The Rotaract Club of Belfast
Rotaract is a Rotary-sponsored service club for young people aged 18 to 30. Rotaract clubs are usually community-or university-based and are sponsored by a local Rotary club making them true “partners in service” and key members of the Rotary family. Through the Rotaract programme, young adults not only augment their knowledge and skills, but they also address the physical and social needs of their communities while promoting international understanding and peace through a framework of friendship and service.· All Rotaract efforts begin at the local grassroots level and Rotaract clubs have access to many of the resources of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation. As one of the most significant and fastest-growing programmes of Rotary service, with more than 8,000 Rotaract clubs in some 155 countries and geographic areas, Rotaract has become a worldwide phenomenon. Rotaractors also often spearhead the formation of Interact clubs and participate in Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. Rotaractors also can go on to become Ambassadorial Scholars or Group Study Exchange team members.
The Rotaract Club of Belfast is a secular service organization and social club based in Belfast. Its members are primarily composed of undergraduate and postgraduate students at Queen’s University Belfast and young professionals. Founded in the autumn of 2006 it received its Charter on 8th May 2007.
The goals of the Club are to:
- Serve the community of Belfast in any number of community initiatives,
- Partner with the Rotary Club of Belfast as well as any other interested Rotary Clubs in District 1160,
- Facilitate a diverse and open environment that promotes reconciliation, goodwill, mutual understanding and an open mind.
Along the way, Club members or “Rotaractors” enjoy a range of activities, make new friends and of course enjoy the 'craic'.·
Meetings information tba
Belfast Rotaract is a community based Club and, as a result, can boast members from a wide range of disciplines, professions and continents. It has been a great pleasure for our members to see Rotary, Rotaract and Ambassadorial scholars all coming together in common endeavors. Council was pleased to support Rotaract with guidance and seed funding and has committed to provide further funding.
The Club has flourished and under the guidance of the hard working founder member, Laura Garland, Belfast Rotaract has been admitted to the Queen's University Student Union. This guarantees the Club a meeting space within the university, as well as allowing them to advertise throughout university buildings.· The Club was also able to setup a booth at the semi-annual QUB clubs and societies fair, providing an opportunity to share Rotaract with other students. As a result, membership has increased dramatically and a large core group of members has been established.
In its short lifetime the Club has grown in size and reputation and achieved many things. In particular, The Rotaract Club of Belfast hosted the District 1160 Rotaract Council Meeting in Belfast on Sunday 2nd March 2009. To be allowed to host a District meeting so early in the Club’s life is a huge tribute to the Club and the recognition it had already received within District 1160.
In June 2009, Rotaract President Laura Garland was presented by Past District Governor Paul Hutchinson with a Rotary International Presidential Citation, signed by RI President DK Lee, for the Rotaract Club's outstanding efforts to make dreams real for the world's children.
On 21st February 2011 the The Rotary Club of Belfast presented the Rotaract Club with the John A Savage Trophy for 2010. Inaugurated in 2009, the Trophy is awarded by The Rotary Club of Belfast to the individual or group selected as giving great service to the Community.· Presenting the award, President Brian stated he was personally delighted to present this award given his long-standing association with the late John Savage and the Club's connection with the Rotaract Club. The award was collected, on behalf of the Rotaract Club, by Rotaract President Thomas Eisenhart and founder member Laura Garland.
The Rotaractors have been extremely active. Most recently they ran in the team relay in the 2013 Belfast Marathon raising money for a local independent homeless shelter - Homeplus NI - which in recent months has seen a huge influx of residents due to the ill-effects of the economic recession.
They have been the star salesmen in the car ballot for Polio Plus, had a buskfest caroling for the Morning Star Homeless Centre, organised a pub quiz and ran in the Belfast Fun Run for NI Leukemia Research. They have abseiled down the Europa for the Simon Community and, thanks to former USA Ambassadorial Scholar Borjan Zic, have created the latest peace mural! ·
Having been allocated a very uninspiring wall in Glengall St., Borjan designed the mural and it was painted by the following Rotaractors: Donna Swanson (USA Ambassadorial Scholar) Bri Symm, Michael Savage, Matt Birch, Graham Rainey, Wen Zhang, Ketao Feng and PP Laura Garland.
|A total transformation!|
Borjan said: "I am particularly proud of the project the Belfast Rotaract Club carried out at my suggestion. The Club’s Immediate Past President asked for ideas for a community service project that would also serve as an effective public relations promotion for Rotaract and Rotary.· I suggested that we design our own peace and reconciliation mural in downtown Belfast. In this way, I thought we could advance Rotaract’s visibility and values simultaneously.
Moreover, I attended several events at Queen’s which stressed the potential that art and images can have in reinforcing peace in post-conflict societies.· Given that parts of Belfast unfortunately still display many sectarian murals with violent images, I was thus inspired to have Belfast Rotaract make its own contribution to the growing number of reconciliation murals springing up in the city centre.·
Once we agreed to do the project, I contacted members of the Belfast Rotary Club as well as the Belfast City Counci. Thankfully, one of the members of the Club, Brian Rowntree, put me in touch with Jennifer Hawthorne, an official at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, who gladly offered the use of an empty wall across from the main bus station in downtown Belfast. In tandem with other members of the Rotaract Club, I helped conceive a mural design featuring the Rotaract logo in the centre surrounded by four cranes (birds symbolising peace) and the word “peace” written in English and the three languages most commonly spoken by immigrants here (Polish, Chinese, and Spanish). From that point, it was simply a matter of painting the wall. Overall, I am quite happy with the legacy to Belfast I helped provide during my time here.”
A Zip Line involves being raised by a crane to a height of 150 feet and crossing the River Lagan suspended from a wire. Belfast Rotaract members Laura Garland and Tony Mairs completed the zip line as did Rotarians Marnette and Trudy Montgomery (a member of Belfast East Rotary Club, and Rotary District 1160 Rotaract Chair) who arranged it all.
|flying the Rotaract flag high over the River Lagan|
|PP Marnette Lyons||Rotaractors Tony Mairs and Laura Garland|
In addition, the Club has donated a number of needed items to the Simon Community Shelter; with the help of Belfast Rotary kitchen items were also collected and donated to the shelter; in December, members of the Club braved the snow to spend an hour carolling in the city centre raising over 100 pounds for school children in Kenya; in April the Club also set up a Shelter Box outside of the QUB student's union and raised over £250 for Shelter Box; Rotaract also took the opportunity to take part in Belfast West's pub quiz evening - those in attendance can tell you great fun was had by all; most recently the Club also had the opportunity to spend an evening with the TABU visitors from Highland Park, USA. The evening was a wonderful time as local students were able to meet and share with foreign visitors whilst enjoying pizza and a bowling match.
The Rotary Club of Belfast gives many congratulations to all Rotaractors!
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