Student Interact Clubs in the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club area focus on local community projects, thus defining "Interact" as working together to fulfill Rotary's motto of "Service Above Self."
Brocton Central's Interact was started by Rotarians Dave Travis and the late Jack Skahill, then BCS's superintendent. The club's first meeting was in September 2004, and it has been going strong ever since, this year with 20 members.
"We focus on local community projects, the ideas for projects coming from Interactors, their families, myself and my co-advisors," Travis said. "We also perform at least one international (Rotary) project, usually (for) third-world countries. It is a cash donation, but has included collecting school supplies to be sent to the project area."
Pictured, clockwise from upper left, are all 15 Interact Club members, Mariana Mathewson, Sadie Novak, Mary Schmitz, Michael Parker, Leah Snyder, Charity Ludwig, Josh Lucas, Megan Stahlsmith, Emilie Christie, Kirsten Elliot, Jordan Mulholland, Samantha Robbins, Abbey Jantzi, Heather Sullivan and Ashley Crandall.
Many of the projects include Coats for Kids coat collection and Preventative Angels for which money is collected through a bottle-and-can drive. The money is then used to buy Christmas presents for a family in need.
In January of this year, Chautauqua Lake Central School students decided to form an Interact Club and received its charter in April. Starting with 15 members, the first major project has been Pennies for Polio. One enormous glass jug is positioned in an appropriate place in the school and passers-by can watch the money pile up. Ridding the world of polio is and has been Rotary International's major mission, which is nearing completion after many years. Completion translates into no more polio in the world.
Comments about their membership in Interact testify to their reasons for belonging. Brocton seniors Patrick Bennett, Alison Wahl, Ryan Mancuso and Jeremy Eckstrom all agree Interact is definitely worthwhile.
"I love being in Interact Club," club vice president Wahl said. " It's really nice to be able to give back to the community and help keep it nice."
"Interact is an enjoyable and gratifying club to be a member of," board director and officer Bennett said. "It helps me help out my community and peers in ways I never could have imagined. Over the three years of participation, I feel as though I've even become more adept at people skills and handling different obstacles. I've overall enjoyed my experience in this club."
"I enjoy participating in Interact Club at Brocton because it allows me to help out the community with specific issues which need to be addressed," club director Eckstrom said.
"Interact is a wonderful club for students to be involved in," club director Mancuso said. "Not only does it look good for college, but also provides a service of group contribution and work ethic while assisting the community."
Mancuso sums up nicely for all four Brocton Interacters.
"It builds responsibility, time management, respect, well-being and social skills," he said.
Senior Mary Schmitz founded Interact at CLCS with music teacher Jennifer Davis after her experience at SLAPSHOT, an opportunity for teens to experience "roughing it" with students from other schools.
Charity B. Ludwig, Heather Sullivan, Jordan Mulholland and Emilie Christie, all juniors, are excited about being a part of Interact's start at CLCS.
"I have always wanted to lead, lead within my peer group, as well as make a difference in the community and world," Charity said. "With my future military career in the Air Force, I pray that my God will guide me to a place where I can lead people to a better place through Rotary. My leadership skills have and will grow with me being (club) vice president. I feel that through my experiences, I will be able to strengthen my ability to lead as well as make a difference on a global as well as local level."
"I believe that Interact is a genuine peace-seeking club which will help guide my future path," Jordan said. "I joined knowing that it will help me develop worldly goals I know I am going to need as I travel."
"I look forward to being able to help both my community and the world through service projects that Interact will be involved in," Heather said.
As president of CLCS Interact Club, Emilie summed up the value of Interact.
"I am a very active member in many clubs at Chautauqua Lake, such as National Honor Society and Student Administration," she said. "Interact is a completely different experience that I am proud to be a part of.
"The emphasis on 'Service Above Self' is a powerful way to not only change the local community, but to work toward changing the world," Emilie said.