Rotaract Club of Kingston - Fellowship through Service

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    Mar 10, 2013
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Rotaract Club of Kingston - Fellowship through Service Photo by Gabrielle Williams

Rotaract is the young professional arm of Rotary International. The Rotaract Club of Kingston (RCOK) is the first chartered club in District 7020. Its sponsoring or 'parent' club is the Rotary Club of Kingston. RCOK was chartered in June 1969, one year after Rotaract was introduced globally. Since then, Rotaract has experienced phenomenal growth throughout the world.  

Currently, out of 529 districts around the world, District 7020 consists of 10 countries speaking three languages with 49 clubs, approximately 500 Rotaractors and counting. These countries include Anguilla, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Maarten/St. Martin, Turks and Caicos and the US Virgin Islands.  

Rotaract clubs worldwide seek to uplift their communities and club members through a focus on community service, including various other social activities. Rotaractors are young persons between the ages of 18 and 30 years, and thereby bring a fresh, exciting and energetic enthusiasm to community service best encompassed by the Rotaract theme, "Fellowship through Service".   

Over the years, RCOK has been able to not only serve in various communities but has developed its members professionally as well. This is so, because as a Rotaract club, one of the arms of service speaks to the personal and professional development of club members and young persons in the communities. As young professionals, they seek to avail themselves and the community around them of opportunities to gain knowledge of life skills that can be useful not only in service to the communities but also in their own personal and professional lives. 

Besides informative newsletters, tid-bits and conducting meetings with various guest speakers that have a big impact in a particular field or in the community, the Professional Service Committee strives each year to host a seminar or workshop. Previous years have seen these seminars focus on Money Management, Personal Grooming and Professional Decorum and Project Management.   

The 2010 Public Speaking Seminar was featured in the 'April 2011' edition of 'the rotarian', Rotary's Magazine. The event held in October 2010 focused on Public Speaking and provided tips on networking, chairing a function and bringing technical presentations to life. For the 2nd year, RCOK partnered with the Rotaract clubs of Liguanea Plains, New Kingston and St. Andrew to coordinate the seminar. This year's seminar will focus on Customer Service and Internet Security on April 6th at the PCJ Auditorium.    

The three main annual Community Service projects of RCOK have been the Inter-Home Spelling Bee (a District 7020 Best Project winner), the Inner City Art Competition and the Health Fair. The club has also helped a variety of homes, schools/centres and other non-profit organisations such as the St. Andrew Home for Girls, National Children's Home, SOS, Dunrobin Basic and Primary School, Franklin Town Primary School, Liberty Academy, Denham Town Golden Age Home, JET and the Grata Foundation with its Red Ribbon Run. Individuals attending inner city schools have been assisted with their CXC registration fees, back to school books and supplies.   

As Jamaica is faced with further economic difficulties, about two years ago, the club could only take on two instead of its three major projects. The projects were chosen based on their degree of necessity or demand in the community. The Health Fair was a project that provided free health care for a day in a particular community. Mountain View, Gordon Town and Maxfield Avenue were some of the communities assisted over the years to name a few. The Fair concentrated on World Aids Day spreading awareness and giving free rapid HIV tests as well as performing general check ups, pap smears, eye tests, diabetes, cholesterol and dental checks. However, the Government has fortunately stepped up in terms of assisting various communities with HIV/AIDS awareness and testing. A host of other organisations have also gotten into the practice of providing health fairs to many communities annually. For this reason, RCOK did not move forward with this project.   

This year, RCOK had to make another project cut. This time a more emotional one, the Inter-Home Spelling Bee that was ongoing for 10 years. The Spelling Bee also included an essay component that was judged before the event. The winners would then read their essays on the day of the Spelling Bee. The fact that it ended on its 10th anniversary at the Knutsford Court Hotel with a visit from the current Minister of Education, Rev. Ronald Thwaites was some consolation. There were over 100 highly competitive participants from about 10 homes and the prizes were the best ever. Highlights were discounted electricity bills for the homes from JPS and donations from NCB foundation. It was also a celebration, where the kids shared a huge 10th anniversary RCOK Spelling Bee cake.  

As a result of major project cuts, RCOK for the current Rotaract year (each Rotaract year begins July 1), has gone 'Back to Basics'. They have expanded on small projects, thus impacting a wider cross section of people. For instance, a Stationery Drive was held to provide back to school supplies to the students of the Randolph Lopez School of Hope. There has been an ongoing Homework Programme with the children at the Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce Community Centre in Waterhouse, who were given gifts and treated for Christmas as well.   

However, the annual Inner-City Art Competition that is normally held in August will be held Sunday, March 17, 2013 at Studio 174, Harbour Street, Kingston at 4pm. This year, untrained artists that live in an inner city community in Kingston between the ages of 18 to 30 years will compete. They will either draw, paint or create sculptures correlating to the theme, 'Living in the Moment Through the Eyes of Time'. The winners will be given the opportunity to attend the Edna Manley College of the Performing Arts or Creative Production and Training Centre. Cash, art supplies and other great prizes will be given too. It promises to be an unforgettable night.  

I have noticed that the media, particularly The Gleaner, Kool 97 FM and Smile Jamaica TVJ have been taking the time to highlight Rotaract and Rotary clubs with their various endeavors. This is a positive outlook for the future of the clubs in terms of getting the good work they do and opportunities they create out to the public.   

Though the club has made numerous efforts to hold fundraisers, sponsorship for projects will always be needed. I encourage all companies and humanitarians to consider not only contributing to RCOK projects but to other Rotaract Clubs and non-profit organizations as well. You would not only be contributing to the club but to causes or people in need in the very community you may live in or near by. In turn, this helps to improve the quality of our country.   

Kudos to RCOK for their continued determination and successful execution of projects to help shape our people and communities to build a better Jamaica.   

- By: Rotaractor Gabrielle Williams

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Facebook page: Rotaract Club of Kingston Twitter page: RCOK; Twitter handle: @KgnRotaractClub

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