By Diana Whittle
Enter the phrase volunteer in Tempe in an Internet search engine and the names of two organizations likely will appear: Rotary and Lions.
Both are familiar names in this country, and both have international chapters around the world that are well-known for their service projects.
But the search also yields an abundance of local volunteer opportunities—among them churches, schools, non-profits—so how does a resident choose the best group to become involved with and what exactly does it mean to volunteer?
The verb volunteer was first recorded in 1755 as “one who offers himself for military service.” We still use the word volunteer in a military context, since the draft was abolished; however, in modern times, our soldiers may choose to enter service, but are paid.
Prior to the 19th century, few formal charitable organizations existed to assist people in need. As the population became urbanized and people lived closer to one another, then awareness of disadvantaged individuals grew.
With the increased prosperity of the Industrial Age, the concept of helping others without compensation created several volunteer organizations, including the Lions in 1917 and the Rotary in 1905. Both offer members the chance for community service, networking and fellowship.
Lions Commit to the Preservation of Eye Sight
In 1925, Helen Keller addressed the national Lions convention and challenged the group to assist the blind and visually impaired. Since that time, preserving eyesight is the cause most associated with the Lions; but, the members engage in many human service efforts, which are outlined on their website at www.lionsclubs.org.
The international organization claims more than 1.3 million members who live in more than 200 countries. The group’s motto is “We Serve.”
Locally, a new club is being formed as the result of a community needs assessment that included participants from the city of Tempe, the school districts and the Chamber of Commerce. The group outlined ways that the Lions could contribute to the well-being of Tempe residents. These include vision screening, supplying eyeglasses for needy children and adults, conducting hearing screenings and partnering with other local outreach efforts.
Experienced members of other nearby clubs are actively canvassing in Tempe to identify at least 20 prospective members. The Tempe South Lions Club is being organized by Carl Johannesen, a long-time Lion, who began his involvement with the organization in 1987 as a Boston resident and continued when he moved to the Valley.
He says that “the Lions are a great organization for both men and women to donate their time to humanitarian causes in their local community. Anyone over the age of 18 is welcome to join.”
The new club in Tempe can direct their efforts to the interests of the members.
“The Tempe South Lions Club will offer more people the opportunity to give back to their community and to help those neighbors in need,” said Johannesen.
The Lions are hosting an introductory meeting at 7 a.m. Wednesday, April 3, Crackers & Company, 1285 W. Elliot Road. They encourage any interested members to come and learn more about the new group in Tempe from veteran members of other clubs.
For more information, call Carl Johannesen at 480-924-0737.
Rotarians combine business connections with community service
Rotary is a large and well-established organization with more than 1.2 million members, with clubs that engage in local and international service projects in thousands of communities all over the world.
The Rotary Club of Chicago was formed in 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wished to capture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The Rotary name derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members’ offices.
As Rotary grew, its mission expanded beyond serving club members’ professional and social interests. Rotarians began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to help serve communities in need. In 1928 the Rotary Foundation was formed and the organization’s dedication to others is expressed in its motto: “Service above Self.”
In Arizona, Rotary has active chapters meeting in many locations and on different days in the Valley. Most groups meet weekly for lunch and to exchange business information along with selecting volunteer projects to support.
In Tempe, the “Kyrene Corridor Rotary Club” formed in 2004 and includes about 20 active members who enjoy giving back to the community, according to one of the chapter’s charter members Kyle Maki.
“Over the years, the other members have become like my extended family. I have found that my membership has been a good way for me to build relationships with others and to work with them on really interesting service projects.”
One of Maki’s favorite projects is promoting literacy and the club has donated dictionaries to third graders in local school districts. Another project is installing free, smoke alarms in Tempe homes.
“We meet every Monday and encourage anyone who is interested to join us for lunch and to learn more about the Kyrene Corridor Rotary Club,” said Maki.
Meetings begin at noon at the Kobe Steak House. 1125 W. Elliott Road. Advance reservations are not required. For more information about Rotary or to locate other local chapters, visit the website at: www.arizonarotary.org.
By: Diana Whittle