It felt like waiting for a newborn to make its appearance into this world.
The atmosphere was exciting.
The mood, anticipatory.
The future looked bright, full of dreams and hopes for what was to come.
And well it should.
With the 50th anniversary of Interact, as well as it being World Interact Week Nov. 5-9 this year, the Bradley Sunrise Rotary commemorated these events by chartering a new Interact club at the Tennessee Christian Preparatory School it is sponsoring.
Interact is the Rotary youth group for ages 12 to 18, pledges to work on at least two community service projects per year, and is the fastest growing service club around the globe. More than 10,700 clubs in 109 countries currently exist with almost 200,000 members. Thousands of projects have been completed by Interact clubs in the past 50 years.
“It’s a worldwide phenomena ... (and it’s) a moving and significant milestone for our club,” said Pat Fuller, Bradley Sunrise Rotary’s president, “as well as TCPS’s young people ... We’re thrilled ... And it’s just the beginning.”
Fuller had to stop a moment to compose herself at the emotions that almost overwhelmed her — and she wasn’t alone.
Continuing her address to the new Interact members, she said, “We’re empowering you to make a difference in our community ... and the world.”
Interact, Fuller told the audience, helps students develop leadership skills and personal integrity; helps them to demonstrate helpfulness and respect for others; helps them to understand the value of individual responsibility and hard work; and also helps them advance international understanding and goodwill.
Then, one by one, each new student member lined up before the Interact Committee to be officially inducted.
A candle-lighting ceremony and the receiving of certificates of memership, as well as the official pins, by the first 17 founding members of TCPS’s Interact club officially memorialized the festivities and installation of officers. The student group, in alphabetical order, include: Luke Benton, board director; Neeley Benton; Val Berger, board director; Bailey Burns; Natalie Calfee, president; Kaity Carter, vice president; Andy Chase; Nadan Cho; Hannah Chord, board director; Caleb Douglas, treasurer; Payton Griffin; Eric Hall; Ethan Loveday; Lydia Snyder, secretary; Caleb Thomas; Levi Thomas; and Calvin Wood.
Natalie Calfee, first president of TCPS’s Interact club then briefly addressed the audience.
“I’m really excited,” Calfee said. “The Interact organization is just a great opportunity for the school to get involved with the community.”
And Calfee already knows the group is going to jump in with both feet. Some of the projects the group is already looking forward to is helping to create Christmas memories for children in public schools by taking them shopping for the holidays. Other projects the group is already planning on working with includes such community service organizations as Habitat for Humanity. She has gotten her examples and ideas from the Bradley Sunrise Rotary meetings she has already attended.
“I’ve been to several Bradley Sunrise Rotary meetings with my mom,” she said.
Her mother, Leesa Calfee, is the Bradley Sunrise Rotary’s Interact Committee team leader, as well as being a member of the Bradley Sunrise Rotary. The other Bradley Sunrise Rotary members, as well as members of the Interact Committee, are: Stephanie Austin; Ben Craig; Ginger Davis; Dr. Walt Mauldin; Dr. Johnny McDaniel; and Dr. Tommy Wright.
“Thank you for investing in the lives of our students and our school,” Calfee said before introducing Dr. Bill Balzano, president of TCPS, who received the honorary gavel and bell that will start each Interact meeting from now one.
“We want to be an asset to our community,” Balzano, a member of the local Noon Rotary, said. “Thank you Rotary for allowing us to be a part of such a wonderful organization.”
As all Rotary meetings end, so did the Interact ceremony, with the traditional Rotary Four-Way Test, principles that guide the Rotary organization:
— Is it the TRUTH?
— Is it FAIR to all concerned?
— Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
— Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?