Jennifer Jacobson, a police constable in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada, took part in a Rotary-sponsored Group Study Exchange (GSE) to Japan in 2009 after reading a post by a colleague and former participant.
“It was a life-changing experience, absolutely fantastic,” says Jacobson, who joined a physical therapist, a music therapist, and a retail manager on the trip. “Because they had limited translators, we went everywhere together and learned about each other’s professions. Our Japanese hosts made sure we experienced everything.
“What really hooked me on Rotary, though, was the experience I got from the Rotarians in Japan. The kindness and the support and the welcoming nature were overwhelming.”
A few years later, Jacobson was accepted into the three-month Rotary Peace Center program at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. The experience cemented her decision to join Rotary.
“I had thought about it after the GSE but now I knew I had to,” says Jacobson. “Rotary has given me so much. I couldn’t not be a part of it.”
As a police department peace officer, Jacobson deals with child abuse cases and sometimes sees the worst of humanity. But the goodness she sees in her fellow club members keeps her excited about Rotary.
“When I go to those meetings one hour a week and I see people wanting to do good things in the community, I always leave feeling so happy,” she says. “I leave knowing there are really good people. That’s why I stay. That and the many good experiences I have had in Rotary.”
The Rotarian magazine recently asked members around the world to share their reasons for joining, and for staying in, their club. Here are some of their responses:
I joined Rotary to be a part of our collective humanitarian projects, and I have stayed because of the joy on the faces of beneficiaries each time we solve a need. Chibuzo Hilary Asogwa Rotary Club of Ekulu, Enugu State, Nigeria
I had a desire to give back to my community and the world. My father was a Rotarian, so I knew a lot about it. That was about nine years ago. I think what keeps me there is the friendships, not only with people in my local club but with Rotarians I’ve met from around the world. Elizabeth Cohoe Rotary Club of Cataraqui-Kingston, Ontario, Canada
As a disabled couple who are both Rotarians, we knew that our fellow Rotarians would see us as people, not disabled people, and would welcome our input into the community. And so it has proved for the last 10-plus years! David Shaw Rotary Club of Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire, England
I joined to make a difference in my community. I’ve stayed because I am. Heather R. Klein Rotary Club of Alleghany County, North Carolina, USA
I joined Rotary after having been involved in a post-tsunami project in Sri Lanka in 2005. This was the first contact I had had with a Rotary club, and I was so impressed by the dedication of its members in their efforts to help others that I immediately applied to join my club in Stockholm when I arrived back in Sweden. Nicholas Thompson Rotary Club of Stockholm International, Sweden
Making friends, travel, and self-development attracted me to Rotaract. After a successful decade in Rotaract, I graduated to be a Rotarian. The bonding with Rotary family and the way projects are executed to benefit society at large helped me ascend to be a Rotarian. Saket Gadkari Rotary Club of Thane Hills, Maharashtra, India
I sat down and figured out how much time I was donating, and how much more effective it would be as part of a club instead of doing it all myself. I joined for the service and stay for all the friends I’ve made. It’s nice to travel and instantly have friends wherever I go. Aur Beck
Rotary Club of Carbondale Breakfast, Illinois, USA
Honestly? I joined for business. But I stayed for the fellowship and causes. Craig Howie Rotary Club of Whitby Sunrise, Ontario, Canada
The more I give back, the more I continue to get. Rotary moments, personal development, great friends, the joy of service — Rotary is the gift that keeps on giving! Raewyn Kirkman Rotary Club of Waikato SunriseHamilton, New Zealand
I joined Rotary to render service to the downtrodden; I stayed because I found fun and friendship. Nze Anizor Rotary Club of Trans Amadi, Rivers State, Nigeria
Rotary inspires me to contribute to good humanitarian causes. My club is a great platform for service and fellowship. Sayeed Chaudhury Rotary Club of Sonargaon Dhaka, Bangladesh