The Pay It Forward Project, presented by Rotarian Shelly Duben

Shelly joined Rotary in 2004, after being introduced to Rotary by her husband, Michael. Michael started his Rotary career in 1996 with the Rotary Club of Windsor-St. Clair, where he served as Centennial President. He was first exposed to Rotary as a member of the Group Study Exchange team to South Africa in 1995, and later became the District’s GSE Chair. In 2011-2012, Michael served as District Governor for District 6400, an international district in southwestern Ontario and south eastern Michigan area composed of 48 Rotary Clubs. Shelly served as the president of the Rotary Club of Windsor –St. Clair for two years. Shelly and Michael were also District Trainers and served on numerous District Conference planning committees. In 2013, the Dubens moved to the Muskoka area and became active members of the Rotary Club of Bracebridge-Muskoka Lakes where Michael served as president in 2017-18 and Shelly served as Club President in 2019-20. They got involved at the District level again and served as District Conference Program Chairs in 2016 and as District Training Leaders. Shelly served as the District Service Projects Director for the 3 years. The Dubens moved back to southwestern Ontario in August 2020 and now live in Tillsonburg. They have since joined the Passport to Service Club which brings them back to District 6400.


Michael and Shelly founded Rotarians Enhancing Learning of African Youth (R.E.L.A.Y.), an educational project that has enhanced the lives of thousands of children in Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and most recently, Zambia. Mike and Shelly also participated in a Rotaplast mission to Venezuela in 2006 and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2008 to help raise funds to purchase mosquito nets for women and children in Tanzania.

Both Shelly and Michael are Major Donors, and Bequest Society members. They have been recognized in their previous district as Rotarians of the Year, Council of Governors Award recipients and TRF District Service Award recipients. In 2013, Shelly was honoured with Rotary International’s “Service Above Self” award.

Michael and Shelly have hosted several Group Study Exchange team members as well as a Youth Exchange student. They have attended multiple District Conferences and International Conventions. They have also served as aides to the Rotary International President’s Representative and as aides to the District Governor.

Shelly grew up in Northern Ontario and currently works as a high school Principal in St. Thomas. Michael and Shelly are proud parents of Justine, 28 and Marcus, 22, and proud grandparents of Ava who has just turned 6 months. Justine is a former Youth Exchange student and both Marcus Land travelling. To date, they have visited over 35 countries in their travels and hope to add a few more over the next couple of years.

Shelly gave an extremely interesting and informative presentation “Pay it Forward” which she developed after seeing the movie by the same name. Like the movie & book, the idea is to perform a selfless act, and instead of receiving thanks, the recipient does a selfless act for someone else.