On March 17, 2023 Assistant District Governor for the Guelph Wellington Cluster, Tracey Curtis, presented District Recognition Awards to Luisa Del Rosario and Chris Vandergrift for their extraordinary service through our club, benefitting large numbers of people.
Luisa Del Rosario, has been a member of our club since July 1998 (25 years). She is a professional seamstress who learned her craft in Italy, emigrated to Canada at age 19, and in 1969 started her own business in Guelph called Luisa's Draperies. Today, Luisa's Draperies on Woolwich Street is still thriving, is a family business with Luisa's daughter Paula and son Marco both in the business with her, and Luisa is still sewing. Luisa was introduced to Rotary through Kate Quarrie who, as then chair of Canada Day In The Park, approached Luisa to ask if she would permit some festival parking on her lot at Luisa's Draperies which is near Riverside Park. Of course, said the generous Luisa, but what is Rotary? And that is how she ended up becoming a Rotarian, with Kate as her sponsor. (Kate later became the first female president of the Rotary Club of Guelph in 2002-2003, and then mayor of Guelph from 2003-2006. Kate is still well remembered and loved in Guelph, and holds a special place in Luisa's heart.) Early in Luisa's Rotary career, a chance local meeting with Rotarians visiting from Cameroon led to them requesting Luisa to visit Cameroon and teach women how to sew. After several trips there, a request arrived to do the same thing in Uganda, where Luisa has visited 7 or 8 times over the years, also arranging the procurement of sewing machines, construction of a sewing room, and teaching local women how to sew school uniforms to save money and generate incomes. Her work also extends to improvements at a Ugandan orphanage. Luisa's selfless dedication to those living in extreme poverty, and using her vocational skills to impart valuable skills to others, is what this District Award recognizes. Luisa's family was present and proud to see this award being presented to Luisa, as were her fellow Rotarians.
Chris is not actually a Rotarian but is married to Jane Armstrong who was a member of our club for 27 years, until 2022. Members know that Rotary often becomes a family affair, with spouses getting drawn in to help (or being voluntold, more accurately). Often, the spouse becomes so involved and dependable that it's as good as being a Rotarian! In the case of Jane and Chris, Jane played a leading role in the club's annual Sparkles In The Park at Riverside Park, a Guelph fundraiser and delightful community event each Christmas season. Naturally, when extra hands were required for set up and take down of the Sparkles lights and displays, Chris was drawn in to help. Over the years, and with his repeat experience, Chris found himself a key member of the Sparkles team. Through his many years of unwavering service to Sparkles, the event has raised many thousands of dollars and brought joy to the community (it still does). Jane was present and pleased to see Chris' contributions recognized and so warmly appreciated by the club.
L-R: Chris Vandergrift, Luisa Del Rosario, Assistant District Governor Tracey Curtis, Club President 2022-2023 Andrew Johnson
Chris Vandergrift and Jane Armstrong
Luisa and her family
Luisa and Kate Quarrie
Luisa telling her story