While many service clubs struggle with aging memberships, a new service club in Niagara Falls is bringing new blood and youth enthusiasm to community service.
The Rotary Club of Niagara Falls Sunrise, a long-time service club, has successfully secured a charter for a new satellite Rotary club from Rotary District Governor Anne Bermingham.
Quintin Powell, who made a Rotary exchange trip to Japan in 2014, is the president of the new Rotary Satellite and he said that one of the main goals of the club which is an offshoot of the Sunrise club is to involve the youth in community service.
“Satellite clubs have been a novelty in Rotary in recent years,” he said. “It’s just a bit more flexible with a younger focus and working around our careers.”
At a time when the average age of many service club members is in the 60s and 70s or older, Powell said the Satellite model is aimed at appealing to young people.
“That’s the goal: to bring young people back,” he said. “We achieve this by making it more flexible. It’s not so rigid with things like meeting times.
Powell said he’s wanted to join Rotary since he was an exchange student, but meeting at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday mornings like the Sunrise club does just wasn’t practical for him or other young adults. due to work commitments, he said.
For now, the Satellite Club is having evening meetings every second Wednesday at a local restaurant in Niagara Falls.
Powell said Jennifer Schoenhals, president of the Sunrise club, pitched the idea of a satellite club to him and two other young adults — Carling Wright and Carly Milani — who had attended a Rotary leadership course.
Members of the new club, most under the age of 30, will still be involved in Rotary events like Sunrise’s main fundraiser, Ribfest, Powell said. But Satellite members also chart their own course with events such as a fundraiser to support Rotary causes.
Powell said club members are eager to get to work, supporting causes in Niagara and abroad that range from supporting food drives for the Niagara Falls soup kitchen to eradicating polio in the international scale.
“Service before self is what you think of first with Rotary,” he said.
Schoenhals said a satellite club will hopefully appeal to a younger demographic for whom the Sunrise model — which includes more structured early morning meetings and guest speakers — isn’t necessarily the best choice.
“Young people… think differently,” she said. “They want different things.”
The more flexible satellite model is an “attractive environment” for young adults, she said.
“Youth brings an energy and that makes it exciting and appealing to people,” she said.
Bermingham said the satellite club will focus on environmental protection, youth leadership development, economic development and local and international community service. “We are thrilled to welcome invaluable new Rotarians who are so eager to unite with each other and each other to do good, locally and internationally,” she said. “Volunteers are not paid not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.”
Powell said joining Rotary also provides valuable connections for members.
“You get to know people who know people who know people,” he said. “Personal relationships within the community are one of the most important parts of it. Relationships are very valuable.
“Once you get into Rotary, it casts a very wide net.”
Those interested in possibly joining the new club can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re always looking for new people,” Powell said.
To mark the new Satellite Rotary Club, a tree planting ceremony will be held at Carolyn Park at 6528 Carolyn Ave. Saturday, May 7 from 11 a.m. to noon.
BEHIND THE STORY:
Upon learning that a new satellite Rotary club has been formed in Niagara Falls, This Week looked at how to engage new blood for community service.