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

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

We heal as one

A member of the Rotary Club of Camp Aguinaldo, Philippines, delivers a packet of food.

By Elizabeth P. Directo, Rotary Club of Camp Aguinaldo, Philippines

Knowing that many people have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, incoming club presidents in our district (3780) were looking for a way to spread a little bit of hope to those who lacked it. So we partnered with a mobile kitchen, run by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to make and distribute meals for residents in need. 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