Newly-chartered Rotaract club throws fiesta

The recently-chartered Shelby County Rotaract club will host a fiesta at Superior Bar and Grill on Thursday June 10 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

The club, supported by the North Shelby/Inverness Rotary club, helps young professionals get involved with the community.

“There’s a void in Shelby County for civic opportunities for young professionals,” said Lee McKinnon, the current president of Shelby County Rotaract. He described Rotaract as a civic social club aiming to get young professionals from ages 18-35 in Shelby County more involved with the community.

The club meets the first Thursday of every month at the Wingate hotel on 280.

Rotaract and its version for more mature members, Rotary club, both put huge emphasis on philanthropy by raising money for everything from well-water purification to polio research.

According to Rotary.org, as of May 25, Rotarians have raised about $127.4 million for Rotary’s US $200 Million Challenge. These contributions will help Rotary raise $200 million to match $355 million in challenge grants received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The resulting $555 million will directly support immunization campaigns in developing countries, where polio continues to infect and paralyze children, robbing them of their futures and compounding the hardships faced by their families.

“Rotary is actually having more of an impact on that than the World Health Organization,” said Kristen Woods, president of the North Shelby/Inverness Rotary club.

The Shelby County Rotaract club’s main philanthropic focus is raising funds for Children’s Hospital’s critical care transport unit, which includes transport by ambulance and helicopter.

“Our goal is for Alabama’s 56 districts to raise $1 million before 2014,” Woods said. “And because of this effort, the Children’s transport team wears the Rotary emblem on their uniforms, and it’s also on the helicopter.”

Woods and McKinnon encourage young professionals to contact them if they’d like to become a part of the club.

Eligible young professionals include those who represent their companies ethically and are well-respected in their professions, Woods explained. However, she cautioned that applicants must demonstrate a desire to improve the community, not just a desire to form networking connections.

“We’re not doing it to garner business; we’re doing it to make our community better,” said McKinnon.

Any interested young businesspeople may attend the fiesta to find out what Rotaract is all about; make sure to contact Woods at Kristen.woods@yahoo.com or by phone at 282-2282.

“If you’re looking for an opportunity to make new friends and improve the community, there’s not a better place to start,” McKinnon said.