Rotary Youth Service Month
Fred Jones, Rotary Club of Winter Park, District 6980 Youth, Services Chair, 2019-2020.
Don Harris, Rotary Club of Lake Mary, Youth Services Chair, 2020-2021
Q: What is one of the best things Rotary does?
A: Youth Services!
May is Rotary’s Youth Service Month! Throughout the month, Rotary members and younger members of the Rotary family, including Rotaractors, Interactors, and RYLA and Rotary Youth Exchange participants, celebrate the service, leadership development, connections, and FUN of Rotary’s programs for young leaders.
Rotary clubs channel their commitment to service at home and abroad through five Avenues of Service, which are the foundation of club activity. Youth Service, one of the five, recognizes the importance of empowering youth through leadership development programs.
In addition to reviewing our youth services programs we want to stress three main initiatives for the Rotary Year 2020-2021.
Our District Youth Services is a 501c3 Charitable Foundation
Our District had the foresight and vision in 2010 to establish a non-profit entity for youth services. We have recently changed the name to align with Rotary International guidelines and to incorporate the word “Foundation” into the name to help more accurately describe the structure of our organization. Our Youth Services is now “Rotary District 6980 Youth Services Foundation, Inc.” and the letter with the Amended and Restated Articles has been filed with Florida Dept. of State, Division of Corporations.
We will be emphasizing the Foundation this year and letting our clubs and Rotarians know that this is a wonderful choice to include in their charitable giving.
We will be working to help Youth Services become more self-sustaining via fund-raisers and charitable giving in addition to the present support provided by fees, Rotarians, Clubs, and the District.
We also want to increase the number of volunteers working with our youth. After you have a chance to learn more about our programs let us know where you would like to get connected with youth services!
What Youth Services does our district offer?
INTERACT Rotary Youth Leadership Academy (RYLA)
Rotary Youth Exchange Rotaract
Rotary Youth Exchange is one of many youth leadership development programs offered by Rotary.
For our high school exchange students, the opportunity to live with one or more Rotarian families in a foreign country is a powerful way to gain global understanding and promote peace. Through Youth Exchange, students learn a new language, discover different cultures and customs, and make friendships that last a lifetime.
The objectives of the Rotary Youth Exchange program include:
• Instilling international understanding and goodwill in students
• Creating positive change by empowering youth
• Making lasting connections for host clubs, host families, communities, and the students involved
The current global pandemic has had a serious impact on everyone around the world. The need for positive Youth Programs and mentoring is still as great as it ever was. Rotarians around the globe are trying to find ways to continue their work while keeping themselves and the students in the programs safe and healthy.
One of the challenges we faced this year was that our students that were already in the exchange program had to get back to their home countries earlier than planned amid travel restrictions. We started the year with 22 inbound students and 18 outbound students representing 17 countries. We presently have 8 inbound and outbound still on the exchange all of whom by early June should be back in their home countries.
We have recently received guidance for the Youth Exchange program for next year.
There will not be a traditional long-term exchange for our Rotary year 2020-2021. The RYE Committee is supporting a potential ½ year exchange beginning in January for our students. We have 7 outbound and 6 inbound signed up for 2020-2021. They may have the option to participate in the ½ year program if it comes to fruition or they will be able to withdraw with a full refund, or to participate in the 2021-2022 long term program. There are still some logistics to be resolved for the ½ year program, but we are optimistic. More details to follow.
Our Short-Term Youth Exchange program, STEP (also known as the summer program) is proceeding on a virtual basis with great enthusiasm from our participants. Our youth can still participate. We are accepting applications until May 15 for this program.
We need more volunteers involved with our youth exchange. We have a vibrant and very active RYE committee, but we need volunteers ranging from committee members to Youth Exchange Officers. We especially need help replacing two key positions. Lania Crouch has a new career opportunity and is retiring from her position as RYE District Chair after nearly 8 years of wonderful service to our youth, our clubs, and our District. We also need a RYE Inbound coordinator to help with the 6-7 inbound youth that will hopefully join us in our district next year. Sandra Prieto has been outstanding in this role for us but needs to pass on the reins. Please wish both Lania and Sandra well and we look forward to seeing them both at Rotary and Rotary events in the future. Please reach out to Don Harris to discuss either role.
WHAT IS INTERACT?
Interact is a service club for high school youth who want to connect with other young people and have fun while serving their communities and learning about the world. Clubs, which meet at their school or other local facilities are sponsored by local Rotary clubs.
Our District Clubs supports 29 Interact Clubs. Traditionally we have our Interact conference in November. That may be delayed. Please make sure that your club is staying engaged with your interact Clubs as they are finishing their 2019-2020 school year and planning their 2020-2021 school year.
Please reference the four ways to celebrate Youth Services month at the end of this article as some ways to stay engaged.
Rotary Youth Exchange - Elena’s Long Trip Home
“Rotary Connects the World”