By Heather Macdonald, Rotary Satellite Club of London, Ontario, Canada
I was a recent college grad when I moved to a new city and was looking to join an organization where I could meet people my own age who were at the same stage of life that I was in. My parents are both Rotarians, so Rotary was the first organization that came to mind. But I struggled to find a club where I could fit in.
London, Ontario, Canada has two Rotaract clubs, but both are associated with either the University or the College and require members to be attending. Even if that weren’t the case, I didn’t want to join a club where the members were still focused on school. I was finished with school and really wanted to meet people who were starting careers and had NO money.
The Rotary clubs in the area were inaccessible to young professionals. Most of the members were established in their careers and financially stable. All of the clubs met at breakfast or lunch. As someone who is just starting out in my company, I can’t take the time off for an hour meeting plus travel time. And the meals were definitely out of my price range.
About a year ago, our current district governor, mentioned that the London Rotary Club had started the Rotary Satellite Club of London. This club is made up of younger professionals who are all done with school (approximately 22-35 year olds). The satellite club meets twice a month at a local pub. If we want a drink or dinner we pay the pub directly, and it just happens that we meet on half-price wing night. If money’s tight that week and we can only afford a pop, that’s all we pay for, no judgement.
Our satellite club has adapted to suit our needs. None of us use checks, and instead of having to carry cash, we use e-transfer whether it’s our annual dues (my parents paid mine as a birthday present) or for our Happy Bucks Card (our system of collecting money through good natured “fines.”)
Currently, my time and energy is worth way more than my money. I can’t afford to buy a $55 Rotary shirt, go to a $100 a plate auction dinner or take a whole Thursday off for a golf tournament. That’s why my Rotary club sponsors a local park and we get together twice a year to pick up trash. We help load cargo trailers to be shipped overseas for other area Rotary clubs. And we raise funds for Christmas packages for homeless youth in our city by putting on Trivia and Paint Nights at the pub where we meet.
I’m an active Rotarian and likely will be for life. I’m now on our board of directors, I’ve been to a district conference and a learning assembly. Who knows what the future holds.
I LOVE my Rotary club and the people in it. We have a wonderful time together, it doesn’t cost us much, and we’re making the world a better place.
Use the Guide to Satellite Clubs to learn more about satellite clubs, how they work, benefits to starting one, and what that process entails. The guide also includes best practices and links to additional resources.