3 Reasons Why I Love Being Part Of The Rotary Family

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!

3 reasons I love being part of the Rotary Family

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.

3 Reasons Why I Love Being Part of the Rotary Family

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. 

3 Reasons Why I Love Being Part Of The Rotary Family

At the Rotary Conference. Speakers included Sarah Brown and Malala Yousafzai

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

 

How Technology Has Changed My Life

I was on Twitter one day last year and happened to see a tweet about the campaign to end polio. I was intrigued. I didn’t really know much about polio so I clicked on the link. It took me to information about how polio can be prevented, and the work being done across the world to eradicate the disease. I read about Ramesh Ferris, a Polio survivor who is working hard to make sure no one else suffers from polio. I watched the video of Ramesh Ferris going back to India to meet his birth mother, and to see other Polio sufferers. Then I read about the plans to eradicate the disease. I still remember how I felt when I realised that thanks to millions of dedicated people across the world polio will be eradicated in my lifetime.

Exhilarated. Excited. Optimistic.

One organisation that has been heavily involved in the fight to end polio is Rotary. I had heard about Rotary, and had the same image of Rotary that many others have – that it’s an organisation for retired men with lots of money. Despite this I looked into my local Rotary Clubs, as I was keen to get involved in my local area and determined to do something to help with the polio campaign. Not only did I find Rotary does not live up to its stereotypes, it was through my local Rotary Clubs that I heard about Rotaract, an organisation sponsored by Rotary for people aged 18 – 30. I knew straight away I wanted to get involved with Rotaract, and I joined the Hampstead, Hendon, and Golders Green Rotaract Club in March 2013.

As well as raising money and awareness for the End Polio Now campaign, my club has volunteered and raised money for a number of different local organisations. By joining the club I have not only been able to get involved in different charitable activities, I have also gained lots of new friends. The group are united by a desire to help our community, but we come from different walks of life – at the moment our club has members passionate about a range of areas including: music, events management, and film-making, and we are made up of students and professionals.

Hampstead, Hendon, and Golders Green Rotaract Club members

With my fellow Rotaract Club members

Being part of Rotaract has changed my life in so many ways. I feel more connected to my local community, I have met a lot of incredible people, and I have developed my professional skills. None of this would have happened if I had not seen that tweet just over a year ago. Using technology has changed my life.

I recently watched ‘Look Up’, a video (that’s gone viral) suggesting that we look for easier ways to connect with others (i.e via technology) but we spend more time alone because of it. I found myself agreeing with the film in some ways – I do spend a lot of time communicating via technology, rather than in person. However, if it wasn’t for technology I would not be part of the Rotary family – one of the most incredible networks I have ever come across. Using technology has enabled me to meet people I otherwise would never have come into contact with, and has opened up my life to so many new experiences. So, while I can understand to some extent where the film is coming from, I won’t be leaving my phone at home when I go out any time soon.

What do you think about ‘Look Up’? Do you think life passes us by because we use technology too much?