RI President's Window

RI President Ian Risely and Juliet

RI President Ian Riseley writes to Rotarians during Membership Month

RI President Ian Risley's 1.2 Million Tree Planting Challenge

Ian Riseley - The social networker

RI President invites you to Toronto

This conference will explore how access to preventive health services and treatment of diseases helps foster peace and bring stability to communities.

The program includes general and breakout sessions, with concurrent tracks for youth. Join the Rotary family, young leaders, community members, civic dignitaries, scholars, medical professionals, and university and business experts in the field of research for disease prevention and treatment for this one-day program in the historic International City of Peace.



RI Director Board 2017 - 18

The Board of Trustees of the Rotary Foundation 2017 - 18

Presidential peacebuilding conferences

What is new

Rotary Advisors put polio on world stage

Rotary Day at the UN filled with peace champions and workshops 

World Polio Day livestream event

2017 Champions of Peace to be recognized on Rotary Day at the United Nations

The Stories Behind the Data - Bill & Melinda Gates

RI President Ian Riseley is an ambassador of Peace of Guatemala

Toronto, the capital of nice: Impressions on Rotary's 2018 convention city;

Barry Rassin selected to be 2018-19 RI president

Mark Daniel Maloney selected to be 2019-20 Rotary president


RIPE Sam F. Owori Dies

Help honor Sam Owori's legacy

Norah Owori Pays Tribute to late RIPE Samuel Owori at the Funeral

A Tribute to Sam Frobisher Owori by PRIP Jonathan Majiyagbe

Eulogy of PRIP KR Ravindran at late RIPE Sam Owori's funeral

RI Vice President Dean Rohrs reflects on Sam Owori's Funeral Ceremonies

Remembering Sam

Sam Owori’s legacy will live on - PRIP Rajendra K Saboo

Sam F. Owori Memorial to Polio

Dallas pays tribute to fallen Rotary Icon Samuel Frobisher Owori

The story of the TRF Centennial Bell



Polio Eradication Efforts Acknowledged by G20 Heads of State

Bill Gates outlines final push to end polio

The Atlanta Convention

Presidential Peace Conference

$1.2 billion pledge to end polio

The power of one - A light on the issue of modern slavery at the Atlanta Convention


President's opening remarks

President's closing remarks

President-elect's speech

President nominee's speech

Trustee chair's speech

General secretary's speech


General secretary's report

Treasurer's report

Winners of The Rotarian photo contest announced

Rotary Foundation named World's Outstanding Foundation for 2016

Sustainable projects earn top Rotaract honors

What makes a great global grant project

Germ looks back on a productive year

RI President Ian Riseley on attracting new members, building strong clubs, and forming friendships that last

What does it take to eradicate a disease? Just ask India.

Rotarians meet with EU officials to examine Rotary’s role in achieving peace

RIPE Ian Riseley on attracting new members, building strong clubs

Rotary women inspire

Japanese diplomat earns Rotary alumni award

India is enthused....about giving

PRIP K R Ravindran on The Benefits of Rotary Membership.

International Assembly 2017

2017-18 RI President Ian H.S. Riseley announces his presidential theme, Rotary: Making a Difference

Watch International Assembly speeches

2017-18 Presidential Theme Address (RI President-elect Ian H.S. Riseley) (PDF

3-H: A Bright New Dawn for the Rotary Foundation

Surgeons from India bring relief to underserved patients in Rwanda

We will redouble our efforts towards eradication of Polio from Africa - Past RI President Jonathan Majiyagbe

Raja of Rotary - An account of  55 years Rotary journey of  PRIP Rajendra K Saboo by Rasheeda Bhagat, Editor, Rotary News Online

RI President-elect Ian Riseley on the progress in ending polio in Radio National, Australia

Three ways to redefine corporate philanthropy for the 21st century

Can We Prevent the Next Epidemic? - John Hewko

Poverty rates are creeping back up in Latin America. Investing in entrepreneurs can help change this - John Hewko

6 key numbers in the fight to end polio

HowDo You End a Global Disease - John Hewko in Medium

What can we achieve within our children’s lifetime?

To create peace we need to look beyond the causes of conflict

What defines a Rotary club? You choose

Rotary helps women in Honduras to successfully build their businesses and future - John Hewko in Medium

What is ‘global competence’, and is it the key to inclusive growth? - John Hewko

Creating Sustainable Peace - John Hewko, RI Gen. Secretary in Diplomatic Courier 

What’s Love Got to Do With It? - RI Gen Secretary John Hewko's Special Contribution to the Parliament of World's Religions

Council on Legislation Grants Clubs Greater Flexibility in Meeting, Membership

What should you know about 2016 CoL

The Council on Legislation - First day comes to an end

The Council on Legislation - Second day of action draws to a close

The Council on Legislation – The third day completed

The Council on Legislation – Fourth Day Concluded

The Council on Legislation Comes to an End

We’ll see an RI woman President in five years - RI Director Jennifer Jones

Latest Activity

Jose Gil S. Tolentino posted photos
Mar 7
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Mar 7
Ambalakat Ram Mohan posted photos
Mar 7
Profile IconAmit Giri, Ranjeev Shrestha, Nischal Bahadur Shrestha and 3 more joined eflashonline
Feb 26



Dr. Bharat Pandya and Kamal Sanghvi are declared elected as RI Directors for 2019 - 21 from Zones 4 & 6A

World Bank and Rotary International celebrate International Women’s Day

Three Rotary women were honored 7 March 2018 at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., USA for their commitment to improving lives through innovative humanitarian projects. 

The celebration, hosted by the World Bank Group Staff Association, and sponsored by Rotary International and investment firm Oppenheimer & Co., was one of many events held this week to mark International Women's Day, which is on 8 March each year. It highlighted the positive changes women make around the world. Annette Dixon, vice president of the World Bank for South Asia, moderated the event.

Speaking to more than 300 people, with thousands watching the livestream, Dr. Geetha Jayaram, Marie-Irène Richmond Ahoua, and Danielle De La Fuente, all Rotarians,  told their stories and explained how their work helped poor women in India gain access to mental health care, vaccinate hundreds of thousands against polio in West Africa, and empower refugee children around the world. 

"These are women of action who are making a huge contribution to the world," Dixon said. "They have given a lot of themselves to their initiatives and are playing a leadership role for many women."

Jayaram, a member of the Rotary Club of Howard West, Maryland, USA, and a recipient of the Rotary Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award, told the audience that her mental health clinic has provided nearly 2,000 poor people, mostly women, each year with comprehensive care in more than 200 villages in southern India. 

The Maanasi Clinic, founded by Jayaram, has been recognized by the World Health Organization for its effort to advance mental health care in developing countries. Its services also focus on vision, hearing, geriatric care, and vocational rehabilitation. The clinic, which operates in partnership with St. John's Medical College, has received funding from the Rotary Club of Columbia, Maryland, and Rotary grants. In total, the clinic has reached nearly six million housholds since it began in 2002.

"I never expected I would feel so fulfilled and gratified by these women who have so little, who will welcome you in their home and share their most intimate details of their lives," Jayaram said. "That is a large gift to me and our workers."

Jayaram is an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Marie-Irène Richmond-Ahoua, a member of the Rotary Club of Abidjan-Bietry, Côte d’Ivoire, served as Rotary’s PolioPlus chair for her country and now helps coordinate immunization activities in West Africa. She is an international communications consultant and worked as an outreach adviser for the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire. 

Richmond-Ahoua was recognized by Bill Gates at the 2017 Rotary Convention in Atlanta for her role in polio eradication and peace.  

"Volunteering has brought me much happiness, and some tears. It has allowed me to see the world through different lenses," Richmond-Ahoua said. "We must believe in what we are doing regardless of the challenges we will face."

She adds: "And my greatest reward? The smile of a mother after her childr has just been immunized." 

Danielle De La Fuente, a member of the Rotary Club of Coronado Binacional, California, USA, is co-founder of The Amal Alliance. The nonprofit group empowers refugee children around the world through social development and educational programs. She worked at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., where she fostered good relations across the Middle East South Asia.

De La Fuente told the audience that 65 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide, 77 percent of whom are children. "Imagine a world where children have no dreams," De La Fuente said. "That is a reality I choose not to accept."

"The need for compassionate people has never been greater than now," she adds. "What is our future if our next generation is unable to dream? I call on all of you to take action and make a difference." 

Source: www.rotary.org - Ryan Hyland / Photographs by Karen Sayre

Rotary Foundation receives highest rating from Charity Navigator

For the 10th consecutive year, The Rotary Foundation has received the highest rating — four stars — from Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator of charities in the U.S.

In the most recent ratings, for demonstrating both strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency.

In a letter to the Foundation, Charity Navigator notes that "only 1 percent of the charities we evaluate have received at least 10 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that The Rotary Foundation outperforms other charities in America. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets The Rotary Foundation apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness."

The rating reflects Charity Navigator's assessment of how the Foundation uses donations, sustains its programs and services, and practices good governance and openness.

- Rotary International

Incoming district governors prepared to Be the Inspiration

District governors-elect got their first look at the 2018-19 presidential theme Be the Inspiration Sunday at the International Assembly, an annual training event for incoming district leaders. RI President-elect Barry Rassin urged the audience to build a stronger organization by inspiring a younger generation and by getting the word out to the community at large about the work Rotary does. “I will ask you to inspire with your words and with your deeds: doing what we need to do today, to build a Rotary that will be stronger tomorrow; stronger when we leave it, than it was when we came.”

We caught up with incoming district governors after the theme was announced to get their thoughts on being the inspiration.

Charles Tondeur, Rotary Club of Hazebrouck-Merville, France (District 1520): “I think Rotary needs to be open to new ideas, and this theme encourages us to think about ideas that will inspire our members. Inspiring is about bringing new energy.”



Yoko Hattori, Rotary Club of Tokyo Hiroo, Japan (District 2750): “This theme is clear and direct, which is going to be useful and powerful for the leadership in districts. He’s asking us to think about how we take care of our Rotary family, but also how we inspire beyond Rotary.”


Malcolm Kerr, Rotary Club of Cobram, Australia (District 9790): “I thought the theme was, well, inspiring. I especially like the way he talked about the sea connecting us all. We have to inspire our districts, we have to inspire our clubs, we have to inspire our individual members, and we have to inspire in the world beyond Rotary. It’s a pyramid of possibilities.”


Jim Cupper, Rotary Club of Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA (District 6360)“What I really liked was Barry Rassin’s emphasis on the environment and how we’re going to fit that into the things that Rotary does. Be the Inspiration is easy for most of us to work into our message to our districts and our leadership teams. Part of inspiring our clubs will be training them to use the amazing tools that Rotary has.”

Linda Murrary, Rotary Club of South Everett/Mukilteo, Washington, USA (District 5050)“The theme is so important to Rotary right now, when we all need inspiration. Barry Rassin talked about getting the word out, so I’m going to go post the theme and talk about it on Facebook tonight! His message on membership is so important, urging us to be open to new ideas. ”

- Hank Sartin, Rotary editorial staff in Rotary Voices

Migration challenges inspire peace scholar

Rotary Peace Fellow Linda Low could not have known what world events would bring when she took a position as the communications manager for the Europe region of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in 2015. 

But shortly after she started her new job, the migration crisis began to overwhelm Europe. Low saw the waves of migrants and heard their stories firsthand. This challenging experience sparked her desire to help communities in conflict and ultimately led Low to the Rotary Peace Center at Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is studying the connection between the environment and peace.

Linda Low will speak on 10 February at the first of six presidential peacebuilding conferences in locations around the world between February and June

Illustration by Monica Garwood

Low will speak on 10 February at a conference on environmental sustainability and peace hosted by RI President Ian H.S. Riseley in Vancouver, B.C. It will be the first of six presidential peacebuilding conferences in locations around the world between February and June, focusing on the connection between building peace and Rotary’s areas of focus. 

Low spoke with The Rotarian about her work and how the environment affects peace.

Q: What’s your background? 

A: I am a communicator by trade. I started in corporate communications but always volunteered with the Red Cross in Vancouver. The more involved I got with the Red Cross, the more I realized my values really aligned personally with the work of organizations like this. They do disaster relief but also build stronger communities.

Q: You worked for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies a total of six years. What led you to leave this work to become a Rotary Peace Fellow?

A: Over six years at the Red Cross Red Crescent, again and again as we responded to crises, words that kept coming up were “climate change.” In the Syrian crisis, drought was happening in rural areas, and farmers moved into the urban centers where they were competing for limited resources. I remember thinking that if I had to be part of it I would go back and tackle climate change.

Then I received the gift of this generous scholarship from The Rotary Foundation and the opportunity to go to Duke and study the nexus between policy, environment, climate change, and community.

Q: Do you have a specific area of study in your program? 

A: I am focusing on the link between food waste and climate change. As food rots in landfills it creates methane, which is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases. In the developed world, we all waste food. If I don’t waste one banana, that’s not a great impact, but if everyone in my community, everyone in my state doesn’t waste, then there is greater impact. 

Q: What has been your experience as a peace fellow? 

A: Everything I have learned here is elevating my game. Coming into this program I could write a great story that could bring you to tears, but I did not understand the science and economics behind it. Now I understand science and economics. I can bring that holistic view to drive solutions that are truly sustainable. I want to mobilize people in every community to reduce food waste and help build healthier environments and secure food systems.

–Susie Ma in The Rotarian

6 key numbers in the fight to end polio - RI General Secretary John Hewko in Medium

We are close to eradicating a human disease for only the second time in history. A global public-private partnership has reduced the poliovirus caseload by 99.9% over the last 30 years, but there’s still plenty of work to do.

Even before we reach that milestone, the knowledge and infrastructure built to fight polio is being repurposed to take on other global challenges.

3 countries where polio is still endemic

Fewer than 40 children were paralysed by polio in 2016, the lowest number in history. This is a dramatic decrease from the estimated 350,000 cases per year in 125 countries that the world saw in 1985 — the year that Rotary International initiated a worldwide effort to eradicate this terrible disease.

155: the number of countries involved in largest coordinated vaccine switch in history

In 1988, Rotary was joined in the effort by WHO, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, UNICEF (and more recently the Gates Foundation) to create the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

Today the virus is limited to a few areas in just three countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

In response, Nigeria intensified surveillance activities to pinpoint where the virus is circulating.

In Pakistan, innovative tactics are being used to focus polio immunization drives. Health workers are trained in the use of cellphone data reporting, which allows real-time recording of immunization coverage and public health surveys of populations.

In Afghanistan, the program continues to adapt in order to reach the maximum number of children possible despite a volatile security situation.

155: the number of countries involved in largest coordinated vaccine switch in history

There are three different strains of the poliovirus. Once a strain is eliminated (type 2 was officially eradicated in September 2015), we have to match our vaccines to the remaining strains to protect children globally.

This transition is a massive undertaking, requiring significant funding and coordination to accomplish global health feats that have never been attempted.

To give you a sense of scale, the largest and fastest globally coordinated vaccine switch in history (to target poliovirus types 1 and 3) was successfully conducted over two weeks in April 2016, with 155 countries taking part........

Read the article full in Medium

Is 2018 the Year for Polio’s Extinction?

There isn’t a big market for poliovirus plush toys. They’re not much to look at–about the size of a softball and a sort of ashen gray. That’s a fitting color: polios is Greek for gray, and it’s the gray matter in the central nervous system that the virus attacks, robbing children of the ability to walk, if it doesn’t kill them first. It would be the rare parent who would want even a cuddly likeness of so lethal a thing anywhere near a healthy baby.

But the plush toys were much in demand at the headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on World Polio Day in October. They were tucked into gift bags, stashed in purses, playfully tossed from person to person. If that seems unserious, well, the 400 people in attendance and the 150,000 more who watched the presentations online had a right to let themselves go.

As recently as 1988, there were 350,000 cases of polio each year, and the disease was endemic in 125 countries. In 2017 there have been only 16 cases, in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. With a case count so low, the question now is a straightforward one: Will 2018 be the year we get to zero?

“We’ve never seen this level of progress, this level of restricted transmission,” says Jalaa’ Abdelwahab, deputy director of UNICEF’s polio-eradication initiative. “We’re hoping that by the end of the next transmission season, we will see zero.”

If that happens, polio will join smallpox as the only other human disease to be driven over the cliff to extinction. The 16th case in 2017 could, at least in theory, be the last case ever.

The road to almost zero has been a long one–and a lot of the credit has rightly gone to Rotary International, the global service organization that made polio eradication its mission in 1979. That year the group began a five-year campaign to vaccinate upwards of 6 million children in the Philippines. In 1988, Rotary joined hands with UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to form the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. In 2007 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation came aboard. Today 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated worldwide at a cost of $15 billion.

One thing that has made so mammoth an undertaking possible is the type of vaccine used. There are two varieties: one administered orally and one by injection. The oral polio vaccine (OPV)–which is easier, cheaper and less scary for the children who receive it–has been the go-to choice for eradication. It takes an average of three doses at different times to confer full immunity; as long as the poliovirus is still at large, that will have to continue.

“Each year we vaccinate 450 million children under 5 years old,” says Abdelwahab. “OPV is an amazing tool for stopping acute cases.”

While OPV can cost as little as 18 cents per dose, inoculating nearly half a billion kids each year is not cheap–especially when you add the cost of field workers and delivery chains. In a world where diseases like malaria and HIV claim millions of lives, pouring so much money into eradicating a disease with fewer than two dozen victims this year raises questions. Health experts concede the seeming disconnect......

Read the complete article by Jeffrey Kluger in TIME

4 ways to build peace through Rotary - Rotary Service Connections

According to UNHCR, 65.6 million people are currently displaced by conflict, violence, or persecution. Rotary members refuse to accept conflict as a way of life and are committed to pursuing projects that address the structural causes of conflict, including poverty, inequality, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources.

Rotary projects provide trainings that fosters understanding and equip communities with skills to resolve conflicts. During February, Rotary Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution Month, build peace and mitigate conflict by:

  1. Incorporating conflict resolution and mediation strategies into service projects involving local schools, orphanages, workplaces, and community centers.
  2. Supporting marginalized groups in risk of violence or persecution by providing relief to those who have fled areas of conflict.
  3. Participating in fellowship and service activities with Rotary clubs in other parts of the world to promote greater international understanding.
  4. Recruiting candidates for a Rotary Peace Fellowship. Up to 100 peace fellowships are offered annually at Rotary Peace Centers at universities around the world.

Bring your project idea to life with guidance from a Rotarian Action Group

Find support for your initiatives from our partners

  • Peace Corps, an independent U.S. federal agency, sends U.S. citizens abroad to help tackle the most pressing needs around the world while promoting better international understanding. Peace Corps Volunteers live and work alongside the people they support to create sustainable change that lives on long after their service. A Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) offers access to local contacts, community development insights, and funding possibilities within a particular community. Involving a PCV in your project will increase its reach, impact, and sustainability. Read the Rotary-Peace Corps partnership fact sheet and inspirational stories of Rotary members that have been impacted by the partnership.
  • Rotary is working with the Institute for Economics and Peace to create an online learning platform, with webinars and interactive tools, that members and Rotary Peace Fellows can use to build on their expertise. Rotary and the institute will also develop positive peace workshops, funded by global grants and hosted by Rotary clubs, to provide training in the framework of positive peace. Contact Area of Focus Manager Rebecca Crall for additional details.

Presidential peacebuilding conferences

RI President Ian H.S. Riseley presidential peacebuilding conferences kick off this month! The conferences will explore the connection between peace and Rotary’s five other areas of focus, plus environmental sustainability. Consider attending a conference to gain inspiration on your peace building initiatives:

Rotary Service and Engagement Staff in Rotary Service Connections

Have you ever wondered how Rotary became involved with polio eradication in the first place? I did. I used to use polio eradication as an example of poor goal setting in my presidents-elect training seminar classes. It was up there right next to world peace. I mean … really?

It turns out that one of the true giants in our story was a past governor in my district (7620). His name is Dr. John Sever. While you’ve probably never heard of him, I think when you learn his story you will be amazed. You will also learn about many other Rotary leaders who have been a part of the incredible story of how Rotary got started on our journey to eradicate polio. 

I wanted to tell this tale so that more members would have an awareness of our Rotary history. And it turns out to be a very entertaining story full of good guys and bad guys, conflicts and roadblocks, as our Rotary heroes put Rotary on the road to polio eradication. Many of the original polio eradication pioneers are still alive to tell their story on film so we get to learn about it in their own words.

Based on the book by Sarah Gibbard Cook, “Rotary and the Gift of a Polio-Free World, Vol. 1,” a recommended read, we made a new documentary called “Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication.” The movie is 56-minutes long, and is both highly entertaining and motivational in encouraging support for our polio eradication efforts.

The District 7620 Project Trust Fund owns the film, and it is our purpose that you can use it to inspire your members, introduce new members to your club, and educate your community about the work Rotary does.

The first 19 minutes of the movie are available for free as a club program. Once you show it to your club the excerpt becomes a teaser to buy the full-length movie where you learn more of the story AND make a contribution to PolioPlus. Approximately $20 of your $25 purchase becomes a tax deductible contribution to PolioPlus.

I’ve given you a FREE club program … you provide the popcorn!

Ken Solow, past governor of District 7620 in Rotary Voices

Blog Posts

Trustee chair's message - March 2018

Posted by Sunil K Zachariah on February 26, 2018 at 8:03am

RI President's Message - March 2018

Posted by Sunil K Zachariah on February 26, 2018 at 8:00am


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www.eflashonline.org is an initiative of Rotary Club of Kalamassery,  R I District 3201, India. Since 1999, eFlash spreads Rotary news and stories online to members from over 100 countries. 

Founder Editor: PDG Sunil K Zachariah

This community operates in accordance with Rotary International policy, but is not an agency of, nor is it controlled by Rotary International



Are you Proudly Rotarian?

It is certainly true that the reasons for a person joining Rotary are varied and many. For some, it’s the personal and business networking that motivates them. For others, it’s fellowship and a sense of belonging to a world-wide organization of people. Still for others, it’s a status symbol. Whatever the reasons, everyone has one. Sadly, some of the reasons don’t fit Rotary’s primary purpose; a network of problem solvers living the mantra of Service Above Self.

Networking for professional and personal development is laudable, so is the quest for social recognition through association with entities that have an impact, and so is an opportunity to travel around the world to Rotary events. My fear is that the essence and core responsibility of being a Rotarian is being lost on many around the world, at least from my club.

Many of us travel on expensive budgets to Rotary events, yet we have not contributed a single cent to The Rotary Foundation where our investment into communities around the world comes from. I simply cannot comprehend this and I am certain that there are many of us thinking alike.

However, it is obvious that there are also many who do not feature the Foundation in their budget priorities, and that, whether they donate or not to the Foundation, they consider themselves a Proud Rotarian as long as they pay dues. This must change. Privileges come with responsibilities whether voluntary or compulsory. Whoever enjoys the privileges has an inherent moral obligation to live the responsibilities as well.

It is unbelievable that many clubs struggle to have members offering themselves up for leadership, club service, community service, and even participation in club meetings, projects, and other events. Being Proudly Rotarian is not just an empty accolade and status symbol. Rather, it is a call for service and commitment to hold true the driving motive of Rotary. It’s a call to give of yourself to the world community in giving to support and strengthen the Rotary Foundation’s humanitarian efforts around the globe. It’s a call to build strong clubs and use our skills, professional knowledge, and technical know how to bring happiness to people in our communities.

If this is not your core understanding of what it means to be Proudly Rotarian, I guess you are simply and unfortunately a mere member of Rotary.

I am a Rotarian and Proudly so. Which are you?

- Frank Kofi Owusu Debrah, Foundation Chair and Past President of the Rotary Club of Sunyani Central, Ghana in Rotary Voices

Father, son team up to make a difference

For this father and son combination, Rotary is about much more than belonging to a humanitarian organization. It’s about making a difference in the world.

When you’re a part of Rotary, you’re really making a difference, both locally and internationally. When you think about all the wonderful things Rotary has accomplished, who wouldn’t want to be part of one of the most successful humanitarian organizations in history.

I recently took the helm as president of the Branchburg Rotary Club for the sixth time.  I am a charter member of the club, which started in 1988. This time around, I am honored to have my son serving in the same Rotary club.

Previously, Anil has been a member of an E-Club in our district, but this year he decided to join my club. He is a CPA and graduate of Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and works for MarketSmith as Director of Innovation. He believes in Rotary’s service projects and all the impact they are making around the world with various Rotary Foundation grants.

Father and son working on the Asha Rays of Hope project.

It has been fun working on projects together. We have been involved with the Asha Project in Nepal to provide scholarships, microcredit and home building for the earthquake victims since the major earthquake in 2015. We have already completed three humanitarian missions to Nepal together and are planning a fourth in early February.

Now, it’s additionally nice to bounce ideas off of one another as part of the same club. Branchburg Rotary has just received a $95,000 grant to implement a microcredit project in Nepal and we are working on a second computer grant.

My son’s interest in Rotary was sparked by listening to me talking about various local and international projects during the past 29 years. “We’re pretty good at raising money and giving money away to different organizations,” he says. “But I really like the hands-on service projects, where you can see you’re making a difference.”

I would say one of the best things I ever did in my life was join the Rotary Club of Branchburg, because our members are just the most generous members I’ve ever known.

- Tulsi R. Maharjan, a past district governor and member of the Rotary Club of Branchburg, New Jersey, USA in Rotary Voices

How we started a new Rotaract club

I was walking out of my accounting class this summer when I received a message from the dean of students asking if I would be willing to start a Rotaract club at the university for the fall semester. I knew nothing about Rotaract and very little about Rotary but Dean Gentry assured me he would be our club adviser and provide support, so I accepted. Sewanee does not have a plethora of clubs with the national or international recognition that Rotaract has, and I felt confident that students would be interested.

A week later, I met with Bill Davis, a local Rotarian who has orchestrated the effort to bring Rotaract to the university. Bill and I were determined to create a following for the club, so we spent countless time organizing, reviewing the Rotaract Handbook, and discussing how we were going to make it a successful club. I met with Katie Sneed, the president of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Rotaract Club, who graciously gave us advice. Her perspective and support has been crucial.

Initially, I advertised to students through the Activities Fair, to Greek Life organization, and any other student streams we could think of. I explained that Rotaract is an opportunity to create a network of connections and make a difference in the world. Pitching this in a positive light was critical because students will choose to invest their time where they receive the most value back. Therefore, I focused on the prominence and notoriety of Rotary and Rotaract, asking “Would you like to do good and make a difference within our community?” Students at Sewanee want to serve and help the community.

Samuel Kern, left, receives the club’s charter from District Governor Deborah Alexander-Davis, middle

After creating a viable student interest for the club, we held an information meeting and followed the Rotaract Handbook. Twenty-seven students attended our first meeting, and we felt there was enough support to move forward.

At an organization meeting I explained the structure of the club and asked for those interested in leading. Assembling the right leadership team was critical. I created nine positions adding on a Social Media Committee Chair and the Finance Committee Chair. These officers have been instrumental to our club’s success. Their efforts have allowed us to grow quickly and mobilize.

Perhaps the most important ingredient has been the support of Rotarians. Bill Davis, John Hill (President of the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club), and Woody Deutsch have given their constant support, organizing the charter ceremony, and attending our meetings. Bill has supported me and been a great mentor throughout this semester. I have learned a lot about leadership, service, and life. He and the other Rotarians have been a great influence upon our Sewanee Rotaract Club.

We have held our charter ceremony, participated in service projects, received guest speakers, and are making an impact upon our community. Ultimately, the Sewanee Rotaract Club is here because of the students who make up the club. They are passionate about “making a difference,” and this mission and core value is what unites our club and allows it to succeed.

Samuel R. Kern, Rotaract Club of Sewanee, Tennessee, USA in Rotary Voices

My return to Minneapolis after 7 years

On Thanksgiving week in November 2017, I visited Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, where I was accredited as a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar seven years ago. This short trip brought me so many precious moments in reconnecting with amazing people that I had met through Rotary, that I had to share them.

After being nominated by the Rotary Club of Ashiya, I was sent to the Rotary Club of Minneapolis City of Lakes, Minnesota, as an ambassadorial scholar in 2010. Studying public policies for immigrants, refugees, and homeless people at the University of Minnesota, I took part in a variety of Rotary activities; presentations in and out of the state, volunteering for communities, and taking part in fundraising events including jumping into a frozen lake. The entire year was full of excitement, surprises, and learning.

One of the main purposes of my return trip to Minneapolis was to visit all the people and friends who I had met through Rotary and Rotaract. Starting with Jim Eaton, my counselor, and Tom Tamura, the only Japanese Rotarian in the club, many familiar faces and even new faces welcomed me at the meeting. Since it was the day before Thanksgiving, everybody shared what each of us were grateful for: having a family to celebrate together, having a job, and precious friendships with Rotarians that had passed away that year. I was very blessed being able to show my gratitude to the bonds Rotary helped me create and to the Rotarians for their warm and dedicated hearts.

Ueda, right, with Connie Gotthilf

The highlight of the trip was meeting with Connie Gotthilf of the Rotary Club of Edina.  After I visited her club for a presentation, she kindly held a Japanese tea ceremony party, took me on a trip, and remained very close until we lost track of each other a few years ago. I was extremely worried about her, but when I discovered where she lived and found her in good health, I could not help but burst into tears of relief and joy.

In retrospect, my scholar year was definitely a turning point. All the experiences made my life more open to the world, more colorful, and more hopeful and bright. Adding the fact that my father was also an ambassadorial scholar, the impact Rotary has had on me is indescribable.

All of the Rotarians that I met are happy to serve locally and globally. They spared no effort in offering me advice, showing me directions, giving praise, and encouraging me both as a professional and as a human being. I treasure the life-long friends I have gained through Rotary. Minnesota has become a second home to me.

In the spring of this year, I am going to start my master’s degree to become a clinical counselor to use my psychology training to support people regardless of their nationality, background, and economical or social circumstances. I will continue my current job at a robotics laboratory at Osaka University. I will work the best I can to give back not only to Rotary, but to the global world for the better.

Anna Ueda, 2010-11 Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar in Rotary Voices

Who is your special Rotary mentor?

Part of what makes Rotary so special are the connections you make with fellow members and the impact that has on your life.

I first met Sir Durward Knowles in 1963. He was well known and highly respected in sailing circles having won the first Olympic gold medal for the Bahamas. This and his unwavering commitment to serving the needy made him an icon in our community.

The Knowles family after his Olympic Gold Medal.

Durward brought me into the Rotary Club of East Nassau in July 1975 when he was incoming club president. I knew a little bit about Rotary, but through Durward I was able to learn even more and get involved. Looking back, I realize the positive influence he’s had on my life and how his mentoring helped shape who I am. Durward was an outstanding example of what it meant to encompass vocational service by leading with integrity and contributing his expertise to the problems and needs of society.

During his year as president, Durward led his club to achieve great things. As president, he really stressed engagement and introduced new projects that encouraged fellowship, which in turn led to an increase in membership. Growth happened naturally as the club became more involved in fundraising, community service, and gained publicity from inspiring guest speakers.

He also got the club thinking big, doing larger community service projects and collaborating with other charitable organizations. A major project we worked on was fundraising for construction of the first phase of a school complex for children with special needs. The children were being evicted from the premises they had operated from, and the new site gave them the stability they deserved. Following his lead, the Rotary Club of East Nassau has since financed the construction of other buildings.

Durward, who just celebrated his 100th birthday on 2 November, continues to be highly respected in Rotary and our community. A great Rotarian, sailor and humanitarian – I am grateful that Durward introduced me to Rotary.

- T. Murray Forde, Past Assistant Governor of District 7020 and Past President of Rotary Club of East Nassau in Rotary Voices.    

Rotary Convention 2018

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