By Rotary Service and Engagement, January 28, 2019, Published in Rotary International

Vocational Service is the essence of Rotary and serves as the foundation from which we serve our communities around the world. Vocational Service calls on us to empower others by using our unique skills and expertise to address community needs and help others acquire or refine skills and advance their professional opportunities.

Below are some examples of vocational service in action:

Rotary Club of Lipa West

  • The Rotary Club of Hong Kong Island East partnered with the School of Opportunity, a summer camp for refugee students in Hong Kong. Rotarians from the club volunteered to teach business and coding courses to 12 students three times a week for three hours each session. The goal was to show the refugee teenagers (ages 11 – 15 from Nigeria, Rwanda, Israel, India) that there is kindness in business, and that being an entrepreneur is not only about making profits but also contributing to the community. Two members of the club who had grown up in public housing, and came from low income families spoke to the students about their experiences putting their heart and efforts into creating amazing careers.
  • The Rotary Club of Lipa West in Philippines organized scholarships for 25 students for a baking and pastry vocational program in partnership with TESDA: Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. All expenses were paid for, and students were provided ingredients and aprons for technical training in baking.
  • The Rotary Club of Ranchi North in India organized a three-day vocational training camp for mushroom cultivation in the town of Kanke. Nearly 50 women from three different villages participated. The camp taught them how to become financially independent and earn income through selling mushrooms.
  • Many small to medium sized companies around the Kwara state of Nigeria have no means of promoting their business besides through radio and T.V. stations which can be very expensive. To help these businesses gain more exposure, the Rotary Club of Ilorin Metro sponsored a training where experts were invited from digital media companies to train 100 participants on how to use a social and digital media to advertise their business to reach a larger audience.
  • The Rotaract Club of East Nassau in the Bahamas hosted a Vocational-Career Day for over 100 students. The day was dedicated to learning about job opportunities in various industries, social media, and character development. Students also shared their career aspirations and talents. The theme for the day was Path to Greatness highlighting the importance of integrity and character in business. Members were advised on the dangers and benefits of the digital era. The participants heard from a member of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band who spoke on discipline. The theme was further enhanced when Rotaract members played career games. The day concluded with a presentation on effective tools to strengthen relationships, and how students should interact positively with their families, schools and communities.

Maya Verma (right) at her loom in Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, India. Verma is a weaver who produces textiles for Jhoole, a nonprofit, fair-trade clothing company that provides its artisans with a living wage, health insurance, and child care. Jhoole was founded by Hannah Warren, a former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar who studied in India. District 3040 (India) and five clubs in District 6420 (Illinois, USA) used a 2010 Matching Grant of $12,500 from The Rotary Foundation to support Jhoole, and members of the newly established Rotary Club of Maheshwar volunteer their time and business expertise. 9 January 2011. (Find the story in “The Rotarian,” July 2011, pages 46-51.)

January is Rotary’s Vocational Service Month, a great time to start leveraging vocational service in your club projects and activities. The Vocational Service in Action handbook can help you gain a better understanding of vocational service and provide you with ideas to practice it through your service activities, in your personal life, and in your career. Download the handbook and share it with your club members!

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