BY MELANIE BUCK –
Two Mena High School students have made it their mission to spark up a new club at the high school called Interact. Interact is a junior branch of the Rotary Club and will involve students in local community projects as well as global projects and is for youth ages 12 – 18.
The goal is to get youth interested and involved in the goals of Rotary, whose motto is: Service above self. Health, sanitation, world peace, and the irradication of polio are some of Rotary’s main points of interest throughout the globe. Bringing clean water to third world areas and supplying dictionaries to third graders each year are also goals of the Rotary. Through Interact, teens will become involved in the same interests as their adult counterparts, but will also have their own goals and agendas, and complete a minimum of two service projects per year; one in their local community and one international project.
Rachel Stacks and Cece Metcalf, both seniors at Mena High School are bringing Interact to MHS and hope to encourage others to participate with them. Stacks found out about the program through a 3-day camp, Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA), that Rotary sponsored for her last spring. “At RYLA, there are so many leadership opportunities and it helped instill so much self-confidence in me that I would have never pursued this otherwise. One of the youth counselors was in Rotoract in college and he mentioned Interact. I just felt like it would be a good opportunity for the youth in the community and bring the community together instead of just being a school-wide thing,” Stacks explained.
Stacks incorporated best friend, Cece Metcalf, and the duo are excited to bring the program to their community. “At first I had no idea what she was talking about so she explained how it gets the schools and the community together and you are doing a community-based and international service. That got me interested because I’ve always been interested in the Peace Corps and this will give me a way to help others, which is what I love to do,” smiled Metcalf.
Stacks added, “It’s a great way to promote cultural awareness in your own community and it helps you make connections with people around you and halfway across the world that you would have never connected with otherwise and you get to do that while you are benefitting the globe.”
The duo is being aided by Rotary member Charles Pitman who is also excited to see the youth in the community take an interest in the program. “There are a lot of very successful people and leaders who are Rotarians. Our goal is to get youth interested and involved in the goals of Rotary and create more leaders in our community and across the globe.”
“My goal is to help get kids off the streets. I was one of those kids and it took a lot of support to help me and I want to give back. I know some kids don’t have parents that take the initiative like mine did to get me back on the right track. I want the organization to be someone these kids can lean on while providing service to the community,” said Rachel.
An organizational meeting will be held November 2nd at 5 p.m. in the Ouachita Center at Rich Mountain Community College and prospective students and their parents are invited to attend.