Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jane Williams Tribute - Ross Carrington

We walked into the front door and were immediately overwhelmed. The number of people who had come to celebrate Jane's years of service as the District Rotaract Club Committee Chairperson was simply astounding. The room was filled with Rotarians and Rotaractors of all ages, from college students like ourselves to much more experienced (but really just as young) adults. Luckily, we had gotten there early enough to mix and mingle with members from other clubs - a rare occasion to see some familiar faces and meet completely new ones. It wasn't long, however, before the evening got started and attention turned to where it belonged for the night: on Jane Williams and her years of dedication to Rotaract.

As a tribute, it was fitting that the evening's program consisted mainly of different individuals giving their testimonies on how Jane touched them as Rotarians/Rotaractors and as people. Person after person stood up and shared how Jane had gone out of her way to make them feel welcome when they were new to the club, or had inspired and guide them toward higher leadership roles within the organization. What really made the night special was the sincerity that could be heard in their voices. It wasn't just a ceremony that had to be carried out for a high-ranking member; they were speaking from the heart. At the end of the testimonies, Jane was presented with a plaque and some big news: she had been nominated to the National Women's Hall of Fame! Better yet, to everyone's surprise, Jane was related to Susan B. Anthony, which made the nomination all the more meaningful.

The evening concluded with carnival-style games that the different Rotaractors had brought in order to raise money for Rotary's polio initiative. Not to brag, but our game was quite a crowd-pleaser. We put together an entertainment trivia game, covering movies and tv shows from the 1950s through the 1990s. People got so worked up while playing that we will definitely have to find an occasion to use it again. 

All in all, it was an incredibly fun and inspiring evening to celebrate the work of a very special woman. Her tenure as Chairperson may be up, but this is just the beginning of a brand new chapter for Jane.

MANNA Food Preparation - Youssouf Camara

Manna is a Pennsylvanian non-profit organization that focuses on providing nutritional meals for a number of communities but particularly, those at acute nutritional risk due to life-threatening illness (such as Cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other illness). Volunteers work alongside Manna’s chefs to prepare and package >3,500 medically appropriate meals each weekday.

True to its word, preparing and packaging food is exactly what Emily, Stephanie, and I did. Around 10, we arrived and got a few minutes to chill and talk to other volunteers (cookies were provided). As soon as we got settled, it was off to work. And not surprisingly, there was always something to do. Part 1 was the conveyor belt – starts with an empty container and ends with sealed packaged food. Now, it was pretty fun to get there, meet the other volunteers, chat with your friends while packaging food. Emily and Steph were both at the fruit station and I took the opportunity to make the activity unnecessarily competitive and see who could scoop faster (Steph won). Part 2 was washing and chopping celery. If you’ve seen the pictures of us at Manna, you’ll notice that we went through an impressive amount of celery. It’s a fairly monotonous task made fun by witnessing your friends’ cutting skills: from slapping a knife to the board while praying that your fingers and celery make it out ok to cutting slowly timidly enough that your celery might actually make it out in one piece. Part 3 was clean-up which took all of 3 minutes and then we said our goodbyes.

We worked out an arrangement with Manna where the Rotaract Club could go regularly to 23rd Street, every other week, and only need to fill out a waiver ahead of time. It’s the simplest way I can imagine of getting some valuable community service and spending time with your fellow Rotaractors.