Members of The Rotary Clubs of The Villages are setting an example for the rest of the world to follow.
With younger generations losing interest in Rotarian ways, the local groups are working together to appeal to a new wave of helpers.
“We have been going to high schools throughout the surrounding areas to get students involved in a variety of activities,” said Gay Ratcliff-Seamens, former president of the Evening Rotary Club of The Villages and a Village of Belle Aire resident. “Our goal is to get them involved in community service projects so they can help make their community a better place because we will eventually be leaving it to them in the future.”
Data from international rotary annual reports show that Rotary membership is falling around 0.5% each year. Meanwhile, membership in the three Rotary Clubs of The Villages seems to be increasing each year due to efforts by club presidents. As the clubs continue to work with the younger generations, they hope to be able to get more people involved and eventually increase their numbers at the international level.
“The younger generation is the future,” said Sean Donnelly, former president of the Rotary Club of The Villages and a Village of St. Catherine resident. “Everything we do, is to serve our community. If we get more people involved, we can do more at a local, state, country and international standpoint.”
The Rotary Club began in February 1905 when Paul Harris, a Chicago attorney, formed the first club. He created the club so professionals with diverse backgrounds could come together to exchange ideas and form lifelong, meaningful friendships, according to the Rotary International website.
“As a Rotarian, we have a common goal of creating a better world while improving lives and building international relationships,” said Randy Bayliss, the former president of the Noon Rotary Club of The Villages. “We work together to fight diseases like polio. We try to help provide clean water and sanitation to Third World countries, and we work with local students to support education and grow our community.”