“We both believe giving back is important in life,” shares Rhea Brooks, with her husband, Rev. Robert Brooks, elaborating, “The church has influenced me substantially. The church teaches what you should do with your wealth.”
The couple has put these teachings into practice, with support as close to home as nonprofits in their hometown of Little Compton and as far away as Haiti and Tanzania.
Bob and Rhea both grew up outside Washington, DC, met in high school, and married after college, Bob having earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and Rhea graduating from the former Garland Junior College and earning additional credits at Boston University.
After serving three years in the Navy, Bob earned his MBA from Harvard Business School. A nearly 20-year career as a partner and director with Cooke & Bieler, an investment firm in Philadelphia, followed.
Rhea was an active volunteer and a stay-at-home mother to the couple’s children, Laurie, who now lives in Vermont, and Peter, who lives in Massachusetts.
Bob embarked on a second career after getting a call to the ministry. He earned his master of divinity from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, served five years as rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Kent, Ohio, and then was named rector of Grace Church, Providence, a position he held until 2009. He served the following year as interim rector at St. Andrew’s by the Sea in Little Compton and, although officially retired, still performs baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
The couple has had a strong commitment through the years to the Episcopal Church and to dozens of local nonprofits. Rhea notes the importance of the Little Compton Community Center and is active with the Handicraft Club, serving as co-chair of its Giving Society. Additionally, Bob is board chair for 1000 Jobs Haiti.
The couple became familiar with the Rhode Island Foundation shortly after moving here; Bob was an inaugural member of the board of the Downcity Partnership, a nonprofit established in 2000 with $9 million from the Rhode Island Foundation. The Foundation, they agree, provides “a nice way to manage our charitable funds.”