next generation.  

How did this experience change me?  It became clear that Rotary was the organization that I wanted to be involved with. It allowed me to develop a greater understanding of the world and give back in my own small way.

And where do I go from here?.......I am truly grateful for the opportunities I have had in my life and in Rotary, but as many have said before me, of all that I have received I could never return in my lifetime.

Thank you for making the Rotary Foundation your charity of choice, thank you for all you do and all that we will do.  Please continue to support our Foundation and make a life by what we give.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our American Friends.  Be well, be safe and let’s be thankful.

Yours In Rotary,


Valarie Wafer

RI Director

Rotary Club of Collingwood, South Georgian Bay