By Tony Scaife, Rotary Club of Aireborough, West Yorkshire, England
For the last few months, I’ve been helping exuberant members of the Leeds Phoenix Satellite Rotary Club get established. I’ve been on a wonderful voyage watching as a new network of professionals rediscover Rotary’s roots. My new Rotarian friend Sam, seen in the photo above helping to present the club’s first charity cheque, said to me:
“it’s really exciting being part of a new, diverse group…making lasting change in the community and having fun”
Encouraged and supported by other established Rotarians, I launched the Leeds Phoenix Club in February 2018 and watched, with amazement, delight, and relief, as more and more of my new friends invited their friends to come along and share our Rotary journey. Early in this new Rotary year I finally had the pleasure of watching Sam, as president, sign a new club charter application for Leeds Phoenix.
My own Rotary life has been so enriched by working with these talented, vigorous diverse Rotarians, and seeing how Rotary’s core values of fellowship and service are just as attractive to the city’s new ‘digital’ working population as they were to previous generations. As we meet and talk, I see them seeking Rotary’s old comforts – belonging to a safe, friendly group where diversity is welcomed. It really stuck in my mind when Fran said to me:
“I feel like I belong, which I never thought was possible before as I am not from the UK and so I was worried I would not be fully accepted because of cultural differences”
Never mind her cultural differences, what about me? With Leeds Phoenix, I’ve attended my first-ever Pride event. We carried the message that Rotary is founded on a respect for individual diversity and a shared commitment to service.
Nothing traditional here
From the start, this new Rotary club was not going to be traditional. This is fortunate because there’s nothing traditional about Leeds Phoenix. I’ve learned to use digital tools like Slack, iZettle, Skype and social media so that I can join in the planning, keep in touch, and coordinate. Our meetings have virtually no formality, but always draw us together. And like all Rotary we always deliver on our projects, with sweat and kerfuffle, … eventually!
Leeds Phoenix members are all working but not like in my day. Many are self-employed, or in small teams, in the city’s new shared workspaces. I can see that networking is a way of life for them; but also, that it can be a lonely and isolating life. It is Rotary that provides the established framework for a more rewarding networking experience. This includes building friendships, learning new skills, and sharing coping strategies in a world of challenges through being able to be a focused force for good in the community.
As I reflect on the journey so far with these amazing, inspiring new Rotarians, it is clear their goal remains to promote “Rotary and Peace the World over.”
Satellite clubs are just one way Rotary clubs are using flexible formats to meet the needs of their local community. Learn about others.
Check out Rotary International’s Engaging Younger Professionals, a new online toolkit that helps clubs better understand younger professionals. From ideas for outreach and engagement to long-term benefits of becoming a Rotarian, this toolkit helps clubs rethink their membership, from a broad perspective down to a tactical level.