From foreign exchange student programs to ambassadorial and local scholarships from nearly every Rotary Club around the world, in more than 200 countries Rotarians dedicate themselves to assisting the next generation.
Each club has different criteria for awarding the scholarships and various ways of funding them.
At the Soldotna Rotary Club for nearly three decades, funds for local scholarships have been raised through the annual Rotary Rose sale.
For the last 23 years Rotarian Doug Schoessler has organized the sale, and this year 750 dozen were distributed though out the community in exchange for a $20 contribution.
“We’ve been giving out $1,000 scholarships every year for eight to 10 students on average, so that’s helped a lot of kids find their way forward with their education whatever they choose to pursue,” said Schoessler.
Several years back, according to Schoessler, the club decided to change their criteria for awarding the funds from an essay written on ethics and grade point averages to simply asking the student what kind of community service they had done during their high school career.
“Our motto is ‘Service Above Self’ and there is no grade point requirement to become a Rotarian just a willingness to serve,” Schoessler said. “So Leonor Araoz-Fraser had the idea to base our scholarships on service. We figure if they have the grades to be accepted to a school and have a heart to serve they deserve a chance to pursue their education. Our applications went from eight to 10 a year and sometimes fewer, to this year over 40, so it motivates us to sell as many roses as possible. One Rotarian was delivering roses at a store this year and a guy came up behind him and said ‘are them those Rotary Roses?’ He said ‘sure want a dozen?’ and the guy replied, ‘nah, don’t need no flowers! But here’s a $50, I lost my wife to cancer back when my kid was in high school and he never did make but C’s and D’s. But he was a good kid and took real good care of his mom so I could keep working and Rotary chose him for a $1,000 scholarship. He spent it out at KPC where he started making A’s and took to engineering and got a full ride to UAA (University of Alaska Anchorage), he’s an engineer now, so you take that $50 and keep doing what your doin’ with them flowers’.”