By Michael McCabe, a member of the Rotary Club of Washington Global and Peace Corps Director of the Inter-America and Pacific Region
In 2022, I had a conversation with former international development colleagues who were all members of the Rotary Club of Washington Global. I joined that club because I realized that, with my passion for service, Rotary is a natural fit for me.
Service has been part of my DNA from the time I volunteered as a hugger during the International Special Olympics in 1979. The following words of Martin Luther King Jr. have been ingrained in me from my youth, passed down from my parents, reinforced by my heroes, and embodied by my friends and work colleagues.
“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”
After high school, as part of the musical group Up With People, I promoted cross-cultural understanding and service. Later in college, I served with numerous outreach programs and after graduation, spent two years in Mexico with an organization I set up called Hands Across the Border, which connected recent college graduates with year-long service opportunities in Mexico, Honduras, and Haiti.
That led me to work in the Dominican Republic with UNICEF and Peace Corps, where I first collaborated with Rotary and Rotaract clubs on expanding models of volunteer service such as the national youth service program called Sirve Quisqueya. That experience led into further opportunities with the Inter-American Foundation, Peace Corps, and USAID. In total, I have spent more than 30 years working in international development. Interactions with Rotary and Rotaract clubs over the years showed me the power of volunteerism to meet the local needs of all citizens.
The Rotary Club of Washington Global has built a sense of solidarity among members and with the rest of Rotary through various means. There’s our “lunch and learn” series that shares innovations in international development; our work with Rotary Peace Fellows; our projects with Shepherd’s Table, a local social service agency; and our support of recent refugee families from Afghanistan.
In response to my desire to support young professionals, we created a Young Professionals in Development Mentoring model. It connects our members with younger professionals in the international development field. It’s fulfilling to provide the support and insights that help them grow in their careers.
Peace Corps currently places US citizen volunteers to serve in 62 countries. Rotary Clubs and Peace Corps have a long history of collaboration in many of the 141 countries where Peace Corps volunteers have served for more than 60 years. The two organizations share priorities related to health, water/sanitation, and community development.
Peace Corps has expanded service opportunities from our two-year model to our Peace Corps Response model (3-12-month assignments for those with more experience), and our Virtual Service Pilot Program. I hope Rotarians see further opportunities to serve. Besides volunteering with Peace Corps, they can support volunteers’ Peace Corps Partnership Program grants or joining with returned Peace Corps volunteers to share expertise, networks, and service opportunities. We continue our journey together to ensure that everyone can meet their local needs through collaborative service.
Learn more about Rotary – Peace Corps Week, 18-22 September, 2023