District Blogs & News

Ann Fuge

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District 6220 Exec. Asst.

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Hello, everyone and welcome to tonight’s very special event!

On November 10, 1951, the late Ruben M. Tetzlaff, then president of The Rotary Club of DePere, established the Club’s “Roses for the Living” Award which honors an individual (or two!) for their exemplary service to our community.

Since its inception, The Rotary Club of DePere has bestowed this honor on 75 service-oriented individuals who have given freely and willingly of their time and talents for the betterment of our community.  This distinguished list of past honorees, as well as tonight’s recipients, have all truly made a positive difference in the lives of many.

Mr. Tetzlaff’s intent was for the club to honor its recipients so that they too would know that their efforts were appreciated and admired by many…..

  • Give me a single rose while I’m living,
  • To touch and smell and see,
  • For bouquets I get after passing
  • Won’t mean very much to me.

Tonight, we are honoring Rita and Alan Devroy for their dedication and passion….for creating sweet treats!  For the past twenty years, Rita and Alan have made desserts once a month for the residents and clients of the NEW Community Shelter – five years ago, they decided they had more time, so they began making desserts for the residents of Golden House.  And in January 2015, Alan thought they could also bring some joy to the DePere Fire and Police departments and added them to the “Devroy Dessert a Month” club.

I met Rita and Alan in May of this year, when our Rotary Club served a meal at the NEW Community Shelter.  I was struck by the joy emanating from Rita as she plated the desserts and the quiet, calm manner in which Alan offered them to those in line.  This clearly wasn’t a chore to be marked off as ‘done’ on the to-do list.  The dignity and respect they showed to the guests that evening went far beyond the yummy treats they were serving.

 In preparing for tonight’s presentation, I contacted Terri Refsguard at the NEW Community Shelter.  She shared this story with me, which demonstrates the Devroy’s commitment to preparing the desserts:  Several years ago, Rita was told she needed back surgery and would be in recovery for nearly four months.  Rather than take a leave of absence from the kitchen, she and Alan filled three freezers of banana bread, nutty bars, sugar cookies and more before her surgery to ensure there was enough dessert for the Shelter residents and guests.  Indeed, they made enough desserts to feed the guests once a month for six months!

The Devroys started this vocation innocently enough – they saw a notice in St. Mary’s parish bulletin in 1996 that said if they didn’t get more help, the parish would have to stop serving a monthly meal to the homeless.  Rita decided she would bake for the July meal.  She skipped August and again, in September, saw the same notice in the parish bulletin – which is when she made a one-year commitment to make desserts once a month – and the Devroy Dessert a Month Club was born.  

On learning that Alan and Rita had also ‘adopted’ Golden House, I contacted Dina and Michelle.  They regret they could not be here tonight – and they sent this message:

Rita and Alan have been donating their specialty baked treats to Golden House on a monthly basis since 2011.  At Golden House the women and children have witnessed abuse in a place no one should ever be afraid.....in their own homes.  Making our clients feel safe and welcome is our priority....and when a tray of homemade sweets is brought into the kitchen at Golden House, everyone's eyes light up!!  Their treats are gobbled up quickly and for a little while all is good.   Staff is always in awe at the array of beautiful and delicious desserts and the kindness and compassion that comes with them!  We are so fortunate to have Rita and Alan's support for the work we do at Golden House!!  

This year, coincidentally, is the 20th anniversary of this couple’s unique and much-loved ministry.   Alan and Rita truly exemplify “Service above Self”, our Rotary motto and it is with great respect that that I present to you Rita and Alan Devroy, our 2016 Roses for the Living award recipients!