On Monday, June 22nd, during its regular meeting at The Beekman Arms, the Rhinebeck Rotary featured a presentation by the Rhinebeck High School Interact Club. Stella Funkhouser, Mikaela Holt, Anna Charny, Morgan Rakow, and Grace Steele spoke about the club’s service work locally and in Nicaragua, as well as its fund-raising efforts and contributions to other service projects. Interact members give 1500 hours of service a year and must maintain a grade point average of 85.
Ms. Charny, a recent graduate and daughter of Rotary member Nathaniel Charny, introduced the club’s work. This past year Interact participated in United Nations Day and contributed to Vassar College’s Haiti Project with a donation to feed 30 students for one year. The club also donated to a UMASS/Amherst trip to Nicaragua and to Rotary’s Shelter Box program. The bulk of the club’s fund-raising focuses on its own annual trip to Nicaragua. It’s “a lot of work with a huge pay-off,” Charny said.
The group showed a short video by club member Samantha Sherwood of this past February’s trip. The program is now in its 6th year and centers on building schools in Nicaruagua. “We dug the foundation with hand tools,” said Ms. Charny. “It was amazing to watch it go up in front of our eyes.”
Ms. Rakow, granddaughter of longtime Rotarian Greg Rakow and a recent high school graduate and last year’s Interact treasurer, said that they raised a total of $20,000 toward the trip with the support of the Rhinebeck Rotary, which began the program 10 years ago with college students from Quinnipiac University under the direction of Rotarian David Ives. Next year’s treasurer, Ms. Holt, spoke about the club’s participation in Relay for Life to support the American Cancer Society.
Ms. Steele, a junior and the new co-president of the club and daughter of Rotarian Kiki Steele, discussed the club’s future goal to expand its community involvement by bringing in outside speakers and working with other Interact clubs. She went on to say how meaningful it was for her “to get involved in projects that make change in the world.” Ms. Funkhouser agreed that it was “a privilege to do so at a young age and to have fun at the same time.”
The Rhinebeck Rotary Club meets on Mondays at 12:15 pm at the Beekman Arms throughout the year. The Rotary is a humanitarian organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of others through local, national, and international service projects. The weekly meetings feature speakers covering a variety of human-interest topics. For more information on becoming a member, or to reserve a speaker’s spot at an upcoming meeting, please call Lou Trapani at 845-876-3088, ext. 14.