Empowered families strengthen Rotary image
The Garrettsville-Hiram club’s Family Week Celebration offered a fun time for children on carnival rides.
Photo by John Crawford
After 75 years, the Rotary Club of Garrettsville-Hiram faced a declining membership and dwindling enthusiasm. But by celebrating family, the club’s 10 members not only strengthened their club, they also helped their community.
The Empower the Family service project, now in its fifth year, supports activities that engage and honor families while enhancing Rotary’s image. Its centerpiece is the annual Family Week Celebration, which includes a music festival, carnival, and school-sponsored art, essay, and speech contests. In addition, residents of this small Ohio, USA, town are encouraged to Put Family First one evening and spend time exclusively with their families.
According to club member Amy Crawford, the project has succeeded on many levels: “We have more community involvement with the club. We’ve brought people from surrounding areas together. And we’ve attracted newer, younger members with children of their own to the club.”
It’s also cultivated working relationships between club members and community leaders. Local businesses, churches, governments, libraries, and schools collaborate with the club to sponsor activities throughout the week.
Convinced of the project’s global appeal to families and Rotarians alike, Vibert Kesler, chair of the first Family Week Celebration and a former member of the Garrettsville-Hiram club, created World Peace Parents in 2003. This nonprofit organization helps Rotary clubs worldwide carry out similar events in their communities. To date, clubs in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, USA, have organized family celebrations. And the Rotary clubs of Bombay Bandra, Maharashtra, India, and Muyenga and Port-Bell, Uganda, are working with World Peace Parents to adapt the concept to their cultures.
“This program works especially well for smaller communities and smaller clubs,” Kesler says. “It can really rejuvenate your club.”
Learn more at http://worldpeaceparents.org .
Vibert Kesler, executive director and board chair of World Peace Parents, offers the following tips for clubs wanting to celebrate family in their communities:
Keep it simple. The Empower the Family service project works best as a stand-alone event.
Plan ahead. Start arranging the Family Week Celebration at least four months in advance.
Schedule it for early in the year. Because schools are involved, the best dates for the celebration often fall between January and March.
Use the World Peace Parents project manual to help you organize the event.
Download the progress reports to help you stay on track.
Stay in touch with World Peace Parents, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
This article originally appeared in the 2007 October Rotary World