Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augie chapter of Rotaract Club invites students to serve the community

Adam Miller

For many students, giving back to Augustana and the community around it is of the utmost importance. However, it seems Augie doesn’t have a lot of groups completely focused on doing community service. Enter Rotaract Club.

Rotaract stands for “rotary in action” and “rotary” is a part that rotates around an axis. How does this relate to the club? 

Rotaract Club at Augustana is a part of a larger community of Rotary Clubs around the world, hence the name, Rotaract. 

The first Rotary Club was founded in 1905 by a man named Paul Harris. It was originally founded so “professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships,” according to the organization’s website. Over time, it has evolved into a humanitarian service.

This goal is also reflected in the new chapter at Augie. 

 Rotaract Club seeks to provide an opportunity for young adults to work within the community, engaging with other local leaders and programs to fix problems within Augustana and the surrounding community. 

Tia Steele, the club’s advisor, said the club will be able to provide personal growth opportunities for students along with service events. 

“The big part of the group is service, but it’s also the professional development and leadership that is also very big,” Steele said. “We want to offer the students who are in this group a lot of opportunities to meet professionals in the community and we’ll probably bring people from the Rotary group to come speak at our meetings and maybe at campus for other people to come as well.”

Junior Neleigh Rush said that the club provides great opportunities to talk to big names in the local Rotary Clubs.

Rush also said one of their main focuses is being mentors to some of the younger Rotary groups around the community, as the group seeks to foster development. 

“Rotary Club has a program where their members will go in and read to elementary students, and I think that’s a great program, but I think having college students do that, I feel like as an elementary student, I would think that that was the coolest thing ever,” Rush said. 

Sophomore and Quad Cities resident Hannah McKoon is greatly invested in this club as well. 

“The reason I got involved with the club is because I was involved in Rotary Club’s high school section, which is called Interact,” McKoon said. “I really enjoyed my time in that, and I got to meet a lot of really awesome people. I like going through the forest with kids and reading books with them. That was some of the stuff we did in high school. It was a lot of fun.” 

McKoon has a deep sense of dedication in this community, and she feels that this club will really help. She has a close bond with the community, and as a local, McKoon is dedicated to making her community shine. 

McKoon noted that many people in the Quad Cities are deeply invested in their community and are trying to help the best they can. She said she would stay and help, even if that meant staying all of her life. McKoon has seen first hand how the QC community has been affected through her experience. 

“Growing up in it, I can definitely see the flaws in the Quad Cities, and I really want to help,” McKoon said. “I feel like people from this area are really kind and I really want to foster that and show people from different parts of the world and country that we are kind and we want to help people.” 

The club seeks to reach across every aisle, doing every possible collaboration with any major or local program they can.  

“We also kind of talked about the idea of doing some sort of STEM program. We have a member who’s in the geology department, and they have rock kits that we can take to elementary schools,” Rush said.

The club is very interested in STEM. There are a lot of opportunities in the club for students to use their interests to choose service events. 

“The students this year are really being able to decide what they want to do, and really, like the sky’s the limit, it’s not one focus,” Steele said. “Every year there can be a different focus for service.” 

This year, Augustana’s club is very focused on fighting against hunger, and Steele said they have hosted a workshop for Augustana students to learn ways to make cheap and healthy meals. 

Steele mentioned that the club’s focus will be more on teaching how to cook nutritious meals on a budget and with things you have in your dorm or apartment. 

Rush said that the club’s future plans and projects work towards combating hunger. One of those events is called Shining a Light on Hunger, which is a part of the Quad Cities festival of trees where businesses will decorate Christmas trees for people to buy, and that money will go to charity. 

“Our district’s Rotary is focused on food, food education [and] stuff like that,” Rush said. “So they’re doing Shining a Light on Hunger, and they’re gonna have the tree be surrounded with canned food that will be donated to whatever charity the buyer chooses.”

Because of the club’s large reach, it is an incredible opportunity for students to get involved and branch out to other leaders and other places. The unique thing about the club is that it is a global community, and you will be welcomed by any club chapter.

“We have a local Rotary group that’s supporting us with professionals from all over the Quad Cities in different areas, and we can go down [to the botanical center] and eat lunch with them at any time,” Steele said. 

You can also join any meeting around the world. Rotary International is a global community of people, so if you go to a different country as a member, you are welcome anywhere there is a club. 

“We’re part of an international group of people who do things all over the world,” Steele said. “As a Rotary member and Rotaract member, you can go to any other Rotaract meeting in the world, or in the country. So if you’re on vacation in Florida and you look up a Rotaract or Rotary meeting you can go in and say, ‘hello, I’m from Augustana Rotaract,’ and they will welcome you, and you can sit in on their meeting.” 

McKoon said Rotary is a unique opportunity that brings people together.

Rush, Steele and McKoon all are excited to see new members come in and make an impact. Steele is looking forward to getting some dedicated members in the future. 

“I think that this club would be great for people to join if they’re looking to do more community service, more community outreach and things that go beyond Augustana’s campus,” Rush said. 

Students will have an opportunity to get involved in the upcoming weeks. For instance, the club will collect cans at the brew the week after Halloween for Shining a Light on Hunger.

The club is available for anyone who wants to join. They are actively searching for members. Anyone interested in joining can reach out to Steele or Rush: [email protected] and [email protected]

“You get to meet a lot of really cool people who have these really cool life experiences and you can talk to them. The Rotarians are amazing,” McKoon said.  “I feel like I am the person I am because of my experiences with this club.”

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