Preserving the Magic of our Natural Habitat

By: Karen Kendrick-Hands, Co-Chair of the Going Green Fellowship Group, Rotary Club of Madison, WI, USA

Karen post_pic_1Wishing on a shooting star, prodding a caterpillar to unzip its feet, picking ripe berries without getting scratched, throwing pine needles on the campfire and watching them spark, and catching (and releasing) slippery bass: all this magic I share with my grandson at our cabin by the lake. I want him to be able to share the same magic with his grandchildren, sixty years from now. I am grateful to be a part of my club’s “Going Green Fellowship Group” where we create opportunities for service and education around solutions to the global warming humanitarian crisis. Rotary’s vow to eradicate polio demonstrates exactly the tenacity that solving climate change requires. For me, addressing global warming is consistent with Rotary’s ethic of Service Above Self.

I am excited that our club has two programs that will be webcast live for worldwide viewing and feature speakers underscoring the importance of Rotarians engaging to help solve Global Warming. We invite you to join us:

Following the webcasts, recordings of both presentations will be available online:

Note: Before the event, make sure your computer can open Mediasite, which requires a PC or Mac, an Internet connection, and the Silverlight plugin. Test your media player with this link: Why Webcast?; download the latest version of Silverlight Media Player.

Promoting literacy by recognizing young authors

By Diana White, past district governor and member of Rotary E-Club of the Caribbean, District 7020

Lapel Pin for WinnersIt all started when my friend Past District Governor Donna Wallbank opened my eyes to the very successful nationwide youth programs run by Rotary across the UK. I was amazed and inspired by these competition-based programs, particularly “Young Writer”. That gave me the idea of suggesting a contest as a project for our E-Club, the Rotary E-Club of the Caribbean.  The original plan was simply to run a story writing competition, but a brainstorming session with club members led to “we need to share these children’s stories online”.  As ideas were put forward, the Butterfly StoryBook emerged!

Young authors pose with their certificates of recognition for their contributions to the Butterfly Storybook

Young authors pose with their certificates of recognition for their contributions to the Butterfly Storybook

We couldn’t realize this dream without the support of the other clubs in District 7020. Clubs were invited to initiate their own local story writing contest and send the top three stories to us. These winning stories, focusing on Rotary ideals, came to life in the Butterfly StoryBook.  Feedback from students and teachers alike has been positive. They praise the Rotary club for focusing primary school children on important values such as truth, fairness, friendship and helping others.

After designing the book and posting it online in a magazine style, the next question was “how can we get this wonderful book published for all to read, and to do it for free?”!  Our assistant governor told us about CreateSpace, a self -publishing subsidiary of Amazon. All we had to do was provide the creativity and upload the book — free!

A student poses with his copy of the Butterfly Storybook, distributed by the Jamaican Reading Association

A student poses with his copy of the Butterfly Storybook, distributed by the Jamaican Reading Association

After the Butterfly StoryBook was published and placed on Amazon worldwide,  the Jamaica Reading Association (JRA) discovered it.  They needed to find an age appropriate book for children for Jamaica Reading Week and contacted our e-club directly. Their partnership has been incredible! They made copies of selected stories and their members and volunteers from First Heritage helped distribute the stories to 30 Jamaican primary schools.

We are grateful to JRA and proud to receive the Pearson Foundation Literacy Award. The grant will enable us to increase the number of Butterfly StoryBooks we can send to underprivileged students and to provide the JRA with hard copies of the books next year.

The Rotary-International Reading Association Literacy Award, made possible by the Pearson Foundation, recognized two literacy projects undertaken jointly by a Rotary club and International Reading Associate affiliated council.

Support international projects at the Ecuador Project Fair

By District Governor-elect Manuel Nieto, District 4440

Before arriving at the 2013 Ecuador Project Fair to find a new international project to support, David Dowd and Mike Quillen from the Rotary Club of Birmingham Sunrise, Alabama, USA, made a stop in Calhuasig to visit the completed water project they first began supporting during the 2012 Fair. The local villagers received their honored guests with an unforgettable celebration, an expression of gratitude for their project partners.

As a result of the annual project fairs organized in Ecuador, participants from sixty four clubs in District 5150, the San Francisco region in California, USA, joined efforts with a local club on a large-scale US$ 182,000 Global Grant to establish community banks in Esmeraldas.

These are just two examples of the many life-changing projects presented at Ecuador project fairs.

2014 Ecuador Project Fair

The next District 4440 Ecuador Project Fair will be held 14-16 November 2014 in Quito. Visitors will learn about local projects seeking international partners and have an opportunity to talk with project coordinators. Fair attendees get to know other local Rotarians and make life-long friends. Visitors will also have a unique chance to tour Quito, declared a Cultural Heritage of Mankind site by UNESCO 36 years ago, and take excursions selected by the hosts to exciting places like the world renowned Galapagos Islands, the Amazonian jungle or the Andes Mountains. Join us for an unparalleled experience! More information about the fair and excursion options is available online.

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Using social media to boost fundraising efforts

By Simone Collins, Rotary Club of Freshwater Bay, Western Australia, and Charter Chair of the Rotarians on Social Networks Fellowship

Social media is no longer a new technology – the first social media sites launched in 2000, and a number of those original sites are still around. Facebook was launched in 2004, LinkedIn in 2003, and Twitter has been around since 2006. Social media is now as vital a communication tool as a cell phone.

The power of social media is in the sheer number of users who contribute and consume information daily through these networks. Facebook currently boasts 1.3 billion active users, most of which log in daily. *Half of 18 to 34-year-olds check Facebook first thing in the morning, and 28% of those do so before even getting out of bed!

Rapid Response

Murphys Creek, Queensland, Australia. Photo courtesy of Rotary District 9830

Murphys Creek, Queensland, Australia. Photo courtesy of Rotary District 9830

In January 2011, we had terrible flooding which affected most of the state of Queensland in Australia. Rotaractors tweeted and used their Facebook statuses to spread news that any donations made through Rotary District 9830, in the state of Tasmania, would be matched dollar for dollar through the local state government, up to a maximum of $250,000. I saw the buzz on Facebook and helped spread the news through my own accounts, including my business Twitter accounts and through the Rotary Facebook pages that I administer. I shared this announcement at my Wednesday club meeting that week, along with news that ShelterBox already had personnel on the ground assessing impacted communities, information I had learned by following ShelterBox Australia’s Facebook page. While at a district function that Friday evening, I heard a fellow club member repeat the same information to a Rotarian in another club, who asked how I had heard the news so quickly.

With the help of the Rotary family and beyond, District 9830 raised AUS$911,000, double the combined total raised by three other service clubs in Tasmania. That speaks volumes about the benefit of using social media to rapidly spread information about how to help at a time when people are eager to lend a hand. Raised funds were used to build a replacement community centre at Murphys Creek in the Lockyer Valley.

Fundraising Events

Swimerathon 2014. Photo courtesy of Balasubramaniam Sokalimgam

Swimerathon 2014. Photo courtesy of Balasubramaniam Sokalimgam

The Rotary Global Swimarathon, coordinated by the Rotary Club of Grantham, UK, is another online fundraising success story. On 23 February 2012, as a result of reaching out to clubs via Facebook and Twitter, along with regular promotion, we saw 5,244 swimmers from 104 clubs in 23 countries set a new world record for the most number of simultaneous swimmers, raising over US$100,000 for polio eradication in the process.

Again, the organizers used multiple channels to engage the community: Rotarian Paul Wilson from the sponsoring club made heavy use of his personal Facebook account to reach out to Rotarians and clubs. He also used his club’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, along with a website and blog, dedicated to the Swimarathon to provide regular updates and communications with stakeholders. It has now become an annual event, with more and more clubs coming on board every year. In 2013, participation rose to 6103 swimmers from 186 clubs in 36 countries, with a total of US$111,081 raised funds. This year a total of $116,700 were raised with the support of 210 clubs.

As easy as it is to reach out via social media, it is important to strike a balance between getting your message out to as many people as possible and spamming them with too many updates . People will tune you out if you are too aggressive with your promotions. Instead, take time to build engaging relationships within your channels first.

If you would like assistance using social media to boost your fundraising activities, please don’t hesitate to contact the Rotarians on Social Networks Fellowship. With over 2,000 members across the globe, there are plenty of volunteers happy to assist with ideas and practical support on how to make use of the various channels available to you.


How will you Light Up Rotary this year?

By Jesse Allerton, Rotary Programs staff

Light Up RotaryRI President Gary C.K. Huang is encouraging all Rotary members to Light Up Rotary in 2014-15 “by sharing our service, strengthening our clubs, and letting our light shine in our communities.”

Hosting a Rotary Day is a great way for clubs to put the President’s theme into action. It’s simple: hold a fun, informal event in your community to introduce the general public to Rotary and drive interest in membership and other opportunities for engagement. You can refer to the Rotary Days brochure for ideas on how to structure and promote a Rotary Day event and find more tips in this article from the July edition of Rotary Leader.

Remember to share photos, videos, and stories of your event with the Rotary community and beyond. Here are just a few ways you can publicize your impact:

  • Post photos of your event on Instagram using the hashtag #RotaryDay
  • Tweet promotional information and updates, also using the hashtag #RotaryDay
  • Post a video of your Rotary Day on YouTube and email a link and description to Videos may be featured in Rotary media and one outstanding video will receive a special award plaque from the President.
  • Share your story with Rotary staff for possible inclusion in a blog, newsletter, or The Rotarian magazine. Contact us at
  • Visit the President’s web page to view a calendar of upcoming Rotary Day events or add your event to the calendar.

How will you Light Up Rotary?

Rotary Days aren’t the only way to let our light shine! From planning adult literacy classes to installing water filters to hosting vocational training programs, our members are rolling up their sleeves and launching humanitarian projects to improve their communities all around the world.

How will your club Light Up Rotary in the coming year? Share your plans using the comment feature below.


ShelterBox and Rotary work together to assist flood-hit communities in the Balkans

By Melissa Martins Casagrande, ShelterBox staff, and Ellina Kushnir, Rotary Programs staff

Following May flooding and landslides in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the Balkan region’s worst natural disasters in recent decades, ShelterBox response teams, with the support of Rotary club members, local fire departments and government agencies, have been providing vital aid to the most vulnerable in communities in both countries.

In addition to sending response teams, ShelterBox supplied mosquito nets to Bosnia where disease was spreading due to high water levels, mosquitoes, and heat. Nine Serbian municipalities most impacted by the disaster have received tents, water filters and carriers, mosquito nets, solar lamps, groundsheets and blankets.

Watch ShelterBox response team member Giles Walker’s video below as he provides a glimpse into local relief operations and talks with Rotary members who have been invaluable to ShelterBox’s disaster relief work in the region.

Rotary Family Health Days showcase the power of Rotary and the impact of partnerships

By John Wahlund, Area of Focus Manager for Maternal and Child Health & Disease Prevention and Treatment

The fourth annual Rotary Family Health Days (RFHDs) took place throughout sub-Saharan Africa in April 2014, providing comprehensive health care services to the most vulnerable and underserved populations in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Lesotho, and Swaziland. RFHDs were conceived, developed and are continually managed by the Rotarian Action Group for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA).

As Rotary’s Area of Focus Manager for Disease Prevention and Treatment, and Maternal and Child Health, I have had the privilege and responsibility to establish strong working relationships with RFHA’s CEO Marion Bunch and her colleagues. This path led to my participation in the kickoff of the 2014 RFHDs in South Africa this past April. Having been involved in many PolioPlus National Immunization Days in years past, I thought I knew what to expect, but I was once again humbled and overwhelmed witnessing the sheer scale of Rotarian volunteer passion and effort to deliver health care services to the most needy of their communities.

The opening ceremony in Port Elizabeth, South Africa showcased the power of Rotary and impact of partnerships that RFHA has strategically crafted over these several years. There together on the podium and in the audience, supported by stunning South African high school choral presentations, were Rotarians from multiple districts joined by the highest level representatives of the South Africa Department of Health, the US Embassy, the National US Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) office, The South Africa Broadcasting System, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and representatives from multiple NGOs and all tiers of government.

Children line up to receive health services at a Rotary Family Health Days event in South Africa.

Children line up to receive health services at a Rotary Family Health Days event in South Africa.

This goes far beyond the normal pomp and circumstance of many such events. I joined activities in Cape Town for the next few days, a city with one of the world’s highest rates of TB and HIV/AIDS. Over the next several days, thousands of Rotarians and partners rolled up their sleeves to work together, resulting in the provision of disease prevention and treatment services to over 66,500 folks in need.

The power of these partnerships, which included the South Africa Department of Health taking full responsibility for follow up on referrals, is what makes RFHDs such an excellent model for high impact, measurable and sustainable interventions.

As Rotary continues to explore models for projects that provide large, measurable impacts and are sustainable, we have in our ‘front yard’ a living, evolving masterpiece. Thanks to the thousands of volunteers for their efforts, and many personal thanks to those who took me into their lives and homes.

Read a summary of outcomes from the 2014 Rotary Family Health Days