When it comes to fundraising, Interactors are crushing it
Mehreen Rosmon isn't even out of high school, but she's already having a big impact on her community and the world. The senior from Fremont, California, leads Interact District 5170, one of Rotary's larger Interact districts. Launched in 1962, Interact brings young people ages 12-18 together to develop leadership skills and serve their communities.
The money raised by Interactors in Rosmon's district isn't chump change. The 123 Interact clubs in District 5170 are on track to raise more than $40,000 by the end of this school year, Rosmon says. The funds will go toward causes the Interact district has chosen for 2023: alleviating food insecurity in the San Francisco Bay Area and improving water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions in Honduras. "Clean water is a basic necessity, but some 829,000 people are estimated to die worldwide each year as a result of unsafe drinking water," Rosmon says. Her district is working with the nonprofit organization Water1st to fund piping, flushing toilets, and showers for 15 homes in southern Honduras.
Secrets for success
What makes for a successful Interact club? Representatives from some of the highest-achieving clubs weigh in on how to attract members and raise big bucks:
Involve the whole community in fundraising efforts. Pooja Patel, a high school junior who is vice president of the Honesdale Interact club, says her club's Karaoke night, which raised $12,000 last year for The Rotary Foundation's Disaster Response Fund, is a perfect example. The students partnered with a local brewery and reached out to other local companies for sponsorships and raffle prizes.
Let the Interact members take the lead. Mitty Chang, District 5170 Interact chair, says, "It's a safe environment to make mistakes — part of growing as a young leader. When you give them the leadership opportunities, you see that they can really flourish."
Take advantage of your local Rotary club. And Honesdale mentor Brian Fulp says don't stop with advice. "Whatever money you raise, go to your local Rotary club and ask them to match it," he says. "It's very hard for a club to say no to an Interact club they support."
It's not the only place where Interactors are making a difference. The 70 Interact students at Honesdale High School in northeastern Pennsylvania held a karaoke night in April 2022 that raised an impressive $12,000 for The Rotary Foundation's Disaster Response Fund, to support people affected by the war in Ukraine, according to Lynne Goodwin, the liaison to the club from its sponsoring Rotary Club of Honesdale. And in El Campo, Texas, Interactors raised more than $1,300 for polio eradication by selling rubber ducks to race at a District 5890 event.
Interactors research and choose the causes they want to support. Like the El Campo Interactors, many clubs devote at least part of each year to raising money for Rotary's polio eradication efforts. Interactors also decide what kinds of fundraisers to hold. They run the gamut from classic bake sales to more elaborate endeavors like Honesdale's karaoke night.
Today's Interactor is often tomorrow's Rotarian. Mitty Chang, the 34-year-old Interact chair for District 5170, has been involved with Rotary for more than half his life, beginning with Interact as a high schooler. He stresses that although Rotarians act as mentors and advisers, the Interactor leadership teams are in charge. "It's their vision and strategy for the year," he says. "We provide training and guidance, but it's their show."
Next year in college, Rosmon plans to study business, focusing on its social impact on communities. She also plans to continue her service work by joining Rotaract and eventually becoming a Rotarian. "Interact has allowed me to grow into who I am today," she says. "I hope to continue to share that through Rotaract and Rotary."
This story originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of Rotary magazine.