Rotary International – a 1.2M member service organization – has encouraged its 34,000 Rotary Clubs worldwide to adopt projects that develop today’s youth so that they can become tomorrow’s leaders. To that end, Rotary’s fifth avenue of service – New Generations – is focused on serving youth through a variety of programs.
Since its creation in February, 1945, the Warwick Rotary Club (WRC) of Newport News has supported New Generations projects in our community. In fact, the first club project in 1945, was to raise $3,000 (a pretty good sum of money in those days) in three weeks to provide uniforms for the Warwick High School Band. And a second project, in early 1946, collected another $2,000 for books and research periodicals for the Warwick High School Library.
Ever since, WRC has been on the forefront of working with our community’s youth. From reading to third graders at Sedgefield Elementary School for over twenty years to teaching business principles to Miss Rose’s sixth graders at Gildersleeve Middle School, WRC has been interested in promoting literacy. Two years ago, a special project to provide a children’s activity room at the Pearl Bailey Library was completed. Mentoring our school children has also been important and last’s year project – a Career Luncheon – involved many of our members, who discussed their professions to 10th graders in the Newport News School system.
Providing scholarships to further one’s education has also been important. Since the early 60’s, WRC had a student loan fund that provided higher education loans to three or four students each year. By 1967, $6,500 had been granted to worthy students. In 1981, the WRC created a scholarship at Christopher Newport College (now University - CNU) in honor of former Club President Keith McMurran to provide a grant each year to a deserving student. In addition, a scholarship with Menchville and Warwick High Schools was established in 2008 for a student at each school to attend CNU.
Another of Rotary’s important programs is to nurture the ideals of service and leadership at local high schools and colleges. In support of this, WRC has sponsored ‘Interact Clubs’ at both Warwick and Menchville High Schools and a ‘Rotaract Club’ at CNU. Each year the diversity and impact of the community service activities of these young adults is a continued source of amazement to our Rotarians.
Internationally, WRC has been interested in promoting peace and goodwill by sponsoring youth exchanges. For many years, the club has hosted an exchange student for a full academic year in exchange for sending one of our local students abroad. Exchanges with youngsters from Germany, Romania, Brazil, India, Japan and other countries have benefitted many students, host families and Rotarians. Last year, Manon Renniger from France was sponsored by the Club.
All in all, the Warwick Rotary Club remains committed to serving youth – New Generations – for many years to come. It’s an investment that will pay huge dividends in the future!