By Claudia Urbano, Rotary Service and Engagement staff
Inspired by 2022-23 Rotary International President Jennifer Jones and the District 3820 Governor Gina Sy, the Rotary Club of Tiaong-Hiyas (Philippines) partnered with its community on a 12-week project to empower mothers in the community to take care of their well-being. The project brought together mothers to form a peer support network while helping them access services like basic blood work testing and electrocardiograms for disease screening and intervention, as well as health coaching, training on self-awareness, recognizing self-worth, increasing self-agency, and developing self-leadership. The goal was to help mothers make better choices about their own behavior, develop a peer support group, and help create a lasting positive impact on their health and on their loved ones.
Establishing a Rotary Community Corps increases the impact of projects by providing local solutions to local problems
At the end of the 12 weeks, the participants developed strong friendships with each other. They decided to continue their regular gatherings to share their new knowledge with other mothers and grow their peer network to reach youth about the prevention of substance use and early teen pregnancy. With the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Tiaong-Hiyas, the participants established the Rotary Community Corps Ilaw ng Tahanan, which means “the one that lights up the home” in Tagalog.
Unlike a Rotary or Rotaract club, whose participants are Rotary or Rotaract members, a Rotary Community Corps is a group of non-Rotarians who share the same commitment to making a positive, lasting change through service projects, often in partnership with their sponsoring Rotary club. More than 4000 Rotary clubs in 107 countries partner with Rotary Community Corps to improve their communities. The partnership empowers communities to take the lead in addressing their needs, increases the sponsor club’s reach and impact, and diversifies and attracts participation in club service activities.
The Rotary Community Corps Ilaw ng Tahanan wants to address the need for mental health support at the community level. They envision a world where mothers have access to support, enabling them to embrace motherhood with confidence, joy, and optimal health. Their goal is to provide mothers in their community with:
- Mental health and wellness awareness through education and open conversations.
- Peer support groups to facilitate change and improve lives
- Livelihood skills development by partnering with various organizations to provide training in income-generating activities.
- A holistic wellness center that offers mothers health-promoting opportunities for personal growth and development.
The group had its first official community project this year, which was a mental health awareness event on addiction among youth. They also participated in the Rotary Club of Tiaong-Hiyas induction ceremony with a mental health awareness picture booth.
They are getting ready to open their holistic wellness center, where mothers and other women can go for peer mental health support. There are also plans to create different kinds of livelihood training for women at the center in partnership with the local vocational school. The intention is to treat every mother’s journey with dignity, respect, and commitment to their well-being. The center will be managed by the Rotary Community Corps, with the support of mothers from the community and the Rotary Club of Tiaong-Hiyas.
Glenda Dela Cruz, immediate past president of the Rotary Club of Tiaong-Hiyas says, “In my country where mental health challenge is highly stigmatized, this is a HUGE step for them to embark on, but they are doing it! I am extremely proud of these mothers. They are slowly overcoming their struggles because they see that they have a safe space to express themselves, and with that, they are encouraging others to do the same. We are hoping for their success and hopefully become a model that can be duplicated in other communities.”
Collaboration between a community and Rotary members plays a crucial role in increasing the impact of a club’s projects. The Rotary Community Corps of Ilaw ng Tahanan and the Rotary Club of Tiaong-Hiyas are great examples of how a community can build a long-term partnership with a club by coming together to support each other and make a difference.
If you want to learn more about this Rotary Community Corps or get involved, please visit their website or email the Rotary Club of Tiaong-Hiyas. We also encourage all Rotary clubs to consider sponsoring a Rotary Community Corps. The process is easy!