If you can’t find a club, start one

Rudy Balmater

Rudy Balmater

By Rudy C. Balmater, membership committee chair, Rotary Club of Jakarta Gambir, Indonesia

In early 2019, I received an online membership inquiry from Dicky Armando, who lived in Pontianak in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan. Pontianak is about 735 kilometres away from Jakarta and reachable by airplane in less than two hours. For many years, there has never been a Rotary presence in Pontianak. I realized that this was an opportunity to expand Rotary’s presence on the biggest island of Indonesia. Continue reading

Finding my life’s meaning in Rotary, Toastmasters

David and Judy Jones

David Jones and his wife, Judy, in San Francisco in 2006.

By David Jones, president-elect of the Rotary Club of Upper Arlington/Grandview (TriVillage), Columbus, Ohio, USA

In 2008, my world changed when my wife of 29 years was killed by an impaired driver. She was returning from a college visit with our 17-year-old daughter. My life revolved around Judy and our four children (Anne, Michael, Geoffrey, and Lara). We were so close that it felt like I had died too.

A year later, our youngest child left for college and I was alone in a five-bedroom house. I had to choose between curling up in a ball or going on living. I chose the latter and began speaking to first-time offenders convicted of a driving under the influence offense for several programs in central Ohio. Continue reading

Uncertain times call for innovation

Unloading face shields

Rotary members load boxes of assembled face shields for Form5 Prosthetics. With the help of Rotary members in New Albany, Ohio, USA, the company has produced more than 5,000 face shields for health workers.

By Michelle Davis, past president of the Rotary Club of New Albany, Ohio, USA, and an assistant governor in District 6690

Wash your hands. Wear face masks. Self-quarantine. COVID-19. Pandemic. Whoever thought these phrases or words would become part of our everyday life!

As a Rotarian, I know we are “problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change.” When our District 6690 leaders communicated an opportunity to use a district grant in response to the global COVID-19 crisis, I knew we needed to jump in. But how?  What impact could we make in our community using a district grant? Continue reading

Discovering the power of Rotary during a pandemic

Sorting food for the food drive

Members of the Rotary Club of San Antonio, Texas, sort items for a food drive in a school parking lot.

By Nathan Rizzo, Rotary Club of San Antonio, Texas, USA

I have been a member of my club for two years, but it was in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that I learned what it truly means to be a Rotarian. When my state of Texas went into quarantine, our club president, Brandon Logan, set up a ‘virtual happy hour’ on Thursday evenings. It was amazing to see all of the friendly, smiling faces of my fellow Rotarians. We spent an hour catching up; and then our conversation turned to service, and what we could do to help during the pandemic. Continue reading

Rotaract art event proves virtual fundraising can be fun

Participant show their art

Participants in the art and wine event show off their creations.

By Tasmain Warren, Rotaract Club of Manhattan New York City, New York, USA

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, our Rotaract club realized the need to stay connected more than ever. We switched to an online platform and started brainstorming ways that we could fight the feelings of isolation that were building up because of social distancing. That’s when we decided to hold a virtual art and wine event as a fundraiser. Continue reading

Rotary in Kirkintilloch is alive and well

Bob Tomlinson

By Bob Tomlinson, president of the Rotary Club of Kirkintilloch, Scotland

The COVID-19 pandemic is horrifying. The lives lost are not just statistics. Each death is a life cut short and a family and friends left grieving. This reality is something we must never forget. Our way of life has been profoundly challenged.

For organizations, such as Rotary, a common question asked is: “what will Rotary be like if we survive this?” The questioner invariably makes the addendum, “We’ve never been through anything like this before.” As individuals, very few of us have been through anything like this. But Rotary International has, several times, and came through to the other side — 1918 Spanish Flu, the Great Depression of the 1930’s, World War II, Korean and Vietnam wars, etc.

This is the account of how one club is working to survive. Continue reading

Embracing a new Rotary

Editor’s note: The pandemic has challenged the way our clubs operate, but it has also presented some opportunities. A Rotaract club shares lessons they have learned from virtual meetings.

Kennedy Gayah

By Kennedy Gayah, Rotaract Club of Nairobi Central, Kenya

Members of Rotary and Rotaract enjoy the comfort, love, and unity they experience during a club meeting, whether it be sharing a meal, enjoying a drink, or chatting with friends who have become like family. Our in-person meetings have been a principle means of connection. But COVID-19 has changed all that. We have been forced to be innovative, creative, and flexible to recreate the camaraderie of our clubs. This is a blessing in disguise. Continue reading

Touching lives in Lagos

Rotary members Omolara Omotosho and Bolatito Olaboye deliver food in Lagos, Nigeria.

By Michael Effiong, Rotary Club of Ikeja South, Lagos, Nigeria

All around the world, the coronavirus pandemic is changing our lives and creating a new normal. But our members have seen the need and risen to the challenge. Now, more than ever, we need to show Rotary’s goodness as we practice Service Above Self.

Long before a nation-wide lockdown in Nigeria, Lagos had initiated its own stiff measures to stop the spread of the virus. This meant that our usually engaging meetings had to move online. The platform we decided to use was Zoom, and it has been our playground, a place where we share ideas and make plans to help our community. Continue reading

Holding a changeover ceremony virtually

Stephen Sennett

By Stephen Sennett, secretary-elect, Rotary E-Club of Melbourne, Australia

The end of the Rotary year is fast approaching. And with that, clubs are beginning to think about their traditional changeover ceremonies. Like many things in the world after the COVID-19 pandemic, having these in person isn’t an option. Clubs are asking, should we postpone or cancel? I want to pose another question, why not adapt and hold one virtually? Continue reading

Finding opportunity in adversity

The Knox Art Show went ahead as planned, only entirely online.

By Rajeev Wadhwa, President, Rotary Club of Rowville-Lysterfield, Melbourne, Australia

When social distancing rules took effect in our area, we shifted to virtual meetings without missing a single meeting. We knew we needed to keep club members engaged and happy in these uncertain times. So even though some of our planned events could not proceed, we knew one event was just too important to let go. Continue reading