Rotaract MKE 2014-2015 Year in Review
- Written by Janine Kolbeck
First off, thank you for the privilege to serve as club president for Rotaract Milwaukee this past year! I, with an amazingly committed board, started off the year with enthusiasm and a big task ahead- membership growth. The task is not over, but I am so proud of the work our team has done. We hit our goal! A few people put in a lot of time for the benefit of the club as a whole.
A major priority for the 2014-2015 year? Increase membership. Thanks to the hard work of our board, we set and reached an ambitious goal for new member recruitment. Here are some of the new member inductions from the past year.
At the beginning of the year, in our efforts to refocus, we provided programs, events, and partnerships that centered on our ideals since inception: Community, Culture, Career. Every month we had an opportunity to step outside our daily lives and look deeper into the communities we live in. We took pause to contemplate the lives of those different from us, those who grew up surrounded by violence and corruption, and those without the basic necessities of food or shelter. It was an amazing experience adding to the joy and wonder of the KAPCO Kids 2 Kids Toy Drive and hosting an ice cream party for the families at Hebron House. Whether volunteering at a food drive or adult literacy fundraiser, our members took time to give back to our local community. Our goal is not only to serve but be active, engaged members in our communities.
Rotaract volunteers as a group at least once per month. Over the past year, we volunteered with a wide variety of organizations throughout the Milwaukee area. Some of the highlights are clockwise from top left: Kapco Holiday Toy Drive (December 2014), Hebron House Ice Cream Social (January 2015), Hunger Task Force Food Sort (September 2014), Brown Street Academy End of Year Carnival (May 2015), Holiday Folk Fair (November 2014), Milwaukee Public Schools Reading Extravaganza (February 2015), Joe's Run for Broadscope Disability Services (September 2014).
One amazing facet of the Rotary organization is the trust clubs have based on our shared ideals (hint hint: the 4-way test) that spans the world. Being part of an international organization, makes us part of something larger. Cultures vary across the world, which we can forget in our daily routines. This global mindset is one we worked to bring into focus within our awesome, Midwestern town, starting with our own membership. We engaged with culturally different clubs, organizations and individuals both locally and abroad. The strides we have made this past year are the building blocks for lasting relationships in other countries, be it through Rotary Youth Exchange or with efforts in Guatemala. Next year we need to keep the momentum moving to strengthen and solidify these initiatives. Get excited!
Meeting with the Rotaract Club of Majadas during our March trip to Guatemala. We are looking forward to partnering with the Majadas Rotaract group on service projects this upcoming year!
Marissa Jablonski spoke to our group in May. Marissa, an environmental engineer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, works with Engineers Without Borders to build water systems in Guatemala. We're looking forward to getting more involved in Marissa's work in the upcoming year!
It’s been said that young professionals are the leaders of tomorrow. I contend that leadership takes many forms, phases, and expressions. Leaders lead; yesterday, today and tomorrow. WE lead. Rotaract is a place to identify, embrace, and strengthen our leadership skills. As a board, we cultivated programs that enriched not only our communities but our members as leaders in our respective careers. Building open communication with the Rotary Club of Milwaukee (RCM) offers a resource for our members to gain insight from those with knowledge and experience we haven’t yet had access to. Take advantage of it!
We have significantly built our relationship with our sponsor the Rotary Club of Milwaukee over the past year. In March, we partnered with Rotary to host a talk at the Milwaukee Public Library Rare Books Room. Rotaractors have become regular fixtures at Rotary's lunch meetings and networking hours.
We were thrilled to receive a District Presidential Citation for our work over the 2014-2015 year. Rotary District 6270 Area Governor Joseph Caruso presented the citation to Janine in June!
This board year was a story of inspiring effort and growth. Through the work, both of our membership and those of our sponsor club, we have created an atmosphere of interest, welcome, and service. I know that next year’s board, led by our esteemed Laura Kissee, will continue these efforts. I encourage every member to think about what you’d like to see of us this next year. Rotary International President Ravidran’s presidential theme is to Be a Gift to the World. How would you like to use Rotaract to fulfill that tremendous sentiment?
Rotary's new theme: Be a gift to the world!