Several years ago, the Madison Breakfast Rotary Club held a fund-raiser to raise money for youth services projects, primarily Rotary Youth Exchange. It was held at a restaurant that also had a bar area and a young engineer happened to stop by after work for a drink. He didn’t intend to go to the fund raiser, but thought it looked like a fun event. Although he didn’t know anyone there, he decided to attend. He had a good time while speaking with several of the club members there which led to them inviting him to attend a club meeting. That night he heard a lot about projects that the club was doing, grant possibilities, and endeavors that Rotary had made possible. He also learned that Rotary existed all over the world. Now the seeds were planted!
After attending a few club meetings, the engineer decided to join the Madison Breakfast Rotary club. They had a strong international service commitment and that meant a lot to this new member. He also volunteered with the University of Wisconsin’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB). The EWB students were working to bring clean water to a village in Guatemala. The residents of the village had been getting water from a not-so-nearby river. Could it be that Rotary might help? The engineer spoke with other Rotarians to see how Rotary could help, especially since clean water is a key initiative of Rotary.
As this new member learned more about the process of receiving a Rotary grant, he realized he needed to work in conjunction with a club near the village, the Los Altos Rotary Club. In a fortuitous turn of events, a Rotarian with the Los Altos club also worked with Engineers Without Borders. This meant they could all work together to complete the needs assessment. Long ago, Rotary learned that it is not the Rotarians who should determine the need, but rather the local community that should determine the need and that the solution should be sustainable by the people in the village.
Working together, the Madison Breakfast Rotary and Los Altos clubs decided to apply for a grant. They knew they would need to raise a substantial amount of money.  Recognizing the value this project would bring to the lives of the villagers, the Engineers Without Borders also said they could help raise some of the funds needed.
The grant was written and enough money was raised that Rotary provided a matching grant. The engineering students went to Guatemala and completed the project bringing the villagers clean water.   This also included training children and adult villagers alike on the importance of using clean water.  Over 485 families have been able to get clean water delivered to their homes plus the school now has clean water.
You might expect that the story ends here but it doesn’t….it’s just the beginning.
The Madison Breakfast Rotary Club really enjoyed working with the Los Altos Club in Guatemala. They learned quite a bit about the people, their culture, and other needs of people in the area. Knowing that the Madison Breakfast Rotary tends to focus on youth and literacy projects, the Los Altos Rotary club had a suggestion. They were in need of desks and libraries for many of the elementary schools near the Los Altos club. Would the Madison Breakfast Club be interested in working with the Los Altos Rotary club to build a prototype of a portable library? This was a perfect match for the Madison Breakfast Club, as they could obtain desks, books, and other supplies from the Rotary Books for the World project. 
Additional funds were needed, and with many precautions in place due to COVID-19, club members had to think outside the box.  They devised a wonderful fundraiser that was held with the Los Altos Club to feature a Guatemalan chef who demonstrated virtually the preparation of a meal. That same meal was prepared at a local restaurant and delivered to club members’ homes for them to enjoy while watching the chef prepare the meal.  Enough money was raised to build a prototype for a portable library.  While waiting for the prototype to be completed, Madison Breakfast Club obtained a District Grant to ship desks, tables, chairs, books and educational games to Guatemala for distribution to local schools and charities coordinated by the Los Altos Club. The book and educational games were enough to supply several portable libraries.    
The prototype portable library was such a success that two more were built funds from a Canadian Club and a Swiss Club and supplied with books and games provided by the Madison Breakfast and Los Altos clubs. About 1,100 students now have access to these libraries.
The Madison Breakfast Club was so enthusiastic about these libraries and the wonderful relationship they had developed with the Los Altos club, they decided to plan a trip to see these projects in person. In  January 2023, Madison Breakfast Club members traveled to Guatemala and visited the schools that had received the portable libraries. They also enjoyed sightseeing and fellowship with the Los Altos Club.  Both clubs are planning more projects and more libraries.  Just think, had a young engineer not popped into a Rotary fundraiser by chance, none of this would have happened!