As little as $2 a week does a world of good

140725_bergmanBy Teree Bergman, an assistant regional Rotary Foundation coordinator

A new Rotary year began 1 July, and that means it’s time to begin a new effort to have our members participate in Rotary’s work by donating to the Annual Fund. Rotary’s Every Rotarian Every Year (EREY) initiative empowers every Rotary member to be part of the humanitarian accomplishments of The Rotary Foundation.

Let me share a number I find unbelievable. During the year that ended 30 June, only 44 of the 666 clubs in the southwest region of the United States where I serve as coordinator earned an EREY banner. That’s a whopping 6 percent! (And keep in mind, not every member has to give $100 to qualify for the banner; the banners go to clubs that achieve a $100 average per member with every member giving some amount, however small.)   Continue reading

Peace, coffee, and sustainability

Rotary Peace Fellows take part in a leadership retreat.

Rotary Peace Fellows take part in a leadership retreat.

By Pamela Broussard, 2007 Rotary Peace Fellow at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

It has been more than 10 years since Rotary started training Rotary Peace Fellows around the globe. Today there are over 800 alumni working in a range of careers such as: international development, relief work, refugee services, military, government, education, and local grassroots organizations. If you have seen a crisis in the news, or on the Continue reading

My Rotary Youth Exchange — this year has opened my eyes

Victoria Alvarez and other youth exchange students during their trip to the West Coast of the United States.

Victoria Alvarez and other youth exchange students during their trip to the West Coast of the United States.

By Victoria Alvarez, a Rotary Youth Exchange student from Argentina to the United States

Most of you have probably heard of Rotary Youth Exchange, and maybe some of you have even been involved with the program. I recently completed my exchange year in the United States, and wanted to share the perspective of someone who has just taken part in one.

I come from Argentina, a little country on the edge of South America that you may have heard of recently because of the World Cup. It is in many ways very different from the United States. In signing up for an exchange to America, I stepped out alone into a culture unlike any I had experienced, in an unfamiliar environment, in a house I did not know, to live with people I did not know. Leaving behind family, friends, and most of what was familiar. Continue reading

Art provides a universal language of peace

Hands of Peace students during their visit to California.

Hands of Peace students during their visit to California.

By Kelly Mellos, fine artist and member of the Rotary Club of Encinitas Coastal, California, USA

People don’t get along because they fear each other. People fear each other because they don’t know each other. They don’t know each other because they have not properly communicated with each other.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

These words deeply resonated with me when the director of Hands of Peace came to speak to my club, explaining his dream of launching a grassroots peace project in our area, an expansion after 10 years in Chicago. Two years later, after our club’s initial alignment with Hands of Peace, the program is off the ground! Countless hours went into raising funds, recruiting volunteers and host families, and creating a three-week program, based on our mission of building peacemaking and leadership skills through the power of dialogue and personal relationships. Continue reading

Turning bicycle parts into wheelchairs for polio survivors

Ayuba Burki Gufwan, a polio survivor and member of Rotary, founded Beautiful Gate, an organization that makes wheelchairs for Nigerian polio survivors. Here Gufwan speaks about his mission and about advocating for polio immunization.

Read Gufwan’s blog post about Beautiful Gate.

The earth is a nice place to live because of Rotarians

Bharath Reddy during his Group Study Exchange.

Bharath Reddy during his Group Study Exchange in 2006-07.

By Bharath Reddy, a past district governor and member of the Rotary Club of Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, India

In 2006-07, I took part in a Group Study Exchange to Missouri in the United States, where I learned and trained with other professionals in my field.

During the exchange, I sharpened my leadership skills and made lifetime friends. It also helped me to build a bridge of friendship between Rotary members in India and the Midwest region of the United States, which has resulted in doing more community service projects and making everyone say, “The earth is a nice place to live because of Rotarians.” Continue reading

How do you invite someone to join Rotary? Just ask

Bill Wittich and a cup of his favorite brew.

Bill Wittich with a cup of his favorite brew.

By Bill Wittich, past president of the Rotary Club of Laguna Sunrise, Elk Grove, California, USA

Those who know me call me the Starbucks Guy! That is because I spend way too much time and money in my local Starbucks. But the truth is Starbucks is my best location for attracting new Rotary members.

Let me give you an example of a recent Sunday. My wife, Ann, and I are both Rotarians and we enjoy our tall Skinny Mochas. So sitting there we watched a young woman arrive with her computer and she was dressed for business. Both of us asked the question, “Is she a possibility for Rotary?” Continue reading

Little Free Libraries cropping up all over

A Little Free Library in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA.

A Little Free Library in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA.

By Harriet “Pepi” Noble, a member of the Rotary Club of Mechanicville, New York, USA

I grew up living on a country road in a small town in upstate New York. There were no other children nearby so my friends all lived in books. I helped Mary find the key to the garden, rode Black Beauty, sailed on the Hispaniola and solved mysteries with Nancy and so many more. I was never lonely, never bored. Continue reading

Biking against hunger

By Benjamin Rasmus, a member of the Rotary Club of Seattle-International District, Washington, USA, and program director for Rotary First Harvest

Hunger exists across America.

Roughly 50 million Americans face hunger everyday.Simultaneously, there is incredible food waste — 130 billion pounds of edible food is wasted every year. Often highly nutritious produce is tossed because of cosmetic imperfections or market variations. Many Americans mistakenly believe food insecurity is a problem confined to developing countries. However, hunger is a serious issue facing families from Seattle, Washington, to Washington D.C., and everywhere in-between. Continue reading

Together, Let’s Light Up Rotary

Gary and Corinna Huang at Rotary's annual training event, the International Assembly, in January.

RI President Gary C.K. Huang and his wife, Corinna, at the International Assembly, Rotary’s annual training event, in January.

By RI President Gary C.K. Huang

As we begin a new Rotary year, I would like to tell you that I’m honored to be your Rotary International president and to stand with you as Rotary members.

Being a Rotarian is about a way of approaching the world and its challenges. There are many people in this world who need help and many changes that need to be made. It can be overwhelming.

Confucius and Rotary share similar ideas, and one idea from Confucius is that “It is better to light one single candle than to sit and curse the dark.” To me, this means that we shouldn’t lose hope and do nothing. Continue reading