By Ann Marie Ellis, Rotary Club of Austin, Texas, USA
I had been to Serbia in 2019 before as a tourist, but I didn’t expect that I’d develop a life-long relationship with the people, the country, and its traditions through Rotary. However, that’s exactly what happened.
In the spring of 2020, I received an email from former Governor Vladimir Matic in District 2483 (Serbia & Montenegro) asking if my club, the Rotary Club of Austin, would participate as the international partner on a global grant. The grant would be part of a new initiative called Hearts of Europe, which is a collaboration between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Rotary International.
By Mary Shackleton, Empowering Girls Initiative Ambassador for Zone 32 (Bermuda; Northeastern USA) and Nikita Williams, Empowering Girls Initiative team member for Zone 28 (Canada; Michigan, Washington, and Alaska, USA)
Teenage girls all over the world struggle with self-confidence. Recently, a team of Rotary members and Toastmasters in our Rotary zones set out to help girls build their leadership skills. Both Rotary and Toastmasters International are committed to helping girls embrace their full potential.
We decided to use Toastmasters’ time-tested Youth Leadership Program (YLP) to benefit younger members of the Rotary community. Our effort, which we call the Empowering Girls YLP program, gives girls a space to discover and amplify their voices and ideas over eight weeks. The program’s unique, workshop-style design lets the girls develop speaking and leadership skills in a safe space. They learn about topics like Public Speaking; Using Body Language & Gestures; Active Listening; Giving Feedback; and Impromptu Speaking.
By Eve Fraser, charter president of the Rotary Club of Global Water Safety & Drowning Prevention
Who would have thought a soccer team getting stuck in a cave in remote Thailand would lead to the chartering of a new Rotary club for water safety and drowning prevention? Yet here we are!
In April 2021, the United Nations declared drowning to be the number-one cause of preventable deaths around the world. Africa and Asia were identified as the most affected regions. I had observed over the years swimming teachers delivering lessons to communities in need, struggling with the sheer volume of people who needed to learn to swim and the funding to deliver those programs. I imagined a club where members with the knowledge, skills, and experience worked together to train swimming teachers and help communities deliver sustainable programs.
By Kennedy K. Brooks, a participant in Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Academy in Missouri, USA. Photos by Monika Lozinska/Rotary International
Last July, I attended a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) Academy in Missouri, USA, that changed my life. I found myself in the right place at the right time. In the span of less than four days, I made unbelievable friendships, met mentors who were willing to give me wise counsel, and learned skills that I can use to explore a future of endless opportunities.
By Gary Bren, past governor of District 5650 (Iowa, Nebraska, USA)
For more than two decades, my wife and I have been committed to Rotary’s effort to eradicate polio. The roots of my involvement go back to events before I was born. I have two older sisters, and after my second sister was born, my mom had two miscarriages. My parents really wanted a third child, so the doctors prescribed a drug that would help my mom carry a child full-term.
I was born with a few side effects from that drug. The first – a single abdominal kidney – was discovered at the time of my birth. The second, I didn’t discover until years later. In the 1990s my wife and I were having trouble conceiving a child, and we found out the problem was related to the drug my mother had taken.