Donor Spotlight: Theresa Rooney

February 1, 2018


As we finish the first month of 2018, we are provided an opportunity to reflect on the progress of New Year’s resolutions and appreciate the growth that has occurred. At this moment, we would like to take this opportunity to begin our 2018 with a spotlight on one of our donors, Theresa Rooney.

Rooney, a Milwaukee area realtor, has been a donor to Wisconsin Microfinance since 2016 after noticing an article about our work in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She began researching Wisconsin Microfinance shortly afterwards, and became more interested in the organization the more she read about it. According to Rooney:

“The small size seemed to promise a personal connection, very low overhead if any, and knowing that the funds would actually be used as intended. The real appeal was that individuals were being enabled to help themselves.”

As a concept, the most important components of Microfinance are the autonomy and self-empowerment maintained through the micro-loan process. Unlike many other forms of charity, Microfinance does not function as a hand out or a one-off donation, but rather the self-recycling loan pool and repayment plans mean that the loans do not work unless the loanee does.

Rooney also stated that she was greatly impressed by the rebound effect that micro-loans can have. A loan made could be used to help a small business grow with an expansion of inventory, increase in crop yield, or could simply be used as a stopgap that allows a family to keep their business in a time of hardship. Better business means increased income, which allows families to send their children to school instead of work, keep a steady supply of food on the table, and most importantly, inspire hope for the future. With a near 100% repayment rate on all Wisconsin Microfinance loans, completed loans flow back into the loan pool, ready to be distributed again to inspire hope in someone else.

In addition, Rooney has an added perspective on the struggles of the people of Haiti. Her son moved to Haiti last June as a project manager to help oversee the construction of mission centers in a small town called Dilaire. She states that the insights her son provides about the condition of life on the ground inspires her to continue supporting the cause of Wisconsin Microfinance. In fact, Rooney has talked to her own parish administration about using her background in marketing to help advertise the mission of Wisconsin Microfinance and setting up a donor matching program.

Lastly, we asked Theresa Rooney one more question: What would you recommend to someone who sees all the headlines of the disasters in the world and wants to do something, but doesn’t know where to start? She answered simply with two words: “Take Action”. The first move is always the most difficult. Inertia is tough to break—there’s a reason an object at rest usually stays there. However, all the greatest journeys have started the same way: a single step into the unknown.