As Rotaractors world over will have to pay membership dues of $5 and $8 from January 2023, RI President Jennifer Jones explained the benefits to them at the Rotaract seminar, Symbiosis, that was part of the Visakha Vista zone institute. “Paying membership dues will help us give you a valuable Rotary experience and it will make you take Rotaract seriously. In the coming years you will understand its value so much so that you’ll invite your friends for the experience. When I joined Rotary I didn’t understand what value it can add to my life. I am now a better leader, being in Rotary, and I am better in governance, finances, and public speaking,” she said.
Jones pointed out that Rotaractors are now part of several Rotary committees. “One of the most coveted committees is our international convention committee. I have put our Rotaractors here. When we were discussing ideas for our convention, the best ones came from the Rotaractors,” she said, adding that they have also been made RI president’s representatives to district conferences.
“We need fresh ideas from young, capable leaders like you. If we want something done in Rotary, we Rotarians form a committee and have lots of meetings. Whereas you would have already figured out the issue and moved on to the next one,” said Jones, amidst applause.
Batting for dual membership, she said, “If you find a Rotary club attractive, join the club. Or start your own club and run it how you want it. You are our future. No, you are the now. You are going to decide what Rotary will look like in the next couple of decades. And one of the things you are going to teach us is gender parity.”
Earlier RIPN Stephanie Urchick inaugurated the seminar in the presence of former World Rotaract Committee chair PDG Ravi Vadlamani, event chairman RID 3131 PDRR Arjun Dev and RID 3020 (host district) DRR Pratyusha Varma.
Observing that Rotarians in their 30s and 40s are more in India than in the rest of the world, RI director Vicki Puliz said that this situation creates better opportunities for Rotaractors. “We want your ideas and perspectives to make our organisation strong. You are key to how we continue to provide value and relevance to our members, our communities and to the world,” she added.
RI director Drew Kessler urged the Rotaractors to join Rotary early. “When I joined Rotary at 20, I was the youngest in my club, and today at 41, I am still the youngest. I look forward to seeing someone younger join my club.” Urging them to be dual members, he said, “This way you don’t have to give up your Rotaract identity to join Rotary. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are. All that matters is the pin — the Rotary or the Rotaract pin.”
Recalling his experience when he joined his Rotary club, Kessler said, “My club members didn’t see me as a 20-year-old. When I thought that I had no business sitting amongst such accomplished individuals, they saw me as a potential Rotarian. They took me under their wings, mentored me, and made me what I am today.”
A strong advocate for bringing business into Rotary, he said, “I know we are the No 1 service organisation in the entire world. But we started with one individual who brought together his business friends for the purpose of networking. If I have a business to give someone, I’d share it with a like-minded friend who is a Rotarian instead of a non-Rotarian friend. Rotary is a network of like-minded individuals. They want to see each other do well.”
Now that Rotaract clubs can participate in Foundation grants, the RI director said, “Once you realise the power of our Foundation you will contribute in a big way. I believe in giving from the heart and not just reaching into our pockets. I want Rotaract clubs to first receive a grant, and see the impact it has in transforming a community. That will inspire you to give voluntarily. I don’t want people to give because they have to, people should give because they want to.”
Addressing the reluctance among Rotaractors to pay membership dues, Vadlamani said, “The challenge is in the mind because you have not yet realised the value of Rotaract as much as you love your pizza. You say that $5 and $8 is expensive. Break the shackles in your mind that money is everything. What matters is the experience and education that Rotary gives. If you have to reach new horizons, you must dream big.”
Pictures by Jaishree