Close out Vocational Service Month by spearheading a project with your local Goodwill

Jim Gibbons

By Jim Gibbons, President and CEO of Goodwill® Industries International

In October 2009, more than 10 percent of the general U.S. workforce was unemployed—marking the highest rate we had seen in 26 years. While the national unemployment rate is now less than 8 percent, there is still ample room for improvement. Fewer than 22 percent of persons with disabilities are in the workforce. The jobless rate for veterans who served since September 2001 was more than 12 percent last year. And youth unemployment remains at an alarming 50 percent. Continue reading

Seeking new horizons

John Davis

By John Davis, past governor of District 9800 (Australia) and district Rotary Foundation committee chair

After two years of working with the Future Vision pilot, we are certainly aware that change and sustainability are important concepts to Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.

But some may ask: Why change a formula that on the surface appears to be producing results? Is it simply change for change sake? Most certainly not. As an organization, we are not attracting young adults in the numbers we would like. Continue reading

My Rotary moment

Nick and Silvia Phillips

By Nick Phillips, Rotary Coordinator for Zone 20A South and a member of the Rotary Club of Eshowe, South Africa. 

RI President Sakuji Tanaka, in his August message, encourages Rotarians to share those special experiences that stand out as their “Rotary Moment.” Sharing these personal stories can go much farther, sometimes, than facts and figures in attracting prospective members. Continue reading

Service loves company

Marc LeBlanc and Eva Gorny

Rotaractors Marc LeBlanc and Eva Gorny take part in an icebreaker during the Rotaract Preconvention Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

By Ryan Hyland, RI Editorial staff, reporting from Bangkok, Thailand

Rotaract preconventions are a time to meet new friends, get reacquainted with old ones, share projects and experiences. Most of all have fun.

But a time to fall in love? That part didn’t quite make it in the Rotaract handbook. However, Rotaractors Marc LeBlanc and Eva Gorny did just that during the 2008 preconvention in Birmingham, England.

Both are members of the Rotaract Club of the University of Lethbridge, Canada. They went to Birmingham, as friends I might add, to represent their club as it was the recipient of the North American Rotaract Outstanding Project award for raising US$25,000 for a microcredit project in Costa Rica. Continue reading

Joining together to fight hunger

Fruit to School

Children receive fruit as part of a fruit to schools program supported by the Global FoodBanking Network. Photo courtesy of Global FoodBanking Network

By Maurice Weaver, senior project manager for Global FoodBanking Network, a service partner of Rotary International.

Recently, the Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) entered a service partnership with Rotary International  to allow the two organizations to pool their resources to work closely together to fight hunger.

At GFN, we are excited to work with the many Rotarians who have already shown tremendous dedication toward making a difference in this area. Our two organizations share common goals. Continue reading

Culinary kitchen, computer lab give women in Costa Rica a chance at a better life

Women in San José, Costa Rica, learn cooking skills in a kitchen funded by the Rotary clubs of Portland Pearl, Oregon, USA, and Belén, Belén, Costa Rica.

By Donald Q. Smith, a member of the Rotary Club of Portland Pearl, Minnesota, USA.

If teenage girls from a barrio of suburban San José, Costa Rica, earn a high school diploma, their quality of life is likely to improve.

And if their mothers learn cooking skills, their lives, too, will be changed.

Those have been the goals of two successful projects by the Rotary clubs of Portland Pearl, Oregon, USA, and Belén, Belén, Costa Rica, both funded in part by grants from The Rotary Foundation.

The two clubs forged their first links at a project fair hosted by Central America Rotarians. Continue reading

Pilot, non-pilot districts work together to alleviate poverty

Rotarians from California, USA, and Honduras attend the opening of two micro credit banks in El Marillal in February. Photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise, California.

By Heather Frankle, member of the Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise, California, USA

New entrepreneurs sign loan documents. Photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise, California.

They say that when life gives you lemons – make lemonade! When we learned our long-time partner, District 4250 (Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras), was in the Future Vision pilot, I certainly thought we had landed in a pile of lemons.

Clubs in my non-pilot District 5240 in California, USA, had been partnering in grants with the Rotary Club of Tegucigalpa, D.C., Honduras, for 10 years to provide corrective surgery for children born with club feet. We were also involved in an “Adopt a Village” project in El Marillal, Honduras, with the Rotary clubs of Choluteca, Choluteca, and Real de Minas-Tegucigalpa, D.C.  Continue reading

Supporting literacy in the jungles of Guatemala

Rotarian Barry Gray (left) with Walter Proppe (far right), a student at the Ak’Tenamit school, and his family.

 By Barry Gray, a member of the Rotary Club of Deerfield, Illinois, USA.

Sweating profusely, and aching in my knees from the strenuous hike through the jungle, I was beginning to question my sanity and wonder what I had gotten myself into.

My son Jeff, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and I joined 18 other Rotarians from northern Illinois for nine days in late January, delving deep into the rainforest of eastern Guatemala on a service project with District 6440 (Illinois, USA) to Ak’Tenamit.

Continue reading

Real change and a Rotary challenge

Former Scholar and Youth Exchange student Hunter Tanous at a Rotary club in Zahle, Lebanon.

Former Ambassadorial Scholar and Youth Exchange student Hunter Tanous recently visited a Rotary club in Zahle, Lebanon.

By Hunter Tanous, alumni of the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and Youth Exchange programs

It’s 6:30 a.m. on a work week in Nairobi, Kenya. East Africa is facing possibly the worst drought in 60 years, and I work for the leading social enterprise [Backpack Farm] working with small farmers in the region. I put those together in the same sentence because they are sadly contradictory statements.
Why is it that East Africa, a largely agriculture-based society with the land and labor to feed nearly all of Africa, still falls into famine year after year after year? Even as I speak about the drought in East Africa, little ol’ Zimbabwe is quietly falling into starvation. Zimbabwe, a country that used to be the bread basket of the South, is now facing famine. Why is all this happening?
The list of reasons goes on and on — water, HIV/AIDS, corruption, politics, war. But another reason is a lack of long-term investment and commitment to small-scale growth.


John Hewko

John Hewko

By John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary

Welcome to our new blog designed to tell the Rotary story from a variety of angles and in many different voices. We’ll showcase stories of Rotarians fighting the war on polio—at National Immunization Days and through fundraisers in their communities. We’ll also give voice to those who are working to make a difference in our six areas of focus: peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development.

Continue reading