(The following narrative is a continuation of a series of how a member was introduced to Rotary and subsequent memories. If you would like Rotary to be part of your life's story, please contact

Alison Proctor at alisonproctor@gmail.com.) 

Debi Williams

Rotary Member since May 5, 2005

October 2021


My husband Paul joined the Rotary Club of Foster City on February 5, 2001. However, my first experience with Rotary was in the following June. We attended a debunking for club president Stan Pond and the installation of Willie McDonald at the Poplar Creek Golf Course. I really did not know what to expect, but I can remember laughing at Greg Kuhl and Jon Grant’s debunking skit so hard that my sides hurt. As the evening went on, the people at our table started talking about all of the projects that Rotary was involved in. I was particularly interested in the work that Rotary was doing to eradicate polio from the world. My father was a polio survivor and I was very excited to hear about all of the progress Rotary had made to help stop this debilitating disease.

In June 2003, Paul and I joined with other Rotarians and the San Mateo HS Interact Club for our first wheelchair distribution in Mazatlan. To this day, I am so grateful to Jon and Linda Grant for organizing and funding this amazing opportunity to distribute wheelchairs to so many people in need. During our trip we not only changed peoples’ lives by giving disabled recipients wheelchairs, but it also changed our lives as well. I learned what it truly felt like to give someone a new chance at life with mobility. It was such a powerful experience that I returned seven more times after the first experience. Each time we returned to Mazatlan, we witnessed more and more need in their communities. One example, was what we called the pallet school. This was a school that was built only out of wood pallets. No plumbing or bathrooms, no running water, no electricity just stacks of wood pallets that made up the classrooms. We brought supplies for their school but soon realized they needed more than books, pencils and paper. After the school was built, Jon Grant attained a grant from Rotary International to help furnish the interior and provide toilets for the students and teachers.

During our trip to Mazatlan we also delivered clothing to two orphanages, medical equipment to the hospital, soccer uniforms to the youth. We started the annual soccer tournament which was named the “Paul Williams, Interact Friendship Games”. The team players were our Interact Kids against the Mazatlan kids. I won’t say who won, I will only say even the adults started playing and It was a fun time for all.

I joined Rotary in May 2005, with Martha Bronitsky as my sponsor. Joining Rotary and becoming a part of the Rotary family, was one of the best decision I have ever made. Rotary has opened up a whole new understanding of what is really important in life.

Paul and I were fortunate to have two daughters, Kristen and Kathryn. After they went to college, over the next three years Paul and I hosted 3 high school age exchange students from Mazatlan, Anna, Irma, and Gabby. Having the girls in our home and getting to know them was a blessing to our family. They are all married now and one has a family of her own. We still hear from the exchange students on holidays and we communicate with them on Facebook.  One of the most memorable times was when Paul’s mother Dolores Williams was living in Honduras and started a small organization called Casa Rosada. She would contact doctors and dentists in the United States and ask them to help her to organize medical brigades to Honduras. She also made arrangements for children to be flown up to the states for specialized treatments. One day she called us and asked if we knew of anyone that could supply her with some medical shunts. The local hospital had three babies with Hydrocephalus and were in desperate need of treatment. The hospital in Honduras has little or no medical supplies. After we located the shunts here in the states through our Rotary network, Paul and I flew to Honduras to deliver the them personally with other medical supplies to the hospital. I will never forget the look on the mother’s face when we walked into the room and handed the Doctor the shunts that were needed for her baby’s treatment. The mother started crying and then I started crying, and we were all crying tears of joy.

In November 2010, I received the Rotarian of the Month award from Club President Charlie Bronitsky for co-chairing with Bill Dickey the Halloween Safe Streets. We raised over $5,000 from local merchants to purchase all the candy that would be distributed at this widely known Foster City Halloween event. Our main job, besides the fundraising, was to oversee the event and to make sure the streets were left clean afterwards.

In March 2011, we traveled with Jon, Linda, Charlie, Martha and other Rotarians to South Africa to deliver wheelchairs. We also visited the local schools and witnessed some of the water projects our Club had helped to finance.

At home, I have fond memories of working the food booths at the concerts in the park with Ollie, Bill Chow, Larry Kavinoky, Rick Wykoff, Larry Lowenthal, Greg Kuhl, Craig Courtin, Jamie Cavagnaro and Paul. I can remember spending hours making the baskets to be raffled off at the spaghetti feeds and working with Matt Matell to raise money for our local Police and Fire Department. Collecting the money for our pancake breakfast fundraisers and working with the cooking crew on the Ribfest. Helping Gigi Carter with the golf tournament ,and working the beer truck at the art and wine festivals.

In June 2012 Club President Mary Bates awarded the Service Above Self award for my work in Rotary. I was so proud to receive this award, and I vowed to continue to donate my time and effort to Rotary.

Together Paul and I are Major Donors and we believe strongly in literacy programs, polio eradication, and protecting the environment.

I am looking forward to November 6th when I will graduate from the Rotary Master PRLS program. I highly recommend these outstanding seminars to everyone. In the past, I have served on the board as Club Operating Treasurer for five terms. I am currently on the board serving my second term as your Club Administrator. I have also been the club bookkeeper for the past six years.

I am honored to share my history in Rotary with you, and I’m grateful to be part of the Rotary Club of Foster City, also known as the “club that cooks”. I think we need to add to our slogan, “and plays Bocce”.