The week of March 8 – 14 is World Rotaract week.  Two years ago, the Council on Legislation voted to elevate Rotaract by including Rotaract clubs as members of Rotary International. 
 
I’ve asked Caitlin Mangiacasale-Ashford, our District Rotaract Representative to talk a bit about her experiences as a Rotaractor:
 
As I reflect on Rotaract in our district this month as I look forward to celebrating World Rotaract Week, there are so many opportunities that we need to work together as a district to accomplish.  
           In our impressive 93 club district, there are only 2 Rotaract clubs.  It is our job to create space for young adults who             are looking for an outlet to change the world.  We need to offer them support, mentorship and room to create their                 own vision of what Rotary looks like to them.
 
It’s the synergy between all levels of clubs that encouraged me to move from Interact, to Rotaract, and now to Rotary.  But without going through each of these vital steps, creating memories along the way, my bond to Rotary would not be as strong as it is now.
 
I often hear feedback from Rotarians along the lines of, “Why can’t they just join my Rotary club?  What’s the point of Rotaract?”  Over my seven years in Rotaract and time serving as District Rotaract Representative, I’ve learned that it is important to make room for young leaders to make their own path.  Rotary International has adapted to allow Rotaractors to do so and it is our job to support and encourage them in a mentorship role without taking over and trying to get them to conform to our ideas of what Rotary is.  
 
This year has been difficult for all of us.  The pandemic has helped us all to realize that we can connect with each other immediately, even in our multi-country district.  Our two Rotaract clubs have adapted well to finding virtual ways to connect in a fun and impactful way through trivia nights, craft nights, virtual games, professional development sessions and more.  They’ve seen collaboration from their local Rotary clubs on mentorship, fundraising and exchanging ideas. However, there can always be more.
 
With only two active Rotaract clubs in our district, many of our Rotary Clubs miss out on an opportunity to connect with these vibrant and innovative young leaders.  I want to encourage everyone to reach out to our two Rotaract clubs, even if you’re not in the same city, and offer to collaborate with them on a joint meeting, project, or fundraiser.  Rotary and Rotaract are partners in change and the more collaborate the faster we can achieve our shared goals.
 
Thank you, Caitlin.  Let’s see Rotaractors for who they really are: Students and young leaders who are successful managers and entrepreneurs, who are capable of organizing and managing and yes, leading.  In many cases they will become our future leaders.  Let’s get to know them and support them.  I believe Rotaract will have a positive impact on Rotary clubs throughout the world.
 
Covid-19 update
 
We just got our second shot last weekend (Moderna with basically no side effects).  Covid-19 seems to be at the top of everyone’s thoughts now that the vaccine is becoming available in the states, and slowly on Vancouver Island.  There were some bumps in the U.S. government rollout, but as soon as they realized they could call on volunteers (directing traffic and helping with the paperwork) things changed quickly.
 
Thanks to former Washington Secretary of State (and Rotarian) Ralph Munro for helping open opportunities for us.  We have been in contact with the health departments, hospitals, volunteer groups and emergency services. 
 
One morning my wife Mary, got a call from emergency services at 8:30 a.m. wanting to know if we could get volunteers by noon that day and more the next day at the Tacoma Dome.  We did!  Over the next two days over 2,400 citizens received their first shot!
 
Rotary clubs throughout Washington have been instrumental in helping county health departments, hospitals and clinics administer the shots.  Thank you, Rotarians for stepping up. 
 
Please realize, even if you have your second shot, you still need to be safe, mask up and keep your distance, until the majority of the population has been vaccinated.  We hope our Rotary friends and families on Vancouver Island get more vaccine soon.
 
Thanks, and I hope to see you at one of your weekly Zoom club meetings soon.