Wine enthusiasts address food insecurity in Portugal

By Conrad C. Heede, Past District Governor of District 5790 and President of the Rotarian Wine Appreciation Fellowship

RWAF members enjoying a wine dinner in Portugal.

RWAF members enjoying a wine dinner in Portugal.

Every year, the Rotarian Wine Appreciation Fellowship (RWAF) members plan exciting wine-related events at the annual RI Conventions. Claire Larson, a member of the Rotary e-Club Porches International and an avid wine aficionado and collector, volunteered to plan our Fellowships’ activities at the 2013 RI Convention in Lisbon, Portugal. Through her connections to the local wine trade, Claire set up seven events including nightly wine dinners at different venues, two cooking courses and a wine tour of the Douro Valley.

In appreciation for all her work to plan these events, the Fellowship decided to undertake a humanitarian project in the Algarve, Claire’s home base. Immediately, Claire announced food security was her local community’s greatest challenge. I found it hard to believe that parts of Portugal experienced food insecurity and shortages. In 2013, the economy in the Algarve was extremely unstable. Claire’s club at the time, Rotary Club of Estoi Palace International, was supporting the all-volunteer Food Bank of Algarve and could not provide enough food for the growing demand. The food bank could only distribute the food that was delivered to them and had trouble securing fresh produce and products without a refrigerated vehicle to collect excess food from stores and farms in surrounding areas.

The Rotarian Wine Appreciation Fellowship put together a USD $53,000 Matching Grant to purchase a fully-equipped refrigerated food truck, complete with 300 heavy duty plastic food baskets. The grant was funded almost entirely by RWAF members from five countries with assistance from the Grapevine Rotary Club, Texas, USA. (Matching Grants have since been phased out; learn more about Foundation grants at www.rotary.org/grant.)

RWAF members model the new truck.

RWAF members model the new truck.

The vehicle was officially presented to the Food Bank at their Faro warehouse several months later.  The project was well-promoted by local and national press, radio and TV network coverage and the Food Bank formally accepted the keys to the vehicle and presented a short video message thanking our Rotary Fellowship for this project.

Almost 25,000 people receive monthly food parcels from the Food Bank of Algarve. Thousands of people in the Algarve now have access to more food and healthier fresh produce options. The vehicle is now also used to redistribute produce to a second warehouse in Portimão, about 50 miles away.

The Rotarian Wine Appreciation Fellowship includes more than 3,800 members in 62 countries. The group strives to educate Rotarians on how to best enjoy wine and properly pair wine and food while meeting friends with a mutual love for wine from all over the world. The group also heavily emphasized involvement in local and international humanitarian projects to help make this world a better place.

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Rotary Friendship Exchange lays foundation for international service partnerships

By Camille Ronzio, member of Rotary Club of Eugene Southtowne, OR, USA, and District 5110 Rotary Friendship Exchange Chair

I never thought Rotary International winning second place in the December 2013 United Miles contest would have a personal connection to my life. Using a portion of the awarded miles, Rotary District 5110 (USA) won the opportunity to offer free round trip tickets to four Rotarians from our district to embark on a service-oriented Rotary Friendship Exchange (RFE). I had the opportunity to lead this team – a mixed group of young faces and experienced travelers, some new to the RFE program and some program veterans.

Flag exchangeWorking with RFE district chair Alexandre Iote from District 2241 (Romania and Moldova), we planned an exchange introducing RFE to two new areas in his district. Our plans included a joint service project as well as many cultural and fellowship experiences that would introduce us to the countries’ amazingly resilient, generous and warm people.

CultureOn the May exchange in Romania and Moldova, we saw two countries trying to restore their roads, buildings, economies and town squares. We also saw commonalities that unite us as Rotarians: the desire to build good will and friendships, and the commitment to service. Reflecting back on the experience, team member Ted Stevens said “the trip expanded our knowledge in countless ways,” and Tyson Woodard remarked that “it was truly an educational and awe-inspiring adventure.”

Here is a glimpse of our exchange:

When we arrived in Timisoara, Romania, we were met by group of young, vibrant Rotarians who incorporate the whole family into Rotary: Rotakids, Interact, Rotaract, and spouses – they even have a band made up of Rotarians and their family members. What a memorable first night!

We partnered on a number of service with our various hosts throughout District 2241:

  • PlaygroundOur team collected funds to help revive a dated playground located near apartment complexes housing young families. We gained many ideas for future projects as we talked with a young man who was rescued from an unsafe environment as a child and now manages a house for abandoned children.
  • We met with a Rotarian who built Deborah’s House, a safe haven Shoe projectfor young women who are victims of trafficking or abuse. I will never forget the conversation with the young girl practicing her English who proudly showed me her room, or the smiles and hugs our team received when we gave each girl a new pair of shoes. These are just the beginnings of longer-term projects!
  • Onward in the city of Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania, local Rotarians met us in a hotel and restaurant owned by a club member. We Traditionwere greeted with homemade sour cherry liquor, music and dancing! Here we met Gabriela Rosus, a Rotarian who took time away from her job to organize our stay and show us around. She runs a non-governmental organization which moves children from orphanages to foster homes. We met her special-needs children who wore big smiles and lived in a loving environment. We saw how she utilizes every resource she has.

Cultural immersion:

  • Memorial“Merry Cemetery” – I will always remember the painted carved markers telling the story of each person buried in this cemetery. A local Rotarian told us about his father who is buried there. On this stop we also visited the prison memorial to the victims of Communism – a truly somber and moving tribute to a period of history that still affects the people of Romania.
  • A van ride took us to Suceava, Romania, where we stayed overnight. The local Rotarians arranged local folk dance entertainment, and treated us to a wonderful traditional meal, a hike, and a tour of one of the famous painted monasteries of the Bucovina region.
  • Braided breadThe next day, another van organized by Moldovan Rotarians – all women – their bilingual daughters and Rotaract members greeted us for the trip to Chisinau, Moldova. Upon arrival in the city, we were treated to the traditional welcome braided bread dipped in salt and paired with Moldovan red wine. Local music and dancing again filled the room! We visited an upcoming center dedicated to keeping local crafts, music and culture alive for young people, a project supported by several Rotarians. We bought some of their crafts and discussed ideas for supporting this effort in the  future.

Long live friendships and eye opening experiences!

TeamTeam members Don Arkell and Laurie Power said it best: “We caught glimpses of the everyday lives of our hosts and how they, through Rotary, make life better for the less privileged. We can now put faces on unfolding geopolitical events in the region with appreciation for the challenges our new friends may undertake.” You can see more pictures from our exchange on our exchange Facebook page.

We will welcome our Romanian and Moldovan hosts to District 5110 in August, and we already agreed to have another exchange between our districts in 2017. Potential team members from both districts are lining up to participate!

Learn more about Rotary Friendship Exchanges online and contact your District Rotary Friendship Exchange Chair for information about how you can get involved.

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Celebrating our accomplishments through Rotary Days

By Ellina Kushnir, RI Programs staff

Over the past year, we expanded our impact by inviting the community to learn about our good work as we celebrated our accomplishments through a variety of community engagements. More than 400 clubs and districts around the world heeded President Gary C.K. Huang’s call to Light Up Rotary through unique Rotary Day events.

Congratulations to Rotary District 2430, Turkey, winner of the year-long video contest on their winning Rotary Day submission:

View the 12 video finalists from around the world:

District 3480, Taiwan

District 3480, Taiwan

RID4170_Mexico

District 4170, Mexico

 

 

 

 

 

Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact clubs of El Salvador

Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact clubs of El Salvador

RID2440_Turkey

District 2440, Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

District 3510, Taiwan

District 3510, Taiwan

Rotary Club of Kokura East, Japan

Rotary Club of Kokura East, Japan

 

 

 

 

 

Four Rotary clubs of Fort Collins

The Four Rotary clubs of Fort Collins

District 4895, Argentina

District 4895, Argentina

 

 

 

 

 

Rotary Club of Atibaia-Estância, Brazil

Rotary Club of Atibaia-Estância, Brazil

Rotary Club of Calapan, Philippines

Rotary Club of Calapan, Philippines

 

 

 

 

 

Rotary Club of Levroux-Boischaut-Champagne, France

Rotary Club of Levroux-Boischaut-Champagne, France

District 3230, India

District 3230, India

 

 

 

 

 

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Rotary Fellowships’ annual activities support polio eradication efforts

By Ellina Kushnir, RI Programs staff

Besides organizing projects related to their hobbies and recreational activities, many Rotary Fellowships demonstrate their commitment Service Above Self by supporting Rotary’s efforts to help eradicate polio. From championships and competitions to auctions and raffles, Rotary Fellowships incorporate fundraisers into their annual activities to raise funds for the PolioPlus campaign:

MarathonersInternational Marathon Fellowship of Rotarians
Every year, the avid runners participate as a group in a renowned marathon. This past April, more than 100 Rotarians and their friends joined more than 50,000 participants to run the Paris Marathon. The Fellowship organized an entire weekend of activities from a pasta and wine evening to an evening celebrating the groups 10th anniversary in the city where it first originated. Through the run, €4,000 EUR were donated by the Fellowship to Rotary’s PolioPlus fund.

The group will be running in the Budapest Marathon next October. Long and short distance runners are welcome to join.

QuiltersRotarian Fellowship of Quilters and Fiber Artists
Every year, the Quilters and Fiber Artists Fellowship displays and exchanges handmade goods donated by their members from around the world in the House of Friendship at the RI Convention. Last year at the RI Convention in Sydney, the group raised nearly $7,000.00 USD for PolioPlus.

International Fellowship of Rotarian Convention Goers
Vivid Sydney 2014
Last year at the RI Convention in Sydney, the dedicated group of convention goers hosted its annual “Rotary Reunion Banquet” where they helped raise more than $2,400 USD for the PolioPlus fund. The banquet was held aboard the “Sydney 2000” cruise ship which sailed the harbor during Vivid Sydney as it brought together hundreds of Rotarians from all over the world.

Wine Appreciation_3Rotary Wine Appreciation Fellowship
Thanks to a 2-to-1 match from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the group of wine aficionados raised $30,000 USD for the PolioPlus campaign with a raffle and auction at the 2014 RI Convention in Sydney.

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Yachting enthusiasts support secure health access throughout African island communities

By Bernardo Rabassa Asenjo, member of the Rotary Club of Madrid – Puerta de Hierro, Spain, and past regional commodore of the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians’ Iberia chapter

International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians

International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians

Our group of more than 3200 members across 32 countries shares a common love for the open water and a passion for yachting. Since the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians first formed in 1947, we have grown to 90 fleets and we have been involved with countless voyages across the globe. Along with making life-long friends with other yachters, we’re proud to emphasize humanitarian service through our beloved hobby.

Lamu Island, located off of the coast of Kenya, is only accessible by boat. Since motorized vehicles can’t be found on the island, donkeys are the primary mode of transportation. This water-locked community is served by Lamu District Hospital, one of the best-equipped medical facilities on the Kenyan coast. The hospital also services all of the surrounding islands in the archipelago. As the only hospital for the archipelago’s 105,000 residents, the local community voiced mounting concerns to obtain a motorized ambulance boat to transport patience in need of medical assistance.

06_16_AmbulanceBoatIn the spirit of equipping communities reliant on water with needed resources, the International Yatching Fellowship of Rotarians formed a partnership with non-governmental organization Anidan to help secure the ambulatory boat. Our Fellowships’ members are working with external foundations and Rotary clubs in Spain to apply for a Rotary grant to help provide the needed medical resources for residents near Lamu to quickly and reliable access health services. The ambulatory boat will be used to quickly transport local residents to the hospital for needed medical attention. The boat will also be used to raise awareness about preventative health care and immunizations around the archipelago.

Since joining this effort, we have been worked with the local communities including the Rotary Club of Malindi, the medical staff at the Hortsmann Hospital of Lamu, and the Kenyan Fleet of the Rotary Mariners of East Africa to create an entire medical initiative for the 2015-16 Rotary year:

  • Identify prevalent local health issues particularly in children
  • Promote immunizations and secure access to medical treatment to address most wide-spread health concerns
  • Utilize the ambulatory boat to implement standardized immunizations across the different regions

This project is expected to directly benefit more than 100,000 people, the entire population of Lamu County.  Contact the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians for more information about their activities or this project.

The International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians consists of 197 active Rotary yachting fleets across 37 countries. The Fellowship strives to advance international understand and goodwill through cruising, yachting, racing, sailing, kayaking and other activities involving boats and boating.

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Medical myths inspire fellowship and service

By Dr. John Philip, Past District Governor of District 1040 and Chairman of the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors

John (back row, middle) and wife Chris (back row, left) with a local family they have befriended in Ukerewe.

John (back row, middle) and wife Chris (back row, left) with a local family they have befriended in Ukerewe.

In 2009, I led a team of volunteers on a trip to the island of Ukerewe, Tanzania, where I met with the Chairman of the Ukerewe Albino Society. A slogan scribbled in black ink on the wall of his simple mud hut office caught my attention: We do not melt in the sun, we do not disappear, we live and die like normal people.

Since 2009, my wife Chris and I have visited Ukerewe, Africa’s largest island, ten times with volunteer groups to support the local community, including those with albinism. The Government of Tanzania had declared Ukerewe a safe haven for people with albinism and the island’s small albino community lives in relative safety.

Unfortunately, people with albinism living on mainland Tanzania, particularly in the Lake Victoria region, live under constant threat. Skin colour has always divided nations and communities. Recently, the absence of skin colour, an inherited condition called Albinism, has put a price tag on people’s lives and on their body parts in some regions of the globe. People with Albinism lack of melanin pigment in their skin and appear to have “white” skin, sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation and risk of developing skin cancer and significant sight problems.

While numbers vary, an estimated one in every 20,000 people has some form of albinism in North America and Europe.  In Tanzania, albinos represent one in every 1,429 births, more than in any other nation. According to Al-Shymaa Kway-Geer, an albino Member of Parliament, 6,977 documented and up to 17000 undocumented Persons with Albinism (PWA) live in Tanzania. [i]

In Tanzania, the albino community is stigmatised, exclude from education and employment, often physically assaulted and sometimes brutally murdered.  They live in fear because of widespread myths that their body parts have magical powers. It is becoming increasingly more common to seek out albino limbs; the body parts are believed to bring good luck – they can help win elections, make businesses successful and destroy enemies.

Alfred Kapole, Chairman of Ukerewe's Albino Society. Photo courtesy of John Philip

Alfred Kapole, Chairman of Ukerewe’s Albino Society. Photo courtesy of John Philip

We knew we couldn’t turn a blind eye to this terrible situation. After I presented the case for a Rotary project to the Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors, we circulated information about our plans to the wider Rotary network and received support from the USA, France, Portugal, Sweden, Geneva and India. Working with the Rotary Club of Moshi, Tanzania, as the local host club, and Mirfield Rotary Club in the UK as the international partner, we obtained a global grant to run a two year holistic project to help people with albinism in Tanzania.

The main aspects of the programme include:

Village education and peace building – Through a series of meetings at the heart of the community with high incidence of violence against PWAs, we will seek to change beliefs and myths about Albinism. Several meetings have already taken place in the Mara region and the communities’ response has exceeded all expectations. One village leader in Chitari said “We’ll not tolerate any attacks on the Albinos. They are our brothers and sisters.”

Improved Health care – We will work with local health providers to ensure PWAs have access to affordable skin cancer screenings and eye care.

Vocational training and microcredit loans– We will provide training opportunities to PWAs to improve their skills, acquire new skills, and improve their earning potential. The Musoma Rotary Club has launched a training programme and microcredit project to help PWAs. Seven groups have already been formed, each being a mixed group – albinos and nonalbinos. Our hope is that by working together, they will come to appreciate that beneath our varied external appearances we are all the same.

We strive to help a marginalized and discriminated community claim their rightful place in the society and live without fear or prejudice and ensure they ‘live and die like normal people’.

For more information about this project, contact PDG Dr. John Philip.

The International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors consists of Rotary members, their spouses, and Rotaractors who are doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers. The group shares a vision for supporting and promoting global health improvements, an enthusiasm for making advancements through volunteerism, and a strong commitment to support local and international healthcare initiatives.

Related:

[i] International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

 

 

Happy Rotary Fellowships Month!

By Zuhal Sharp, RI Programs staff

06_01_Rotary Fellowships MonthFriendship is one of the primary reasons our members join and stay in Rotary. To help foster these life-long relationships, Rotary Fellowships offer Rotarians, their spouses, and Rotaractors opportunities to connect with one another while enjoying favorite recreational or professional activities. There are currently 64 Rotary Fellowships covering 64 unique topics of interests from tennis to wine appreciation, marathon running to cooking, scuba diving to recreational vehicles, jazz to computers, and more. Rotary Fellowships organize regional and international events, contests, and meetings where their members bond and build lasting friendships outside their clubs, districts, and even countries. Every year, nearly half of these groups attend the RI convention, exhibit in the House of Friendship, and organize events to practice their favorite activities and strengthen relationships with fellow members.

Whether providing a refrigerated food truck to a food bank in Faro, Portugal, or partnering with Rotary clubs on a humanitarian service project to help a marginalized community with albinism in Ukerewe, Tanzania, many Rotary Fellowships also use their hobby or vocation for service activities. Several Fellowships have been leveraging their major events such as annual sporting championships or dinners as a platform to raise funds for Rotary’s PolioPlus program.

Check back here throughout the month of June to help us celebrate Rotary Fellowships Month through inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories inspire you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship.

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Serving with ShelterBox in times of disaster

By Ellina Kushnir, RI Programs staff

Picture1When disaster strikes, our partner ShelterBox often works closely with Rotarians to evaluate local needs and devise a plan for immediate response. The Rotary family provides vital assistance to ShelterBox Response Teams by helping with disaster assessments, housing response team volunteers, and helping coordinate relief logistics. Over the past twelve years, Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Interactors have partnered with ShelterBox to help communities in dire need of assistance immediately following a disaster:

  • When the April 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, Rotaractors and Rotarians quickly connected with ShelterBox to assess damage and mobilize emergency relief teams. The Rotary family in Nepal and around the world has been instrumental in helping ShelterBox with logistics, transportation, housing Response Teams, and sponsoring emergency shelter tents and relief kits.
  • In December 2014, Malaysia was devastated by heavy flooding. A response team was deployed to the country after Rotaractor James Ong, a member of ShelterBox Malaysia, contacted ShelterBox for assistance. James was instrumental in arranging response logistics from greeting response team members at the airport to arranging transportation for the teams’ operations. James helped translate and interpret key information from Malay to English and assisted with box distributions in Pahang State. James and fellow Rotaractors worked with PDG Khoo Boo Khean to mobilize a District 3300-wide response coalition of Rotarians and Rotaractors to assist with the month-long deployment.
  • Last May, following flooding and landslides in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, ShelterBox Response Teams, alongside Rotarians and local agencies, provided vital aid to the most vulnerable communities in both countries.
  • In November 2013, the largest storm to make landfall struck the Philippines. Because local Rotary clubs members were able to quickly assess destruction severity, ShelterBox deployed a response team with relief equipment within 48 hours of the disaster. Rotarian Stephen Castillo from Cebu City, Philippines, helped ShelterBox with warehouse and logistics during the deployment.
Children in Syria use ShelterBox's SchoolBoxes to continue learning during relief efforts (courtesy of ShelterBox)

Children in Syria use ShelterBox’s SchoolBoxes to continue learning during relief efforts (courtesy of ShelterBox)

In addition to distributing transitional housing resources, ShelterBox also provides SchoolBoxes with educational materials to mitigate disruption in education as teachers continue working with students while communities are rebuilt. ShelterBox works with a variety of implementing partners and fellow relief organizations to ensure necessary aid including medical care, food assistance, and permanent housing is included in recovery initiatives:

  • Since conflict first broke out in Syria four years ago, more than 10 million people have been displaced with four million seeking refuge in other countries. ShelterBox is working with implementing partners including Hand in Hand for Syria to distribute needed aid, including shelter kits, tents, mosquito nets, water filters, water carriers, blankets, groundsheets, SchoolBoxes, and solar lamps.

The ShelterBox-RI Fact Sheet provides more information about local or international service opportunities with ShelterBox. Contact a ShelterBox international affiliate to start working together.

Bill Decker, a Rotary club past president and ShelterBox Response Team member, with children in the Philippines (image courtesy of Bill Decker).

Bill Decker, a Rotary club past president and ShelterBox Response Team member, with children in the Philippines (image courtesy of Bill Decker).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Community solutions address local needs through Rotary Community Corps

By Zuhal Sharp, RI Programs staff

RCC of Tauheed Nagar, Pakistan, operates a vocational center for stitching.

RCC of Tauheed Nagar, Pakistan, operates a vocational center for stitching.

Rotary Community Corps, commonly known as RCCs, are teams of community volunteers who share Rotary’s commitment to service but are not Rotary members. They work in partnership with their sponsor Rotary clubs to address their communities’ specific needs. RCCs are highly adaptable and can be found everywhere Rotary is present: in urban and rural areas, and in both developed and developing countries. Some RCCs are established to carry out a specific project for a limited period of time, while others tackle more entrenched problems on an ongoing basis.

Every year, we survey all club presidents whose club sponsors at least one Rotary Community Corps (RCC). This feedback provides valuable information about the activities and demographics of RCCs and their partnership with Rotary clubs.

The 2013 and 2014 Rotary Community Corps surveys provide significant insights for any club considering sponsoring a new RCC to find community solutions to community issues:

  • RCC of Tauheed Nagar, Pakistan, installs community hand pump.

    RCC of Tauheed Nagar, Pakistan, addresses water and sanitation needs by installing a community hand pump.

    RCC projects address all of Rotary’s six areas of focus. Projects that address economic and community development and basic education and literacy seem to be the most common.

  • Nearly 90% of RCC members are in the age range of 18-44. 32 % of this group is in the age range of 18-34.
  • 45% of the RCCs have predominantly male members, 39% predominantly female members, and 16% equal number of female and male members.
  • 80% of the RCCs meet at least once a month.
  • Rotary clubs organize most of the fundraising activities and donate funds for RCC projects. RCC members are more likely to volunteer their time rather than donating money.
  • RCC of Tauheed Nagar, Pakistan, works with the community to prepare wedding dresses.

    RCC of Tauheed Nagar, Pakistan, empowers the community through economic development initiatives. Local residents sew and sell wedding dresses.

    Most of the sponsoring Rotary clubs promote RCCs through personal contacts (rated highest), newsletter/website, or local media.

  • 76 % of club presidents think that RI should establish direct connections to elected RCC presidents or other RCC members.
  • 75 % of club presidents believe that RI can help better equip the Rotary clubs by sharing best practices from successful RCCs.
  • 86% of club presidents would like to see resources on fundraising ideas for RCCs.
  • A significant number of club presidents suggested that successful RCCs should be recognized by RI and/or at the district level.

View the detailed results for each year and learn more about how your club can sponsor its own RCC.

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Rotary Days light up communities around the world

By Ellina Kushnir, RI staff

RotaryDays_ENSince 1 July, thousands of Rotary members across the world have honored President Gary C.K. Huang’s call to Light Up Rotary through unique Rotary Day events in their local communities. These events range from family carnivals, to service projects at food pantries, to environmental projects, to pet-friendly events and more!

Here are just some of the many excellent club and district #RotaryDays videos we have received over the past year:

Looking for more inspiration?

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Have a Rotary Day video you’d like to share? Upload it to YouTube and email rotary.service@rotary.org with a link to the video and a brief description of the event.

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