On January 9, UWT’s Rotaract Club held a charter signing which recognized the acceptance of the university’s organization by their sponsor, Tacoma’s Rotary 8 and Rotary International. The signing was attended by Chancellor Debra Friedman and Rotary District 5020 governor Judy Byron, as well as 30 business leaders from the community.
“It was very symbolic for me to have all of those people put together,” said John Heller, president of the Rotaract Club, “It demonstrated the commitment the community has for the college.
Heller founded the Rotaract Club in 2012 after attending a Rotary meeting in Tacoma, and deciding the campus needed such an organization. Rotaract, which stands for Rotary in Action, is the Rotary branch composed mainly of college students and young people, and there are thousands of similar clubs around the world.
The charter signing connected UWT’s club to millions of other Rotarians around the world, as Rotary is the world’s second largest organization, active in more countries than the United Nations.
“I found that most students would like to volunteer more,” said Heller. “The goal is to create more opportunities.”
Since its beginnings a year ago, when members were mostly from the Business School, the club has almost quadrupled in size, having reached its goal of branching out to include members from every major, as the experience gained through Rotaract is beneficial for any career path.
“I was stunned by how much work is done by students in every nook and cranny of the community,” said Friedman during the signing.
Monthly, the club packs food for the Emergency Food Network, which is then distributed to local food banks. During their last trip, the club members packed over 10,000 pound of dried beans. Since their founding, the club has also collected food for Tacoma Rescue Mission, and organized two blood drives.
“We are constantly looking for new opportunities,” said Heller.
The club is hosting another blood drive this month, and is planning several other outreach endeavors into the community. Currently they are planning to help organize a World Vision warehouse, packaging items to send to members of low income churches. They are also working toward assisting in a trail cleanup with Puget Sound Creek Restoration, and their next fundraiser will help contribute to Rotary International’s goal of eradicating polio.
“I am looking forward to seeing what we can do over the next few years,” said Heller.
Whatever project the club takes on next, they will prioritize acting on Rotary’s “four way test”: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better friendships? And finally, will it be beneficial to all concerned?