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

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

Taking the law to the streets

Students in Washington, D.C., USA, learn basic legal concepts from the Street Law curriculum.

Students in Washington, D.C., USA, learn basic legal concepts from the Street Law curriculum.

By Divya Wodon and Naina Wodon, Interact Club of Washington International School, and Quentin Wodon, Rotary Club of Washington, Washington D.C., USA.

Why do you teach the children to jump up at our throat? This question was once asked by an unhappy South African high school principal to Ed O’Brien, a long-time member of the Rotary Club of Washington, D.C., USA, and founder of Street Law, a nonprofit that strives to teach individuals and communities, especially in underserved areas, about the law. Continue reading

Flying high with Rotary Fellowships

The author on an intercontinental flight to Texas.

The author on a cross-country flight to Texas.

By Michael Graves, member of the Rotary Club of Plainview, Texas, USA, past district governor, and world president of the International Fellowship of Flying Rotarians

In the summer of 1990, while I was in Washington and Oregon with my young family, I made some new friends, members of the International Fellowship of Flying Rotarians, who became an extended family to me. Continue reading

Multi-club project honors D-Day veterans

Chris Burns

Chris Burns

By Chris Burns, Rotary Club of Hendersonville, North Carolina, USA

In 2005, HonorAir founder Jeff Miller asked me to help realize his dream of taking all surviving American WWII vets to their national memorial in Washington D.C. What started as a small local project has now spread nationwide, thanks in no small part to many Rotary clubs that made it their own project.

About a year ago, Jeff had another dream. This time it was to take all surviving Normandy Invasion Campaign (D-Day) veterans to their national memorial for the 70th Anniversary Commemoration of D-Day. Through the partnership of the Asheville and Hendersonville Rotary clubs, a team was pulled together to turn this idea into a reality. Continue reading

Embracing the true potential of Rotary

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A well donated by the Rotary Club of Buffalo Sunrise and partnering clubs to benefit Kitenga in Tanzania.

By Mara B. Huber, PhD, past president of the Rotary Club of Buffalo-Sunrise, New York, USA

I am not a joiner. On the contrary, I have gone to great lengths to avoid all groups with official names and rules. I have zero interest in badges or titles or joining committees. And the words “fellowship” and “oath” evoke a reflexive need to escape and hide.

And yet I am a Rotarian, and amazingly, a very enthusiastic and proud one. What draws me to Rotary? Continue reading

Polio bears take the plunge

140210_nobleBy Harriet “Pepi” Noble, a member of the Rotary Club of Mechanicville, New York, USA

Winters are pretty cold here in the Great Northeast and making a conscious decision to jump into a freezing cold lake on the first of January takes more than courage. It takes a reason so strong and so compelling that people who normally act quite sane are happy to take part in this annual event. 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