Who We Are
We are neighbors, friends and community leaders who come together to create positive, lasting change in our communities and around the world. Our differing occupations, cultures and countries give us a unique perspective. Our shared passion for service helps us accomplish the remarkable.
I joined the Watsonville Rotary in 2015 after a career as an educator in the Pájaro Valley Unified School District. I joined because I wanted to maintain my connection and continue to serve this community. I have found that our club offers great opportunities to contribute and serve both locally and throughout the world. I have been able to meet new friends, and enjoy our fellowship at our weekly meetings. I have been able to see that the work our club does and the contributions we make have a positive and beneficial impact on the people of Watsonville.
The motto of Rotary is “service above self” and is manifested in the work and activities of the club. Some examples:
- In 2021 through our “Claws for a Cause” lobster dinner fundraiser we raised over $30,000. We used this money to provide six grants of $5,000 each to worthy local non-profit organizations that are doing important work in the Watsonville area.
- At our weekly Rotary meetings, we recognize and celebrate students from EA Hall Middle School, New School and Renaissance High School who have distinguished themselves and contributed to their school communities.
- We are supporting the work of a local non-profit organization, Limitless Horizons, that has been supporting young women to receive an education in Chajul, Guatemala, and their work to build a new school.
- We organize service projects where members address needs in our community. We have planted trees, packed food at Second Harvest, mucked out animal pens, removed non-native plants from the Watsonville Slough, worked with the Pájaro Valley Sports Foundation to install beautiful new soccer fields at Freedom Elementary School, to name but a few of our projects. We work hard, make a positive contribution and have fun together!
- Rotarians are expected to attend a weekly meeting which I also look forward to. We sing a patriotic song and our very own Welcome Song, enjoy a catered lunch, are entertained by the Detective who fines members for humorous transgressions, and learn something new in our weekly program that features speakers from a variety of organizations and businesses. We get to experience a wonderful spirit of fellowship, learn together and enjoy our company together, each week!
This year I have the honor to serve as president of the Rotary Club of Watsonville. It is a special year in the 117 year history of Rotary International because for the first time our new president, Ms. Jennifer Jones from Canada, is a woman. She is asking Rotarians to focus, or in her words, to “Imagine Rotary”, in terms of four presidential initiatives: 1) advancing our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI); 2) creating a welcoming club experience; 3) empowering girls; and 4) expanding our reach. This year, the Watsonville Rotary will embrace these initiatives to extend and enhance our work we do in our community, guided as always by the Rotary Four-Way Test:
- Is it the Truth?
- Is it Fair to all concerned?
- Will it build Goodwill & Better Friendships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Please consider joining us! Our club meets from 12:15pm to 1:30pm every Wednesday, during which we share fellowship, network, learn from interesting speakers, honor local students, and plan amazing activities that impact our community and the world. Our club welcomes you! I invite you to visit one of our meetings as my guest so you can Imagine Rotary and the great work we can do together.
Michael G. Jones
Rotary Club of Watsonville President, 2022-23
What Makes Us Different
Our distinct point of view and approach gives us unique advantages. Our multidisciplinary perspective helps us see challenges in unique ways. We apply leadership and expertise to social issues and find unique solutions. Our passion and perseverance create lasting change. We make a difference at home and around the world.
How Do We Work
Our impact starts with our members, people who work tirelessly with their clubs to solve some of our community’s toughest challenges. Their efforts are supported by Rotary International, our member association and the Rotary Foundation, which turns generous donations into grants that fund the work of our members and partners around the world. Watsonville Rotary is led by our members, responsible leaders who help to carry forward our generation’s mission and values in their elected roles.
The Watsonville Rotary Club was founded on May 21, 1927, the same day that Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris. A small article on the front page of the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian newspaper covered the first meeting with huge headlines above the article about Lindbergh’s feat. The club has an average of 70-80 members with our most veteran member having joined the club in 1947. We have always been an active club in the community and around the world. Our Rotarians have provided funding and sent members to Peru and Guatemala over the last 20 years to work on a variety of projects including literacy, health education, medical support and water sanitation. We provide support for local schools including financial support, student college scholarships, equipment and enrichment activities. We have an annual grant program for local non-profits that serve Watsonville youth through an annual grant program We host a Job Shadowing Day for 80 students from Watsonville High where our members and other professionals provide quality career “hosting” for the students. We sponsor foreign exchange students through the Rotary Exchange program. We sponsor an annual speech contest and recognize student achievement at local partner schools at our weekly meetings. Our weekly Speakers engage the membership and guests with information about local, national and international issues.
Youth Involvement In Rotary
INTERACT meets at Watsonville High School during lunch every Wednesday in room 403 (Ms Shellman’s class.) Interact is an international organization of service that fosters leadership and responsible citizenship, and promotes international understanding and peace. Interact is a club for youth ages 12-18 who want to connect with others in their community or school. Interact club members have fun while carrying out service projects and learning about the world. The name “Interact” was created by combining the words “international” and “action.” Interact clubs are sponsored by Rotary clubs and Interact clubs organize at least two service projects a year: one that benefits their community and one that encourages international understanding. While Interact clubs receive guidance from individual Rotary clubs, they govern and support themselves and are included in Rotary International’s “Youth Services” Avenue of Service.
ROTARACT meets most Wednesday evenings 8:00 pm in the Amah Matsun Conference Room above the Baytree Bookstore on the UCSC campus. UCSC Rotaract annually invites 20 high school Interactors to the UCSC campus to tour the university and to attend workshops about applying for college and campus life.