Rotaract, stands for Rotary in Action and holds many of the same principles as Rotary but is comprised of service oriented people ages 18 - 30.
"We were a good group, had a good core membership before the charter, but this will help us to gain exposure," said Marc Guevarra, current Rotaract president. "We are looking for growth as a group, getting chartered is that next step."
In order for a Rotaract group to receive a charter they must be sponsored by a local Rotary club. In this case the group was sponsored by all three in the area, showing a strong support from the Juneau Rotary community.
"This age group is leaving Juneau," said Brenda Hewitt, Rotary member and sponsor of the group. "The city lost nearly 1,000 people in this age group in 2007. I'm not sure why this is happening, maybe the cost of living here, but I think part of it could be helped by getting young people more involved in the community. If we all help and participate a little bit, so much can be accomplished. Juneau's Rotaract took over the community food box drive and made over $12,000. I am so proud of them, I am in awe. This age group is so energetic and fun to watch."
As a sponsor, Hewitt attends the Rotaract meetings, supports them and helps to build the group and recruit new members. Now that the group is chartered and has official paperwork, they can participate in events all over the world. Alaska is a part of the largest Rotary district in the world, including Western Canada and Eastern Russia so there is a good chance they will have opportunity to be involved with other countries, according to Hewitt.
Alaska consists of three Rotaract clubs now that Juneau is official, the other clubs being in Anchorage and Fairbanks. The Juneau Rotaract currently has about 10 -12 young professionals and growing. There are over 7,000 of these professional clubs in the world, according to Guevarra.
"We are a bit more geared towards professional development, relationships, and leadership development since that is where this age group is at," Guevarra said. "We strive for professional growth and networking as well as still finding time for community service projects."
Charter president and Rotaract member Melissa Griffiths said Rotaract enabled her to meet new people and get involved with Juneau's community after moving to Alaska 10 months ago.
"This town has a huge Rotary population," she said. "People might think that we are a version of Rotary, and though we are here to gain professional connections, it is important for people to know that we do have lots of fun, and would love more people to be involved."
These young professionals and students, though part of a relatively new club have already participated in several community events including auctions and fundraisers.
"You must simply commit to the principles of community service to be in this club," Hewitt said. "(The Rotaract members) are all intelligent, vivacious people, they really could do it on their own, but I am here as a link to Rotary and as a support for them. I strongly encourage anyone who's in the age group who wants to become more involved in Juneau's community to join. There are so many opportunities with it."
The young professionals meet the first three Wednesday's each month and if there is a fifth Wednesday at 7:30pm at the Baranoff hotel. For more information visit www.alaskarotaract.org