Although there are 1.4 million Rotary and Rotaract members across the world from different cultures and backgrounds, they all have one thing in common: They are people of action focused on finding solutions to make their community and communities around the world a better place.
In the century since it was founded, Rotary has expanded worldwide to 200 countries and now has more than 60 Rotary and Rotaract clubs in the Greater Houston area, which focus on a variety of issues from growing the local economy, to helping those in need, to supporting education programs and preventing disease.
“The biggest thing is service above self—it’s something we all believe,” said Mindi Snyder, District 5890 Governor-elect and member of the Rotary Club of El Campo. “Rotary clubs offer opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others while growing professionally and personally. If you’re looking to meet new people and give back to your community, Rotary is a great place to start.”
Snyder first joined a Rotary club in 1995 and has been involved with various projects over the years, including immunization drives, providing books to local elementary school students, turning an old retail store into a civic center, and donating money to the local Little League chapter.
There are multiple ways to get involved with Rotary, ranging from joining a Rotary or Rotaract club, helping on a volunteer project, or participating in Rotary programs—all of which allow participants to make an impact in communities near and far.
Additionally, there will be another opportunity to learn from and be inspired by Rotary members in Houston in 2022: The Rotary International Convention will be held from June 4-8 in the Bayou City, bringing more than 20,000 service-minded people from around the world to Houston to share information, learn from notable experts, gain inspiration from world-class speakers, and connect with a global network of volunteers.
As for the service projects themselves, each individual Rotary and Rotaract club selects those that best meet the needs of the community. Some clubs choose to focus on local service projects while others may branch out internationally, like the Rotary e-Club of Houston, which meets virtually and is composed of members from across the globe.
“What I like about Rotary is that there’s no image of what a Rotary member should look like or be like,” said Dr. Isis Mejias, president of the Rotary e-Club of Houston. “You can come with a diverse background of experiences or cultures and find an avenue to do good around the world.”
Mejias first became involved with Rotary while in college through a scholarship that allowed her to travel to Brazil where she worked on a water treatment project to remove bacteria from a polluted river. She joined Rotary when she returned in 2014 and has since continued working through the Rotary e-Club of Houston chapter on efforts to provide clean water in her home country of Venezuela. One of the most critical challenges in Venezuela right now is hunger and malnutrition, which cannot be solved without the reduction of infectious diseases and access to clean water, Mejias said.
“We started working with a local organization to supply medical and lab equipment to diagnose infectious disease in vulnerable populations there,” she said. “The hunger problem is tied with the disease burden and water and sanitation services, so even though the project, in theory, started as a water project, it ended up being multidisciplinary and an approach to a much larger problem. I believe Rotary is the only organization in the world where you can find this diverse pool of people to solve complex problems.”
For Mejias, the best part about serving as a Rotary member is the ability to connect with so many people to do good around the world, especially those with various cultural backgrounds and a diverse set of experiences.
“[Rotary] is the largest network of people who are committed to planting seeds for the future to ensure people in our society can grow healthier and happier lives,” she said. “When we have the right purpose, everything comes together. If people want an avenue to do that, Rotary is the best organization.”
Rotary provides the opportunity for people to take action and give back to their community—creating lasting change in Houston and around the world. Learn more at RotaryinHouston.org.
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