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

Top 10 things you should know about the new Rotary Foundation funding model

140616_riseleyBy Ian Riseley, Rotary Foundation Trustee, Foundation Finance Committee chair

I’ve been very involved in the development of our Foundation’s new funding model and have closely followed the questions being raised about it in social media and elsewhere. The new funding model for The Rotary Foundation was developed because our ability to continue “doing good in the world” depends heavily on the Foundation having long-term financial stability. In the interests of improved communication and understanding of the changes, here are 10 important things to know about the new model, which becomes effective on 1 July 2015. Continue reading

Lighting up villages in Honduras

Tennessee Rotarian Charlie Brown with new friends at a school in Honduras.

Tennessee Rotarian Charlie Brewer with new friends at a school in Honduras.

By Jim Johnston, past governor of District 6760 and a member of the Rotary Club of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, USA

While RI President-elect Gary C.K. Huang has urged Rotary members to Light Up Rotary, the Rotary Club of Lawrenceburg has been leading an effort to light up villages in Honduras in a more literal sense.

In February, our team of 14 volunteers traveled to the country to wire 70 homes Continue reading

Empowering families to end poverty in Peru

Villagers increased their income by learning more efficient ways to raise guinea pigs and other livestock. Photo courtesy of Willem van Immerzeel

Villagers increased their income by learning more efficient ways to raise guinea pigs and other livestock. Photo courtesy of Willem van Immerzeel

By Willem van Immerzeel, a member of the Rotary Club of Inka Cusco, Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru, where I live, is a touristy place. Most visitors get only a glimpse of the poverty that exists in rural areas in my country. But poverty is a very real side of Peruvian society, deeply impacting the lives of the millions engulfed in it. Widespread poverty has a destabilizing effect on society and goes a long way in explaining the extreme violence that dominated life in Peru for decades.

Since I was young, I considered it my duty to contribute to end poverty. In the early 1980s, I worked as a volunteer in Guinea Bissau, Africa, and later in Cusco. I soon discovered that projects can provide relief for some, but eradicating poverty for many requires much more. Continue reading

How your gift to The Rotary Foundation changes lives

Construction on a new school in Masaya, Nicaragua. Photo courtesy Leonor Fraser

Construction on a new school in Masaya, Nicaragua. Photo courtesy Leonor Fraser

By Rotary staff

Leonor Fraser and other members of her Rotary club arrived in Masaya, Nicaragua, ready to deliver shoes to the elementary schoolchildren and play with them.

It immediately became apparent that the school, located near a diesel plant, had bigger problems. The plant emitted pollutants into the air, which made the children and teachers lethargic, and the cracked building had no sanitation facilities. Fraser had difficulty breathing during her visit. Continue reading

New England Rotarians bring Christmas to Lac Megantic

Rotarians deliver Christmas gifts in Lac Megantic. Photo courtesy of Marty Helman

Rotarians deliver Christmas gifts in Lac Megantic. Photo courtesy of Marty Helman

By Marty Helman, past governor of District 7780 (parts of Maine and New Hampshire, USA) 

Lac Megantic in southern Quebec made headlines for all the wrong reasons last July when a train filled with crude oil derailed in the town’s central business district. The resulting fire destroyed the town’s economic base, killed 47, and 24 local children lost one or both parents. In the wake of the disaster, Rotarians in District 7780 across the border in southern Maine and coastal New  Hampshire geared up to help.   Continue reading

My Christmas wish list

131224_huffEditor’s note: The following was adapted by Meg Huff, a member of the Rotary Club of Bloomfield, New York, USA, from a poem appearing in the Dear Abby advice column.

If you were to ask me, with the holidays drawing near,
“What would you like for Christmas; what should I get for you this year?”
If I say that I want nothing, you might get me something anyway,
So here’s a list of what I’d like, please believe me when I say: Continue reading

Rotary’s power transcends words

Construction on a new school in Masaya, Nicaragua. Photo courtesy Leonor Fraser

Construction on a new school in Masaya, Nicaragua. Photo courtesy Leonor Fraser

By Leonor Fraser, a member of the Rotary Club of Soldotna, Alaska, USA

“Even the world’s mightiest rivers have humble beginnings.”

Earlier this year, I was part of a team of Rotary members from my district who visited a school in San Jeronimo, Masaya, Nicaragua, to play with the children and deliver shoes. But what we discovered very quickly is the children needed much more than shoes.

Their school is located near a diesel-fuel plant that emits pollutants into the air. Continue reading

Lessons I learned in teamwork

130912_enricoBy Enrico Giuseppe Ferro, past president of the Yale University Rotaract Club, New Haven, USA, winner of the 2013 “Rotaract Outstanding Project Award for the USA, Canada and Caribbean Districts” 

In 2009, I took part in a Rotary Youth Exchange to Canandaigua, New York, USA, which taught me many things about teamwork.

I worked side by side with Rotarians and other exchange students to develop strategies to enhance our service efforts. We held themed-cuisine nights where we cooked and sold food native to our home countries to raise money for projects and shared ideas on how to promote each other’s good works. I realized how through Rotary I could work with people from many different perspectives to tackle urgent problems in our communities.

Continue reading

Microcredit program helps small businesses in Northern Illinois

Judy Zabielski (left)  and Laura Mueller, co-owners of Acacia Organics, in Barrington, Illinois, USA, benefitted from a microloan provided by the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club.

Judy Zabielski (left) and Laura Mueller, co-owners of Acacia Organics, in Barrington, Illinois, USA, benefitted from a microloan provided by the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club.

By Narayan Murarka, chair of the microcredit committee for the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club, Barrington, Illinois, USA

For several years, microcredit projects have been helping eliminate poverty by providing small loans to poor women in developing countries. But the need isn’t always overseas. Sometimes, it’s a lot closer to home.

My club launched a program in 2010 that focuses on small businesses in our area which are facing a short-term credit challenge. Continue reading