As Rotarians we are in a prime spot to be mentors to the next generation of Rotarians. The fifth Avenue of Service, New Generations, gives us the opportunity to pass on our love for our Vocation and our passion for Service. It also allows us to express to the younger generation our belief in ethics which we know as our 4-Way Test. I specifically want to comment on mentoring in three areas: our Millennial Generation in our own clubs, our Rotaract clubs, and our Interact clubs.
First, we need to begin looking for Millennial Generation members to join our Rotary clubs. The Millennial Generation is the cohort group born between 1980-2000. The oldest of the Millennial Generation just turned 30 last year. The hallmarks of this generation are service, friendship, diversity, and the desire to be mentored. This Millennial Generation is a perfect fit to become Rotarians. There are 75 million Millennials just waiting for us to ask them to join us. The key, however, is to ask them in groups of two, three, or four. They like to do things with their friends.
When you get three of them to join your club, it is like throwing a pebble into the water. The ripple effect will be far reaching, not only in membership that will grow your club exponentially, but also, in new, creative, innovative ideas about how Rotary can thrive in the coming years. Look for them in your neighborhood, in your church, in your children’s school, in your gym or YMCA, and in other community organizations to which you belong. They are there and they have a heart of service.
Second, our Rotaract groups are so full of energy and they want to be part of what we are doing. They actually energize your club when you partner with them to do a service project. Sure, they have their own service projects, plenty of them. They also want to be asked to join us, not only in our service, but also in our training such as PETS and Club Retreat, in our fun such as our fund raising efforts and our parties, and in our fellowship such as our Rotary Reunion and the Foundation Banquet. They want to be part of what we are doing. By partnering with them, we get the opportunity to mentor them in our vocations, our service attitude, and our ethics. So take every opportunity to invite your Rotaract Club to be part of what your club does.
If you do not have a Rotaract club (ages 18-30) in your community, think about starting one. In 2006, I invited 10 young people in my community to my house one Sunday afternoon for a BBQ and the result was the formation of a Rotaract club. I am so proud of how those young people, many of whom are Rotarians today, took the challenge and started a club. Within seven months they had twenty-five members to charter their club. Today they have over fifty members. Start a Rotaract club. The youth of your community will appreciate it and you will have members who will want to join your club in the future.
Third, Interact students are the group ages 12-18. What I know specifically about ages 12-14 is that at those early years of adolescence, they are just starting to form their identity of who they want to be. If we can mentor them at that age about vocations, service, and ethics, these areas provide a foundation for them on which to build their identity, not only, in their adolescent years, but also, in the future. These students are the next generation of Rotarians. Nurture them well. I encourage clubs in every community to start an Interact club with the help of a popular teacher who will support your efforts.
Any time you have the opportunity to mentor someone, not only the younger generation, but also friends and colleagues, talk about your passion for service, your love of your vocation, and your ethical standards which we know as our 4-Way Test. In this way, Rotary won’t just be a club you go to have a meal once a week, but it will be a passion that energizes you. Choose to be a Rotarian every day of your life by mentoring and make a difference in the world.