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Interact Club of Greater Kingsport offers youth an opportunity to grow and serve

Elizabeth Saulsbury • Nov 18, 2016 at 4:30 PM

“Service Above Self.”

This mantra is not only the motto of Rotary International, but also of its organization for teenagers, Interact Service Club. With clubs all over the country, the purpose of Interact is to allow young people to connect with their peers, serve their communities and learn about the world.

Kingsport’s location, the Interact Club of Greater Kingsport is an arm of the Rotary Club of Kingsport. The club currently has 22 members and is open to anyone ages 14-18. The club meets on Mondays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport.

According to Jane Crawford of the Rotary Club of Kingsport, Interact is a robust organization that provides a way for adolescents to grow and serve.

“The kids in this club really have a heart for service,” Crawford said.

Under the supervision of Rotary members, Interact coordinates service projects and promotes international understanding among members. Crawford said that Interact clubs are required to complete two major projects a year toward each of these goals.

This year’s major service project involves collecting winter clothing accessories and canned goods to distribute to the needy in the area. Barrels are located in the lobby of the Boys & Girls Club at A Positive Place off Stone Drive behind Rush Street.

Other recent projects at the Interact Club include a pumpkin coloring contest for younger children at the Boys & Girls Club, as well as pumpkin and donut fundraising efforts to raise money to donate to charity and to further the organization.

Crawford explained that holding the meetings at the Boys & Girls Club not only ensured that kids have a safe environment in which to meet, but also provides an easy opportunity for Boys & Girls Club members to get involved.

“Of course, we want to emphasize that Interact is open to any young person, not just members of the Boys & Girls Club,” Crawford said. “But having it at the Boys & Girls Club means that we always have a good base of youth there already.”

Lisa Beilharz, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport, is impressed by the way that Interact has impacted members of the Boys & Girls Club.

“I’m extremely proud of the change I’ve seen in these young people,” Beilharz said. “I’d love to broaden it out to other young people in the community.”

As the Interact Club of Kingsport continues to expand and thrive, with members sticking to the motto of “Service Above Self,” Crawford is eager to see the impact that the organization will have on young people in the community.

“We just try to make a difference in these young peoples’ lives,” Crawford said. “That’s what I want for these kids.”

For more information about joining the Interact Club of Kingsport, contact Jane Crawford at 423-335-9191 or the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport at 423-230-4160.