The Hobart and William Smith Rotaract club will host a celebration in honor of its recent inclusion as an officially chartered member of Rotary International on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. in the Vandervort Room. During a dessert reception, club members will reflect on their past three years of service in and around the Geneva community.
“We will be keeping it simple, serving refreshments and giving members of Rotaract a chance to socialize with members of the Geneva Rotary club as well as members of the Geneva High School’s Interact club,” says Rotaract co-President Juliana Freier ’12. “The goal is to bring everyone together, share what Rotaract has been doing, and have a good time. We will also be displaying photos of some of our club’s volunteering projects and fundraisers.”
In attendance will be members of the club as well as Rotary Board members and Mary Herlihy Gearan, who plays a major role in the work of Geneva High School’s Interact Club. Interact is the high school division of Rotary, and provides young community members with the opportunity to help their neighbors and join students from the Colleges in many of their volunteer events.
“This will be a celebration of the club’s official recognition, but it will also celebrate what they do as an organization,” says Assistant Director of the Center Community Engagement and Service Learning Jeremy Wattles. “One of our core values as an institution is service – and this is one of the biggest service clubs in the world. With this gathering, we hope to recognize all of the Rotary Club’s hard work.”
This work includes a significant growth in membership, thanks in part to the help of former Interact members including Ryan Sollenne ’15.
“The first club I signed up for at Hobart and William Smith was Rotaract,” says Sollenne. “It is a great club that has a good sense for doing for others before yourself. We do service projects almost every weekend.”
Since the club was officially chartered in November 2011, Rotaract members have participated in events such as the Heifer International community lunch program, Seneca Lake Beach clean-up, Breast Cancer Walk and Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF as well as volunteering at the Beverly Animal Shelter and the Living Center at Geneva General Hospital.
The club has also partnered on numerous occasions with the Geneva Rotary Club, whose members will join HWS students and staff in the celebration Thursday evening.
As an officially chartered division of Rotary International, Wattles and Rotaract members hope to see continued growth in the service-based club. It is through organizations like Rotaract that students can find meaningful ways to interact with and participate in the Geneva community, he says.
“Having a charter gives us more of a foundation and ability to do events,” explains Rotaract co-president Sasha Miller ’12. “We have more status as a club both on campus and within Geneva which will make it easier to plan events and work with organizations.”
Freier agrees, noting that the club’s initial focus will be on strengthening connections with the Rotary and Interact clubs in Geneva through collaboration on local community service projects.
“We are also hoping that we will be able to do some collaborative projects with other Rotaract clubs in our district, including clubs at Elmira College, University of Rochester, S.U.N.Y. Geneseo, and Keuka College,” says Freier. “At this point we want to continue our usual volunteering and fundraising commitments, but hope to participate in an international volunteering project at some point in the future. As always we will continue to pursue Rotary’s ‘Service Above Self’ motto in all of our projects.”