It all began in 1962, when twenty-three students responded to the vision of Rotary International President Harold T. Thomas to release the potential of young people. With the encouragement of Rotary Clubs around the world, those students from Melbourne High School in Florida, USA, gathered to start the first Interact Club.
Quickly becoming one of Rotary’s fastest growing programs, Interact now has clubs in over 120 different countries and areas, all of which are committed to service, both in the community and beyond. The name “Interact” was created by combining the words “international” and “action,” and as the name suggests, is what it engages in. Interact is a self-governing, self-supporting and non-profit organization open to ages 12 to 18. It is essentially the youth version of the Rotary club, which is also well known for its outstanding service and involvement in our town. Rotarians support Interact in many ways, including financially, and occasionally work with the club.
The Interact Club of Rossland started in 2006, with Deb DeTremaudan as its founder. It started off as a school-based club, but as of last year, with the change of the number of grades at what once was Rossland Secondary, it has become a community-based club.
Our club focuses on both community and international projects. Working on community projects one year, and focusing on an international trip the next, our group functions around this two year rotation. Since our efforts last year were effectively spent on our international trip to Cambodia, this year will see us working locally.
As a club, Rossland Interact has made its mark around the world. In 2008, 2010 and 2012, we worked with an organization in Roatan, Honduras, called Familias Saludables, which means “healthy families” in Spanish. As a non-profit organization offering their services free of charge, their staff is mainly made up of volunteers, both local and international. Interact has worked as some of their international volunteers, and has helped with many projects, all of which are oriented towards helping those affected by HIV/AIDS. Interact has supported them in many ways, doing hands-on work and interacting with those around them. This included working with children and their parents, if possible, individually, to create a scrapbook also known as a life book, which held the most important parts in the child’s life. This was one of the experiences that affected the volunteers most deeply. Interact members got to work and play with the children in classrooms, help with the testing of HIV in both urban and remote communities, and paint and help with the construction of homes for those affected by HIV/AIDS. The work Interact has helped with has also received international recognition and praise. This was when we helped with the creation of an anti-discrimination mural that was the length of a block, in the main city of Coxen Hole, Honduras.
The Rossland Interact Club has also supported the local community by getting involved in many projects. In the past, we have raised money for, and physically worked on, two inner city trails in Rossland with the Trails Society, and we have gathered hundreds of pounds of food for the Rossland Food Bank with our “Halloween for Hunger” campaign. We raised money for a bench outside of the Cellar in downtown Rossland, and have volunteered in the community on many occasions, such as Golden City Days, People Loving People, Rotary events, and helping with the elimination of invasive species. We recently fundraised $5000 for the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees Society to support and sponsor the immigration of a Burmese family to Rossland.
Finally, in June and July of 2014, our group went to Cambodia to help out at schools and orphanages. We will talk more about this trip in our next article.
Interact is a great way to get involved with positive change in both the local and international community, while building great relationships, improving leadership and social skills, and most of all, having fun.
We are already planning events for October, and will be doing Halloween for Hunger again.
This year, we have a great team of executives, with Madelaine Fisher as the Vice-President, Ella Conliffe as the Secretary and Hannah Klemmensen as the Treasurer. Fiona Martin is the teacher sponsor, serving as the adult figure in our group, and I am happy to be working as President this year. This year looks like it will be a great one, and we are always open to new members. Currently, our meetings are held at the Rossland Public Library on Wednesdays at 6:45 p.m.. Please join us if you are ever interested in what we are doing, or wish to get involved.
This is the first of many monthly articles to come. Next month, we will be writing about our international trip to Cambodia which happened this summer, with those who went writing about their experiences first-hand.
For more information email email@example.com.