Rotary guest speaker reflects on commitment to service

Published 8:02 am Saturday, August 19, 2023

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LAPLACE — During this week’s meeting, members of the Rotary Club of LaPlace found inspiration from guest speaker Vicki Guiterrez, governor of Rotary District 6840.

Guiterrez relayed a personal account of what Rotary means to her. She discovered the joy that lies in helping others many years before she became a Rotarian in 2001.

At 10 years old, Guiterrez learned one of her classmates had lost everything in a house fire. The week her classmate returned to school, she wore the same dress every day because it was the only dress she owned. Determined to find a way to help, Guiterrez approached the principal and asked if she could hold a bake sale. It was the only way she knew how to raise money, and it turned out to be a big success. She raised $327 to donate to the family, the equivalent of $3,000 in today’s buying power.

“The $327 paled in comparison to the overwhelming joy I received to do this. I learned at 10 years old that giving is better than receiving,” Guiterrez said.

Guiterrez went on to work on many fundraisers for many organizations, but nothing felt right to her until she was drawn to Rotary International in the early 2000s. She excitedly called her mother and relayed Rotary’s role in making the community and the world a better place. Her mother responded, “Vicki Lynn, it sounds like you have been a Rotarian all along.”

“We don’t have a problem getting people to join Rotary. The problem is keeping Rotarians,” Guiterrez said. “Look around your community for the people already making a difference. These are our future Rotarians. They just don’t know it yet, and they are waiting on you to ask.”

Guiterrez also spoke about the Rotary Foundation and about an initiative to deliver potable water to Haiti. She said Rotary’s HANWASH in Haiti initiative was created not to put a Band-Aid over public health concerns in Haiti, but to develop long-term water sanitation solutions that locals can take ownership over.

Guiterrez also referred to the Rotary Club of LaPlace as a happy and lively group, commending them for the impressive amount of “happy bucks” raised before the meeting had even started.

The Rotary Club of LaPlace meets Tuesdays at noon at Salad Depot, located at 299 Belle Terre Blvd. in LaPlace.