The start...Rotary Club Amigos de Milwaukee
Rotary International (RI) is an exemplary worldwide organization that envelopes 1.2 million members in more than 200 countries. Its volunteer membership consists of humanitarian minded professionals whose vision is to provide passionate results to community and world issues. Rotary has a strong written policy for diversity, but in most of the United States (including Wisconsin) clubs; ethnic and racial minorities are underrepresented.
The Rotary clubs in the U.S. are known worldwide for their generosity and kindness. Every year these clubs provide millions of dollars and countless volunteer hours in projects throughout the globe, and many in Latin America and Africa. Some contributing factors to the diversity disparity in the U.S. clubs include the geographic meeting locations and exposure to minority professionals.
In 1998, our Past District Governor (PDG) Angela Rester was on the Rotary International (RI) membership committee. There she took part in a resolution to gain interest for ethnic focused clubs to increase diversity.
In 2008, in Illinois, a Korean focused Rotary club was chartered and Rotary International President Kim Lee was at hand for the ceremony. He said, “What matters in Rotary is not what language we speak, or where we come from…What matters in Rotary is fellowship, friendship, and building bridges of goodwill.”
Also in 2008, PDG Angela Rester with the help of fellow Rotarians DG Tammie Koop, Brian Monroe, and Alicia Nickols; held a couple of influential informative meetings with Latino professionals. In early 2009, a pre-chartered club was formed with about a dozen of individuals, many of whom became charter members. On June 30th 2009, the Rotary Club Amigos de Milwaukee became the first ethnic focused club chartered in Wisconsin by Rotary International.
The name was chosen because it conveys “friends from Milwaukee” with a dash of Latino flavor. Most Rotary clubs are first and foremost community focused. We are based in the heart of a Latino community. While emphasis is given to Latino issues, the broader focus is on the humanitarian service, goodwill, and peace of all peoples.
Milwaukee has a wealth of professional individuals (Latino or not) who have a fondness for the Hispanic culture and a passion to help all people in any way. Our exceptional charter membership reflects this reality; it’s sprinkled with descendants from the continents of Europe and Africa. The balance are from the Americas and they can be traced back to at least eight different Latino countries.
With the vision of Rotary at hand, our membership has the dedication to make a profound difference in many lives. By exposing more minority professionals to Rotary, we not only foresee greater dynamic ideas for our club; but a greater capacity for our district - and beyond. At the Jan 10th 2009 meeting many of us discovered a visionary pebble, and at the Sep 23rd Charter Night, we celebrated the ripple.
These are some of the noteworthy dates and achievements in 2009:
Jan 10th First meeting in 2009 of interested members at the Wisconsin Club in downtown Milwaukee.
Jan 21st Second meeting at the Skylight Theater in the Third Ward of Milwaukee.
Jan 28th Third meeting at the Quimera Boricua Restaurant in the near Southside of Milwaukee.
Feb 17th The name of “Rotary Club Amigos de Milwaukee” adopted. Daisy Cubias - the pivotal voice.
Mar 17th Five club officers were voted in. Rafael Acevedo - President, Jaime Alvarado - President Elect, Patricia Kraker - Vice Pres, Dorothy Krupa - Treasurer, Reggie Frias - Secretary, Lupe Duenas - Sergeant at Arms
Apr 30th The twenty member charter threshold was reached in order to become chartered.
Jun 30thth The club was officially chartered with 34 members! A group photo posted at rotaryamigos.org
Sep 23rd A grand Charter Celebration evening at the Historic Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.
Some other achievements in 2009:
Dynamic speakers including Mayor Barrett and Police Chief Flynn (Maria Flores lead the program committee), six impressive service volunteer events (Cecilia Rebuffo-Sheer lead the service projects committee), a fantastic salsa social event in July, club members visited foreign clubs and represented the club, and good participation in district functions.
We saved a huge acknowledgement last, our membership committee chair, the late Carl Komassa (1945-2010). He was a grand inspiration and a pinnacle humanitarian who will never be forgotten.