Rotary on Stamps dates back to 1955

By Jerry Gerald FitzSimmons, Secretary/Treasurer of the Rotary on Stamps Fellowship

Attracted by a new stamp issued in 1955 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Rotary International, the American Topical Association formed a study unit to gather Rotarians who shared an interest in stamps. This partnership allowed Rotarians to connect with one another and exchange ideas, which led to the first publication of Rotary International on Stamps Handbook in 1957 filled with various stamps created by the group. In 1971, the group was officially recognized as a Rotary Fellowship expanding their reach to an international level.

Since 2001, our fellowship has featured a booth at every RI Convention with a stamp picking table, cachets for each convention and issued personalized stamps.  The 2005 Convention in Chicago celebrated both the 100th Anniversary of Rotary International and also the 50th Anniversary of the Rotary on Stamps Fellowship.

Our group also promotes how clubs and districts around the world are using stamps to highlight and celebrate their achievements. Below are some recent examples:

  • In Togo, a combination sheet of four stamps and a souvenir sheet were issued to pay tribute to the work of local Rotary clubs, specifically recognizing a new school in Yara Kabyl.
  • In India, a special envelope cachet and cancel were issued by District 3000 to commemorate the Rotary Foundation Centennial.  The envelope displays photographs of Paul P. Harris and Arch C. Klumph.
  • In the Netherlands, two new stamps were issued, one for the RI Convention, and one for the Rotary Foundation Centennial.
  • In France, the Rotary Club of Beziers Sud issued a stamp as part of their fundraising efforts for retinal and medical research.

The Rotary on Stamps Fellowship is dedicated to promoting the hobby of topical philately as it pertains to Rotary International and provides an opportunity for fellowship and service. We continue to produce six full color bulletins each year and our album, catalog, and encyclopedia are updated annually and produced in full color. Learn more about us on our website and join us in our stamp collecting and sharing adventures.

Throughout the month of June, we’ll be celebrating Rotary Fellowships Month by sharing inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories inspire you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship.

Making new Rotary friends aboard a cruise ship

By Rhonda Whitton, Founder and member of the Fellowship of Cruising Rotarians

The Fellowship of Cruising Rotarians is a social media based fellowship for Rotarians who have a shared interest in leisure cruising. We know that many Rotary members enjoy traveling and visiting exciting new places from the comfort of a cruise ship so we encourage fellowship members to contact with one another prior to a cruise and coordinate a Rotary meeting or service initiative on board.

We maintain a list of all cruises our members have booked and we connect members with one another. For example, we recently connected three fellowship members all on the same cruise. We aim to help members make lasting friendships with people from around the world while cruising.

Members can purchase a fellowship lanyard and lapel pin to wear on-board to identify themselves as Rotarians. Most ships provide make-up certificates for those attending on-board meetings. By meeting members on-board, you have the opportunity to exchange ideas and information about cruising as well as plan possible service activities during a cruise.

Fellowship members do not have to have cruised – just have an interest in cruising. Our members enjoy uploading cruise photos to our Facebook page and sharing their experiences and knowledge.

While the fellowship is social media based, members do not have to be Facebook users to join as all members receive ShipShape, our monthly fellowship newsletter. We take online privacy/security very seriously and members have access to our Facebook group page and are advised not to post information that may reveal their identity or specific travel plans.

Being Facebook-based means all communications are either via Facebook or email. The benefit of this is that we have no financial overheads and there is no cost or annual fee to join our fellowship. Interested in joining? Contact us!

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Throughout the month of June, we’ll be celebrating Rotary Fellowships Month by sharing inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories inspire you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship.

Beer lovers brew up plan to provide access to clean water

Thousands of Rotary members gathered in Atlanta this week for the 2017 Rotary International Convention to make new friends and find inspiration while attending exciting events and celebrating The Rotary Foundation’s 100 years of Doing Good in the World.

In the House of Friendship, members had the opportunity to network with fellow Rotarians and Rotaractors, Rotary’s partners, service projects, and learn from the expertise of Rotarian Action Groups, as well as enjoy the passion and hobbies of Rotary Fellowships.

Beers Rotarians Enjoy Worldwidewater (BREW) were pouring free samples at their booth! The fellowship combines service and a shared love of beer. The group has recently finalized an agreement to donate 25 percent of their membership dues and any money they raise through fundraisers to the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, which will apply the funds to service projects that provide clean water.

“It’s great to know that you can drink a beer, and do good at the same time,” said Steven Lack, a member of the Rotary Club of Pleasant Hill, California, USA, and co-chair of the fellowship.

This story was featured on the live coverage of the 2017 Rotary Convention. Follow the coverage to find photos, videos, live blog posts, speeches, and more. And share your convention experience on social media with #Rotary17.

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Throughout the month of June, we’ll be celebrating Rotary Fellowships Month by sharing inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories inspire you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship.

Rotarian yachting enthusiasts sail into service

By Sergio Santi, Past Chair of the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians

After chartering three fleets of International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians (IYFR) in Africa, I discovered many Africans were drowning in lakes and seawaters. In Kenya, after tourism, fishing is the second economic resource. Thousands of fishermen and families live on the fishing industry. However, from November to April, when the hotels are closed, tourism comes to a halt and there is a greater need to go fishing to survive. But during those months high winds blow from the south and ill-equipped boats or canoes leave fishermen in danger.

In 2012, Lake Victoria, claimed the lives of over 5,000 fishermen due to a lack of lifesaving devices and the local population’s inability to swim.

To address this issue, the IYFR Italian Fleets collected and shipped 4,000 lifejackets to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ivory Coast. With the support of local Rotary club presidents, jackets were distributed where they were needed most: at schools situated on the coast and river islands where students transfer back and forth from coastal villages and to fisherman who could not afford to buy one locally.

Under the leadership of the 2016 IYFR Chair Jun Avecilla, the Philippines Fleets came up with a home-made lifesaver device made of a plastic net bag with 2-4 empty plastic bottles secured inside. Luigi Apuzzo, the Roma Fleet Commodore, tested and modified this brilliant emergency floating device to create a lifejacket to also be used by fisherman.

By the end of 2016, with the combined efforts and support of IYFR fleets worldwide, a final plan to produce 5,000 life jackets came together. IYFR would not only be providing new lifejackets, but we would have them produced locally. Our young Commodore from Kenya, Simone Avola will provide free spaces for the manufacturing shop and storage in his Barracuda Inn Resort in Watamu. We will be providing 56 local workers with the machinery, the raw material not found locally and the educational training they need to get start.

The project was coming together well, but we had not yet addressed the local population’s inability to swim. Our Roma Fleet Commodore, Luigi Apuzzo, stepped up once again and to address this issue. He coordinated a meeting with the Princess of Monaco, Charlene, a former Olympic swimmer for South Africa, and asked her if she too could lend a hand. She graciously agreed and now we are setting up a swimming school in Watamu that will be frequented by all the children ages 10 to 13.

We hope this initiative will save and improve the lives of Africans while providing the locals an opportunity to earn an income. We invite you to join our efforts. All Rotarians with an active interest in boating are welcome to join a local fleet in their region, or an e-fleet. Learn more on our website and join today to make new friends while taking on service initiatives.

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The International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians is the oldest and largest Rotary Fellowship. It began in England in 1947 and has grown to 126 fleets, with about 3685 members in 38 countries. Throughout the month of June, we’ll be celebrating Rotary Fellowships Month by sharing inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories inspire you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship.

Combining passion, friendship and service through Rotary Fellowships

By Zuhal Sharp, Rotary Service and Engagement staff

Rotary Fellowships began informally in 1928 when Rotarians with a shared interest in the language Esperanto joined together. In 1947, a group of Rotarian boating enthusiasts began flying the Rotary flag from their crafts, calling themselves the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians; this fellowship now boasts the longest continuous existence.

The scope of Rotary Fellowships has greatly changed over the years, but today their purpose is still to unite Rotary members, their family members, program participants, and alumni in friendship and provide venues for enjoying their favorite recreational or professional activities. In 2015-16, 68 fellowships reported a combined membership of 50,703 people in more than 180 countries worldwide. The average size for a Fellowship is 746 members. Rotary Fellowships cover interests from tennis to wine, marathon running to cooking, scuba diving to recreational vehicles, jazz to computers, and more.

Fellowships provide opportunities to give back to the Rotary Foundation 

In 2016-17, the family of Rotary has been celebrating the Rotary Foundation Centennial by performing 100 acts of good throughout the year. In the last 100 years, Rotary members have supported thousands of projects to provide clean water, fight disease, promote peace, provide basic education, and grow local economies through the Foundation. Rotary Fellowships not only gather around shared interests, but take on service initiatives to contribute to the foundation. Here are just a few ways Rotary Fellowships are giving back in their own acts of good:

  • The Rotarian Fellowship of Quilters and Fiber Artists members donated a variety of handmade items at their booth in the House of Friendship during RI Convention in Korea raising over $9000 USD for PolioPlus.
  • Rotarians’ Wine Appreciation Fellowship members contributed to a district grant to provide an electric forklift for a local food bank allowing them to increase their production and food distribution.
  • Fellowship Cycling to Serve organizes annual World Championships, where members raise money for local youth organization and PolioPlus. The fellowship also annually participates in a four-day cycling event raising money for local school organizations.
  • Chapters of the International Fellowship of Motorcycling Rotarians organize major rides within their region and raise funds for local causes. For example, the Australia Chapter donated proceeds from their annual ride to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, an aeromedical and health organization. The group has also been contributing to the Rotary Foundation by awarding Paul Harris Fellows.

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June is Rotary Fellowships Month! We’ll be celebrating by sharing inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories inspire you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship. View a complete list of all fellowships to find what interests you!  

How the Peace Corps and Rotary led me to a life of international service

By Mark D. Walker, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

As a naïve young man from Colorado just having graduated from a small university, I joined the Peace Corps with the dual purpose to travel, serve and, if possible, save the world. After four months of language and agricultural training, I landed in one of the most isolated sites in the highlands of Guatemala. Though beset with fear of the unknown and feelings of profound isolation, I became familiar with and appreciated the people of the rural community of Calapte. After several years on assignment, not only was I able to introduce new crop varieties which enhanced local production, but I mobilized the community to reconstruct their 100-year-old school. After a near-death experience took me to another part of the country, I met the love of my life and we established a stable bi-cultural home for our three children during the violent Guatemalan Civil War.

My first real job out of the Peace Corps was with CARE International in Guatemala. I was responsible for designing an agroforestry program to combat the destruction of the environment and increase agricultural production for small farmers working on steep hills. This began my thirteen-year career promoting rural development through various international NGOs.

My career in cross cultural settings promoting community development made Rotary a natural fit. In 1981, I joined one of the downtown Rotary clubs in Bogota, Colombia, where I was a Director for Plan International. I continued with Rotary in the United States and eventually served as president of the Rotary Club of Scottsdale in Arizona (United States). As the District Chair for World Community Service (now known as International Service) for District 5510, I lead groups of Rotarians to Guatemala, Honduras and Bolivia to form lifelong relationships with local Rotarians and develop programs such as a clean water initiative in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Naturally, my wife and I encouraged our children to consider the Rotary Youth Exchange program by hosting several students ourselves. Eventually our children participated and were hosted by different Rotary clubs in Germany and France where we made many friends among the local Rotarians.

My work in global development came to a sudden turn after I was let go as CEO of an international NGO. This unexpected twist led me to focus on my children and six grandchildren, also provided a new opportunity to reflect on what I’d accomplished, where I’d failed, and where the international NGO community had come up short. My memoir Different Latitudes provides an insight to this life I lived, and is a tale of physical and spiritual self-discovery through Latin American, African, European, and Asian topography, cuisine, politics, and history. You can read the book here to learn more about my journey.

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My journey with the Peace Corps and Rotary came together earlier this year when fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and Rotarian Steve Werner asked me to join the board of a new National Peace Corps Association affiliate, Partners in Peace. The goal of Partners in Peace is to improve service and friendship locally and globally by helping Rotarians, current and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers work together on projects that meet the goals of both organizations.

Our group aims to enhance the service partnership between Rotary and the Peace Corps. I’m working with Ross Feezer, President of the Rotary Club of Casa Grande, to identify and recruit fellow Rotarians who are also Returned Peace Corps Volunteer in Arizona to join the effort. Our group will have a booth at the upcoming Rotary International Convention in Atlanta and a district-organized Rotary- Peace Corps Workshop at the University of Denver in Colorado on 4 August, 2016. Personally, I’m astounded at the potential of this incredible partnership between Rotary International and the Peace Corps. If you’re a Rotarian Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, connect with our group and join us in jointly improving communities locally and internationally.

Start a new service project today!

By Chelsea Mertz and Rebecca Hirschfeld, Rotary Service staff

Does your club want to try a new type of service project or want to find a project in another region to partner on and are not sure where to start?

The Project Lifecycle Kit tools can help with all your service project needs. These online resources guide your project from inception to implementation while also facilitating connections with other Rotarians around the world. Rotary is unique in that service means more than just helping others. We’re also about forming valuable partnerships that make projects more sustainable and in turn help foster more peaceful communities. So which tools comprise the Project Lifecycle Kit?

Through Discussion Groups, Rotarians have access to a plethora of information from other Rotary members who provide valuable support during the planning phases of a project. Use these groups to pose questions to other members and tap into their expertise, experience, and advice. If you are starting a project in one of our areas of focus, you can take advantage of our Cadre of Technical Advisors moderated groups.

For example, the Water and Sanitation Group gives you the opportunity to receive advice from subject matter experts, as well as members of our Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag).

A few recent enhancements to Rotary Ideas makes finding a project partner easier than ever before! A Google Translate option is now available on each project page, expanding the options for partnering beyond the boundaries of language. You can now search for projects by filtering by contribution type (volunteers, partnerships, online contributions, and materials), making it easier to find the types of projects you want to support.

For example, the Water For Life Project in Egypt is looking for global grant partner to help provide safe and clean water to families living in poverty.

Remember to continue to share your success stories on Rotary Showcase, recently updated to allow you to tag Rotarian Action Groups and Rotary Community Corps as project partners. Identifying all of your Rotary project partners ensures that your good work is shared as accurately as possible within our communities and the world.

For example, through a global grant, the Rotary Club of San Pedro South in the Philippines installed a solar powered potable water treatment system at a local elementary school benefiting 1100 students. The project included a deep well with a submersible pump powered by a solar panel. The system can produce up to 2000 liters per hour when the solar panel is at its peak capacity. To manage project operations and maintenance, including how to share the potable water with the surrounding community, the Cuyab Rotary Community Corps (RCC) was formed with officers from the school faculty, the parent teacher association and local government. The RCC will decide how the water will be shared with the nearby community, its price, schedule and mechanics.

As always, if you have any questions regarding these tools, please feel free to contact social@rotary.org for assistance.

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New Rotarian Action Group takes on hepatitis eradication

By Humberto Silva, Chair of the Hepatitis Eradication Rotarian Action Group and member of Rotary Club of São Paulo-Jardim das Bandeiras in Brazil

Humberto SilvaAccording to the World Health Organization, viral hepatitis is the seventh leading cause of death worldwide. Together, Hepatitis B and C kills close to 1.4 million people every year. Around the world, 400 million people living with chronic Hepatitis B and C, the most serious forms of viral hepatitis, don’t know they are infected. Untreated cases cause serious damage to the liver and result in death.

I was once one of those 400 million people in good health and without a single symptom while my liver was being taken by cirrhosis. In 2010, before a trip to the South Africa FIFA World Cup, I visited the doctor to ensure my vaccines were up-to-date. Apart from the vaccines, the doctor also tested for Hepatitis B and C and there it was: hepatitis C.

I received treatment and a second chance at life. I knew I had to do something to help the millions of other people who were still suffering. I started to research the disease and found that 3 million in my country of Brazil shared my same problem. They showed no signs of a damaged liver, but were living with the terrible disease. I became president of the Brazilian Association of People with Hepatitis (ABPH) which established five free clinics in Brazil with a the sixth one soon opening in Mexico focused on prevention and treatment.

Using point of care blood testing, we started offering screenings all over the country. We performed half a million tests and identified 5,000 people like me living with the disease with no symptoms of infection. We helped those testing positive for hepatitis connect with treatment options.

My Rotarian friends accepting my invitation to join the mission. We engaged Rotary clubs throughout Brazil, and have now spread to all of Latin America. Over 1,000 clubs are working with us, performing low-cost and convenient tests to detect the disease. Lives are being saved and each infected person now has a chance to get treatment and be cured. Today, treatment is easy and effective in almost 100% of cases. The biggest challenge is finding those who are infected with the disease.

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The Hepatitis Eradication Rotarian Action Group was formed to help clubs and districts with hepatitis screening and testing campaigns. Join our group and volunteer to help us form a committee in your country to conduct testing. The group is open to Rotary members, their families, program participants, and alumni with expertise or a passion for a particular service area.

Contact me for more information and to join our efforts!

Find inspiration at the Atlanta Convention

If you’re joining us at the 2017 Rotary International Convention, 10-14 June, expect to hear inspirational keynote speakers, participate in a variety of service-related breakout sessions, and make new friends in the House of Friendship!

Preconvention events:

Service-oriented breakout sessions:

Plan to attend afternoon breakout sessions 12-14 June:

  • Rotary Friendship Exchanges: Enhancing the Rotary Experience Through International Exchanges: — participating in an exchange deepens global understanding, strengthens international ties, raises opportunities to explore vocations abroad, and even helps develop international service partnerships. Find inspiration from previous exchange participants, meet prospective exchange partners, and trade ideas on how you’ll join the program as a host or visitor.
  • Rotary Community Corps: Community Solutions for Community Challenges — a Rotary Community Corps consists of non-Rotarians who share our commitment to service and carry out community projects as well as support Rotary club projects. Nearly 8,500 RCCs in 90 countries are working to develop future leaders and conduct effective service. Learn about the role of RCCs in community development, along with how to form an RCC and how to team with RCCs on projects.
  • Vocational Service and Appreciation: Enhance Member Engagement — learn how recognizing the worth of members’ occupations, skills, and talents can improve member retention.
  • Rotary and Peace Corps: Partnering to Empower Communities — the service partnership formed in 2015 between Rotary and Peace Corps offers opportunities for clubs to work with active and returned Peace Corps volunteers. Learn how teaming with Peace Corps volunteers can address Rotary’s six areas of focus while enhancing goodwill, international understanding, and capacity building in more than 60 countries around the world.
  • Life as a ShelterBox Response Team Member — Rotary’s project partner for disaster relief, ShelterBox, will bring to life the mission of a response team and show what it takes to help on the ground immediately after a disaster.
  • These Rotarian Action Groups will host sessions about their service initiatives and opportunities to team with them on a related cause in your community: Clubfoot, Peace, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Malaria, Hepatitis, Slavery, Literacy, and Family Health and AIDS Prevention.

Make connections in the House of Friendship

Visit the House of Friendship to network with fellow Rotarians and Rotaractors and learn about Rotary Fellowships, Rotarian Action Groups, Rotary’s partners, service projects, and much more. Download the Convention Events and Booth Exhibit Guide for Rotary Fellowships and Rotarian Action Groups, then prepare to connect with groups that share your interests and expertise.

Review the preliminary schedule for breakout sessions, and watch a recording of the convention orientation webinar for convention highlights, cultural tips, and resources. Download the Rotary Events app for up-to-date information on convention events. Follow the convention on social media using #Rotary17.

Partnering with ShelterBox on relief deployments

Rotarian Liz Odell of the Rotary Club of Nailsworth in England shares about her involvement with ShelterBox over the past seven years. Liz has participated in 16 deployments with ShelterBox as a response team volunteer. Here’s her story:

Video courtesy of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland

Interested in getting involved with ShelterBox, Rotary’s partner for disaster relief? Read the Rotary-ShelterBox partnership fact sheet and contact rotaryrequests@shelterbox.org for more information.

ShelterBox is a separate organization, independent of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.

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