Interact is the Rotary International program for high school students ages 12-18. I

 

Interact clubs bring together young people ages 12-18 to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of Service Above Self. 

 

The Rotary Club of East Jefferson County sponsors the Chimacum High School Interact Club, which is a separate entity with its own leadership, members and funds.  Adult Rotarians provide mentorship and support for the Interact Club members.  

 

Starting out in October...

Starting out in October, the Interact Club accomplished Halloween Safety talks with the Chimacum Primary and Elementary schools. The Interact students go to each classroom to give a safety speech, interact with the younger students and give them a decorated bag they can use for trick or treating. The students coordinate with the schools weeks in advance to set up a time that is good for all- not an easy task! 

 

Next up was pumpkin painting with residents at San Juan Villa dementia care center. Students ask for Port Hadlock QFC to donate around 10 pumpkins that we bring to paint with the residents. We have different colors of paints, stickers, markers and a variety of other supplies to choose from. We spend about an hour at the facility. It’s not really how the pumpkins look, but how the Interact students interact with the people they are partnered with. The Interact students ask questions, talk, listen and smile a lot, and enjoy meeting and working with the residents.  

 

The next service project is Thanksgiving set up. A few students help set up for the community meal held on Thanksgiving. They set tables, fold napkins and help with whatever else is needed. 

 

The annual Art and Crafts fair held at Chimacum school is in December is always a major event. We set up for the 2 day event for pictures with Santa. This is our biggest and most time consuming event of the year. Months of prep work go into this. This year’s Santa's were Chuck Boggs and Tim Jablonski from the East Jefferson Rotary Club. $7 is the cost of a photo (printed out right away) and put into a card. We also give options such as extra prints and emailing the photo. The funds raised vary a bit year to year but the last several years the money has gone to Heifer International ( helps lift families out of poverty) , Polio Plus ( through The East Jefferson Rotary Club, and what we call ‘computers for Thailand’. 

 

Computers for Thailand got started many years ago by Bob and Penn Rosen, booth members of the East Jefferson Rotary Club at the time. It began when the club secured a Rotary Global Grant to support a village in Thailand with computer equipment and expertise. Penn, a Thai native, helped to facilitate the grant. While the global grant has been completed, the program blossomed into supporting first one school and then several schools with computer equipment. 

 

A brief description by Club member Linda Kostenbader on how this started.' The story began about 2004 when Bob & Pen Rosen were Rotarians and members of the Rotary Club of East Jefferson County. Bob volunteered to help me with the Interact Club. He and Penn, a Thai citizen, were providing uniforms (the students needed uniforms for their education beyond 3rd grade) & money for milk for the school in Thailand that Pen had attended in her youth...they talked to the Interactors about helping the children...and it was decided that the Interact Club members would raise funds by selling photos at the Santa Booth to buy computers to help the Thai students in their education...we even set up pen pals. Close communication was set up the school principal & students.  With this beginning, the Rotary Club became involved in setting up a water system for the school. Thai officials were made aware of this involvement by Rotarians and the Interact Club; it became the premier example for helping the schools. Other schools in Thailand benefited from this simple beginning."  Last year the monies were used for cement, bricks and tables for outdoor use. 

 

In December the Interactors also went caroling at San Juan Villa and the Lifecare Center in Port Townsend. For this we invited some of the CHS choir students, and of course, we all wore Santa hats for the occasion. 

 

In January Interactor students helped out at the Irondale Church on a Tuesday afternoon for 2 hours during the weekly soup offering. Many members of the community depend on this weekly meal. The church is always looking for volunteers to help cook, bake, serve and clean. 

 

February brought us back to San Juan Villa for Valentine card making with the residents. The staff at this establishment truly love the CHS Interact club and have publicly thanked them in the local newspaper and have sent cards of appreciation stating how much they enjoy seeing us interacting with the residents and engaging them with crafts. 

 

Interactors also helped the Rotary Club’s February fundraiser pancake feed at the South Bay club in Port Ludlow where we were raising funds to support a grant the Club is developing to help a community in the African country of Togo build composting toilets.

 

Sadly the next thing that was on our line-up was the much-anticipated Rotary Youth Leadership Awards at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, a four day leadership training camp to be attended by 3 students. Covid-19 appeared and caused RYLA’s cancellation when the state was locked down. So many cancellations! School, gatherings, the annual carwash in April - everything. 

 

The car wash was a big loss to us. This has been an ongoing (9 + years) event to raise money to purchase a ShelterBox. The Interact students goal is to raise $1000 in 1 day with car washes, selling baked goods and donations. They have succeeded year after year. ShelterBox provides emergency shelter for families around the world who have been displaced by disaster or conflict. 

 

We are hoping to maintain momentum through our weekly video chats and doing our best to involve Interact students in the Rotary Club’s community activities as Washington State reopens as the pandemic recedes, but face-to-face Interact activities will have to wait until the 2020-2021 academic year is resolved. l