First Female Rotary President Wears Goodwill Coat to Meet the King
In July 2022, Jennifer Jones, member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland, Ontario, became the first woman to take office as Rotary International President in the service organization’s 117-year existence. Allowing women into Rotary took a US Supreme Court ruling as recent as 1987, the year Jones began her own journey with Rotary.
During her one-year term, Jones is touring around the globe to build relationships and collaborations to propel Rotary’s commitment to driving impact through humanitarian service. She has made Rotary’s pledge to diversity, equity, and inclusion a key part of her presidential platform. Engaging with leaders such as presidents of countries and international dignitaries is an important part of the role.
Gisele Seguin, also a member of Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland and a senior executive at Windsor Regional Health Network, is a passionate ‘thrifter’. Almost every piece in her wardrobe comes from frequent forays into second hand stores like Goodwill. Last year, Seguin thrifted a beautiful long woman’s coat at the Goodwill Community Store on McDougall Avenue in Windsor. She thought it would be a perfect match for Jones and gifted it to her in November 2022.
Never could it have been imagined that this two-time gesture of gifting a coat, first from the generous donor who gave it to Goodwill and then the gift to Jones, would make it all the way to London to speak in the House of Commons, and to an encounter with His Majesty King Charles. At the March 13 visit Jones spent time speaking with His Majesty the King, Queen Consort Camilla and Her Royal Highness Princess Anne and had photos taken along with some young Rotarians.
Earlier this year, another opportunity connected Rotary and Goodwill when a delegation made a trip to Guatemala to learn, engage, and celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Guatemala Literacy Program organized by Seguin, and at points connecting with Jones. Michelle Quintyn, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries, Ontario Great Lakes joined the trip and was overwhelmed and inspired by the impact she witnessed – in just 25 years Rotary has moved literacy levels from just one in three, to now two in three children will learn to read.
“Meeting and spending time with Jennifer was an experience of a lifetime. The trip brought home the vision of how Rotary unites and takes action to create lasting change across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves,” says Quintyn.
Sharing the coat story across Goodwill has brought joy and pride to the organization. Both Rotary and Goodwill strive to improve the lives of people who face barriers to literacy or education, decent employment, and safe and stable living circumstances. What makes possible the mission of both organizations is the generosity of people who give of their time and resources.
All photos courtesy of Jennifer Jones.