‘Getting dirty’ with RCF lead: Interact at HVA

Interact Club members at Hardin Valley Academy, sponsored by The Rotary Club of Farragut, have given ample evidence of grasping Rotary International’s “Service Above Self” motto.

Hitting the ground running with projects promoting Rotary’s missions, “They’ve gotten down and gotten dirty with us,” said Leah Berry, RCF sponsor for the Interact Club. “They did a spring cleanup with us last year, and we were all dressed in waders, picking up trash from the stream (behind Costco).”

Berry said she was surprised at the students’ eagerness to serve and come up with ideas.

“The things they have done with us have not been glamorous,” she pointed out. “Everything we do is not fun and games.

“They have had to get up, when it was dark and cold outside, and help coordinate with the Flu Shot Saturday (September 2020),” Berry added. “They really participated in the (Christmas) project our club did with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

“After school, they were sewing bags. They did it for days and days, getting ready for that project. They’re not just showing up for a 30-minute meeting, they’re really contributing.”

As a mother of a 13-year-old, Berry made the observation, “Maybe kids these days are a little bit more civic-minded.”

HVA Interact members are helping with a Rotary International project to raise money to purchase eye exams and eyeglasses for students in Mexico, while preparing to participate in a district Rotary-sponsored Four Way speech contest, which will be held virtually in mid-February.

“From being in the club, I have learned about the importance of taking initiative to address needs in the community,” said Abigail “Abby” Wildi, president of HVA’s Interact Club and daughter of Debbie and Rob Wildi. “For example, when some of our members saw a need in our school community at one of our first meetings, we were able to immediately start working together to organize donations and take action to help.

“A benefit I have received from the club that I didn’t expect to get before joining is the support we receive from the Farragut Rotary in our projects,” she added. “Once we plan and have a project ready that we are passionate about, they are always willing to help out with donating and finding the resources we need to help us meet our goals.”

Wildi said her favorite project thus far was collecting toy donations for ETCH.

“We were hoping to help make the holidays more special for children who had to spend them in the hospital,” she added.

“In the future, I would like to see our Interact Club complete a project benefiting our local senior living and nursing homes because it is something that several members have expressed interest in.”

Formed three years ago, HVA Interact has 13 members.

“A few of my goals for the club this year have been to complete a local project, as well as an international project, and to invite new members to join our club,” said the HVA senior, an Interact member since her sophomore year.