Vocational Service: nurturing more responsible, sustainable, prosperous communities

Members of the Rotary Club of La Porte, Texas, USA, perform household repairs.

By Ellina Kushnir, Service and Engagement Manager at Rotary International  

Vocational service, embedded in our history and guiding our future, is the foundational cornerstone of Rotary. As Rotarians and Rotaractors, we hold a dual responsibility: represent our occupations within our club and exemplify the ideals of Rotary in our professional work and workplaces.

Vocational service guides us to hold ourselves and each other to high ethical standards in our professional lives and in our personal lives, to recognize the value of all occupations, to bring our ideals of doing good in the world to our professional lives, and to lend our professional skills to in service to our communities.

During January, Vocational Service Month at Rotary, we reflect on how our professional lives and skills complement and enhance our service to communities:

  • The Rotary Club of Asaba Metropolitan in Nigeria hosts an annual microcredit project offering interest-free microloans to select female entrepreneurs in the Asaba region of the Delta State. In 2022, 19 women with farming and trading businesses received microloans. Since the projects’ inception three years ago, participating women have been able to start or grow their businesses and make a better living for their families.
  • Rotary members in Turkey and Belgium are preparing a vocational Rotary Friendship Exchange in 2023 for a group of five young professionals to learn about the tourism industry in both countries. Participants will be home-hosted by Rotary members and will be reciprocated with both countries taking turns hosting visitors and arranging educational opportunities in the tourism and hospitality sector.
  • The Rotary Club of Nagpur Vision, India, hosted a workshop on marketing techniques for aspiring entrepreneurs in the beauty and design sectors. 40 select participants join the workshop for lectures, coaching, and support to help grow their businesses through improved marketing strategies.

Here are five ideas to help you blend your professional skills and service work through Rotary:

  1. Work with your club to create a recognition program for socially consciousness, responsible businesses in your community. Establish rigorous criteria for considering businesses and award visible recognition to one, or multiple, select establishments that meet your established standards.
  2. Host a friendly debate or interactive workshop about hypothetical ethical dilemmas that your club or community may face. Work through possible outcomes and create expectations and processes for how dilemmas will be handled when they arise. View past ethical dilemma discussions for inspiration and come up with ones that are relevant to your club and community.
  3. Join the Rotary Means Business Fellowship to learn about and support fellow Rotary members’ businesses and to share about your own.
  4. Explore how your profession is practiced in another country and share how yours is practiced in your community by participating in a vocationally oriented Rotary Friendship Exchange. Contact your district Rotary Friendship Exchange committee to get involved. 
  5. Lend your skills as a mentor to fellow clubs planning service projects in your area of specialization. Contact your district international service committee to join your district’s Resource Network and mentor clubs locally, contact a Rotary Action Group to offer your expertise internationally, or consider lending your skills through the TRF Cadre of Technical Advisers.

The Vocational Service in Action handbook provides additional ideas and resources to incorporate these ideals into your professional life and service activities. Already taking action? Leave a comment to share how your club is celebrating vocational service.

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