What do we mean by vocation, anyway?

Alabama club builds wheelchair ramps

Members of the Rotary Club of Greater Huntsville, Alabama, USA, use their vocational skills to build two wheelchair ramps for needy families in December.

By Evan Burrell

The question we face almost from the time we are old enough to talk is “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s a question most often put to us by our parents, teachers, and friends. When we are young, we are content to keep our answers pretty vague or even whimsical. When I was 10, I wanted to be a Cowboy Astronaut Zookeeper!! Sometimes I wish I was one, if only to see the look on the face of Rotarians who ask me what my vocation is. Continue reading

Success stories from a program to develop great teachers

Vicki Rankin used funding from the Rotary Club of Florence, Oregon, USA, to introduce small-group workstations in her classroom at Siuslaw Elementary School.

Vicki Rankin used funding from the Rotary Club of Florence, Oregon, USA, to introduce small-group workstations in her classroom at Siuslaw Elementary School.

By Meg Spencer

Many young professionals in Florence, Oregon, end up leaving when their children reach school age, seeking greener educational pastures for their kids. Our club began to think about how we could help our schools keep those bright young families around.

We came up with the idea of a Continuing Professional Education Fellowship program, modeled after a national teacher grant program we had seen, to help teachers pursue professional development.

Each year, our club offers two $2,000 fellowships to teachers and other Continue reading

Taking the law to the streets

Students in Washington, D.C., USA, learn basic legal concepts from the Street Law curriculum.

Students in Washington, D.C., USA, learn basic legal concepts from the Street Law curriculum.

By Divya Wodon and Naina Wodon, Interact Club of Washington International School, and Quentin Wodon, Rotary Club of Washington, Washington D.C., USA.

Why do you teach the children to jump up at our throat? This question was once asked by an unhappy South African high school principal to Ed O’Brien, a long-time member of the Rotary Club of Washington, D.C., USA, and founder of Street Law, a nonprofit that strives to teach individuals and communities, especially in underserved areas, about the law. Continue reading

How do you use your skills to benefit others?

Bisan Michael (right) during the ceremony in his honor.

Bisan Michael (right) during the ceremony in his honor.

By Edoja Sowho, Rotary Club of Effurun GRA, Delta State, Nigeria

The airport road junction in Effurun-Warri, Delta State, Nigeria, is a very busy and strategic location in the oil-rich city of Warri. The government of Delta State constructed a roundabout to ease traffic congestion, but it’s had little effect.

At the center of this hotspot, you’ll find Bisan Michael, a rather remarkable young man who volunteers his time and talent to keep traffic moving, rain or shine. He has been doing this work, with no reward for himself, for years. Continue reading

Using your vocation to mentor students

Students take part in a field trip as part of the Pathfinders program, a project of the Rotary Club of Rappahannock Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA.

Students take part in a field trip as part of the Pathfinders program, a project of the Rotary Club of Rappahannock-Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA.

By R. Scott Lyons, a member of the Rotary Club of Rappahannock-Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA 

How can you use your vocational skills to help students prepare for life after graduation? Three years ago, our club set out to answer that question with the help of Germanna Community College, the Spotsylvania Education Foundation, and our local high school. Here’s what we discovered. Continue reading

On a mission of mercy to Guinea

The vocational training team assists with cataract surgeries during the eleventh day of the trip.

The vocational training team assists with cataract surgeries during the eleventh day of the trip.

By Arun Chaudhari, past president of the Rotary Club of Mumbai West Coast, India 

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of leading a team of four eye surgeons to Conakry, Guinea, West Africa to work with our strategic partner, Mercy Ships, on training eye surgeons in West Africa and performing cataract surgeries.

Our trip was coordinated by Mark Wright from Mercy Ships, and made possible through the work of many Rotary members in Mumbai, India, including our district governor, Dr Balakrishna Inamdar, a well-known gynaecologist.  Continue reading

Close out Vocational Service Month by spearheading a project with your local Goodwill

Jim Gibbons

By Jim Gibbons, President and CEO of Goodwill® Industries International

In October 2009, more than 10 percent of the general U.S. workforce was unemployed—marking the highest rate we had seen in 26 years. While the national unemployment rate is now less than 8 percent, there is still ample room for improvement. Fewer than 22 percent of persons with disabilities are in the workforce. The jobless rate for veterans who served since September 2001 was more than 12 percent last year. And youth unemployment remains at an alarming 50 percent. Continue reading