Rotarian Cindy Kraus has a heart for Emerald

Tom KingFarragut, Our Town Leaders

Cindy Kraus, a member of the Rotary Club of Farragut, has been a fan of the Emerald Youth Foundation for several years and has now stepped forward with a $30,000 commitment to its annual Emerald Youth Christmas Store. In December the store helped more than 400 inner-city youth and their parents have a happy and Merry Christmas!

The store gives parents of the children connected to Emerald’s ministry the opportunity to purchase gifts at a deeply discounted rate. “That’s a part of their program that I really like because the parents are buying the presents for their kids, and it instills pride that the gift wasn’t given to them, but they were able to buy their kid’s own presents,” Kraus said. She is routing the money through the Rotary Club of Farragut Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and will be donating $3,000 a year for the next 10 years.

What made her decide to support Emerald? “I went to Emerald Youth as part of an Introducing Knoxville program and saw all they do. With my company I was looking for a charity of choice, and I knew that was it,” she explained. “I donated $3,000 this past Christmas and wanted to incorporate Rotary with this, so I contacted the foundation to see if I could earmark $3,000 a year to go to Emerald’s Christmas fund.”

But there’s more to the story than that. Today Kraus is the chief executive officer and broker of the business she owns and recently opened – Engel & Volkers Real Estate with offices at 11347 Parkside Drive. She is a survivor, growing up in a poor neighborhood full of crime and drugs, in a family filled with domestic abuse in a small town, Dover, Florida, just north of Tampa. She won’t say this – but she’s come a long way from Dover. She is the club’s co-chair of membership and is on the board of directors.

“If something like Emerald had been around for us, what a joy and saving grace that would have been in my childhood, and I knew immediately I wanted to help Emerald any way I could,” she said.

She says her neighborhood was rough and racially mixed – whites, blacks and Cubans. This was in the 1960s. It wasn’t what we know as “the projects” but it was close, she says. She was 10 when she was given her first stuffed animal by her “Granny.” Christmas gifts didn’t happen. “Our mother (she has an older sister and brother) just didn’t care about Christmas, and it was what it was,” she says. “We didn’t know what we were missing because we never had it to begin with.” She, her sister and their mother were abused by a stepfather who ended up in prison.

“The Lord has protected my heart, and I got through it because of my Granny and my sister and my faith,” she says. “What I’m doing now is just a positive touch I want to do to help the children. Emerald is such a good place.”

Her $30,000 commitment through the Rotary Club of Farragut Foundation makes her the first member of the foundation’s Admiral Farragut Society, which honors those who donate $30,000 and above. The Foundation is a separate legal entity from the club proper.

To explore membership in the Rotary Club of Farragut, call 865-659-3562. Farragut Rotary meets each Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. at Fox Den Country Club. Tom King, a past president of Farragut Rotary, has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor of two newspapers.

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