Name: Darlene B Kruth, Club President
Charity: Pleasant Hills Rotary Club / Rotary International
How are you inspiring lives?
While I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a Whitney Houston fan, I have always been a firm believer in the lyrics from her song that “the children are our future, treat them well and let them lead the way.” When I joined my local Pleasant Hills Rotary Club in 2015, I was asked to serve as the vocational chairperson, a position I held until mid 2019. This role provided me the opportunity to interact with the Rotary Students of the Month and the High School Interact Club advisers that our club sponsors from Brentwood, Thomas Jefferson, and South Park High Schools. Our club utilizes funds we raise to sponsor the Interact Clubs’ students’ participation in various conferences throughout the school year to learn about both local and international service projects, topics affecting world affairs, and ethics and leadership skills. We have awarded several scholarships annually, and this year we will distribute 7 scholarships to deserving students who exhibit both a commitment to their academic pursuits as well as to community service. I am currently serving as my club’s President and have recently agreed to serve a second term which will take me to June 30, 2021. Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self” and my involvement goes way beyond the scholarships that we award annually through our club. We host several fundraising events every year to support numerous local charities, community, and international projects. Most recently in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we made monetary donations to several of the local food banks we support throughout the year. On a global scale, Rotary International’s (RI) primary goal since the 1960’s has been the worldwide eradication of polio. RI recently partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to complete this initiative (currently there are only 3 countries left with active polio cases).
What inspired you to do this work that you have chosen to do?
If you would ask my husband or colleagues what inspires me to do the work I’ve chosen to do, they would give you a very simple answer: That I have never learned how to say “NO” when someone asks me to commit to a worthy cause. I think my inspiration for this work really stems from a very unique college experience when I chose to “think outside the box” in order to turn a tragedy into a positive sustainable legacy to benefit many future generations of students.
Is there a story from your life that shows why this work is so important?
When I got to college, even though I continued working, I found my passion for volunteering by getting involved in various organizations that served others, either those on campus or in the local community. My interest in helping others really intensified though when I suffered the sudden and tragic loss of a classmate in my junior year at Duquesne University. My perspective was that some good had to come from this loss, and I wanted to honor my classmate’s memory and the impact that he had on the Duquesne community. So I initiated the Thomas D. Bartolec Award with a personal check for $100 and began raising the necessary funds to have the Award endowed prior to my graduation. I wrote the governing documents, established a selection committee, and have been administering this Award that has benefited so many of Duquesne’s Palumbo-Donahue School of Business Administration (School of Business) students annually since 1988. Little did I know at the time that my interest in scholarship development and administration would become a lifelong passion!
Since graduating from Duquesne I have gotten involved in numerous organizations that now all offer scholarship programs to benefit students who want to continue their educations beyond high school in either colleges/universities or trade schools. I have served as a consultant to Duquesne organizations & classmates who have all established scholarships in the memory of loved ones. For Duquesne’s School of Business, I continue to be the Chair of the Thomas D. Bartolec Award Selection Committee (approx $30,000 in awards since inception), and serve on the selection committees for the Dominion Award ($5,000 given to a graduating senior based on their college experiences and volunteerism) and for numerous endowed funds to benefit underclassmen both on merit and for those who have financial need (approx. $150,000-$200,000 annually based on interest earned on the endowed funds).
Other scholarship committees I serve on include my Broker, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services The Preferred Realty’s Dream Innovate and Grow program ($24,000 in the program’s 1st two years); the Pittsburgh CLO Guild which assists students who want to study the arts in college (approximately $40,000 a year); The Women’s Advisory Board at Duquesne whose annual scholarship is given to a music student for graduate studies ($5,000) ; and The Lawrence H Kruth Memorial Scholarship (for students who want to study science, engineering, and math in college, $3,200 over 5 years), established by my husband and I in 2016 through The South Fayette Foundation for Excellence.
I’ve also served over 10 years on the Board of Directors for the Northwood Charitable Foundation, and we have raised over $125,000 specifically for the Pittsburgh Fisher House which benefits Veteran’s families while their loved ones are being treated at one of Pittsburgh’s two VA Hospitals. I’m very proud to be a part of this ongoing effort to honor both my father who is an Army Veteran, and my late father-in-law who was a Navy Veteran, both serving during the Korean War in the 1950’s.
What do you want to tell the women of the world about why it is important to give back to their communities?
I would tell them that while all women may not be blessed with the role of motherhood, myself included, I do believe that most women are nurturers and helpers by nature. I think it’s very important to give back to the communities, be they neighborhoods or organizations, that made you the person you are today. Find the positive impact that these groups had on your life, think outside the box, and pay it forward to the next generation. It’s not always about the financial contributions that you may be able to make, but more about the time and effort you’re willing to invest in various projects to help others in need. For example, the Rotary Club I belong to is in the community where I was raised and still reside. Likewise, my college experiences had such an impact on me that I’ve been compelled to donate my time and energy to various campus organizations and scholarship programs. My love of the arts drew me to the Pittsburgh CLO Guild, and my passion for scholarships to assist worthy students with their educations compelled me to create and participate in scholarship programs that will be sustainable for many years to come. If you follow your passions, giving back to your communities will be very rewarding.
What does it mean to you to be part of a Global Sisterhood?
It means the world to me to be part of a Global Sisterhood. It’s comforting to know that there are women worldwide who think similarly to me when it comes to wanting to contribute to making their societies a better place to live. This world is full of truly extraordinary, empowering women doing phenomenal things!