FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions about what it means to become a Watsonville Rotarian?We have found that many of the questions below are often on the minds of prospective members. Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact our membership chairperson.

How often does your Rotary club meet?

Our club meetings are held at the Elks’ Club at the corner of East Lake Avenue and Martinelli Street in Watsonville California every Wednesday from 12:00 and ends at 1:30 sharp, with some exceptions around key holidays and our annual fundraising events and when we have special “off-site” meetings.

What kind of commitment do I need to make to attend meetings?

Watsonville Rotary service is centered around two expectations of all of its members: the giving of service time and financial resources. Attendance at weekly meetings is highly valued as an indication of your commitment to Rotary service. That said, Watsonville Rotarians lead busy lives, with many family, professional, and community commitments. We recognize that these commitments will rightfully come first in a Rotarian’s life so the ‘making up’ of missed Club meetings is flexible.

The minimum requirement is to maintain a level of at least 60% Rotary attendance, with at least 50% at your own Club; the balance can be ‘make-up’ meetings or club activities. Make-up meetings/activities can be any time two weeks prior or two weeks after the missed meeting. Such flexibility permits you to plan for business trips, vacations, and other occasions where you will not be able to attend your own Club. If you are unable to attend a regular Watsonville Rotary club meeting, you can ‘make up’ at virtually any other Rotary activity including the following:

  • Watsonville Rotary socials, service projects, Board and Committee meetings, and Club Officer tasks.
  • Other Rotary Club meetings, social activities and events, trainings, and conferences, whether in our Area 7, our District 5170, or any other Rotary District, nationally or internationally, even while traveling.
  • Interact Club (high school level Rotary clubs) or Rotoract Club (college level Rotary clubs) meetings, social events, or service projects.
  • Logging on and ‘attending’ a virtual meeting of the Rotary e-Club of Silicon Valley

What kinds of “programs” (i.e. speaker presentations) are offered during our lunch meetings?

We know that a key component to keeping our members engaged and inclined to bring guests and potential new members is to provide consistently high quality speakers, on a wide variety of topics of interest to our members, at our weekly meetings. That is why we put a lot of effort into our program schedule, and we encourage our members to communicate their ideas on good presenters and program topics to our Program Chair. We post the list of our upcoming speakers.

What do we look for in choosing a speaker and/or program topic?

A great rotary program informs and educates, energizes and inspires. The topic can be anything that is of interest to our members, and frequently focuses on local service opportunities and matters of interest to the community we live in, such as current events, service opportunities, local government, and history, but we also schedule a considerable number of speakers that present on international topics including international service and Rotary projects abroad and world events, and also some topics that are purely educational or even just plain entertaining and fun. We always aim to find great presenters who cause our members to want to bring guests (and potential new members!) to enjoy and share in the experience. We encourage our members to communicate their ideas for speakers and programs to our Program Chair.

May I solicit the membership for business and/or promote my business to the membership if I become a member?

While networking has always been one of the most obvious ancillary benefits to membership, the main objective of Rotary membership is service above self. That means that, for example, although our members receive access to a club roster with each member’s personal and business information, members are not allowed to be use it for general business solicitation (i.e. putting everyone’s e-mail into your marketing list or mass mailing list). That being said, while it is not acceptable to use Rotary membership strictly for marketing purposes, as you build relationships with individual members in the club, you will have opportunities to support each other in business relationships. Members are not expected to support Rotary businesses, but it is certainly not uncommon practice to do so, and our club members do business with each other regularly. There are also multiple opportunities to highlight your business throughout the year. For instance, when a new member first joins, it is customary for them to give a short presentation explaining their background and interest in joining Rotary, which gives new members a good opportunity to let members know about your area of expertise. Another example is when a member with expertise in a particular field that is the subject of current interest or relevance to the membership is scheduled as the speaker, providing the club with a weekly program which does not advertise the speaker overtly, but does allow the speaker to showcase her or his expertise in the subject at hand. There are also certainly many opportunities for sponsorships, advertisements and participation in our events as well as supporting this website. Members are encouraged to each out to the event chair for our various events or our Public Relations chair to discuss how you can do this.

Does that mean that networking is frowned upon?

Absolutely not! Rotary was founded on the chance to network between businesses; the Rotary International emblem of a wheel depicts the original intent of “rotating” between members’ businesses to hold the weekly meetings. We encourage our members to network before lunch and to look to one another whenever a service is required.

Is Rotary a religious organization?

No. However, it is common and acceptable to incorporate spiritual practices such as prayers and thoughts at the opening invocation of our club meetings. The club itself is not religious and is non-denominational, but at the same time its members represent the diverse backgrounds of the community we live in, and so it is also a place to embrace all others’ spiritual and religious views in support of one another.

What costs are involved in being a member of your club?

Our club’s annual dues plus weekly lunches are billed quarterly at $252.50, for an annual total of $1,010. Additionally, members are encouraged to buy tickets towards our major fundraisers, International Night (in the Spring) and Mine & Marty Night (usually at the end of Summer) whether or not they attend, and, hopefully, to participate in the fundraisers themselves, and/or to donate to our club’s endowments that serve the education of our local youth or to the Rotary Foundation. However, if financial concerns seem like an obstacle to joining, we really encourage you to learn more about the financial expectations by contacting our membership chairperson.

What types of service opportunities does membership in Watsonville Rotary provide?

Opportunities for service vary widely and there is sure to be something of interest to each member. One avenue of service is club business, such as serving as a member of the board of directors or any of the several committees that helps the board run the club, helping with meetings duties such as set-up and break-down, check-in, scheduling programs, and also ongoing club tasks such as bookkeeping and Treasurer duties, public relations, and attracting and keeping membership. Other club service opportunities include planning and working our social and fundraising events. Members can also engage in community service through our youth scholarship program, our school adoption programs, our Reading Buddies program aimed at helping and encouraging local students to read books, helping with youth mentorship through our local Interact and Rotoract clubs and job-shadowing event, and also many opportunities to roll up your sleeves and work for the community and club, doing neighborhood clean-ups, providing free labor for local not-for-profits (and even cleaning gutters for elderly members of the club and community before the rainy season). Last but not least, members can take advantage many of the international service opportunities through Rotary around the nation and world, pitching in to make the world a better place by focusing on literacy, education, public health, nutrition, alleviation of poverty, peacemaking, and the promotion of equality and human rights.

What are the communication methods within Watsonville Rotary?

  • Rotary International publishes a monthly magazine called “The Rotarian” A subscription is included in your annual dues. District 5170 publishes a monthly newsletter that is circulated electronically.
  • Our Club bulletin, The Pippin, is currently published on a weekly basis and is circulated to the membership via e-mail and posted on this website.
  • This website also features important information such as the club calendar, upcoming speakers and events, and the club roster and contact information via your member login.
  • The Club roster is accessible via your member login.

What is this “fining” thing all about?

As you attend club meetings as a guest, you will no doubt see lively exchanges between the “Detective” for that week and assorted Club members, acknowledging special dates such as member birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Rotary anniversaries, birth of a child or grandchild, new car or home or job and community recognitions in the media, particularly pictures in the print media, and otherwise engaging in lighthearted ribbing of the membership, ending with the Detective assessing a “fine” to a member.

These “ “fines” are always good-natured, and are never intended to embarrass or place a financial hardship on the member. Specifically, fines can never exceed $10 per member per meeting (unless arranged otherwise between the Detective and member in advance). The fines that are generated by the Detective serve three critical purposes

  • Celebrate member special events with the Club
  • Inject some energy and fun during the Club meeting
  • Most importantly, raise funds for our annual Youth Scholarship program, which typically gives scholarships of around 8-12 local high school students of $1,000 each (for a total club contribution to local youth of between $8,000 to $10,000 total per year!), in order for our local students to attend post-secondary academic or vocational institutions.