By Libby Hopkins

The motto of rotary is “service above self.” It conveys the humanitarian spirit of the organization’s more than 1.2 million members. The Brandon South Rotary Club has been teaching the students of Bloomingdale High School “service above self” for over three years with their Interact program. Interact is Rotary International’s service club for young people ages 14-18. The club organizes a variety of projects and activities that depend mostly on the interest of the students. Within the Interact program, both the club and the students work together to enhance leadership skills, serve their community, and expand international understanding.

Tonya Walsh is co-owner of Walsh Commercial Cleaning in Brandon and she is the liaison between Brandon South Rotary Club and Interact. She truly enjoys involving the students in many activities and making a difference by volunteering her time. “The program teaches students to become model patrons of the community,” Walsh said. Interact is one of the most important and fastest-growing programs of rotary service, with over 10,000 clubs in over 109 countries and geographical areas. The program has become a worldwide phenomenon with almost 200,000 students involved.

During the recent Christmas holidays, the students involved with the Interact program entertained residents at two assisted living facilities in the Brandon area. They sang Christmas carols and read a Christmas Story to the residents. The experience touched both the students and the residents. “The students love the feeling they get when they help the community,” Walsh said. “They enjoyed themselves so much that they have started to plan activities for Valentine’s Day and the upcoming holidays.”  Interact falls into the Bloomingdale club schedule under Black Clubs, which meet on the third Wednesday of each month. For more information on the Interact program or to learn more about Brandon South Rotary, you can visit their website at


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Libby Hopkins
Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.