Rotaract stresses community service

At the core of the effort to bring community service, professional development and social service to Baruch is Rotaract Club, a non-religious, non-political and nonprofit organization.

Baruch’s chapter of Rotaract Club is one of over 9,500 subsidiary chapters of Rotary International, an international humanitarian organization known for its secularism. Rotaract clubs are unique from their parent organization’s clubs in that their members are between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. Like other Rotaract chapters, Baruch’s Rotaract chapter is sponsored by a Rotary organization, in this case the Rotary Club of Metro New York City.

“If you go to school, your main focus is to make a difference in your community and this club gives you the opportunity to make that difference. It gives you the resources to really make an impact in your community and in the international world,” said Salvatore Toner, president of Baruch’s Rotaract Club. “Secondly, it is a professional development club so we have a lot of networking events where you can go to restaurants and brunches and get to know people from every industry.”

Since the club’s creation in the Fall of 2014, membership has grown slowly but steadily. From the beginning to end of the Fall 2015 semester, official enrollment had doubled from around 15 to 30 members.

Despite the hurdles that relatively new clubs often face, the club’s leadership is adamant that the number of members will only increase by the end of the Spring 2016 semester.

“Our biggest challenge is getting people to understand what the club is about,” said Toner. “When people hear the club’s name, ‘Rotaract’, it does not really give people an idea of what the club is about.”

Among the members’ most notable charity works are community clean-ups, encouraged soup kitchen volunteering and fundraising. The club also partook in a Peanut Butter and Jelly Drive, in which 250 sandwiches were made for the benefit of the homeless. Most recently, on April 23, the chapter participated in the 22nd Parkinson’s Unity Walk, a fundraiser for Parkinson’s disease awareness and research held in Central Park.

Rotaract clubs are also known to be involved in Interota, a join venture between multiple Rotaract organizations to provide a forum for members to share ideas, concerns and experiences with one another.

“When I came to school, I wanted to make a difference,” said Toner, explaining his reasoning for wanting to join the club. “I feel this club is an opportunity to play an active role in my community and to do that with people who have similar interest in giving back, but also want to improve their professional development skills and grow as people.”

Other activities provided by Rotaract and Rotary clubs include business networking mixers, finance and resume writing, leadership development courses and public speaking events. All of this serves to validate the Rotaract motto, “service above self.”