San Antonio Interactors excel at service
Members of the Interact Club of Winston School San Antonio, Texas, USA, help transport terminally-ill children from Mexico around San Antonio Sea World. Photo courtesy of Michael Canales
The Interact Club of Winston School San Antonio, Texas, USA, has been setting lofty goals for itself for 15 years.
Though Interact clubs are asked to complete at least two service projects each year, the Winston School Interactors carried out 55 projects and logged close to 2,000 volunteer hours in 2009.
All that hard work hasn't gone unnoticed. The City of San Antonio recognized the club with the Mayor's Award for outstanding community service by a youth group.
"I'm extremely proud of the many successful projects our students have completed over the years," says Charles Karulak, headmaster of the Winston School and a member of the Rotary Club of Boerne Sunrise. "Our Interactors have forged a positive reputation in the community. Often, local organizations will contact the club to ask for support on projects."
The private school serves students with learning disabilities from kindergarten through 12th grade. The high school grades have about 75 students total, most of whom are Interactors. Michael Canales, a member of the Rotary Club of San Antonio North Central, says it's remarkable that a school so small can have such a positive impact.
"It's not unusual for an Interactor to participate in an athletic game on Friday night and then report to an Interact project the next day," says Canales, a Spanish teacher at the Winston School and Interact chair for District 5840. "These young men and women give so much of their personal time to the community."
The Winston School Interactors have volunteered at a local soup kitchen and conducted fundraising drives for the battered women's shelter, the Animal Defense League, and an orphanage in Peru.
In 2008, the club collected $2,700 in 10 days to help the city's food bank feed victims of Hurricane Ike, which devastated coastal towns in Texas.
The Interactors have also made three trips to the Casa de Misericordia orphanage in Piedras Negras, Mexico, delivering supplies requested by the children.
"The Interactors spent the entire day with these children, giving the more important gift: their compassion," Canales says.
Club members also spend a day every year assisting terminally ill children from Cuidad Acuña, Mexico, who come to visit SeaWorld adventure park. The Interact club works with the Boerne Sunrise club, which brings the children to San Antonio.
Canales says that international service gives Interactors a new perspective.
"Students in the U.S. want immediate gratification. Interact exposes them to those who don't have the luxury of getting what they want," he explains. "Interactors start thinking less about themselves and more about those in need. They reap tremendous benefits from international projects."
Canales says the entire school has embraced the principles and standards of Rotary. The Four-Way Test is posted in all the classrooms.
"The impact of Interact on our students has been tremendous," Karulak says. Through teamwork, public speaking opportunities, and service to others, "the program has provided opportunities for students to develop and grow."
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