Italian Rotarians screen homeless for COVID-19

Healthcare workers apply rapid serology tests to consenting homeless individuals on the streets of Palermo, Italy, to help stop the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless and those who help them.

Italian Rotary members through a partnership between the Rotary Club of Palermo, the Associazione Francesca Morvillo, and Karol Strutture Sanitarie, launched a screening campaign to help stop the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless population of the City of Palermo. It is part of the ongoing efforts of Italian Rotarians to use their skills and connections to counter this pandemic. Continue reading

Million Mask challenge displays power of Rotary network

A 26-foot truck, emblazoned on all sides with the Million Mask Challenge Tour
message, distributed face masks to Rotary clubs throughout New England.

By Robert Friend, Assistant Rotary Public Image Coordinator for Zone 32

In the early morning of 29 September, a cargo ship carrying 800,000 face masks arrived at the Port of Boston. Over the course of the following 14 days, those masks were delivered to first responders, healthcare providers, and frontline workers in cities, towns, and villages across New England.

This is a story of service and leadership. It’s a story of how our District and Zone responded to a crisis, rallied its resources, put boots-on-the-ground to bring disparate and far-flung communities together to spread goodwill. Most importantly, it’s a story about working together and using our collective professional backgrounds through the Rotary network to make a difference. Continue reading

Turn your fundraiser into a socially-distanced moneymaker

Rotarian Mike Pollard confers with volunteer Janie Griffin about the price of an item at the barn sale.

By Marty Peak Helman, Rotary Zone 32 Innovative Club Associate 

The Rotary Club of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, in my district has held an annual fundraiser every summer, selling donated items during a live auction the first weekend in August. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the club, like many others, faced a problem:

How can a club hold a fundraiser during the pandemic, when traditional sponsors are facing economic hardship, community members have little extra to share, and social distancing alters the rules of what is possible?

Continue reading

My escapades during the pandemic lockdown

Rotary member Su Boertje, right, delivers supplies to The Baby House in Westville, South Africa.

By Su Boertje, membership and PR chair, Rotary Club of Westville, South Africa

In April, I learned that the Baby House in Westville, South Africa, a safe house for abandoned babies, desperately needed basic supplies. Due to the country-wide lockdown, donations had all but dried up, and the two house mothers and 10 babies (aged 1 week to 23 months) needed help.

”Not all super heroes wear capes,” I thought to myself, “some wear Rotary badges!” So I contacted our club treasurer to see if I could spend some of my PR budget to assist and they agreed. Continue reading

Virtual Rotary Choir keeps the music going

Members of the IFRM Virtual Rotary World Choir during a recent online concert.

By Bonnie F. Sirower, past district governor of District 7490 (New Jersey, USA) 

A lot of Rotary members are not aware of the opportunities they have to dramatically increase their friendships and connections through a Rotary Fellowship.

I first joined the International Fellowship of Rotarian Musicians (IFRM) at the 2005 Rotary International Convention in Chicago. I was drawn to their booth in the House of Friendship by the number of people having fun singing to the accompaniment of a pianist. I joined the fellowship right then and there and for several years, participated in the Rotary World Choir at conventions during the Interfaith Service on Sunday mornings. What a beautiful way to be together – making gorgeous music with people who had previously been strangers. Continue reading

Public image in the age of COVID-19

By Laura Spear, assistant Rotary Public Image Coordinator for Zone 32

How can your club promote your activities and service projects if almost all of it is virtual today? Your club’s website and social media channels are now more important than ever.

Many clubs are meeting virtually, using tools like Zoom, WebEx, and GoToMeeting. Capture a screen image of your members and post it on your digital channels to show that your club remains active. Post club bulletins and newsletters to update your members and community on your club’s activities, even if you aren’t meeting in person. Consistent communication with both members and the public is essential for keeping your club visible in your community. Continue reading

No use crying over spilled milk

Martin Cohn holds up containers of Green Mountain Yogurt made from surplus milk.

By Martin Cohn, past president of the Rotary Club of Brattleboro, Vermont, USA 

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vermont dairy farmers were in trouble. With the close of colleges and restaurants, there was too much supply of milk. This excess was headed to be spilled into mudholes. At the same time, the need to help food-insecure families was increasing. How could food that was being wasted reach people who needed food?

That’s when I heard about a project where the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets was coordinating an effort to recover raw milk from being disposed of while creating a new, temporary food supply for Vermont Foodbank. In collaboration with the Vermont Community Foundation, $60,000 was made available to purchase this milk for the benefit of Vermonters. These efforts were particularly important as Vermont’s dairy industry, like all sectors, had been challenged by COVID-19 but remain essential to the state’s food supply. However, more money was needed. Continue reading

Rotary members feed thousands in Cape Town

Hall full of food purchased by the Rotary Club of Newlands for distribution to 17 Early Childhood Development Centres in Langa, Cape Town, South Africa.

By Vanessa Rousseau, Rotary Club of Newlands, South Africa

As members of the Rotary Club of Newlands in Cape Town, South Africa, we could not stand by watching the devastating effects of COVID-19 on food security in our country and our city. 

Soon after the initial lockdown period was announced, we jumped into action to do what we could to alleviate the suffering. To ensure that we provide what is needed to those most in need, we have drawn on our longstanding relationships with community leaders who have worked with us on projects over many years. Continue reading

Hybrid meetings keep all members engaged

Hybrid meeting setup

A hybrid meeting setup with a webcam on a dampened tripod, a laptop, and a projector.

By Patrick Eakes, Zone 33 Rotary Coordinator

Patrick Eakes

Patrick Eakes

In our area, the global pandemic arrived like an unwelcome dinner guest. Within a matter of days after the first local case of COVID-19, my Rotary club’s meeting location closed, and gatherings of 50 or more people were prohibited (my club has over 100 members). Face-to-face Rotary meetings came to an almost immediate halt.

David Stovall and Stephanie Urchick, Rotary International Directors, and Director-elect Peter Kyle immediately set up online meetings for all Rotary members in Zones 33 and 34 to attend. They held these meetings twice each week and posted recordings on social media, setting an explicit example for district and club leaders of how they could maintain and strengthen the engagement of Rotary members even during a pandemic. 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