Rotarians are very special community members. They are deeply caring people with an ethic of serving their community for good. One of the members of the Suffern Rotary Club was honored with the 2023 District 7120 Humanitarian Award. Below is the nomination letter submitted to the committee. 

Nomination for Tansukh Dorawala Humanitarian Award 2023

Suffern Rotary Club would like to nominate Donalee Berard, our International Service Committee chairperson, for the Tansukh Dorawala Humanitarian Award.  We are grateful and proud of her longstanding positive humanitarian impacts internationally as well as within our Suffern Community. 

Donalee has shown exemplary humanitarian service to international communities for  literacy development throughout many years. She has initiated and supported several different international grants to support literacy & education in small Mexican communities. She has regularly visited the programs and has gone to Mexico approximately 7 times to represent and build connections with Suffern and Suffern Rotary. 

Donalee’s humanitarian connection to Mexico began back in 2011. Donalee lives and has a business in the village of Suffern where a great number of citizens are newly from Veracruz, Mexico. A hurricane devastated Veracruz that year. Donalee took up a money collection in Suffern and hand delivered it to the District Governor of the Veracruz area at the 2011 Rotary International Convention in New Orleans. It was from this humanitarian act that Donalee made a personal and Rotarian connection with the people of Mexico. 

A couple of years later in 2013, an international service project was her participation in building a kindergarten classroom  & providing classroom supplies in Mexico. Donalee has shared stories of when she first visited the kindergarten classroom, there was just a very small box of books in the classroom library. Donalee made sure that the classroom library was better supplied. The depth of her participation in improving this school involved several in-person visits as well as other forms of ongoing communications. The school showed their appreciation by putting Donalee’s  name on a plaque in the classroom.

Donalee applied for another grant in a rural area of District 4185 of Mexico in April 2019  This club developed a grant called “Weaving Dreams” (GG1988835) which  was implemented during the COVID years.  Weaving Dreams was a grant to develop an adult vocational program in Xalapa, Mexico.  Donalee stayed in touch with this club over this time. When the first year of the vocational program was just about finished, Donalee set up a virtual presentation to connect the two clubs to share the program’s progress. 

Below is an article from our Suffern Rotary Bulletin aka Grover's Gazette regarding this presentation:

 

 

Our International Committee chairperson, Donna Berard facilitated the April 28th,2022 virtual presentation of the grant called “Weaving Dreams” with the Xalapa, Mexico Rotary Club.  Suffern Rotary Club partnered with Gray, France Rotary Club on this  highly successful Global Grant 1988835 which was to  develop a vocational training program in Xalapa. This is a rural community of  primarily  coffee growers, however due to weather changes and other factors  industry did not support the local economy. There became a high number of unemployed young adults and women. 

The grant developed vocational training for electricians, carpentry, dressmaking, hair styling, chicken & pig breeding & care, baking, candy making, as well as jam/jelly/sauce making. Fifty new entrepreneurs were  made within the first year! Thus far,  279 persons were trained from programs that started in March of 2020. Out of the 279 trainees, 235 were women.

Donalee’s most recent Global Grant is supporting a public library program which will train librarians and parents in developing literacy with their children using library materials  in Boca del Toro, Mexico. 

Donalee, her husband Jim Burton, and I attended Rotary District 4185’s  International Festival of Friendship & Service Project Fair in Zacatlan in October 2022.  There were about 100+ Rotarians from Arizona, Maryland & NY in the USA, Argentina, Columbia and various parts of Mexico. Walking into the convention hall with her felt like I was with a movie star!  The hosts of the fair, the Mexico District Executives and many people were excited to see her and greeted her with open arms.  It was at this event that Donalee listened to dozens of presentations of new projects and she decided on one she felt was sustainable and worthy of Suffern Rotary support. This project was developed by Martha Castro, someone that Donalee knew well from one of the first Mexico literacy projects she supported. Here is a link to a bulletin story with photos of the Zacatlan event: https://portal.clubrunner.ca/2255/Stories/zacatlan-mexico-festival-of-fellowship-service

Donalee is active in her local community in various ways. She is on the Board of Directors at Suffern Free Library. In her business Berard & Associates, she has provided accounting services to a large number of local non-profits and is highly respected by many other local accounting firms. 

In Rotary, Donalee is also a Paul Harris Society Member. She has contributed her own funds to support numerous Rotary club projects and GG literacy projects.  This is a truly humble person who has given her talent, time and treasure to humanitarian efforts over a long course of time. She has helped to create hope in many ways. 

Wouldn’t you say that is the mark of a true humanitarian?

Respectfully submitted by

Pamela Hess, Club President 2023-24

On behalf of Suffern Rotary Club