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.
Rotary Opens Opportunities
In the seven years that I’ve been a member of the Rotary Club of Watsonville, I have come to love the connections and friendships that are made, both within the Club’s membership and also between the Club and our surrounding community. I also deeply value the service and support that we provide to our local and global community.
Rotary is a tremendous opportunity on so many levels. It’s an opportunity to serve both our local and broader, global community. It’s an opportunity to connect and develop lifelong friendships with fellow members. It’s an opportunity both to develop and strengthen one’s leadership abilities as well as to mentor others in their leadership development.
Rotarians are people of action, and here’s how we put these opportunities into action:
We serve our local and broader global community. Every year, we raise funds through our annual fundraising event and through the Detective fines at our weekly meetings, that go right back into the local community in the form of grants to local nonprofits. In 2019-20, we raised $35,000 that we gave out to 18 local nonprofits through our Community Grants program, to help them accomplish their missions. We also support nonprofits across the globe, from Kenya to Guatemala. In addition, we do weekend service projects that have included maintenance work and painting for local nonprofits, planting trees, wrapping food barrels and packaging food for Second Harvest Food Bank, donating books, cleaning playgrounds, and having a lot of fun in the process.
We connect and develop lifelong friendships with fellow members. The spirit of fellowship in Watsonville Rotary is strong. From our weekly Wednesday meetings, during which we have musical performances, interesting and informative speakers, and fun and fundraising with our weekly club Detective, our weekly meetings are a midweek oasis of community building, knowledge sharing and fun! We also host an Annual BBQ, an Annual Lobster Dinner Fundraiser to support our community through The Rotary Foundation. In short, we enjoy each other’s company and have a lot of fun!
We provide opportunities for leadership development. Watsonville Rotary has a strong focus on service projects that support youth. We sponsor Watsonville High School Interact which is a youth-centered, Rotary-affiliated service and leadership development club. We support the Rotaract Club of Santa Cruz County, a college and young adult service club that meets on the UCSC Campus. We sponsor high school students on year-long and short term cultural and language programs. We have adopted and support E.A. Hall Middle School, Renaissance High School, and New School. We host a Job Shadow experience for about 70 high school students every year where the they are paired with community members who work in fields of interest to the students.
So it’s only fitting that our Rotary International President Holger Knaack’s theme for 2020-21 is Rotary Opens Opportunities, because Rotarians create opportunities that strengthen their leadership, help put service ideas into action, and improve the lives of those in need.
Rotarians have a moral code, and live by the 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? You can deal with a Rotarian with confidence. Our motto, “Service Above Self” drives us to make our communities and the world a better place.
Probably the greatest opportunity Rotary has given me this year is the honor of leading our club, in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, where we’re having to innovate, changing the way we conduct our meetings (via Zoom for now) and conduct our fundraising activities.
Our club meets for an hour and fifteen minutes every Wednesday, during which we share fellowship, network, hear interesting speakers, honor local students, and plan amazing activities that impact our community and the world. Guests declare that our Club is friendly and welcoming. I invite you to visit one of our meetings as my guest so you too can experience the wonderful opportunities that Rotary creates.
Rotary Club of Watsonville President, 2020-21
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.