September is not only the month in which the school year begins, but it is also the month that Rotary designates as "New Generations Month." And all the more important this year, 2010, because New Generations has now been recognized as Rotary's fifth avenue of service. This is the time in the Rotary year when members are asked to focus on youth programs and make efforts to bring young people closer to Rotary; and by extension, help Rotarians learn more about the youth in their communities.
Past RI President Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar wrote in The Rotarian that, "We could just as well call September the month of our future, because investing in our youth is our future." Rotary programs for Interact, Rotaract, RYLA, Youth Exchange, Ambassadorial Scholars, and Group Study Exchange are excellent programs that deserve our enthusiastic support. In addition, many clubs have made a commitment to serve youth in the district through local scholarships, improved recreation and educational facilities, and support of literacy programs.
As fine as all this work is, however, these Rotary-sponsored programs for young people cannot obscure the reality that many of our Rotary Clubs are failing to enlist younger professionals who should be invited to membership.
On a recent club visit, I met a young lady who had just graduated from medical school. She was visiting before going to her first job assignment. As we talked she said "Rotary scholarships helped me through school and meant a lot to me. Thank you Rotary." Her job assignment was in Uganda. I wonder if the Rotarians that flipped hamburgers, staffed ticket booths, or held raffles to raise money for her scholarship realized at the time that they were working to improve health in a country that needs medical workers, or that they were contributing to world peace and understanding. I also wonder if the ideal of Rotary service played a part in her decision to practice in Uganda. And I wonder how many more success stories there are like this because we support our youth programs.
Iím discovering that many of our D5110 clubs support youth in their communities through programs like Student of the Month, RYLA, scholarships and mentoring programs. I would like to issue a challenge to all Rotarians to create opportunities for youth to visit your Rotary Club. Where there are Interact and Rotaract clubs nearby, invite their members regularly so that they feel a part of Rotary. After scholarships are awarded, ask the students back on a regular basis to share what is happening in their lives.
Every Rotarian should be encouraged to bring a young person to Rotary as a guest and take time to tell them the Rotary story. I'm asking you all to support our youth because, as a result, their future, Rotaryís future, and the future of our world will be improved.
Yours in Rotary,
Submitted by Claire Little
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