I joined my local Rotary club in 2009.
My parents were atheist beatniks who were never "joiners", though my mother was an artist and in a cooperative gallery in Alexandria, Virginia for years. So why did I join the Rotary?
I noticed that the only primary care doctor who made it to retirement working in our small town (9000) and county (27,000) was a close friend of the hospital CEO. Everyone else got frustrated or burned out and quit. One doctor was working emergency rooms all over the peninsula while his home is still here. One doctor works for a while in Alaska every year. The hospital CEO and CFO were both in the Sunrise Rotary. I asked the CFO to sponsor me.
In order to join the Rotary, you need a sponsor to say that you are a businessperson of good character. The CFO and I liked each other, respect each other and often fought about hospital policy.
I joined the Rotary and had really no clue what it was about... surprise.
Our club meets every Wednesday from 7:15 to 8:30. Half the meeting is the Pledge of Allegiance, happy bucks, announcements, a report from our exchange student, pleas to sign up for the next fundraiser/volunteer opportunity/club position and the other half is a speaker. The speaker can be local or international and is often fundraising.
Our club sends an exchange student abroad each year and hosts one, and has to find host families and is financially and emotionally responsible for the students, age 16-18. We fund raise for that.
Our club raises money for one or more Shelter Boxes each year. We were notified that our Shelter Box from last year went to Syrian refugees.
Our club raises $1000.00 or more yearly for Polio Plus. India is clear! Afganistan, Pakistan and one other country remain and the number of cases is dropping yearly! Rotary has been working on polio immunizations for 30 years and on eradicating polio.
Our club buys and gives a picture dictionary to every Third Grader in our county, home school, public school, private school, to take home. We put a book plate with the child's name and it is for them to take home.
Our club works on a local project. We are working with the noon club to rehab a park by the ferry dock and we have helped with parks, built a shed for the domestic violence shelter for storage, and other local projects.
Our club works on an international project. Rebuilding bathrooms for schools in Guatamala. And the rules have gotten stricter, so that the projects are supported by the country where people are working, teaming up so that it is long term project and will be maintained.
Our club has a high school club, Rotary Interact. My daughter was active in that.
Our club raises money in all sorts of ways. We have a yearly "Driving in the Dark" golf tournament. We sell "hole sponsor" signs. We solicit donations for a raffle. The golfers play nine holes, get dinner, and then the second nine holes are with glow balls in the dark. It is very fun to watch. We have a hot dog stand and sell hotdogs at the Wooden Boat Festival and other functions. We sell tickets for the "Running of the Balls" where we roll 3000+ golf balls down Monroe Street and the winner gets $5000. We are working on toys for tots. This Christmas we are each bringing a wrapped toy to our Christmas party. We will unwrap them and then donate them all....
We have three clubs in our county. We are in district 5020, which is the eighth largest in the world. Our district is the Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island, so we are half US and half Canadian. We sing both anthems when the District Governor comes to visit. We have 90 clubs in our district.
There are now 9000 Rotary exchange students each year. My son went to Thailand when he was 16. Our exchange students come back to visit and many stay in touch. Rotary gives me hope for peace in the world. Come visit our club or another one....
Rotary Youth Exchange: https://www.rotary.org/en/get-involved/exchange-ideas/youth-exchanges
Shelter Box: https://www.shelterbox.org/
Polio Plus: https://www.rotary.org/myrotary/en/take-action/end-polio
Rotary Interact: https://www.rotary.org/myrotary/en/learning-reference/learn-topic/interact and http://portal.clubrunner.ca/50092/Stories/forget-botox-stay-young-thru-vocational-service