Rotary founder, Paul Harris, hoped that the membership of each club would represent a broad range of vocations within their community. He encouraged Rotarian’s to practice a high standard of ethics, and to support each other’s businesses.
Once a month, the Breakfast Business Roundtable meets and is only open to club members. This informal discussion provides a venue where a smaller group can meet to share business concerns and resources, and learn more about each other’s businesses.
In 1992, our club developed a program to promote the free enterprise system by giving high school students a hands-on experience creating their own businesses. Each year we take about 60 Long Beach area students up to YMCA Camp Oakes in Big Bear, and over the course of 2-1/2 days the students work in teams to create a business plan for a brand new business, and then present it to the entire group. The program develops teamwork skills, builds up self-confidence, and teaches practical business lessons in marketing, finance, operations, and more. Students that previously might not have ever been exposed to business concepts get to work with Rotarians who own businesses and have valuable experience to share. Our goal is to inspire the students to pursue a career they are passionate about, and to give them some tools to help them succeed in business and in life.
We offer additional assistance to local students by helping to connect them with one-on-one mentoring opportunities, either with Rotarians or through other resources. In addition, we have recently expanded our mentoring efforts to include an internship program, where Camp Enterprise alumni can gain work experience during their summer break at a local Rotarian-owned business.
The first Rotary clubs nationwide were all small enough to rotate the weekly meetings amongst the different member businesses. To capture that same spirit, our large club plans at least two offsite lunch meetings each year. The “Rotary Roots” offsite program includes 8 host member businesses/organizations from which our members can choose to visit. This gives an opportunity for the host members to delve more deeply into their businesses or into interesting topics related to their businesses with 10-12 of their fellow club members. At other times throughout the year, we visit other local organizations in order to learn more about the Long Beach community we all enjoy.