New club makes disability advocacy a priority

By Ken Masson, President, The Rotary Club of World Disability Advocacy

Ken Masson
Ken Masson

The need for human rights for people with disabilities is worldwide. From the largest to the smallest countries, there are opportunities for Rotary to improve the dignity, respect, and quality of lives for people with disabilities. That is why we chartered the Rotary Club of World Disability Advocacy. We saw so many possibilities of what Rotary could do.

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Warwick magic adds 15 members in under a year

Andy Rajapaske andGold Coast Passport Rotary Club members at a rally to end domestic violence.
Andy Rajapaske with members of the Gold Coast Passport Rotary Club and friends at a rally to end domestic violence.

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of posts for Membership Month inviting experts to share how they reach out to prospective members, keep existing members engaged, and create an environment that allows new clubs to form and thrive.  

By Andy Rajapakse, assistant Rotary Coordinator for Zone 8 and a past district governor 

Last Rotary year was a year of opportunities for the Rotary Club of Warwick in Queensland, Australia. The club, chartered in 1932, had only seven members when I took office as governor of District 9640 on 1 July 2020. It dropped to three in March 2021. But on 30 April 2021, the club reported 15 members including eight women. It had 11 members under the age of 30 and three were previous members of a Rotaract club. What was Warwick’s magic? 

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Want to grow your club? Ask Rotary alumni

Alumni represent an incredible network of leaders engaged in service around the world.

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of blog posts for Membership Month where experts share how they reach out to prospective members, keep existing members engaged, and create an environment that allows new clubs to form and thrive.

By Tom Gump 

I am often asked “How do I grow my club?” or “How do I find members for my new club?” I have a great answer – Rotary alumni. These past participants of Rotary programs are an often-overlooked source of potential members with a built-in understanding of who we are and a past experience with how we take action to serve to change lives. 

Alumni represent an incredible network of leaders engaged in service around the world. Clubs sometimes think about inviting them as speakers or using them as extra hands for service projects. But if we take the time, effort, and willingness to remove a few of the barriers that keep them from joining, we can experience the benefits of their insight and talent to grow Rotary. 

Let me give you three powerful real-life examples. 

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Growing Rotary through membership leads

Rotaractors donate beds
The Rotaract Club Of Secunderabad Medicos donates oxygen beds to Gandhi Medical Hospital.

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of blog posts for Membership Month where experts share how they reach out to prospective members, keep existing members engaged, and create an environment that allows new clubs to form and thrive.

By KR Parthasarathy, assistant governor of Rotary District 3150 (Hyderabad, India) 

Doing something good in the Rotary world has always been my passion. The reach and access that I was afforded as an assistant governor in my district in India made it possible for me to reach my goals. 

My endeavor to grow Rotary in my region began with an idea to revive our 52-year-old community based Rotaract Club of Secunderabad. It was chartered in April of 1968 and is one of the oldest Rotaract clubs in the world. Until the last few years, the club was slumbering with not much activity and not a lot of member engagement. We started at the top, revamping the leadership and bringing in passionate and active people. We were then able to induct 30 new members and discover ways to get them involved in voluntarily community services activities that they were proud to participate in.  

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Be a role model for Each One, Bring One

Editor’s note: Membership is the life blood of Rotary. Surveys have confirmed that members join because they want to connect with other people and take action to create lasting change. For Membership Month in August we have asked several experts to talk about how they reach out to prospective members, keep existing members engaged, and create an environment that allows new clubs to form and thrive. This is the first in that series

Elizabeth Usovicz

By Elizabeth Usovicz, Rotary International Director, Zones 30 and 31 

Rotary connections are powerful, for both current and future members. After 16 months of lockdown, online business and virtual Rotary meetings, I recently met a longtime client for lunch. The restaurant we chose was quiet that day, and the dining area was empty except for one table.  

Our fellow diners were two young men of different races. They seemed to be talking about business as my client and I were seated at a nearby table. We didn’t focus on their conversation until our ears perked up like hyper-alert terriers when we heard one of them say, “Rotary.” 

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Engaging more women in Rotary

Cyndi Doragh

By Cyndi Doragh, Zone 34 assistant Rotary coordinator and member of the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South, Florida, USA

Nearly three decades ago, I wanted to join Rotary. The first club I tried to join told me they weren’t accepting any more bankers. (In those days, it was common for Rotary clubs to limit the amount of people based on their profession.) A month later, I learned they welcomed a new member – and he was a banker.

I really wanted to be a Rotarian, and I soon found a club that welcomed me with open arms. I have been a proud member for 28 years. During that time though, barriers still exist for women who want to join a Rotary club. Only 23% of our global membership is women! We can do better. We need to be leaders and show our communities that everyone is welcome in Rotary, no matter what.

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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

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

How I found support and acceptance in my Rotary club

By Monica Mulholland, Rotary Club of Queenstown, New Zealand

When I made the decision to come out as transgender to my Rotary club, my wife and I were worried that we would be shunned by our community and lose many of our friends, including those in the Rotary club. It is common for transgender people to lose half their friends and half their family when they come out. But we couldn’t have been happier with the acceptance and support we received from club members. Continue reading