Jennifer Chiu.

5 years ago, Jennifer Chiu made a decision that changed her life. She saw a post on Facebook by a friend promoting the Otway Rotaract Club, a fledgling club at the time. She had never heard of Rotaract, but the chance to engage with people of a similar age who wanted to do good in the community and come together in friendship, was enticing. So, she went along to a meeting and joined up.

Now, she has been nominated for a Westfield Local Hero Award for her role as local branch leader for the charity Eat Up. The project has so far fed 6,000 students in 6 Colac district schools. The project engages volunteers from different sectors of the community to make sandwiches for marginalised children who would otherwise go hungry at school.

Otway Rotaract runs a number of hands-on community service activities including an annual Mothers’ Day Appeal for preloved children’s clothing and related goods, which are provided to Geelong Mums.

But it is not just the social action that Jennifer enjoys. Participating in Rotaract has helped to develop her self-confidence. At the time of joining, she considered her skills set to be narrow, focused on communication and media. However, through Rotaract she has been supported to develop her personal and professional skills.

“The club is very supportive. When someone has an idea, they help bring it to reality, which is very empowering, particularly for someone early in their career. It is a great opportunity to run projects and build on skills outside of work, including leadership, project and event management and interpersonal skills,” explained Jennifer. “It adds to your CV and the toolkit you can bring to an employer.”

Rotaract inspired Jennifer to make a change in the direction of her career. She is now working in the not-for-profit sector with Ourschool, which works with public schools across Victoria. She loves her job, which gives her a lot of purpose.

Through Rotaract Jennifer has made many friends, not just other club members but people she has met who have volunteered for club activities and in Rotary too.

“It can be easy to feel disconnected from the community, particularly at the moment, so Rotaract is a great opportunity to meet new people in your community,” said Jennifer.

A new Rotaract Club is being formed in Geelong. Rotaract brings together young professionals and students aged 18 to 35 years to develop professional and leadership skills, and have fun through community service. An online information session is being held on Tuesday 7 September.
Find out more and register:

Voting for our local Westfield Hero ends tomorrow. Three out of six nominated heroes will win $10,000 for their nominated causes. We wish team member Bronwyn Haskell from Peace of Mind, Jennifer Chiu from Eat Up and all the nominees, all the best.

Photo supplied.