The Rotaract Club – Save the world and make new friends

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rotaractDo you have a slumbering sense of philanthropy that you’re hoping to awaken? Do you want to give something back to the world, but have fun doing it? Are you sick of your current friends and hoping to make new ones?

If you do, then you might think about joining a community service organization.

The Rotaract Club of Downtown San Diego provides an opportunity for young professionals to serve the community, develop leadership skills, network, and also accomplish all of this in a fun and social way. (Heck, you don’t even have to be a professional… you’ll still be welcome.)

Rotaract is an offshoot of Rotary International, an organization dedicated to providing humanitarian service all over the world. Rotaract stands for “Rotary in Action” (not to suggest that Rotary is… well, inactive in any way). Think of Rotaract as training wheels for Rotary.

Now, I’ll be blunt. If you’ve never heard of Rotary, let alone attended a meeting, I wouldn’t recommend diving right in and joining a Rotary Club (with apologies to any Rotarians reading this). If you’re well established in your life and your career, Rotary may be right for you. But, if you’re in your 20s and still looking to “find yourself,” so to speak, then Rotaract may be a better fit. Rotaract requires less commitment, and there is never any pressure to attend meetings or events. (Of course, the club hopes that you will attend them gladly, without any need for arm twisting.)

Okay, so what exactly goes on at Rotaract?

In addition to bimonthly meetings, club members participate in such activities as working with homeless teens, repairing homes for senior citizens, and volunteering at fundraisers and events put on by other organizations. The club even puts on its own charity events, centered around such fun themes as cocktail hours or casino nights.

But, there’s more to the club than just the community service. Besides the opportunity to meet and network with other members, club meetings will often feature guest speakers brought in for professional development. Depending on the speaker, club members may learn everything from how to master their interview skills to how to manage their personal lives.

And then, there are the social activities—in my opinion, one of the best aspects of Rotaract. Past social events have included dinners or drinks at various locations around town, holiday parties and game nights, concerts and ballgames, taking a limo bus up to Temecula to do some wine tasting, and even road trips to visit other Rotaract clubs around the country. Best yet are the social events that are actually philanthropy events, such as the aforementioned cocktail hours and casino nights. As you can see, Rotaracters serve the community, but also know how to have a great time doing so.

Now, at this point… okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been a member of the Rotaract Club of Downtown San Diego for several years now, and I still have a great time participating. To me, what’s cool about the club is that it’s made up of people who have a sense of humanitarianism about them, who want to contribute to the community, but who also know how to have fun.

At Rotaract, you get the chance to meet new people and make new friends, but you can count on these people to be respectable, dependable folks. The so-called riff-raff of society will obviously self-select themselves out of joining such a club, so you’re left with a group of friends you can definitely count on.

So, if Rotaract sounds fun to you, come and check out a meeting sometime. Meetings are at 6:30 PM on the first and third Tuesday of each month, at Kansas City Barbecue in downtown San Diego (right across the street from the Manchester Grand Hyatt). The next meeting is Tuesday, March 2. For more information, check out

Hope you can make one of our meetings sometime. And when you do, tell me I sent you!

Dennis Hong’s “Save the World and Make New Friends” is a column series exposing innovative ways to make new friends and connect in San Diego.


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