INSIGHTSPARTNERS IN PHILANTHROPY
Charity Spotlight: Julie Rothmeier
A Rotarian’s Mission to Increase Literacy in Cloquet
The Rotary Club sounds familiar to most. After all, it’s an organization that has been around for over 110 years, has 35,000 clubs nationwide and 1.2 million members or “Rotarians.” However, depending on who you ask, you will likely get different answers regarding the club’s mission. Some will tell you it’s a networking club for professionals, others may say it’s like the “Moose Club.” Julie Rothmeier, Retirement Planning Specialist and Founder of Strategic Wealth Partners, thought something similar. She was not sure what to expect when invited to attend her first meeting eighteen years ago. Since then, Julie has embraced the Rotarian mission, served as The Rotary Club of Cloquet’s President twice, and spearheaded the launch of two charitable initiatives near and dear to her heart; one being the Literacy Program of Cloquet, Minnesota.
Rotarians are professionals, leaders, and problem solvers who share a global mission to promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene, assist mothers and children, support education and grow local economies. The ability to work with a dynamic group of individuals in her community to solve some of the issues impacting children at home, and in third world countries, was of significant interest to Julie.
“We adopted our two sons from Colombia and while the babies in these orphanages are healthy,” explained Julie. “They can spend the first several months of their lives confined to their cribs where their bottle is not only for food but also their only source of comfort and their only toy.”
Julie’s knowledge of the importance of early childhood development aligned with one of the Rotary Club’s core missions to support education. “Children in Cloquet are from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and the resources available to them differ,” said Julie, “I wanted to create a program that would make a personal connection with each and every child at two points in their early learning years to encourage them to continue to read and learn.”
Eleven years ago, Julie and her fellow Rotarians launched the Rotary Club of Cloquet’s Literacy Program. Since then, Julie along with the other Rotarians visit all the kindergarten and third-grade classes in the area each year. For the kindergarteners, they spend a few minutes with each child asking them a series of questions. The children’s answers are then sent to a publisher who creates a custom book specific to each child.
“When we hand out the books with their names in them, the names of their parents and other details specific to them, their eyes light up,” said Julie. “That book then becomes a prized possession, and something they will spend time looking at, and reading.”
The Literacy Program of Cloquet also aims to help children as they progress in their development to become active readers, creative thinkers, and learners. Third grade has been recognized by educators as the point when children shift from learning to read, to reading to learn. In Cloquet, every third grader receives a dictionary from the Rotary Club.
“The dictionaries are filled with supplemental pages that tell of the U.S. Presidents, flags of each country, how to do sign language and so much more,” said Julie. “We spend time showing them how to use the dictionary, and they really enjoy exploring its pages and sharing what they find with their friends.”
Since the Literacy Program of Cloquet launched over 7,500 books have been distributed. For Julie, the reward for helping others is simple, “I really enjoy seeing people smile.”
To learn more about the Rotary Club and to find a local chapter visit: https://www.rotary.org
To learn more about the Rotary Club of Cloquet, Minnesota and all the great work being done in their community visit: https://www.cloquetrotary.org/
To learn more about Julie Rothmeier and Strategic Wealth Partners visit: http://www.swpcloquet.com/