“He welcomed me on my first visit to the club and shared with me the great things the club was doing, such as Guatemala Literacy Project. Over the years, he has shown to be a mentor for me as I prepared for the presidency of this astounding club”.- Steven Nelson, President 2013-14
In life, we have limited opportunities to meet and get to know people who make us want to be better people. People, who live their lives with integrity and honor who exemplifies ‘Service Above Self’ are rare. Rotary is fortunate to have several members who emulate this philosophy in life and among the many, the Rotary Club of North Raleigh has Matthew Kane.
Matthew grew up in Bethesda, MD as one of nine children. He attended Virginia Tech where he met his wife, married after graduation and lived in Houston for six years before finding his way to Raleigh. Shortly after arriving in Raleigh, he started his own company, Cutting Edge Engraving. Active in his church, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Matthew and his family are an integral part of the Rotary Club of North Raleigh. The club sponsored two of his children as they spent a year as a Rotary Youth Exchange student.
Through his time in Rotary, he has been able to use it to impact his children. His oldest son, Ryan (26) is currently living and working in China. His younger children, Connor (22) and Colleen (19) are students at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Each of these made their way to the Tar Heel campus after spending a year between high school and college as Youth Exchange students to Santiago, Chile.
As the District Governor-Elect, Matthew has been asked several times why he is so passionate about Rotary. His response was, “Friends, Family and Impact”.
When asked to explain, he talked first about friends. Rotary tends to attract the type of people who are “focused on things beyond themselves”. They care about the world around them and the next generation, but especially their community. “I find this type of person interesting, engaging and fun to be around”, commented Matthew. So, he makes time available to spend an hour a week to have lunch with his Rotary friends. “It’s a wonderful use of my time, energy and money.
He describes the family portion of his answer by pointing to the many ways his family has become involved with Rotary. His children have traveled to Guatemala with him as he participated in the Guatemala Literacy Project. Each of them has participated in the RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) as juniors in high school. While his youngest two have each spent a year in Chile, living with three different families, meeting youth from around the world and becoming fluent in Spanish. “Without a doubt, Rotary has helped my wife and I raise interesting, confident and well-rounded children”, Matthew beamed while speaking of his children.
He finished by noting that the main reason he has spent countless hours with Rotary is the impact it brings to the community and the world. “My Christian faith is important to me and I believe it calls me to reach beyond my daily life to do and be something more”, recounts Matthew. His impact with Rotary has been important to our club and to countless number of children in Guatemala. From initiating Rotary’s involvement in the Guatemala Literacy Program to developing 3 separate grants that has provided over $80,000 in micro-loans to budding entrepreneurs in Columbia and Guatemala, Matthew actively looks for ways to impact the world around him.
“Rotary has given me the platform to put my faith and my talents to work. Truly I’m grateful to be a part of such an amazing organization”, commented Matthew. Rotary is uniquely positioned to tackle both local issues and international challenges and due to the efforts of Rotarians such as Matthew, many of these challenges will be met with the full effort of all its members.
When asked about the most rewarding experience, Matthew described a project at the Women’s Prison in downtown Raleigh he led. It was a project to renovate a room where incarcerated Mothers could spend time with their children one time each month. Many of the members of the club participated in painting the walls, purchasing new furniture, kitchen supplies and toys. After completing the work, there was a special celebration with the dedication of the new room. Many fellow club members brought food as they joined about 40 mothers, prison guards and the warden, who gave a speech thanking us for caring enough “to brighten the lives of these women locked up and invisible to society”.
He recalled after the celebration, a fellow Rotarian walked up to him and said, “I have never felt so proud to be a Rotarian”.
Rotary brings out the best in all of us. It doesn’t matter what political party you support, what religious background you have, or the color of your skin. Matthew emulates this year’s theme, “Engage Rotary, Change Lives”.