Biking against hunger on Chicago’s South Side

By John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary

I biked about 25 miles from Evanston to Chicago’s South Side Englewood neighborhood last week with my wife, Marga; Benjamin Rasmus, a Seattle Rotary member and program director for Rotary First Harvest; Rotary member David Bobanick, Rotary First Harvest’s executive director; and a contingent of co-workers from RI World Headquarters.

Through this experience, we learned more about our community and the work Rotary members are doing to address hunger. We saw firsthand the innovative efforts underway in Englewood to provide access to fresh, locally grown produce to families living in what has been referred to as a “food desert.”  Continue reading

Traveling around the world experiencing Rotary

By Brian Rocha, a member of the Rotary Club of Goleta, California, and District 5240 Public Relations Chair

I’ve done a bit of traveling in my life. But recently, I got an urge to turn my travel experience into something much more rewarding. I wanted to travel not just to travel, but to make an impact and make a difference in the world.

I pitched the idea to my Rotary club and Rotary International, and they were in full support. Support in terms of moral support. I financed the trip myself. So last year, I began an eight month journey visiting several different countries around the world, capturing pictures and video throughout the experience. Continue reading

Who’s your Tommy?

140811_pollardjrBy William D. Pollard, Jr., Rotary Club of Churchland, Portsmouth, Virginia, USA

I joined Rotary in 1988 at the age of 25. Whenever I think of why we should invite someone to join Rotary, I think of Tommy.

Two years after starting a banking career in Richmond, Virginia, I was asked to work in my hometown of Petersburg. One of the first people to visit me was Tommy Adkins, a retired banker, who asked me to attend a Rotary club meeting. Tommy lived on the same street as my family when I was growing up, and I even delivered his newspaper. Continue reading

Protecting the rights of indigenous peoples

Athili Sapriina during the annual Rotary Peace Fellow seminar at the University of Queensland.

Athili Sapriina during the annual Rotary Peace Fellow seminar at the University of Queensland, Australia.

By Athili Sapriina, 2013-2014 Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia

I first became aware of Rotary Peace Fellowships during a trip to the Rotary Peace Center at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, US, in 2008. I had previously attended the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City and over the years witnessed an increased involvement of Rotary with indigenous peoples issues. I am honored to be the first Naga to be awarded a Rotary Peace Fellowship.

The three million Nagas are indigenous peoples of the mountainous frontier between India and Burma. Since the end of British colonialism, Nagas have fiercely defended their independence resulting in the death of thousands — Indians, Burmese and Nagas

Continue reading

Providing women the Right to Go in rural India

A woman stands in front of her toilet block in Sogav, India.

A woman stands in front of her toilet block in Sogav, India.

By Atul Bhide, immediate past president of the Rotary Club of Thane Hills, India

Less than 80 kilometers (49.6 miles) from the urban centers of Mumbai and Thane, India, lies the village of Sogav in Shahapur Taluka. Here, like in many villages in India, women and girls face the daily indignity of having to walk miles in the early hours to find a safe and discreet place to relieve themselves.

A simple bodily need that many of us take for granted exposes these women and children to hygiene and safety risks every day. It is a difficult situation under normal circumstances, but when these women experience any kind of sickness or health concern, their experience becomes appalling. Continue reading

Taking Rotary into the next generation

Members of the recently chartered Rotary Club of Plaza Matriz in Montevideo, Uruguay. Photo courtesy of Erin Mills

Members of the recently chartered Rotary Club of Plaza Matriz in Montevideo, Uruguay. Photo courtesy of Erin Mills

By Erin Mills, Rotary Scholar and charter member of the Rotary Club of Plaza Matriz in Montevideo, Uruguay

A little over six years ago, I packed my luggage and boarded a plane for Montevideo, Uruguay, as an  Ambassadorial Scholar from Arizona, USA, to that tiny corner of the world I now call home. It’s where I teach future English language educators at the University of Montevideo, where I teach middle school children from around the world at the American International School, and where 24 young professionals and I are taking Rotary into the next generation.  Continue reading

Interactor says Youth Exchange is unforgettable

Youth Exchange students in Europe.

Youth Exchange students in Europe.

By Augusto La Colla, a Rotary Youth Exchange student from Villa Regina, Argentina, to Muenster, Germany

Through my Interact club in Argentina, I learned of an opportunity last year to go on a Rotary Youth Exchange to Muenster, Germany. I want to echo what others have said on this blog, that Youth Exchange is an unforgettable experience.

I had the pleasure of staying with two families in Germany — the Kirchhoffs and Beikers — and I consider both part of my family. Getting to know the German culture, to be a part of it, and to be immersed in it, I developed a new appreciation for my home country, and the world beyond. It made me realize just how amazing this world is, and gave me a desire to work to make the world a better place.  Continue reading

Your contributions are truly award-winning

We would like to thank all of you who have contributed stories to help make this blog inspiring and captivating since our launch in 2012. With your help, Rotary Voices won a silver 2014 EXCEL Award from Association Media & Publishing for general excellence in the blog category of Web Publishing. Continue reading

Lessons learned from a heart attack

Larry Goodwin on his boat.

Larry Goodwin on his boat.

By Larry Goodwin, past president of the Rotary Club of Palm Desert, California, USA

This recent Fourth of July, I had a close call which taught me a valuable lesson. I share the story hoping it will help others.

The day began like other holidays have, with me fiddling around my boat, when I began having trouble breathing and felt a pain in my chest. It wasn’t that hot out but I was already sweating. Sitting in the shade didn’t help, or drinking a bottle of water, or sipping on a Coke either. Continue reading

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