One of the amazing things about Rotary is all of the service work we do that never makes it into the “stats.” It’s hard to measure the value of the sweat equity from the service work we do in our communities. Whether its volunteering at hospitals, food pantries, career days, junior interviews, elderly communities, or “other,” Rotarians put up phenomenal numbers. And yes, sometimes as a District Leader I tend to quantify service in terms of how much money a club raised in a fundraiser, how much they distributed to non-profits during the year, or how much they gave to the Rotary Foundation. Let’s face it, that is only part of the story.
When we volunteer our time and energy there is a connection to others that we simply don’t get from selling tickets or writing a check. Not that writing a check isn’t an extraordinarily valuable thing to do for our local and international community, but I’m guessing those Rotarians who role up their sleeves and dive into a service project feel just a little differently about the value of service, and about those we serve. Writing about it here is a little bit of “preaching to the choir” as I suspect my RFA readers already know exactly what I’m talking about.
Doing service work does a lot more than make you feel better about yourself. It turns out that clubs that have a culture of service, meaning that they have a long list of service activities for club members to get involved in, have a much better record of member retention. (OK…I just made that up, but I’ll bet its true.) These clubs seem relevant because they give Rotarians a chance “to engage Rotary.” In addition, there is NO BETTER networking then working beside someone while you are serving others. Sure…you can go to a networking event. But for developing business relationships it doesn’t hold a candle to working side by side helping others. Relationships built on community service are the real thing and not the product of some cocktail hour verbal mumbo jumbo.
The photos here are from a recent career day at Hammond High School where Rotarians from the Columbia Patuxent club volunteered their time to help some high school students better understand their options for college and careers. It wasn’t newsworthy to anyone but the kids and those of us who showed up. This kind of event goes on all over our District in different clubs EVERY DAY. Hopefully this is a good reminder to make some time for our service work. After that…..PLEASE write a check to the Rotary Foundation.
Note: If your club has a “hands on” service project that you are proud to be a part of, send some photos and a two paragraph description to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will feature it in the District’s Rotary blog, under the direction of PR Chair Dawn Wittfelt.