By Erin Maloney
Until this summer, I had never really thought about joining a Rotary club. Even though I have been involved with service – from anti-domestic violence issues to giving music lessons – for all of my adult life, I was not interested in the traditional model of Rotary (with weekly meetings).
Living in Turkey, I was becoming more interested in reducing human trafficking, as I was concerned that female university students from abroad were being “groomed.” After the COVID-19 pandemic, however, it became more difficult to address this issue.
Meanwhile, I noticed that Rotary was becoming less traditional, open to a “new” kind of Rotarian – someone like me.
Perhaps the opportunities had been there for a while, but I first noticed them while attending the 2020 Rotary Virtual Convention (led by my brother, Mark Maloney, then Rotary International president). I saw three things that convinced me to join.
At the Convention’s first general session, I was impressed by a video about how communities like “Anytown” could have more Rotary clubs, if they broadened from the traditional model of meetings to a different sort of model, so that more “people of action” could participate.
Then, at the Convention’s second general session, I saw an example of a just such a non-traditional Rotary club. I had never seen one like it! It met only twice a month, on Sundays, in a coffee shop – with their children!
Finally, I looked carefully at the “booths” in the Virtual Convention’s House of Friendship. There, I learned about RAGAS (Rotary Action Group Against Slavery), and decided to attend a “Zoom” meeting to learn more about the work of the organization. I was impressed! With Zoom-chat, I asked if there was an international Rotary club devoted to ending modern slavery. I was immediately given contact information for the Rotary Club to End Human Trafficking in Minnesota, with Karen Walkowski as its Rotary Club president.
And the rest is history! I have now been a member of this Rotary club for three months, attending twice monthly meetings, online via Zoom. While a majority of its members live in the US, there are others like me who live around the world. I am impressed with the work and direction of the club.
I am happy that Rotary has broadened its meeting model, to include people of action like me.