Why We Serve

Rotary International was founded on one basic principle: “Service above self.”

It all started in 1905 as the world’s first volunteer service organization. Now, in 2013, Rotary International has 1.2 million members in more than 34,000 clubs all over the globe. Where Rotarians are able to give time and financial resources towards their respective communities, Rotaract is a little bit different.

Indeed our name means Rotary in action. As Rotaractors, we begin “at the local, grassroots level, with members addressing their communities’ physical and social needs while promoting international understanding and peace through a framework of friendship and service.” But what, really, does it mean “to serve”? Here’s our take:

Michelle Dei, Running Events Chair: You know, today I saw Jim and Ryan from the shelter by the bridge. I sat with them while waiting for the older children. I know for a fact had I not volunteered at the warming shelter this year I wouldn’t have sat down and chatted with them. Helping at the Day by Day Warming Shelter has made me a better person. And, as the older kids started running towards the turn around point, Jim and Ryan started cheering for the kids…

The best thing about volunteering is the awareness it has brought to my life. It has made me appreciate the roof over my head and the shoes on my feet. The selfish side of me is also grateful for our service opportunites because of the friendship they have helped me create.

Michelle Dei, Running Events Chair | Rotaract Oshkosh
Michelle is a runner and organizes charity runs for Rotaract Oshkosh

Joe Mann, Historian: Volunteering is a way of giving back to the community for the many things I have been blessed with. Service is a way of putting community above one’s self. Service is taking time and doing something in hopes that it will make a difference, no matter how small, in someone else’s life. It is a way for me to make this world a better place, one step at a time.

Oshkosh Area Humane Society | Rotaract Oshkosh
(Finally found a picture of Joe, our Historian!) Here he is at the Oshkosh Area Humane Society.

Becky Snyder, Secretary: To me, service has always been something I enjoy doing. There are so many great ways to become involved in every community and there is no better feeling than giving your time, energy, ideas and passion to an organization or group in need. And, there is no better feeling than leaving a day of volunteering feeling like I truly accomplished something, made new friends, learned more about a particular group and was able to use my skills and passions for something truly amazing. I think it’s important to provide service when and wherever possible – use the things you know, want to know, like to do and hope to do to find ways to get involved. It’s fun and it’s always appreciated!

Dan and Becky with Crystal and Virginia at the Christine Ann Center | Rotaract Oshkosh
Dan and Becky Snyder with Rotaract Oshkosh members Crystal and Virginia volunteering at the Christine Ann Center.

Dan Snyder, Treasurer: Service Above Self” is the motto of Rotary International and its affiliates. I, myself, had never been exposed to Rotary when I was asked to help start a Rotaract Club, and thus had never thought about what service really means to me. But in the lasts months we have been helping a variety of organizations, and service has really come to the forefront of my thoughts.

Despite what circumstances you are in, taking part in service projects really shows you the dire straits people are faced with in their lives. We have all had rotten days and hopefully all of us have had someone help pick up the pieces and make us whole again. It is this act that really draws me to continue providing “Service Above Self.”

The feeling that you get knowing you are making a difference in someone else’s life and allowing them to live a life that is that much closer to “normal” is extremely rewarding. This does not even take into account the fact that while making this difference for someone, I am able to spend time with my friends and have a good time giving back to the community. In the end, I would not have been able to tell you what service meant to me six months ago, but my time with Rotaract Oshkosh has really opened my eyes to what I can offer as an individual and the difference I can make in someone else’s life.

Jerry Medina, Vice President: To me, community service gives you a feeling of fulfillment and overall general purpose in life. Getting involved in the community naturally gets you involved with other like-minded individuals who share the same core values and beliefs, regardless of their upbringing or backgrounds. Community service also gives you great life experiences and a feeling of well-roundedness you may not get through you work or school life, or any way else for that matter.

Jerry Medina, Vice President | Rotaract Oshkosh
Jerry, working hard at the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry.

Bethany Lerch, President: There is something very nearly divine about helping others; few other feelings rival it. When you work hard to make a difference in the circumstances of someone else’s life, even if only for an hour, it is tremendously fulfilling. Then to see the good that has come of your actions, and oftentimes the raw joy others experience because of the time and effort you’ve given … well, I know no better life high. Volunteering and serving in my community enriches my soul and I intend to do it for a very long time.

Bethany Lerch, President | Rotaract Oshkosh
Bethany, volunteering as a sidewalker for BEAMING, Inc., a local therapeutic riding organization for children and adults with special needs.

Now onto you: What moves you? Why do you serve?

If you’d like to become more involved in the as a volunteer through Rotaract Oshkosh, come learn more about us at our Tuesday, 30 April, chartering ceremony or our May meeting on Tuesday, 7 May. Both events are at 6 pm at the Algoma Club in Oshkosh. Food and drinks will be provided by Manila Resto. Hope to see you there!

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