Northboro, Southboro students partner with Rotary to give service to world
By Christine Galeone
Posted Jul. 7, 2016 at 6:05 AM
Updated Jul 7, 2016 at 4:24 PM
NORTHBORO – Providing things like food, clean water, shelter, education and medicine to people in need isn’t easy. Logistics, funding and awareness are just a few of the hurdles volunteers face. But a group of local students may have the answer.
“If you do something you love, you won’t feel the hardships of it,” said Sruthi Tanikella, a student at Algonquin Regional High School.
The teen just founded the Interact Club of Northboro-Southboro. On June 30, at the Northboro Senior Center, the Northboro Rotary Club held an induction ceremony to officially welcome Sruthi and her fellow club members to Interact, a service-focused international society. Open to students aged 12-18 who want to serve their communities and their world, it’s part of Rotary International – a service organization for adults.
Sruthi, whose dad once started a Rotaract club – Rotary’s society for young adults – said she wasn’t as committed to volunteering when she was a young child. Growing up in Northboro, she didn’t witness dire need.
That changed when she was 12 years old. When her dad had to relocate the family to India because of his work, she became aware of extreme poverty.
Even though she’s also interested in video editing and performing a classical Indian form of dance and music called Bharatanatyam, the experience kindled in her a strong desire to help people by volunteering.
“You see the rich and the poor living together,” recalled Sruthi of her time spent in India. She added “They’re going to need me someday, so I should start now.”
Starting an Interact club with like-minded students gives her and the other club members the opportunity to make a difference together. One area in which Sruthi hopes the club can serve others is through disaster relief. She said she was recently inspired by a Northboro Rotary Club project, in which a ShelterBox – a custom-filled family-sized disaster relief tent – was purchased for disaster victims. Sruthi said she hopes their Interact club can complete similar hands-on projects by “making sure the money gets where it needs to.”
The other students in the club are also looking forward to projects that will help the community. One of those students, Andrew Federici, was one of the teens who attended the induction ceremony. Andrew said “What I am excited for the Interact club is to have the opportunity to help the community and the world in so many different ways and at the same time be able to hone my own skills in leadership and service.”
Two other club members who attended the ceremony are Kevin Schwalm and his younger brother, Brian. “We hope through the club we can show students how service can be exciting and fun, as well as help the community,” said Kevin. “If we can show people the benefits of service, the community will be a better place. We really hope the Interact club will take off and get the community involved in serving and raising awareness for important causes – both locally and globally.”
With such enthusiasm from Sruthi, who will be the club’s president, and the other club members, the club’s first year should be a productive one. Looking ahead, Sruthi said the members are considering holding a world diversity fair to bring the community together to learn about different cultures.
Patricia Doyle, the outgoing president of the Northboro Rotary Club and incoming co-governor (along with her husband, Skip) of the Central Massachusetts Rotary district, summed up the club’s induction by saying “With amazing kids like this, there’s hope. There really is.”
For Northboro/Southboro students aged 12-18 who are interested in learning more about the club, or for anyone who wants general information or may be interested in forming a club, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org