Joyce Marie Taylor
John and Trannie Lacquey of Branford have been Rotarians since June 2003. Their travels through Rotary International have taken them to many third world countries and left indelible impressions upon them both.
Trannie Lacquey recently shared some of those experiences with members of the Rotary Club of Mayo, as well as how she and her husband originally got involved with Rotary.
“John and I were in the Booster Club in Branford,” she said. “John was president for years and years and years. When our daughter graduated we decided to turn it over.”
Two weeks after getting out of Booster Club, Trannie Lacquey said her husband was invited to a Rotary Club meeting.
“He said, come and go with me,” she said. “We’ve been there ever since and we really didn’t know what we were getting into.”
Immediately, they both fell in love with the organization and were impressed with all the Rotary projects. Lacquey said she and her husband are not the type of people to just go to a meeting for a “meet and eat”.
“We like to be involved,” she said. “If you’re involved, good things happen. You get so much more than you give.”
With a desire to do more than just projects for their community, the Lacquey’s went to their first Rotary district conference where one of the subjects of discussion was international projects. They were immediately intrigued. After speaking with Rotarian Carl Dickerson, who has done many projects in Central and South America, they were invited to Costa Rica to have a look around.
“So, we went down and spent a few days because John and I had never been to Costa Rica and we’re willing to go anywhere once,” Lacquey said.
While there, they visited several schools as part of a Rotary literacy project, whereby library books were being brought into the schools.
“They had already done textbooks, so they wanted to do library books,” she explained.
As an education major, Lacquey said the literacy project really struck her in the heart, especially since it was for the children. One school they visited had only three books in the library.
“John and I put a lot of time and energy into this project, as well as some of our own money,” said Lacquey.
The Rotary clubs in the district, she said, came up with about $100,000 in matching grant monies for the project. They obtained the books from the Give a Book Foundation and retail value turned out to be about $400,000 worth of books for the libraries in Costa Rica, she added.
The books were then shipped out from Pensacola on a container vessel to Costa Rica.
“John and I were fortunate enough to go back down and help distribute the books,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Lacqueys had already gone to the Live Oak Publix store and were able to get their corporate office to provide coloring books and crayons, which were shipped along with the books. One thing they didn’t have enough of, however, were pencils.
Right before the Lacquey’s left for Costa Rica they did manage to get the pencils and they put them in their luggage.
“The first school we went to in Costa Rica, John and I got to hand out the pencils,” she said.
One child’s mother came up to John and asked for one of the pencils and he obliged. Then a teacher asked for one and he obliged again.
Lacquey said, “He looked at me and he said, “Trannie, if I had known this we would have gone and bought every pencil we could find.”
She said the kids were so proud of the Publix pencils. She was amazed at how differently the kids reacted to things as compared to here in the US.
“Those kids were happy with anything they got,” said Trannie. “Plus the parents were so supportive.”
As poor as the people were in Costa Rica, Lacquey said all of them, including parents and teachers, kept the schools clean and neat and helped out in any way they could.
“So, that’s how we got started in literacy projects in other countries,” said Lacquey.
Since that time the Lacquey’s have been to Costa Rica several more times, as well as Panama to continue their literacy projects. Additionally, they continue to do literacy projects in their hometown of Branford at both the elementary and high school. Working with the help of the local library, they were able to get audio books into the library’s inventory and they have been a big hit with the kids, she said.
In October, 2006, the Lacquey’s pursued another Rotary International adventure called Shelterbox. They applied to become members of the Shelterbox Response Team and were accepted; they were the first team, and the first husband and wife team from the US. Then, the following April they went to England for training. In August they were summoned to go to Nepal to oversee the Shelterbox mission there.
Since then they have been to El Salvador, Guatemala and Colombia on Shelterbox missions. Lacquey’s husband went on two separate missions without her to the Turks and Caicos and Haiti. Additionally, they have both been to Mississippi and Louisiana after natural disasters struck those two areas.
The Shelterbox missions which normally last two weeks, Lacquey said, are tough physically, mentally and emotionally. She said when you go on these missions you take three outfits with you; you wash one, you dry one and you wear one.”
After two weeks of that she said you don’t want to look at those clothes for about six months.
“You rinse them out, but by the time you get home they begin to smell a little bit,” she said.
The Lacquey’s are both extremely dedicated to any and all Rotary projects they get involved with, no matter how dangerous some of them have been in the third world countries they have visited. Their passion shows through when they speak about their adventures.
“Literacy projects and Shelterbox are my Rotary heartbeat,” said Lacquey. “That’s what I put my time into. As much as we give, we get so much more in return.”