Clubs model vocational service
Two students participate in Camp Enterprise in May. The Rotary Club of San Diego, California, USA, has facilitated the camp since 1976 as part of their vocational service mission. Photo courtesy of The Rotary Club of San Diego
For the past three years, the Rotary Club of Minneapolis South, Minnesota, USA, has been helping young adults with learning and behavioral disabilities to explore careers that interest them.
The club collaborates with the Minneapolis South Workforce Center and seven special education high schools on a job-shadowing day twice a year. More than 30 students and young adults ages 18-21 are matched with employees in areas such as nursing, public safety, data entry, and housekeeping.
Sandra Schley, past governor of District 5950, says vocational programs such as job shadowing are vital, especially given the 70 percent unemployment rate among people with disabilities in the United States.
"This project is one critical way that young adults with disabilities learn that they are expected to work and become independently functioning and contributing members of their community," says Schley. "Most important, these students begin to see real possibilities for themselves."
The club provides transportation and food for the participants. Club members also talk about their own career paths before the young adults head to their job-shadow assignments.
"This is a great vocational project because it is a local collaboration between businesses, development agencies, and the school system," says Ellie Emanuel, club vocational service committee chair. "We're encouraging these youths to make connections with the community."
Club members also visit schools to help struggling students improve their grades through tutoring and mentoring.
Each October, Rotarians are encouraged to focus on Vocational Service, one of the five Avenues of Service. Rotary International collected model vocational service project submissions from 2009-10 district governors. Here are a few examples:
- The Rotary Club of San Diego, California, USA, has held Camp Enterprise since 1976, helping to teach about 80 high school students about free enterprise and the benefits of being an entrepreneur. The students come from all area high schools and have different social, ethnic, and financial backgrounds.
- The Rotary Club of Krasnodar, Russian Federation, developed the My Professional Future Project for orphans ages 14-16, which includes educational seminars on personal motivation, communication, careers and labor, and preparing for the future. Rotarians organize trips to area businesses, and the orphans visit factories for workshops. "This project is a great example of vocational service because Rotarians share their professional knowledge with local children who have the wrong perception of life and don't realize their abilities and potential," says Nadezhda Papp, past governor of District 2220.
- Members of the Rotary Club of Bern, Switzerland, provide a two-week vocational internship for economically and socially disadvantaged youth from Gustav-Heinemann Comprehensive School in Essen, Germany. Students intern at local businesses in Switzerland and learn how to market themselves. The Rotary Club of Essen-Baldeney nominates the students, and the Bern club provides financial support. "I am glad to know that I was able to get along with people in a foreign country and that I can be self-dependent," says former intern Katarina Kanakusen. "I learned so much in the two weeks I was in Switzerland."
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