Rotary Staff Give Back to Evanston

(Left to Right) Melanie Davis, Stephanie Norton (back), Michelle Gasparian, Renee O'Keefe (front), Maura Rogan (back), Nora Beamish-Lannon, John Wahlund

(From left) Melanie Davis, Stephanie Norton, Michelle Gasparian, Renee O’Keefe (front), Maura Rogan (back), Nora Beamish-Lannon, John Wahlund

More than 100 Rotary employees volunteered 316 hours of service during the first Rotary Week of Caring on 14-18 September. Regional Grants Officer Rebeca Mendoza, along with a team of Rotary staff and executive management, organized events with 10 local charities and organizations doing great things here in Evanston. Activities included teaching local youth about the importance of hand washing, maintenance of community gardens, packing food at a food depository, sorting medical supplies, and cleaning a community resource center.

Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator Specialist, Melanie Davis, discusses germs and contact with students.

Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator Specialist Melanie Davis discusses germs and contact with students.

Members of the Regional Leader Support team spent a few hours at Family Focus teaching third, fourth and fifth graders hand washing skills through fun learning activities and a demonstration of how germs are spread.  John Wahlund, the Area of Focus Manager for Disease Prevention and Treatment, joined Regional Leader Support to teach the students.

The Week of Caring activities helped staff boost visibility and influence of Rotary here in Evanston. “We feel fortunate to work for an organization with so many civic and humanitarian-minded colleagues who are eager to give back,” said Rebeca Mendoza.

If you want to give back through a water and sanitation project, join Rotary and the Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group for a three part webinar series to assist Rotarians with WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) in Schools projects beginning 15 October. You’ll join sector experts and hear about the importance of program efforts, behavior change through hygiene education, and how to engage your community.

What service projects are underway in your region that increase Rotary’s visibility?  Share your stories in the comments below!


What are young professionals looking for?

Attendees at the Young Professionals Summit talked about how Rotary can better attract and engage young professionals.

Attendees at the Young Professionals Summit talked about how Rotary can better attract and engage young professionals.

30 Rotary members under the age of 40 gathered in downtown Chicago on 26-27 September to discuss how Rotary can better attract and engage young professionals.Chris Davidson, member of the Rotary Club of Newport News, Virginia, USA, wrote about his experience at this event recently on Rotary Voices, “Rotary offers so much to young people who have the desire to help others, make connections, and learn servant leadership in a world that desperately needs more of that.”Common themes to emerge from the event included:

  • They are looking for a fun, flexible Rotary experience.
  • Young professionals are not opposed to joining a club with older members
  • Millennials and Gen Y want to do significant acts of service and make a difference in others’ lives.
  • Young professionals are appreciative of the business and mentorship opportunities they experience through Rotary but do not feel that these benefits are being marketed effectively to their generation.

Connect with event attendees and other Rotarians in the Young Professionals Network group and discuss the future of Rotary.

The benefits of multi-generational membership

By Katie Ehlis, assistant Rotary Coordinator, Zone 28

I often speak to Rotarians about the importance of embracing the reality of a multi-generational membership. There are so many great things that come from clubs leveraging the different generations that make up their membership. I believe that when a club has an engaged, multi-generational membership, it has access to numerous perspectives about how to do things within your club. Some of these ideas and perspectives may have never been thought of or discussed before; all of them have the potential to make your club stronger.


Brittany Maupin from the United States (in a white shirt) and other attendees at the New Generations Celebration: Connect for Good session. Rotaract Preconvention Meeting, 31 May 2014, Sydney, Australia. © Rotary International

Members from all different generations have varying life experiences. Here are some tips on how to encourage cross-generational idea exchange and collaboration in your club:

  1. Ask members from multiple-generations to be part of your annual club visioning or to help solve a specific problem your club may have.
  2. Create a multi-generational committee. Ask members from a variety of generations to be part of it and ask them to come up with ideas on how to create awareness, find relevant speakers, and hold some fun multi-generational events.
  3. Hold generational training for your club. Have someone (maybe even one of your members) share some common traits and characteristics from the different generations. Talk about ways you can all work together.
  4. Think about the possibility of a satellite club! It’s worked for many clubs and can inject some new excitement and energy into your current membership.
  5. Set up an internal “mentoring” program and encourage all members to play the role of mentor. Consider flipping the norm – encourage younger members to mentor older members. We have a lot to learn from each other, no matter our age or life experiences. Encourage mentor partners to meet for coffee outside of club meetings, have conference calls, or even sit together during meetings.

The reality is that in some parts of the world our clubs aren’t doing a good job with sustaining a younger membership. It’s time for our clubs to think differently and shake things up! Without multiple generations engaged in Rotary we won’t be able to continue the amazing work we do for those who need it.

Still not sure how to engage multiple generations in your club? Contact ARC Katie or read the following articles to get some ideas about what might work in your club:

Actively engaging new members

By Alan Hurst, Rotary coordinator, zone 32

On 7 September, we held a “Success Seminar” in Zone 32 with a twist:  a post-lunch panel of four Millennial Rotary program alumni talking about their challenges to joining Rotary. The four panelists were a current and a past Rotaract President and two former exchange students.

Some of the comments we have heard time and time again but some were revelations.

  • Carrie, a former exchange student, commented that she had been embraced by the family of Rotary, had been asked to be a Rotary Exchange (ROTEX?) member and help with exchange orientations, but had never been asked to attend a Rotary meeting.
  • Beth, a 21 year old member of a Rotary e-club, said that we need to engage and empower younger members in meaningful ways.  Millennials do not just want to participate in Rotary projects; they want to help lead them too.
  • Kristina, a Rotaract club president, further elaborated on this topic by pointing out that there are leadership-building commonalities between Rotary, Rotaract and Interact programs but that newer generations aren’t asked to lead. Don’t assume they just want to be another committee member.
  • Enrico, a former exchange student from Italy and past President of the Rotaract club of Yale, opened our eyes when he talked about the passive invitations to meetings and events he has received from some Rotarians.
  • Enrico also commented that sometimes when he attends a meeting he is afraid to start a conversation because he doesn’t know what to talk about.

20111105_US_108Let’s think about these comments for a minute.  We have all heard these tips before.  Be more active in inviting members. Don’t just ask potential members to participate by putting your name on the sign-up sheet.  Provide the newer generations with leadership and service opportunities. Actively engage them in conversation when they are a meeting.

We discovered that the younger generation is much more interested in service while many of us older and more experienced Rotarians enjoy the fellowship aspect of Rotary. We have done a great job equipping this generation with leadership skills, now we need to let them lead and encourage them to achieve their fellowship through participation in meaningful service.

If we want to engage more Rotarians let’s give some newer members opportunities to be up front!

Youth Service Re-energizes Rotary

 Written by Gérard Allonneau, Rotary coordinator, Zone 11 & part 20B

Gérard Allonneau Coordinateur du Rotary France-Maghreb 2012-2015“We Believe in Youth” was a major slogan used during our national communication campaign for Rotary in France. But we don’t see more young people in our clubs.

Since 2010, Youth Service includes all Rotary Youth Programs. Every district in France appoints a District New Generations chair (DNGC) responsible for staying in touch with our youth alumni, offering them new activities, and inviting them to join an Interact, Rotaract, or even a Rotary Club.

A Youth Programs Cross-promotion Day was organized in several districts in our zone. We invited former Youth Exchange and RYLA participants, Interactors, and Rotaractors as well as young Rotarians. Here are two examples.

In District 1640, former youth program participants were really happy to be together again after several years. They showed interest in the “Family of Rotary” and, in particular, joining Rotaract.

In District 1720, the needs of young people were assessed through a brainstorming session. We used an assessment model that allowed us to immediately interpret the responses to our questions.

When asked about the concrete steps Rotary should take to encourage the involvement of youth in Rotary, these young leaders answered as follows:

  • Increased communication targeting young people (31%)
  • Increased assistance in helping young people start a career (25%)
  • Increased inter-generational service (18%).

Overall, youth service re-energizes Rotary for three reasons:

  1. Working with young people can be a motivating factor for Rotarians;
  2. Active collaboration with Rotaractors and Interactors energizes Rotary service projects;
  3. Mentoring programs conducted by Rotarians and Rotaractors inspires a new generation of Rotarians.

Learn more about Rotaract, Interact, and other opportunities for young leaders on the Rotary website.