By Beth Keck, member of the Rotary Club of Bentonville, AR, USA, and member of RI’s Vocational Service Committee
My club does not have a vocational service committee. However, last year when I surveyed my colleagues, it became apparent that the concept of vocational service is deeply integrated into the fabric of our club. My fellow club members knew that through their Rotary affiliation they were using their skills and expertise to do good in our community and the world.
For example, although at the time we did not consciously consider our club’s International Women’s Day event as a vocational service project, it is an example of an application of the concept by my club.
At the 2014 RI International Convention in Sydney, a local Women in Rotary group told my husband and me about their community International Women’s Day program. We realized that while large employers in our area held internal celebrations, students and employees of small- and medium-sized businesses did not have access to such inspiring professional development events. With women making up only 24 percent of our club membership, we were looking for a way to make Rotary more visible to the women in our community. Organizing an International Women’s Day event seemed like a good approach.
Tapping the expertise of our members, and with support from area women leaders and Rotary International Directors Jennifer Jones and Mary Beth Growney-Selene, our club organized its first International Women’s Day professional development event last March. More than 200 students, women and men from our community attended and heard five accomplished women speak about their careers and families.
This year we are hosting our second International Women’s Day event on 9 March and look forward to bringing more inspiring stories of achievement to an even larger audience in our community.
The concept of vocational service is rooted in the second Object of Rotary. Every time my fellow club members and I say or apply the 4-Way Test, we reinforce our aspiration for high ethical standards.
By including men and women in our club from diverse professions and backgrounds, we recognize the worthiness of all useful occupations. Whether it is a lawyer from my club providing pro bono work, a financial adviser helping a low-income family get on a better financial footing, or a club committee organizing an International Women’s Day professional development event, we are using our skills, expertise and occupations to serve society.
January is Rotary’s Vocational Service Month, an ideal time to reflect on how the concept of vocational service is being woven into the fabric of each of our clubs around the world. Post your club’s vocational service project and join the conversation in My Rotary’s discussion groups.