Posted by Todd Shepard on Mar 05, 2019
As with many fellow club members I began my Rotary journey during my more mature years.  The kids were near grown, my career established, and I was seeking a way to give back to my community.   I eventually learned there was more to Rotary than just community service.  I learned that Rotary has an impact across the entire world.    I also learned there were words and acronyms being tossed around I’d never heard of before. It was somewhat confusing, even overwhelming.   RI, PETS,  RYLA, Interact, and yes, Rotaract.   It took me a while before working up the nerve (or maybe overcoming the embarrassment of not knowing) to ask what the heck was this thing called Rotaract?As with many fellow club members I began my Rotary journey during my more mature years.  The kids were near grown, my career established, and I was seeking a way to give back to my community.   I eventually learned there was more to Rotary than just community service.  I learned that Rotary has an impact across the entire world.    I also learned there were words and acronyms being tossed around I’d never heard of before. It was somewhat confusing, even overwhelming.   RI, PETS,  RYLA, Interact, and yes, Rotaract.   It took me a while before working up the nerve (or maybe overcoming the embarrassment of not knowing) to ask what the heck was this thing called Rotaract?
The first explanation I was told was that Rotaract was simply a younger version of Rotary.  Well that makes sense, I guess, though I couldn’t imagine myself or my friends wanting to join what I would have imagined to be a stuffy old person group at a younger age so when given the opportunity I decided to attend a Rotaract meeting to satisfy my curiosity.  I was invited by my fellow club member, Daryl, an old timer who knew pretty much anything and everything about Rotary and often attended Rotaract meetings as an advisor.   He opened my eyes to some of the most amazing young people who truly had a passion to make this world a better place, although they seemed to do it in their own way (and far from stuffy!)
 The first Rotaract club meeting was to begin at 5pm.   Of course Daryl and I showed up early and for the next 45 minutes were the only ones in the room.  We assumed maybe it had been cancelled and as we were leaving, we happened upon the members who were just showing up.   Nobody apologized for being late, in fact they all acted as if ‘around’ 5 was typical.  It seemed time played no factor and they were otherwise quite organized and on point as to their goals and plans for service.   These smart, young people ran an efficient and productive meeting, (even without a buffet).  Who would have thought?
 The next meeting I attended was a different club with a similar view of the time, showing up ‘around’ 5 or so.  Several were sipping suds (or IPA, or kombucha, or whatever they enjoy) and were in no time at all efficiently working through their agenda.    They were planning a fund raiser which I would later find myself working at as a volunteer and completely blown away as to its size.   It wasn’t just a fund raiser it was an actual community event!   I was skeptical as to how this small group would be able to pull off such an ambitious event until I learned that Rotaractors have a deep connection with other young people who, though not club members, are willing and eager to participate and volunteer hours of their time for the cause.  So much passion, such great organization, such focus, and fun!
Over the next year as I volunteered for our Rotary club service activities, I found myself running into one or more Rotaract club members randomly showing up to help.  They truly represent the ‘younger generation’ in the best way. 
What is a Rotaractor?
  They are the ones who help feed the hungry, they park cars for community events, they raise money for our veterans, they coordinate parades, they sell duck tickets, they host beer pong tournaments, they set up, clean up, break down, and more.   They share, they collaborate, they…. Inspire. 
District 5080 is proud to have five Rotaract clubs: Rotaract Club of the Palouse, Mid Columbia Rotaract, Rotaract Club of Spokane, Rotaract Club of Sandpoint, Gu (Gonzaga University) Rotaract Club.