Spreading good will locally and globally
Founded in 1990, the Keene Elm City Rotary Club (KECR) is a member of Rotary International, which works on a variety of humanitarian causes worldwide. These include improving the health and wellbeing of children, a primary focus of this chapter’s work in and around Keene, New Hampshire. The organization’s motto says it all: “Service Above Self.”
Locally, this service includes providing scholarships to students, organizing youth exchange programs, mentoring young people, feeding those in need, especially children, and much more. Part of the chapter’s work involves partnering with other nonprofits to amplify existing efforts. For example, KECR collaborates with local organizations working to deliver food to children and families through the school system. They also run programs to feed kids during summer breaks and other holidays when school is not in session.
“I know what it feels like to go to school with an empty belly. That’s why I’m dedicated to doing whatever it takes to make life better for these children.”
– Cheryl Belair, Owner and President, The Insurance Source Inc.
A mile in their shoes
Cheryl Belair, the owner and president of The Insurance Source Inc., has been a member of KECR for 28 years, and her agency has supported the nonprofit nearly as long. She’s seen firsthand the good work the organization does for local kids in need. She’s also motivated by personal experience.
“I work with KECR because I know what it feels like to go to school with an empty belly, and to return home feeling that same knot of hunger,” said Belair. “That’s why I’m dedicated to doing whatever it takes to make life better for these children.”
The agency’s support includes working on KECR’s “Move Everyday Sneaker Project,” which provides a new pair of individually fitted sneakers to every second grader in Cheshire County, New Hampshire — about 700 pairs annually! For many of these children, these are the first pair of brand new sneakers they have ever owned, and the first that fit them properly. The program also teaches kids the importance of daily exercise in maintaining physical and mental health.
Belair recalls one particular sneaker delivery event where she met a boy whose toes were popping through the front of his shoes because they were too small for him. She helped him find new sneakers that fit perfectly, and as soon as he got them on his feet, he jumped up, threw his arms around her and declared, “These sneakers are so awesome they make me want to dance!” The moment brought Belair to tears. It’s just one example among many of how meaningful this program is to the kids who need it.
Along with making financial donations, Belair and her staff of five also volunteer about 250 hours a year to KECR programs. In addition to the sneaker project, they work in KECR’s Community Kitchen and make weekly deliveries of food baskets to families experiencing hunger and food insecurity.
The power of collaboration
Solving daunting problems such as childhood hunger requires coordination and teamwork. And this type of collaboration is precisely what The Insurance Source Inc. and KECR represent in their community.
“The commitment to service shown by Cheryl Belair and her staff is so inspiring,” said KECR President Ann Looney. “Their leadership and collaboration demonstrate what’s possible when people come together for the common good.”
“The commitment to service shown by Cheryl Belair and her entire staff is so inspiring,” said KECR President Ann Looney. “They demonstrate what’s possible when people come together for the common good.”
– Ann Looney, President, Keene Elm City Rotary Club