Helsinki International Rotary Club (HIRC)
HIRC was established in 1990 as Finland’s first English speaking Rotary club. Since that time it has continued to provide a Rotary ‘home’ for the city’s international community and to serve charitable causes that relate to the club’s multi-national background, in particular helping refugee children to integrate into Finnish society.
The membership is fairly constant at around 60 members, almost half of whom are foreign nationals living and working in Finland. The Finnish members are mostly comprised of international business people, diplomats, and academics, and all are fluent in English. Female members play an active role in the club, and of the 19 presidents to have held office since the club was chartered, three have been women.
The club has strongly supported Rotary’s international programmes including the Youth Exchange Programme. Each year HIRC is proud to sponsor two incoming and two outgoing students. Recently, the club also co-hosted five young professionals from Australia who were visiting Helsinki under the Rotary Group Study Exchange programme.
Refugee children have been the main focus of the club’s charitable activities, the aim being to ease and assist integration so that today’s refugee can become tomorrow’s good citizen. For example, the club recently donated audio-visual equipment and internet connections to promote computer literacy amongst the mothers of immigrant families in Helsinki.
HIRC has recently participated in two Matching Grant projects together with the Rotary Foundation and other Rotary clubs. The first related to the improvement of facilities at an Estonian activity centre for handicapped children, and the other to the promotion of literacy and sexual hygiene for Estonian teenagers.
The club has supported the creation of other English speaking international Rotary clubs within the district and in other parts of Finland, notably Turku and Oulu. HIRC was the sponsor club for the establishment in 2004 of the Tallinn International Rotary Club in Estonia.
The District Governor of Rotary District 1420 for the year 2007-2008 was Hans Sittnikow, a member of HIRC. Accordingly, the club was active in organising the PETS training seminar for incoming club presidents and secretaries, as well as the District Conference and other events related to the governorship. District 1420 comprises 59 clubs in southern Finland and 14 clubs in Estonia.
HIRC meets for lunch on Mondays from 11.30 am to 1 pm at Scandic Park Hotel Mannerheimintie 46, 00260 Helsinki. Visiting Rotarians are warmly welcomed to attend these meetings.