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.

Talk with area of focus experts in Rotary discussion groups!

By Chelsea Mertz, Rotary Service Connections staff

Rotary discussion groups offer a place for Rotarians, Rotaractors, Rotary Peace Fellows, and alumni to share their experiences and ideas with members of the Rotary family from around the world.

Experts from the Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisers, a group of volunteer Rotarians who provide technical expertise and advice to Rotarians planning and carrying out Rotary projects, are moderating the area of focus-related discussion groups from 15 January until 30 June. Whether you are looking to pursue a global grant or learn how to assess a community, our experts are here to answer your questions and guide discussions on the most pertinent topics.

Meet our moderators and click the links below to join the conversations.

Basic Education and Literacy (BEL)

Ian Geddes | Rotary Club of Tranent, Scotland | District 1020

Ian is an educator specializing in languages. He has evaluated applications for projects involving foreign language learning and has experience conducting advanced site visits in the area of curriculum development with particular emphasis on information technology.

Past Rotary International Director John Thorne | Rotary Club of North Hobart, Australia | District 9830

John is currently the Chair of the Literacy Rotarian Action Group. As a former education administrator, his areas of expertise are in teacher trainings and addressing the needs of children and adults in different environments. John believes his transferable strength is to listen and share insights and seek practical steps forward within BEL. He remains an active learner.

Disease Prevention and Treatment (DPT)

Dennis Addo | Rotary Club of Accra-Ring Road Central, Ghana | District 9102

Dennis directs the tuberculosis control program for the Ghanaian Armed Forces. He is a public health expert and a healthcare administrator.

Indumati Nair | Rotary Club of Bombay Chembur West, India | District 3141

Indumati is a pathologist focusing on health screening and preventative medicine. She serves as a health consultant for the Times of India newspaper. Her research interests include cancer screening for women, HIV screening, tuberculosis, diabetes and anemia. Her focus is on vocational training teams and capacity building.

Maternal and Child Health (MCH)

Prudence Nelson | Rotary Club of St. Joseph & Benton Harbor, USA | District 6360

Prudence is a practicing pediatrician with over 30 years of experience. She holds a Master’s of Public Health in Preventive Medicine as well as a Master’s of Infectious Disease from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is a frequent volunteer with Medical Teams International traveling to conflict zones and sites of recent disasters to provide emergency medical services to vulnerable populations.

Richard Randolph | Rotary Club of Shawnee, USA | District 5710

Richard is a board certified family physician, who includes obstetrics and pediatrics in his practice. He has served as the Chief of Primary Care for Fort Bragg, NC (US Army Base for 40,000 soldiers and 20,000 dependents) and sits on the Board of Directors for College Park Family Care which has over 90 physicians. He completed a graduate certificate in Public Health in the Developing World through the Institute for International Medicine.

Water and Sanitation (WAS)

Past District Governor Ronald Pickford | Rotary Club of Ballarat, Australia | District 9780

Ronald first joined Rotary in 1985 and has served in many different leadership roles. Professionally, Ronald is an architect who runs a private practice. In recent years, he has moved into teaching and currently serves in the role of Faculty Head Architectural Technologies and Design at Federation University Australia, a position he has held for ten years. As a TRF Cadre member, Ronald has undertaken several assignments in many countries.

Past District Governor Jan Leentvaar | Rotary Club of Lelystad, Netherlands | District 1590

Jan was a managing director for the Netherlands Ministry of Water Management and has considerable experience in change management in government institutions. He completed foreign assignments, some with the United Nations. He is considered an expert in integrated water resources management, water pollution and water quality control, wastewater treatment, and institutional collaboration on water issues.

Economic and Community Development (ECD)

Tristam Johnson | Rotary Club of Brattleboro Sunrise, USA | District 7870

Tristam has over 18 years of experience in Latin America working on community development projects that focus on local governance, education, health, economic development, micro enterprise, and project design. His areas of expertise include microenterprise, community assessment, and project design.

Lynne Duckham | Rotary Club of Canberra Sunrise, Australia | District 9710

Lynne has worked in economic and community development for over 30 years in developed, developing and troubled nations. During this time, she has had the unique perspective of representing a government donor, an international NGO, and a beneficiary government. She has worked with people from remote communities to the heads of state across a variety of sectors (including education, health, nutrition, fisheries, agriculture, microcredit, infrastructure and livelihood development, capacity building, and community development during conflict.)

Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution (PCPR)

Simona Pinton | Rotary Club of Pagova Euganea, Italy | District 2060

Simona is a lawyer and former Rotary Peace Scholar. Her professional experience lays in teaching and researching on issues dealing with international and internal conflicts, peace and conflict prevention/solution tools, as well as conceptual defining, thinking, designing and assessing of local and transnational projects on the same issues.

M.D. Kinoti | Rotary Club of Westminster 7:10, USA | District 5450

M.D. has over 25 years’ experience in International Nongovernmental Organizations (INGOs) and university level teaching and leadership. He currently teaches Nonprofit/Nongovernmental Organizations’ (NP/GOs’) Management within the Master of Nonprofit Management (MNM) degree program at Regis University. His research interests include the role of NP/NGOs in facilitating sustainable and transformational community development and peacebuilding. He also has interests in social entrepreneurship and innovation as part of sustainable development.

All discussion groups can be found in My Rotary (must be signed in to access).

Connecting for good at Multi-Club Workshops

By Leonardo de Angelis, Rotary Club of Ravenna (Italy), immediate past District 2072 Rotary Foundation Chair, and founder and coordinator of the Multi-Club Workshop

Since 2007, I have had the pleasure of working with Rotarian friends, new and old, to organize Multi-Club Workshops, an annual meeting where international Rotarians, relatives, and friends meet to foster intercultural dialogue, inspire each other through their humanitarian projects, and build partnership for international projects and global grants.

This year’s event was particularly special as a group of more than 60 participants descended upon beautiful Palermo, Italy, to participate in the 10th annual Multi-Club Workshop (MCW) while also celebrating the 100th anniversary of The Rotary Foundation. With heartfelt thanks to the great support of the Rotary Club of Palermo Teatro del Sole and District 2110 (Sicily & Malta), the September 2016 MCW welcomed participants from 25 clubs representing 10 districts and six countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Italy, Russia, Sweden, the UK, and the United States.

We were also joined by two representatives from Rotary and The Rotary Foundation, Lauren Ribant Regional Grants Officer, and Ellina Kushnir, Supervisor of Service and Engagement, who presented about resources to support and enhance projects and important considerations when applying for grant funding from TRF.

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The first two days of the event were filled with cultural immersion, exploring historic sites and eating delicious food, seeing local Rotary club projects, getting to know fellow participants and learning about their personal, professional, and Rotary lives, and engaging in fruitful discussions about resources and collaborating to maximize good.

The event culminated in a full-day workshop where we discussed strategies and resources for successful service projects and grants, learned about the many challenges facing communities around the world, and heard project proposals from eight Rotary club-led projects. The eight projects will benefit communities in Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Congo, Greece, India, Myanmar, Philippines, and the U.K. The total value of these projects is equal to US $550,000. This year, through a preferential vote, all of the participants voted to support one of the presented projects with a pooled sum of US $4,342 (EUR 4000). With a tie in votes, two projects each received US $2,171 (EUR 2,000) to support their respective goals. We’re continuing to foster the relationships we made at the event and build partnerships to support each other’s projects. Each project exhibitor is now actively seeking to connect with international partnering clubs to begin implementing the projects presented at the 10° MCW.

Over the past 10 years, 45 projects with a combined value of US $2.18 million identified partners and received support as a result of the Multi-Club Workshop. Since our first event was hosted in 2007, more than 660 Rotarians and their families have participated in the workshops. Our workshops are hosted in a different country every year, and we welcome new exhibitors seeking project support along with.

Join us next year in London, England, for our 11th annual event. The 2017 Multi-Club Workshop will take place 6-10 September. Visit our website for more information and contact me to reserve your spot at next year’s event!



2017 Presidential Conference: Celebrating our Commitment to Peace

By John Germ, Rotary International President, 2016-17

Dear Friends,

It is my pleasure to invite you to attend the 2017 Presidential Peace Conference on 9-10 June 2017, taking place in Atlanta immediately before the RI Convention. This special event will celebrate our work to address the underlying causes of conflict and our success in making peace a priority. We’ll hear from inspirational speakers and look ahead to opportunities to continue our steadfast commitment to peace.

johngermThe program will include internationally recognized keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and networking events that explore Rotary’s commitment to peace. The event is open to the entire Rotary family and guests. Registration for the Presidential Peace Conference is US $126.50 and space is limited.  Learn more about the Conference and register online.

I hope you’ll join me in Atlanta to celebrate our accomplishments and recommit our dedicated efforts to Rotary Serving Humanity.



Early-registration rates for the RI Convention end after 15 December. Take advantage of the early-bird prices and register today for the Peace Conference and Convention.

Make connections at the Colombia Project Fair

By Past District Governor Sonia Uribe, District 4271; Chair of the Colombia Project Fair

We are very pleased to invite you to the Colombia Project Fair on 3 -5 February 2017. Our event will be hosted in Cartagena de Indias, the most beautiful city in the Caribbean. Clubs from Districts 4271 and 4281 will be exhibiting service projects seeking international support. Come experience magical Cartagena, learn about our service efforts, and build lifelong friendships within the Rotary family.

Event information and registration is available on our website, you can find additional information on our Facebook page. We assure you that not only will you enjoy the warm weather and the kind people of Colombia, but you will fall in love with this country. We hope you join us!

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Project fairs are regional events hosted by Rotary districts to encourage international friendship and collaboration. Fairs give Rotary clubs a chance to showcase their service efforts to potential global partners, and they give international visitors the chance to find a project that meets their club’s goals. Find information on all upcoming fairs,  including dates, location, program, and registration.

Collaborating with partners on sustainable service projects

By Rotary Service Connections Staff

Working with partners can strengthen club and district service projects by ensuring sustainability, providing access to subject-matter experts, and strengthening local networks. Partnering with local, national, and international organizations can help meet the many needs of communities around the world.

Rotary’s service and project partners support Rotarian-led initiatives within the avenues of service and areas of focus. All activities take place at the local level at the discretion of individual clubs and districts. Consider partnering with one of Rotary’s service partners to create a greater impact in your community:

The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) for alleviating hunger and malnutrition

Food banking is a proven solution to two critical global problems: world hunger and food waste. There is enough food to feed the world, but one-third of it is wasted. Food banks rescue perfectly edible and nutritious food before it is wasted and redistribute it to feed hungry people. In most countries, food banks distribute food through a network of community agencies, including school feeding programs, food pantries, soup kitchens, AIDS and tuberculosis hospices, elderly care facilities, orphanages, and nongovernmental organizations that provide food to the hungry. Rotary’s service partnership with GFN provides opportunities to work together to create and support food banks around the world. Read the partnership factsheet to learn more.

Peace Corps for promoting peace and enhancing community development

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 partnership fact sheet.

ShelterBox for disaster relief

ShelterBox is an international aid organization that provides immediate assistance to areas ravaged by disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, flooding, hurricanes, cyclones, tsunamis, or conflict. The project partnership between Rotary and ShelterBox offers opportunities to collaborate in providing emergency shelter and vital supplies to stabilize, protect, and support communities affected by disasters and humanitarian crises. Read the partnership fact sheet.

YSA (Youth Service America) for youth involvement

YSA focuses on the engagement of young people, ages 5-25, as partners in solving the problems of the world by addressing challenges that are stifling economic and human potential, such as: environmental degradation, childhood obesity, hunger, illiteracy, animal welfare, water scarcity, human rights, and communicable diseases. Read the partnership fact sheet.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for literacy

The collaborative relationship between The Dollywood Foundation’s Imagination Library and RI provides a way for clubs in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia to support early childhood literacy by providing children in their community with a free book every month from birth to age five. Read the partnership fact sheet.

Along with collaborating with like-minded groups, you can make a more successful impact and create stronger service projects by:

  • Inviting representatives from partner organizations to speak at club meetings
  • Utilizing club and district service chairs for help identifying local partners
  • Leveraging Rotary Ideas to find funding and partners for your projects
  • Organizing a Rotary Community Corps to help mobilize a community and ensure local needs are met
  • Collaborating with a Rotarian Action Groupto help conduct a needs assessments, incorporate monitoring and evaluation components, and secure funding.
  • Attending a project fair to make new connections

We hope these resources will help your clubs and district carry out impactful and sustainable initiatives.  Please write to the Rotary Service Connections team with any questions.




Learn from area of focus experts in Rotary discussion groups

By Chelsea Mertz, Rotary Service Connections Staff

Rotary discussion groups offer a place for Rotarians, Rotaractors, Rotary Peace Fellows, and alumni to share their experiences and ideas with members of the Rotary family from around the world.

We invited experts from the Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisers, a group of volunteer Rotarians who provide technical expertise and advice to Rotarians planning and carrying out Rotary projects, to moderate the area of focus discussion groups from 1 July until 30 September. Whether you are looking to pursue a global grant, or learn how to do a community assessment, our experts are here to answer your questions and guide discussions on the most pertinent topics.

Meet our moderators and click the link join the conversation:

Basic Education and Literacy (BEL)

  • PDG Sylvia Byers (Rotary Club of Mosman Park-Cottesloe, Australia) is an educator currently involved in using technology to provide education to struggling students of all ages in isolated areas. She specializes in using a collaborative problem solving approach to involve and provide support to students, their parents and school community.
  • Eugene Medina (Rotary Club of Tucson Sunset, United States) is a former teacher, curriculum specialist, and superintendent. He specializes in instructional program development, implementation and evaluation, and teacher leadership training.

Disease Prevention and Treatment (DPT)

  • DGE Dr. Adewale Ogunbadejo (Rotary Club of Gbagada South, Nigeria) has served as a medical doctor since 1982. He initially worked in the public sector before opening a multi-specialty private practice in Lagos, Nigeria in 1990. He has been involved in disease prevention and treatment projects within his club and district, serving as a project-writer and executor.
  • PDG Dr. Babu Chacko (Rotary Club of Kottayam, India) is a medical doctor with post-graduate qualification in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Maternal and Child Health (MCH)

  • PDG Dr. Rajindar Singh (Rotary Club of Teluk Intan, Malaysia – District 3300) has worked as a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist since 1985. He has served as the District Rotary Foundation Chair and Rotary Public Image Coordinator for Zone 6B. He is currently the secretary of the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors.
  • PDG Dr. Himansu Basu (Rotary Club of Northfleet with Ebbsfleet, United Kingdom) is a retired obstetrician gynecologist with 35 years of experience as a practicing specialist, teacher trainer and examiner.

Water and Sanitation (WAS)

  • Moses Musiitwa (Rotary Club of Kyambogo-Kampala, Uganda) is a chemical engineer who specializes in applied chemistry. His focus is on integrated water resources management. He is an active member of the Society of African Ground Water Specialists and has served as a water and sanitation cadre expert for the last 18 months.
  • Robert Wubbena (Rotary Club of Olympia, United States) is a retired engineer with over 45 years of experience working with water resources, including waste water, long term utility funding, design, construction and operational experience throughout North America. He has traveled to over 50 countries performing WASH work.

Economic and Community Development (ECD)

  • Jean Manirere (Rotary Club of Musanze Murera, Rwanda) is a professor of Agriculture and Sustainable Economic Development with extensive experience with community farming and the current challenges of food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Cecelia Babkirk (Rotary Club of Cupertino, United States) is a Mortgage Banker with 42 years of experience in mortgage lending, bank formation and accounting.  It is a natural extension that her Rotary specialty is micro finance, though her interests extend to the wider field of economic and community development and the ripple effect that a great ECD project can have.

All discussion groups can be found in My Rotary (must be signed in to access). Join an existing group or start a new one today!



Rotary Ideas connects clubs from across the world

By Chelsea Mertz with Rebecca Hirschfeld, Rotary Service Connections Staff

Inspired by the Contribute to a project on Rotary Ideas goal on the 2015-2016 Presidential Citation, Joyce Dove from the Rotary Club of Tallahassee Northside (USA) decided to explore Rotary’s crowdsourcing website, Rotary Ideas. She navigated to the site and paged through active Rotary club projects looking for volunteers, in-kind donations, partners, and funding. She narrowed down her search to projects in the Philippines, where she had lived for a significant period of time during her youth and with which she felt a strong connection. Joyce focused in on a project requesting materials to create a library in an area that she knew to be less fortunate.

20061116_NZ_054The Rotary Club of Pag-Asa Davao in the Philippines had requested books to establish local lending libraries for rural communities in the Southern Philippines.  Most of the targeted areas lack access to lending libraries, even within the schools funded by the government. To meet this need, the Rotary Club of Pag-Asa Davao’s project requested books and a partner club to help them stock libraries in numerous schools throughout the Boyan region.

Upon reading about their project, Joyce clicked the contribute now button and offered to send books. Using Club Finder, Joyce contacted the club president and secretary, sending them a message at 11 pm at night. By 3 am the next morning, she already had her response. Within the next 24 hours, they had at least five more email exchanges and Joyce was already mentally packing her box of books to send.

Since then, Joyce has been exchanging weekly messages with the club. She learned about a US postal program catering to US -Philippine shipping, particularly to the Boyan region. Her club has since sent the requested books along with funds to support the project.

“These are the sort of projects, especially the international ones, that make Rotary special” remarked Joyce. “These types of relationships, built over time, are more meaningful. Rotary Ideas is great because you feel more connected with clubs and people around the world, outside of getting just ordinary emails.” She’d like to see more focus on projects that encourage clubs to connect and serve.

Joyce plans to share her experience on Rotary Ideas with other club officers at an upcoming meeting for her district. She wants to promote the tool and what it represents, as it’s what Rotary as an organization epitomizes: members all over the world assisting each other by connecting on an international level to help communities near and far.




Rotarian-built network eliminates food waste, feeds hungry neighbors

By David Bobanick, Mercer Island Rotary Club, Washington, USA; Chair of the Hunger & Malnutrition Rotarian Action Group; Executive Director of Rotary First Harvest

Since joining Rotary First Harvest – a program of Rotary District 5030 (USA) in 2001, I have had the unique opportunity to help expand this program’s strategic impact at the local and national level. Through the dedicated efforts of hundreds of monthly volunteers, we’ve been able to quadruple the amount of produce collected and distributed annually. With the dual goal of reducing hunger and food waste, Rotary First Harvest connects farmers, truckers, food bank and volunteers to reduce hunger-related malnutrition.

Rotary First Harvest is a program of District 5030 that connects farmers, truckers, volunteers and foodbanks to feed hungry families healthy food in Washington State.
Rotary First Harvest is a program of District 5030 that connects farmers, truckers, volunteers and foodbanks to feed hungry families healthy food in Washington State.

Hybrid strategies to meet community needs
Rotary First Harvest works on two levels – one large scale and one local – to divert millions of pounds of fruits and vegetables from food waste to the hands of those in need. At each level, Rotary members play a crucial role in connecting existing resources within their community:

  •  Core work: First, we find truckload-sized donations at large growers and packing houses. Next, we locate donated trucking to haul the produce to a distribution center where it is shared with local hunger relief programs. At each stage, Rotarians and Rotarian-owned businesses are directly involved.
  • Harvest Against Hunger: To capture smaller donations from small and mid-size farms, Rotary First Harvest created a program that places AmeriCorps*VISTA (similar to Peace Corps) members in smaller communities. Those VISTA then connect local farms and gardens with hunger programs and volunteer groups to create thriving produce recovery programs. Through these partnerships, deep and sustainable connections are made that will deliver fresh produce to those in need well into the future.

Connecting and Collaborating
Rotary First Harvest is highly collaborative. We don’t duplicate services or resources.  Instead, we find innovative ways to connect or improve existing efforts. We firmly believe in using our resources to transform the weakest link in the food chain into the strongest.

Over 143 Rotarians, Rotary Youth Exchange students, Rotaractors, Interactors and community volunteers celebrate packaging 47,000 pounds fresh produce in one day. This fresh food will be delivered to a local foodbank. These activiites are organized and funded by Rotary First Harvest, a program of District 5030, connecting farmers, truckers, volunteers and foodbanks to feed hungry families healthy food in Washington State.
Over 143 Rotarians, Rotary Youth Exchange students, Rotaractors, Interactors and community volunteers celebrate packaging 47,000 pounds fresh produce in one day. This fresh food will be delivered to a local foodbank.

Hands-on Service
Twice a month, Rotarians from across District 5030 invite friends and family to help repack some of the millions of pounds of apples, potatoes, carrots, peas and other items Rotary First Harvest receives in bulk. These work parties serve as a simple yet powerful example of Rotary activity in our community.

The Power of Rotary
Like any Rotary project, Rotary First Harvest started with one Rotarian (Norm Hillis) with a great idea for how to help others. Other Rotarians then provided their resources and expertise to help the idea grow and flourish.  It’s a simple formula that continues to improve lives each and every day.

World Food Day is 16 October. Participate in a Rotary Twitter Chat with leading foodbanking and anti-hunger organizations, including Rotary First Harvest. Sign on to Twitter from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Chicago time (UTC-5) and search for the hashtag #RotaryHunger