Promoting integrity and goodwill through acts of service is central to what Rotary International accomplishes through its endeavors.
That being said, few Rotarians embody this like Toby Rohrer, who along with husband Bill Rohrer, founded the Liberty City Scholarship Fund at Miami Dade College, a scholarship fund created to pay the college education of deserving Liberty City high school students.
Bill and Toby, attribute their program to the “Liberty City Sister City” initiative organized by the Key Biscayne Community Foundation. Then, after seeing a film titled “The Bridge,” Bill Rohrer told his wife about a city that was “so close, yet a world away across the bridge.”
Next, Toby and Bill met with then-Police Chief Charles Press, Ana Martinez, vice president of Development at Miami-Dade College, and Melissa McCaughan White, KBCF’s executive director. They came up with a way to provide educational support for kids who might not be able to afford a collegiate education.
To provide a cost-effective solution, they decided to provide scholarships through Miami-Dade College (MDC), a large institution with strong opportunities to earn Associate degrees.
The Rohrer’s have known Martinez for about 25 years, since her days at United Way. “She has been the key to making this happen, while also providing support to the students in need,” they said.
The couple started the scholarship fund with a personal donation of $200,000, but they didn’t want their names attached since the point was to highlight the needs of Liberty City students. Thus, the Liberty City Scholarship Fund was born.
Asked to describe the program in three words, the Rohrers swiftly responded: “Education creates opportunity.”
With the help of generous donors from the community, the fund has gifted 80 scholarships to qualified students since first founded in 2018.
“One of the areas of focus on Rotary is education. This project that Toby and Bill have been working on for many years is the perfect match for us,” said Patricia Romano, president of the Rotary Club of Key Biscayne. “Our Club has been in partnership with Liberty City through the years, and working with Toby and Bill on this scholarship fund is taking our involvement to a new level. Eventually, we will get grants from Rotary International to match the funds we raise.”
The love and support from the community over the past few years has been omnipresent, the Rohers’ said, and they are thankful.
“We as a community are changing lives, one student at a time,” they both stated.
On January 21, working with the Rotary of Key Biscayne Foundation and a team of Rotarians, Toby will see her vision enhanced by hosting the first annual, Dominos for Education event, presented by Baptist Health.
The event will take place from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. at the Key Biscayne Beach Club and feature a double-nine-domino and cubilete friendly competition, with traditional Cuban fare and dancing.
Rotary members decided to do a dominoes tournament because the Latin community of Miami plays and enjoys it – and the sense of community it engenders.
“We expect to raise over $50,000 during the domino tournament,” said Romano. “We are inviting all local players to participate in this worthy event. We would like to invite those who want to learn this fabulous game, or just to have an evening of good food and fun.”
Romano offered special thanks to the Rohrers for all they have been doing over the years through their project. “Now the Rotary Club of Key Biscayne has embraced it as our own as well,” she said.
For more information or to purchase tickets to the event, click here.
For sponsorships or questions, call Toby Rohrer at (305) 607-2780 or Islander News at (305) 361-3333