We recently interviewed President-elect Melissa Correia to find out more about our next club president.
1. What information helps people know who you are?
 
Primarily, I would say that most people would identify me as the director of the Newark Public Library.  I have lived in Newark for 20 years now, though, and have only been the library director here in Newark for 3 ½ years, so many people in the community would also be likely to know me through my children and my involvement in their school activities.  My kids graduated in 2017 and 2019, though, so that part of my life is fading fast.  
 
On the personal side, I love cooking and baking, am a big reader (shocking right?), a jigsaw puzzle enthusiast and a huge player of games.  I have been married to Andy Correia, who is the Wayne County Public Defender, for 25 years and have a daughter (Emma) in college and a son (Jackson) who is a Corpsman with the UN Navy.
 
2. What drew you to Rotary and why did you join?
 
I was asked to join in 2010 when I was the director of the Clifton Springs Library.  Like many people, I joined for the networking, but I stay for the fellowship and service.  I thought it would be good for my library if I was involved in Rotary, since many “important” people in the community were Rotarians.  However, I soon developed friendships with fellow Rotarians and enjoyed lunch meeting every week and participating in fundraising and service projects.  
 
 
 
3. What do you find most valuable about your involvement in Rotary?
 
I love being part of an organization that makes a difference in the community and the world, whether through volunteering with community projects, scholarships for high school students, student exchange programs or through financial support of local and global grants.  My family and I have hosted foreign exchange students twice, and those experiences really enriched our lives.
 
 
 
4. What have you accomplished in Rotary in which you take the most pride?
 
I would say I take the most pride in being a host family for exchange students.  Rotary Clubs often struggle to find host families and we were glad we could make it happen twice.  I feel like we offered the 2 students - Wika from Poland and Eliana from Italy - a loving, comfortable home for the time they were with us and a genuine “American teenager” experience.
 
 
 
 
5. You will lead the club in the 2021-22 year.  What do you hope to accomplish?
 
In the trainings I have attended leading up to my term as president, improving the club experience and making Rotary more welcoming, compelling and accommodating to everyone has been stressed over and over again.  Offering virtual meetings has gone a long way toward making attending easier, but we still have to re-think our meetings and make sure they work for everyone.  Does the format need to be changed?  What about the day and time?  Are weekly meetings too many? Is meeting cost a factor for people?  Do people have to choose between Rotary and work or Rotary and family?  Can we bring work and family in to Rotary? Do we want to move in the direction of being a more cause-based club because having a cause attracts members and keeps them engaged?  Or do we instead, want to develop a cause-based satellite club?  Young people are people of action.  Can we offer enough hands-on service projects to engage young members?  There’s so much to think about and so many opportunities!
 
I would also like to raise the profile of Rotary in our community.  I know for a fact that most people have no idea of what we do in Newark and around the world to help people.  People that I work with have asked me what Rotary actually does.  This concerns me and makes me worried that people still think of Rotary as an exclusive (men’s) lunch club that just sits around and networks and talks business.
 
6. What would you say to someone who may be interested in joining Rotary?
 
I would say that they absolutely have to come to a meeting or two to see what we’re all about.  Do they know that we are this close to eradicating polio around the world?  Do they know that we give scholarships to two graduating Newark High School seniors each year?  Do they know that we foster understanding of other countries and cultures by supporting an international exchange student each year here in Newark and one from Newark who goes to live in another country for a school year?  Do they know that we collect school supplies for students who can’t afford them at the beginning of every school year?  Do they know that we provide a Thanksgiving and Christmas meal for those in need in our community each year?  Do they know that we raise funds every year for Literacy Volunteers of Wayne County and Laurel House Comfort Care?  Do they know that we’re supporting an orphanage in Haiti and helping to provide fresh water to a village in Mexico?  Do they know about our partnership with the mobile pantry for food distribution and our community garden that provides fresh vegetables to the food cupboard in the summer?  And finally, do they know that they can hone their leadership and public speaking skills and develop friendships with other Rotarians?  
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