24 YEARS OF FAITHFUL SERVICEMonday 6th December 2010
Over the years, hearing the name Rotary has become quite synonymous with volunteerism, sharing and individual development. It was through their drive to promote development of the individual that Rotary Clubs around the world began to sponsor university youth groups as community service projects.
After embarking on this project, it was decided that this miniscule project could have international relevance and, hence, in 1968 it was approved as an official program which went by the name Rotaract which is a combination of the words Rotary and action. Soon after approval, the first club was chartered in North Carolina, USA on 13th March, 1968. Years later and the program is still going strong with an international network of over 7000 clubs in over 150 countries.
It was with similar vision as that of Rotary International that in early 1986, Patrick “Paddy” Benjamin and Anthony Michael (deceased) embarked on a similar project to empower the youth of Antigua and Barbuda to participate in the overall development of the nation.
Both men were Rotarians and former presidents of that organisation and so were quite familiar with the Rotaract programme which was geared towards young persons aged 18-30. When the men approached, the then president of the Rotary Club of Antigua, Hamish Watson, he whole heartedly welcomed the idea of such a programme.
The first batch of members came from among employees of Mr. Benjamin as well as a collection of young persons they felt embodied the ideals of Rotaract. Founding members included Charter President, Greg Walter and Charter Vice President Keva Margetson. The club was formed in May of 1986 and the official charter was signed on November 5, 1986 and handed over to the club by the District Governor Representative Earl Johnson, on December 5 of that same year at a special ceremony held at the Cortsland Hotel.
Among the members who have passed through the club, several have served on the District Team, including two members who served as District Rotaract Representative; Karen James who served two consecutive terms from 1994-1996 and Diana Browne who served from 2002-2003. Other members who have served on the District team include Ato Kentish, Chanette Mills, Past Presidents Tricia Lovell, Margo Mason and Marissa Benjamin and current President, Niekesha Lake.
Over the years, the Club has successfully carried out a variety of projects which have significantly contributed to the overall development of our nation and the region.
The annual tag drive, which was started in 2000, has allowed the club to raise significant contributions to aid in disaster relief throughout the District. Within recent years, the Club turned its attention to the issue of literacy by hosting a national Spelling Bee for Grade 5 students which has been quoted as being a success by Ministry officials and Frank B. Armstrong, representatives of Seven Seas Ltd, the official sponsors.
At the beginning of this year, the club collaborated with the Mount St. John Medical Centre for a blood drive entitled ‘Have a Heart Blood Donation’. This event saw members of the Rotaract Club as well as members of the community donating blood to the hospital. During the past two years, the club has been successful in attaining the award for best finance project within the District for the annual Fish Fry and Barbecue which aims to raise proceeds for community development. With projects of this nature, the Club has also clinched the Best Club in District 7030 Award quite a few times including the Rotaract year, 2007-2008.
Apart from working, as is the custom around the district, the Club promotes fellowship and professional development among its members. Members engage in a number of social activities such as movie nights and birthday outings or just chilling after work and professional activities such as finance seminars.
As the club celebrates its 24th year of service, they have planned a week of activities which started with a church service yesterday (Sunday) at the Holy Family Cathedral and culminate with a sunset cruise aboard the Kokomo Cats Catamaran on Saturday, 11th December.
In addition, the club is also inviting interested individuals to become a part of the “Rotaract experience”. If you are between the ages of 18- 30 years and are a young professional who is willing to serve your community through a service organization; Rotaract is the place for you. Rotaract is a gift, a privilege, an opportunity to serve and become a better person.
The Club can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org,
P.O Box 1455 or call 722-5157 or 771-4985.
Meetings are held at Rotary House (Junior Achievement Building opposite Sagicor on Factory Rd) every 1st, 2nd and 3rd Wednesday of each month at 7:30 pm.
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