Rotaract is a Rotary-sponsored service club for young men and women ages 18-30.  Rotaract clubs are either community or university based, and are sponsored by a local Rotary club.  This makes them true “partners in service” and key members of the family of Rotary.  All Rotaract efforts begin at the local, grassroots level with members addressing their communities’ physical and social needs while promoting international understanding and peace through a framework of friendship and service.  Rotaractors may also

  • Work together with Interact clubs or mentor Interactors
  • Participate in Rotary Youth Leadership Awards
  • Become Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholars or Group Study Exchange team members
  • Seek membership in their local Rotary club after their Rotaract membership ends.


From the inaugural Mercyhurst Rotaract class, the club historian, Heather Richmond, attended the Rotary International Convention in Spain via Erie Club sponsorship.  Following graduation from Mercyhurst, she joined Mercy Corps doing service work in the south for two years – durin g the first three months in Mercy Corps, she tithed 10% from her living subsidy (no pay at Mercy Corps) and donated it to The Rotary Foundation PolioPlus Campaign in gratitude for the mentoring we gave her through Rotary.  She then joined the Peace Corps where she spent three years working in a small village in the Phillipines – in her third year there she worked to raise funds to build a community center and library for her village.  I stayed in touch with her over all those years and encouraged her to apply for the Rotary master’s degree in Peace & Conflict Resolution as her experience, credentials and life passion spoke to being qualified.  She was accepted as one of 10 Rotary International World Peace Fellows at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan and completed that program in 2011.  This is only one example of a success story from our mentoring young people of which all Erie Club Rotarians should be quite proud.

  • Mary Ellen Dahlkemper (2003-04)


As one of Rotary’s most significant and fastest-growing service programs, with more than 8,400 clubs in about 170 countries and geographical areas, Rotaract has become a worldwide phenomenon.

Brady Louis (1977-78) and Mary Ellen Dahlkemper (2003-04) were instrumental in creating the Rotaract Club at Mercyhurst University in April 2000, along with help from Harry Sinden (1988 – 89) and John Bloomstine (1999 – 2000).

The Rotoract Club was established in April 2000 and held an official inaugural luncheon on November 29th in the Mercy Heritage Room, where all Erie Rotarians were invited to see District Governor James Eck present the new Rotaract charter.




Interact is Rotary International’s service club for young people ages 12 to 18.  Interact clubs are sponsored by individual Rotary clubs which provide support and guidance but they are self-governing and self-supporting.  Club membership varies greatly.  Clubs can be single gender or mixed, large or small.  They can draw from the student body of a single school or from two or more schools in the same community.

Each year, Interact clubs complete at least two community service projects, one of which furthers international understanding and goodwill.  Through these efforts, Interactors develop a network of friendships with local and overseas clubs and learn the importance of

  • Developing leadership skills and personal integrity
  • Demonstrating helpfulness and respect for others
  • Understanding the value of individual responsibility and hard work
  • Advancing international understanding and goodwill

As one of the most significant and fastest-growing programs of Rotary service, with more than 10,700 clubs in 109 countries and geographical areas, Interact has become a worldwide phenomenon.  Almost 200,000 young people are involved in Interact.

Thanks to the efforts of father and son team, Brady (1977-78) and Mark Louis (2008-09), the Mercyhurst Rotaract Club sponsored the creation of an Interact Club at Villa Maria Academy in Spring 2003.

Mark spoke to the Villa student government president and learned that the school had no community-sponsored service clubs.  Brady spoke at Villa in February on volunteerism and met with the school principal, Sr Anne Marie Joint, prior to his speech to present the Rotaract Interact story.  She was delighted with the idea and they decided it could be positioned under Campus Ministry.

Brady mentioned the idea at the end of his speech to the student body and was then approached by a faculty member, a former Rotary Exchange Student, who volunteered to be the advisor for the Interact Club.  Right then and there two students spontaneously expressed their interest in organizing the club and the rest is history!



Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA)

RYLA is Rotary's leadership training program for young people;  participants can be ages 14-30, but most clubs and districts choose to focus on a narrower age range, such as 14-18 or 19-30.  RYLA emphasizes leadership, citizenship, and personal growth, and aims to

  • Demonstrate Rotary’s respect and concern for youth
  • Provide an effective training experience for selected youth and potential leaders
  • Encourage leadership of youth by youth
  • Recognize publicly young people who are rendering service to their communities

   *** CANCELLED FOR 2021 



Rotary Outstanding Vocational Award (ROVA)

ROVA is an intensive educational program for vocational youth leaders.  Young people chosen for their potential will attend a “Leadership Camp” to learn and enhance skills through effective practice.



  1. Demonstrate the respect Rotary District 7820 has for youth who are potential leaders attending a Vocational Education Program
  2. Provide a positive training experience for selected youth and potential leaders
  3. Encourage leadership of youth by youth
  4. Recognize publicly young people who are rendering service to their communities, their peers, and their school.



  • Fundamentals of leadership
  • Ethics of positive leadership
  • Importance of communication skills in effective leadership
  • Problem-solving and conflict management
  • Time management and decision making
  • Rotary’s purpose and service to the community
  • Building self-confidence and self-esteem in young people from a vocational setting
  • Elements of community and global citizenship
  • Essentials of volunteer leadership

   *** CANCELLED FOR 2021 


Club Events
Club Leaders
Weekly Bulletin
District Events
Every Rotarian / Every Year