INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
On March 7, the Emmaus Rotary Club held its second annual celebration of International Women’s Day. Club members and guests gathered at Brookside Country Club for an awards ceremony and celebratory breakfast. Organized by a committee comprised of Rose Galeano-Phillips, David Dunn, Dee Eng, Eileen Prokop and Committee Chairperson Alicia Ruiz-Orbin, the event honored Dr. Barbara Kistler and Jenae Holtzhafer.
Galeano-Phillips opened the program by providing background on women’s achievements with particular emphasis on their contributions as Rotarians to the club and to the greater community.
In recognition of International Women’s Day, the Emmaus Rotary Club honors two women nominated by Rotary Club members and chosen by the event planning committee. One recipient must be a Rotary member; the other is not a Rotarian. Outstanding service to the community is the selection criteria for both.
Emmaus Rotary President Rick Zayaitz presented the first award to Allentown West Rotary Club member Dr. Barbara Kistler.
Kistler joined the Allentown West Rotary Club in 2004. Since that time, she has worked on nearly every club committee and served as club president from 2014-2015. She currently holds the position of the club’s foundation chairperson.
A retired educator and academic dean, Kistler possesses formidable interpersonal and administrative skills. She has and continues to participate in a wide range of projects. Her many accomplishments include involving the club in new service projects such as the Lowhill Food Pantry, assisting with grant writing which resulted in a Rotary Global Grant for the Centennial School in Sierra Leone and participating in a club Friendship Exchange to Morelia, Mexico.
As part of her award acceptance speech, Kistler explained she was drawn to join the Allentown-West Rotary Club by the club’s initiative “…to take action and create lasting change in the world.” She especially enjoys taking part in Rotary projects that support schools such as the Dictionary Project for third graders, providing snack packs and hosting exchange students. She also paid homage to former women Rotarians by stating, “I am here today standing on the shoulders of women who broke ground in Rotary.”
Committee member Eileen Prokop introduced the second award recipient, Jenae Holtzhafer.
A longtime Lehigh Valley resident, Holtzhafer began her service to children when she and her husband Brian became involved in the Fresh Air Fund. Based in New York City, this program enriches the lives of children from urban settings by placing them for several weeks during the summer with host families living outside the city. Since 2011, the Holtzhafers have expanded their original group of 15 host families to include more than 100 families who have sponsored over 100 children. The Holtzhafers have personally hosted three children with whom they maintain strong relationships.
In 2017, the Holtzhafers became involved in foster care. Through foster care training they became sensitized to the emotional and economic difficulties experienced by foster care families. Inspired by a friend who was organizing a “foster closet” in Berks County, Holtzhafer approached staff members from Lehigh County Children and Youth Services and discovered Lehigh County also needed a source for readily accessible, cost free supplies for foster children ranging in age from newborn to 21 years.
Holtzhafer began promoting the idea through Facebook, and soon her home and garage were filled with bins of donated items. The Kindness Project really took off when Holtzhafer met and partnered with Jessica Gerken a member of New Beginnings Fellowship Church who was also interested in creating a “foster closet.” With the support of Mick Seislove, a local Realtor, an appropriate site was located, and by April 2018, “The Kindness Exchange Shop” on Mill Road in Emmaus was up and running.
The Kindness Project currently has 40 volunteers and serves over 240 children. As Holtzhafer stated in her award acceptance speech, “We are here to offer a kind and supportive environment as they [the children] navigate a difficult time in their lives.”
Kistler and Holtzhafer are involved in more projects than those previously highlighted. They selflessly serve the community and embody the Rotary International Motto of “Service Above Self.”
Congratulations to award recipients Dr. Barbara Kistler and Jenae Holtzhafer and thanks to the Emmaus Rotary club for providing an inspiring celebration of International Women’s Day 2019.