Young people can make their mark through Rotary

By John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary

The desire to give back, become involved in your community, create connections, and use one’s skills to benefit others is a cornerstone of civil society. But how can young people find these opportunities while facing the challenges of a widening skills gap, lost personal connections through digital isolation, and an uncertain future?

Let me begin with a description of a young person who may sound familiar.

A young person alone in a big city. A young person looking for friendship, looking for connections with other professionals from diverse backgrounds.

A young person looking to make an impact but unsure where to begin. That man was Paul Harris, Rotary’s founder.

Back in 1905 when Paul started the organization we know today, he was only 36 years old.

He certainly had that spirit of youthful innovation that we must try to emulate. Because, to those early Rotary members in the first Rotary club in Chicago, Rotary was like an oasis in the desert.

And over a century later, our Rotaractors are part of a generation that grapples with its own challenges and deserts, in a world of increasing social and political upheavals.

Many graduated during a global economic depression, and perhaps had to struggle to get that first job or pay off student loans.

Many have witnessed rising social inequality and political polarization. Many are disenchanted with business practices that don’t meet our high ethical standards.

It is not time to lose hope – because we want Rotary to be your oasis in the desert. A place where new ideas can be explored, friendships are made, opportunities are realized, and your talents are used to improve lives.

The Chicago in which Rotary was born is not so different from the environment we exist in today. Paul Harris experienced first-hand the struggle between the forces for positive social change and the aggression of a fast-growing city. It was a place of stark contrasts, between astonishing wealth, abject poverty and high unemployment.

But innovators like Paul, looking at first for nothing more than friendship and business connections, began to turn the corner. What started as a fellowship of four people grew into a large and thriving service organization of 1.2 million members and nearly 200,000 Rotaractors who carried out 111 million volunteer hours of work last year in communities at home and around the world.

The myth that Rotary cannot be a place for young people to make their mark on the world is just that – a myth. Through Rotary, you are able to create lasting connections, discover new experiences, and make a positive impact.

Learn more about Rotaract and find a club near you.

15 thoughts on “Young people can make their mark through Rotary

  1. Great work rotary is doing in the world wide. I am lazio by name, a footballer by profession and a founder to LAZIO umbrella NGO in Ghana, I wont to be part of Rotary intentional. Our aims are, (1)we always wont to put a smile on the needy by organizing events such as festivals, games and as well as giving them the opportunity for tourism attraction,We always have to make the needy smile with us, make them feel they are not rejected. And also groom them and give them a good profession in the near by future to live on so that they may not go back to the street. My NGO is a mother to all orphans and orphanages. I stand completely for less privilege. I need a link, I need a partnership, I need a club like rotary International who will be there to support my visions and goals for the less privilege. If someone here can link me to the top men in rotary club international I will be very grateful. this is my personal line +233244011624 and my facebook use name Lazio Yusif

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  2. I came to learn about rotary.org late. i came to learn about it thriugh a friend and i like the work ita doing God bless. from kenya milka amadala thanks

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  3. I like to be a member of Rotary International. Am a Nigeria by nationality living in Sangio-Ota, Ogun State. Please connect me. Thank you

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  4. Pingback: How do you, “make your mark”?

  5. Pingback: How do you, “make your mark”?

  6. I would like to be a part of Rotary International. Teacher by profession and rendering service to humanity as passion embracing Rotary International and its ideology would be the right approach to reach out to many more people..

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  7. Thank you, John! The members of the Rotaract Club of Tampa have seen the effect this organization has had on their personal lives, careers, and community. Young people are actively searching for opportunities to give up and foster genuine friendship. Happy World Rotaract Week!

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    • Rotary club of Narowal district 3272Pakistan rotary international,working project basically education and health care mother’s and children’s facilities provided free education and health services,other activities of polio awareness programs and general illnesses free Medical camp’s,vocational training center for women’s rural areas of Narowal pakistan specially poor women’s may gets training and be able to earn their livelihood and foot step and build their future in the shape of vocational training center,short term project planting trees and environment save other activities programs lowest in rural areas specialist poor families provided benefit through organization of rotary international platform,we organized and annual seminars for awareness and modern education computer education promotion of modern education,we need partner club of service project

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  8. I fully agree with you John! Very well pointed out about the age at which Paul thought and launched Rotary movement. It was all about being youthful and need to connect, have fellowship. The service came later, thanks to the bonding among the members who became close buddies. But what has happened over the years that now we find more and more members with 50 plus of their age, are we missing some crucial point? The recent amendments through COL in with regards to membership criteria and Rotary meetings have certainly help in making Rotary more flexible and approachable. While on one hand it feels that we need to declutter Rotary from numerous rules and formalities, on the other hand its those rules and systems that have ensured the sustainability of organization over a century. I am confused. But yes, the issue of geting more younger members is universal.
    By the way I was invited to Rotary when I was 34! And I have been enjoying being Rotarian!!

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