District Governor Clenise Platt congratulates Michael Desplaines for his award.
 
Michael Desplaines was recently named the Rotary District 7600 Alumni of the Year for 2019. Although Michael only became a Rotarian in 2014, his Rotary roots date to 1996. Back then he worked at a YMCA in Fall River, MA and was recruited to help with a Rotary program that brought children from Northern Ireland to the United States. Michael, executive director of Norfolk Botanical Garden, recalls "dragging the kids to lots of Rotary meetings: where he learned a lot about Rotary.
 
In 2000 while working for a YMCA in Cranston, R.I., Michael's Rotarian boss encouraged him to apply for a Rotary Group Study Exchange to India. He calls the one-month trip there "the experience of a lifetime -- one that changed my life because I saw all the good work Rotary does."
 
Shortly after moving to Hampton Roads, Michael was invited to join our club by Bill Eisenbeiss. In 2015 he joined the district's Rotary Alumni Association and was elected its president in 2018. Last summer, the association was honored at the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany as the Alumni Association of the Year. Michael currently is vice president of programs for our club.