Rotary and its engaging programs
One of the reasons men and women have joined more than 34,000 Rotary Clubs internationally is to learn about the world that extends way around them.
Along with fellowship, refreshments and some Rotary rituals that usually include a patriotic song, enlightening programs attract some 1.2 million members to the weekly meetings.
In February, for the second year in a row, Rotary Club of Naperville/Downtown President Nancy Quigley visited La Union, Honduras, during a work trip with Uncommon Grounds Coffee Roaster. (Armed with t-shirts from the North Central College ABE (ah-bee) House, located across the street from Quigley’s Irish Pub in downtown Naperville, and copies of Positively Naperville, Nancy set up a photo with friendly folks she met in Honduras to show the Naperville connection. Danielle Michael took the photo.)
Uncommon Grounds— located in Saugatuck, Mich., and owned by Nancy’s brother, Guy Darienzo— purchases beans from farmers in Honduras and other coffee-growing countries around the world.
In Naperville, Uncommon Grounds also provides its Black and Tan blend of coffee for Quigley’s Irish Pub. Are you beginning to make more connections?
After her recent visit, Nancy arranged for Morgan Fett, Accounts and Outreach Manager for Union Micro Finanza in Honduras, to talk about coffee farming. At 4:44PM Wed., April 4, Morgan arrived at Hugo’s Frog Pond where Rotary/Downtown meets every week.
Complete with photos and a Power Point presentation, Morgan, age 24, engaged Rotarians and guests with her story that included a brief bio about her life growing up a small town in West Michigan called Spring Lake. She also described how she ended up with Union Micro Finanza in one of the poorest countries in Central America.
“I double-majored at the University of Michigan in Anthropology and Latin American & Caribbean Studies (a mixture of politics, history, and econ of Latin America).” she wrote after her visit to Naperville.
“I knew that I wanted to work with something that involved philanthropy/non-profit, development, and Latin America or Latinos in the U.S. I graduated from college in 2010 and immediately moved down to Central Mexico, to a town called Guanajuato.”
Morgan became certified to teach English and taught at language schools and at the Siemens Corporation located in Guanajuato where she also interned at a women’s and youth rights non-profit.
After living there for more than a year, she decided to pursue similar work, but in the United States.
“I moved back to West Michigan and got a temporary job working in a microbrewery, where I met the founder of Unión MicroFinanza. I started working with them this past fall and have been happily employed ever since!” she wrote.
She returned to Honduras for about two months this past January, met Nancy Quigley in February and she plans to head back there in July.
FYI: Morgan speaks Spanish fluently and, after living so long in Mexico, she loves to salsa dance.
PN asked about her work with Unión MicroFinanza, too.
“What I appreciate about Unión MicroFinanza is the fact that this type of development is sustainable and practical. We’re not imposing our beliefs on the people of La Unión; we’re learning from them and partnering with them as much as possible in order to provide an opportunity to improve their economic capacities.”
These microloans place the responsibility on the farmers to make the best of the situation; they learn new agricultural techniques, purchase seeds and fertilizer to produce more coffee or better coffee, and put in the labor to reach their goals. And according to Morgan, they have. That’s the best part, she said.
“This community in Honduras has not only met, but exceeded, our expectations. The repayment statistics speak for themselves. And above all, they’re a pleasure to partner with. They’re gracious, patient, open, hard-working, and incredibly smart. We’ve learned a lot from them. It’s an honor to have a role in impacting the lives of such wonderful people. I met a lot of the farmers we work with while I was in Honduras. Sitting down and having a cup of coffee with them was a powerful experience, because it showed me just how significant a role coffee plays in their lives. It’s their livelihood, their heritage, their pride.
“It’s definitely the best route to take in addressing how we can alleviate poverty in the area – both through administering microloans to help them produce more coffee or to sell that coffee direct trade in the U.S.”
So… the next time you’re at Quigley’s Irish Pub, be sure to order their great blend of coffee with beans that come from Honduras—with or without the Irish. And enjoy your cup of java knowing the story of the beans!