Working with Habitat to provide a place to live

By Randy Bretz, Rotary Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

Martha and her family
Martha and her family will receive a home thanks to the efforts of the Rotary Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, working in partnership with Habit for Humanity.

A woman from Africa and her six children will soon have a new home in Lincoln, Nebraska, thanks to our Rotary club and Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln.

Construction will begin soon on the home for Martha and her children, giving them a place to live that isn’t cramped and even with a yard for the family to enjoy. Martha’s salary can only afford a two-bedroom apartment, but with the help of nearly $40,000 from our club, Habitat for Humanity will be able to construct a three-bedroom home on a lot in Lincoln that she can afford to buy.

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People and connections – the logo of the 2022-23 presidential theme

By Gundula Miethke, Specialist, Regional Content and Communication • Europe/Africa at RI Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA

Imagine Rotary” is the 2022-23 presidential theme that RI President-elect Jennifer Jones revealed on 20 January. She is asking Rotary members to dream big and take action: “We all have dreams, but acting on them is a choice. Imagine a world that deserves our best, where we get up each day knowing that we can make a difference.” 

The logo for the theme was designed by Riki Salam, an Australian artist and graphic designer specializing in contemporary Indigenous art, design, and communications. He also created the 2023 Rotary International Convention logo which will be held in Melbourne, Australia, thus connecting the two by a shared visual language.

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Being a good ally to those with disabilities

By S Marathe (full name withheld upon author’s request)

As a young Rotary member who has lived with a vision impairment, I have come to understand the importance of allies. An ally is anyone that actively aspires to be inclusive and is intentional through their thoughts, actions, and words to consciously promote a respectful and inclusive culture.

Many organizations are actively attempting to address the low employee representation across minority groups of gender, culture, and disability and are adopting a range of strategies. But many times, it’s the day-to-day actions that make the most difference. For International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December, I wanted to share some of the characteristics that make a great ally. Continue reading

Michigan club pairs students with mentors

By Rotary staff

A decade ago, Jackie Huie and members of the Rotary Club of St. Joseph & Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA, launched a program that has helped hundreds of local high school students learn more about their dream careers by connecting them with professionals in those fields. The program is still running strong. And Huie talks about the value of the program, and what she loves about Rotary in this podcast. Learn more about the program at https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-pairs-students-top-mentors

Listen to select blog posts on our new Rotary Voices podcast

Is it the truth?

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Opperman is a member of Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce and a regular contributor to this blog on issues related to disability inclusion.

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

Like countless others I imagine, I watched the compelling events to celebrate the birthday of Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu, or as he is also fondly known, “The Arch.”

What struck me almost immediately was how the messages from the internationally respected leaders departed from the usual gushy sentimental birthday tributes so loved by celebrities. After short heartfelt tributes to their dearest Arch, South African Professor Thuli Madonsela; Graça Machel, widow of two heads of state (Nelson Mandela and Mozambique’s Samora Machel); and Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and past UN Special Advisor on the Environment, all leapt straight in with some serious no holds barred truth telling.

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Doubling down on COVID recovery, ending polio

The Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Ride to End polio team.

By Kristin Brown, past president, Rotary Club of Evanston Lighthouse

We ride so that others may walk. I don’t know who said it first, but the phrase has become a tagline for Rotary cyclists around the world, pedaling for PolioPlus, logging miles, and raising funds in the global effort to fully eradicate this disease.

My husband, Mahmoud, and I are looking forward to returning to Tucson, Arizona, for my seventh and his fifth Ride to End Polio. It would be my eighth and his sixth ride if everything hadn’t ground to a halt with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. For all kinds of reasons, getting back on the bike this year is an important statement: of Rotary’s determination to finish what we started 36 years ago and of our collective determination to reclaim our lives after 18 months of relative isolation.

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Shifting the paradigm on disability inclusion

Jeremy Opperman

Editor’s Note: In September 2020, Rotary formed a task force charged with assessing the current status of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Rotary and shaping a comprehensive action plan to help us further value and live those principles throughout the organization. This is the fourth in a series of blog posts from DEI Task Force members reflecting on their work on the committee and why it is critical for the organization.

Jeremy Opperman joined the Rotary Club of Newlands in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2020. He was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a deteriorating eye condition which results in total blindness. He speaks, writes, and consults widely on topics including achieving disability confidence in organizations; making a business case for universal access; and taking a strategic approach to disability inclusion. Read his full bio.

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Smile and celebrate the small wins in DEI

Todd Jenkins

Editor’s Note: In September 2020, Rotary formed a task force charged with assessing the current status of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Rotary and shaping a comprehensive action plan to help us further value and live those principles throughout the organization. This is the third in a series of blog posts from DEI Task Force members reflecting on their work on the committee and why it is critical for the organization.

Dr. “Bowtie” Todd Jenkins serves as a Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leader at a Fortune 100 company in Corporate America and as an Executive Inclusion Trainer, Strategist, and Speaker with Bowtie Leadership, Inc. Todd is a member of the Rotary Club of Fayetteville, Arkansas; and has served as a Rotaract Advisor, Interact Sponsor, RYLA presenter, and Youth Services Chair. He is currently one of the youngest Youth Exchange District chairs in Rotary. Rotary. Read his full bio.

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Tips for learning a language in Rotary service

Youth Exchange in Chile
The author and other students in La Serena during his Rotary Youth Exchange to Chile.

By Connor Kane

Learning a language can be a challenge — but it doesn’t have to be boring or frustrating.

One of the greatest things I gained from my year as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in Chile in 2009-10 was a deeper love of languages and a better understanding of how  to learn them. Rotary members create lasting change in communities around the world. And this often involves travel to new places and cultures and/or working in different languages from one’s native tongue — either as an exchange student, in a scholarship program, or on a service project. Having benefited from my youth exchange, I wanted to pay it forward by sharing some practices I have found helpful in broadening my language skills in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and now German.

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Venezuelan refugees find help, meals

Food distribution to refugees at Alberque Douglas center
Volunteers from Albergue Douglas distribution center provide food for people in Pamplona, Colombia in the winter of 2021.

By Cristal Montañéz Baylor, International Coordinator for Hope for Venezuelan Refugees and a member of the Rotary E-club of Houston, Texas, USA

It is immensely gratifying to witness children, in the midst of crisis, smiling again over a shared meal. Your heart is touched as you sense their parents’ tension ease and see expressions of hope radiate across their faces.

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes access to food as a fundamental human right. And access to food continues to be a focal point of the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis.

We are in the fifth phase of the Hope for Venezuelan Refugees project, which is providing hot “soup meals” to Venezuelan refugees, migrants, and walkers (also known as “caminantes”) on the Cúcuta-Pamplona humanitarian route.

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