“My father and grandfather were involved in Rotary, so I was quite familiar with it while growing up,” said Liz Raines, the recently elected president of the La Jolla New Generations Rotary Club.
Raines, a 25-year old Pacific Beach resident, certainly does not fit the perception held by many of your typical Rotary member, let alone being president of a club. Suffice to say she is the youngest president of a Rotary Club in San Diego.
However, her passions for being involved in Rotary are a perfect complement to the goals and ideals of the international organization.
“I am very passionate about service both on a national and international level,” she exclaimed. “I am very excited about the direction our club is moving.”
The La Jolla New Generations Rotary Club, which started in February 2006, represents an entirely new approach and concept for the organization.
“Our members are in the age range of 25 to 45 years old, with 55 percent of those being women,” Raines explained. “We are looking for young professionals who want to make a difference locally, nationally and internationally. The average age of our members is 33 years old.”
Raines, a USD alum, points to some of the projects the club is working on as an example of the opportunities which exist for members.
“In Africa we are working on building a merry-go-round which is attached to a water pump,” she said. “When the kids play on the merry-go-round, its circular movement draws water up to the pump for the people in the village. In Jamaica we are involved in a literacy project as well as efforts here in San Diego.”
While the projects are of a serious nature, the weekly club meetings are of a different nature.
“It is a happy hour club, so the focus is different than most Rotary Clubs,” said Raines, referring to the 5:30 pm start time. “We always have a guest speaker, which is an opportunity to learn, but there are also plenty of laughs and good-natured razzing between members.”
She also explained how Rotary members from other clubs attend their meetings to help them learn more about the organization. Individual clubs also provide financial assistance and mentoring support.
The club also has created a pioneering spirit. as it is the first Rotary Club of its kind in the USA, but the concept, according to Raines, has exploded with more clubs opening up in California and around the country for younger professionals.
Raines, who works for the Girl Scouts in membership development, returned to San Diego last year in August after she left following college graduation.
“Liz is too modest to give you all the details,” said Brittany Catton, who serves as public relations chair for the club. “She was working in a homeless shelter in Nashville and living at near-poverty level. She is a phenomenal woman with all the things she is able to accomplish. We are excited to have her as our club president.”
For Raines and Catton, the club provides a great balance of education, fun and service.
“We get to sit around and learn, save the world and drink beer,” Raines said.
The La Jolla New Generation Rotary Club meets every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Trophy's Restaurant UTC, 4282 Esplanade Court.
For information visit www.newgenrotary.org.