The reasons why people join their local Rotary club can be many, but historically some of the key interests of prospective members include:
Take for example, one of the more recent members to join Columbia-Patuxent Rotary’s ranks – Michael Werling – following experience in the Rockville and Bethesda clubs. He was born in Spain but relocated to the US with his parents in 1998. His father was a Penn State grad, a second-generation Eagle Scout, a Peace Corps volunteer and a University of Maryland professor. His mother grew up in Santa Barbara, CA, also was a Peace Corps volunteer and worked in school food service.
As a high schooler in Virginia, Michael was active in an environmental science program that fueled his interest in the outdoors. “As I was graduating high school, I had the opportunity to do missionary work in the Dominican Republic and Haiti,” Michael said. “I was there for three or four weeks, and that was probably the first time I was really able to truly see the world - to see that we're all in this together - and that we need to help everyone regardless of where they're at in life or where they're at in this world.”
Following graduation from the University of Virginia, Michael joined the nonprofit world and was offered an opportunity to handle Boy Scout operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands. But he methis future wife - Cindy - in the meantime. She had also lived in Virginia and had attended the same elementary school as Michael - with the same teacher - but a year apart. Cindy has been a dedicated educator for 10 years and is a talented, artistic crafter.
Today Michael serves as Community Outreach Specialist for the Community Action Council of Howard County. He describes his CAC work this way: “We have many needs in our community and the Community Action Council is an incredible way for families who are in need to get resources. A lot of our programs are funded by grants, but unfortunately there’s still a huge gap.
“We rely on private contributions and private volunteers from across this county for help. Somebody needs to facilitate that help. It’s my responsibility – and a very humbling opportunity – that I have every single day. It’s something that I don't take for granted.”
Michael also does not take his Rotary club responsibilities for granted. He’s known for his willingness to lend a helping hand whatever the occasion, and to pitch-in when the need arises, often without being asked. Like we said, Rotarians are some of nicest – and most helpful – people you’ll ever meet.