In March 2013 I became a member of the Rotaract Club of Hampstead, Hendon, and Golders Green. Rotaract is an organisation sponsored by Rotary for people aged 18 – 30. There are Rotaract Clubs in pretty much every country in the world, and being part of Rotaract means you are part of the Rotary family. I have written about what led me to join Rotaract previously. Now I would like to share just 3 reasons why I love being part of Rotaract and the Rotary family.
1. Being able to help local and international organisations
I joined Rotaract after hearing about the work being done by Rotary to eradicate polio. The first Rotaract Club of Hampstead, Hendon, and Golders Green event I attended was held to raise money for the End Polio Now campaign. Money raised for the campaign is being matched by the Gates Foundation. Often people can wonder whether their fundraising efforts are making any difference to the people / organisation they are trying to support, especially when they are on the other side of the world. With Rotary and the polio campaign it’s clear progress has been made, and a strategy is in place to help everyone work towards the goal of eradicating polio by 2018.
As there are Rotaract Clubs across the world, we have been able to easily support the work other clubs are doing. For example, we organised a buffet lunch at a local Indian restaurant and sent the money raised to a Rotaract Club in Mumbai. They added our money to the money they had raised and used it to buy school bags, water bottles, books and some stationery items for school children in a small village near Mumbai.
Having enjoyed volunteering for Fair Play Barnet, a small local charity in my area, prior to joining Rotaract, I was really keen to support local people and organisations as well as international organisations. This is something I have been able to do with my club as Rotaract, like Rotary, has a strong focus on the local community. Our charity of the year is currently North London Hospice, a charity providing specialist palliative care in North London for those with advanced progressive disease. It’s been fun getting to know the staff at the hospice, and we have all really enjoyed raising money for them. Our Cabaret night at Madame Jojo’s at the end of last year raised over £1,400 for North London Hospice, and everyone had a great night!
I have loved being able to support local organisations in ways other than fundraising. Recently, we painted the lounge of a local sheltered housing scheme. It was so much fun to do something active together, and we got to meet some of the residents who passed while we were busy painting so we were able to see their reaction to the new colour (they loved it!). I love that Rotaract places a strong emphasis on having fun whilst helping others, whether it’s a fundraising event or a volunteering project.
2. A supportive community
I recently started an organisation called Good News Shared, which aims to highlight and celebrate the achievements of charities, social enterprises, and community groups. The Rotary Family have been so supportive of me in this new venture. Fellow members have offered to help, given feedback and suggestions, shared articles, and have told their friends and family about the website. As well as this, I have been interviewed by a Rotarian on her radio show, and have also been interviewed on North Highland Radio thanks to the wonderfully supportive Beth Evans, who I met when she worked for Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland. I have also been invited to speak at some Rotary Club meetings about Good News Shared. These opportunities have been incredible, especially as public speaking is not my best skill. Considering how quiet and shy I used to be I still pinch myself after I present to a group of people, and I really appreciate the opportunity Rotary has given me to develop personally and professionally.
As well as receiving support, it has been really nice to be able to help fellow members with projects they are working on. For example, I recently gave a Rotarian some tips on using Twitter, and was really excited and proud to see him putting some of them into practice.
3. Meeting a wide range of people
Being part of the Rotary family has enabled me to meet so many new people. After finishing University meeting new people became a lot more difficult! This is no longer an issue thanks to Rotaract. What’s even better is members are from different countries and professions, so I have been able to meet people I would probably never would have done otherwise.
I have not attended a European Rotaract conference yet, but it’s something I am hoping to do in 2015. Knowing I can go to almost any country in the world and have people who will be welcoming and have a common interest as me is a really great feeling.
I attended the national Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland Conference in April and really enjoyed meeting Rotarians from across the world. I can’t think of any other organisation that enables you to meet such a wide range of people so easily.
I have only been part of the Rotary family for just over 12 months, but I hope to be part of it for many years to come. Find out more about Rotary and how you can get involved by visiting their website: www.rotary.org