Our Club’s upcoming project to develop RACHEL training and computer support centres
Jun 15, 2022
Gerry Beltgens and Michele Parkin
Our Club’s upcoming project to develop RACHEL training and computer support centres



Learn how Rotarians and RACHEL are supporting literacy and high level skills building in Guatemala with new tech. Hear about our club’s current project and great opportunities to do more. We are breaking the cycle of poverty.

Michele has been a Rotarian since 2010, working at the Club and District level on Youth Exchange and serving as Chair of the International Service Committee at her former Club in London, Ontario. There she also served on the Board of Directors for several years, including acting as President during the club’s 100th anniversary year.  Her interest in International Service continues at Harbourside. She has worked on projects in Malawi and Togo Africa, in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala and in the Dominican Republic.  Michele is the Associate Vice-President Faculty Relations and Academic Administration at the University of Victoria and has spent 20 years in this field. Prior, she sold cars, was a dental practice manager and, after attaining her law degree in 1997, practiced in civil litigation and labour/employment law.  Michele has a son, and two grandsons, and two fur-babies.  She travels every minute she can and likes to scuba-dive, jump out of planes and off mountains, and meet people around the world.

Gerry Beltgens is the leader of the Access to the Education Collaborative, a registered Canadian Society. His current focus is implementing Digital Learning systems in marginalised rural and Indigenous Communities in Guatemala. Gerry brings years of experience with Rotary, Disaster Aid Canada, ShelterBox and the Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to returning to Vancouver Island 2010 he was the Shelterbox Coordinator for the Rotary Club of Tsawwassen. In 2010 he joined the Rotary Club of Ladysmith and became involved with Disaster Aid Canada. He organised fundraisers and helped coordinate community awareness events. After 8 years as a local Realtor, Gerry was hired as the Executive Director of Disaster Aid Canada. In 2021 he retired to pursue a passion for community development, education and skills training in Central America.

Gerry completed his Master of Arts, Leadership and Training at Royal Roads University. He has completed multiple courses in Leadership in Local Governance, Strategic Planning and Community Economic Development. He was a consultant for the Provincial Industry Training Authority, Musqueam, Squamish and Mt Curry First Nations, Canadian Home Builders, BC Labour Market Partnerships and various levels of government.

Gerry’s volunteer work includes the Board of the Ladysmith Maritime Society, eleven years with the Rotary Club of Ladysmith, five years with the Rotary club of Tsawwassen and eight years on the board of the Delta Chamber of Commerce (President 2003/04, population 102,000)

As a lifelong learner, Gerry strongly believes education and skills training are the gateway to sustainable personal and community vitality and economic development.

Gerry was born and lives in Ladysmith with his wife and fellow Rotarian Eileen Beltgens. He is a past president of the Ladysmith Rotary Club, the current Director for Public Image and incoming Chair of the International Committee. Gerry and Eileen have 4 children and 4 grandchildren. He is an avid photographer and boater.