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!  

Leveraging our vocational skills to help disadvantaged youth succeed

By Quentin Wodon, Author of the Rotarian Economist Blog, President of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and Lead Economist at the World Bank

In the Washington Metropolitan Area, the Capital City of the United States, more than 17,000 young adults ages 18 to 24 are considered disconnected from work and school. Quite a few of them live in or near Capitol Hill, which is where my Rotary club is located. These youths often come from low-income families, are not in school and are not working. They typically face multiple challenges, including homelessness, issues with the courts, or substance abuse.

These challenges prevent them from successfully transitioning into adulthood. They are a serious threat to long-term community development, not only because of the risks of violence and criminality that arise when youth do not have the tools to succeed, but also because of the sharp impact that their current challenges may have on their future ability to make a living. For a community to prosper, all youth need to be able to grow and contribute.

However, there is hope. Programs reaching out to these youths have been proven to work. Latin America Youth Center (LAYC) is one of the few  nonprofits in Washington, DC, implementing rigorous impact evaluations of its programs. LAYC was founded in 1968 and serves 4,000 individuals per year.

The organization uses an innovative approach to address the needs of youth at especially high risk. Its flagship initiative, Promotor Pathway, is a long-term, intensive, holistic case management and mentorship program. Data from a five-year evaluation suggests that the program has led to positive changes in terms of increasing school enrollment, reducing birth rates, and reducing homelessness among participating youth.

Shayna Scholnick, the Director of the Promotor Pathway program for the District, was a guest speaker at our bi-weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill in late August 2016. She shared some volunteer opportunities. There are many opportunities for our club members to get involved with this type of community-based partner.

We decided to support LAYC by sharing our professional skills. As part of our pro bono initiative,  described previously on this blog, we have put together a small team of five professionals to prepare a cost-benefit analysis of LAYC’s Promotor Pathway program.

The team includes Rotarians as well as non-Rotarians. Three of us are looking at the value the program’s benefits such as school enrollment, the reduction in homelessness, and the reduction in pregnancies. The fourth member of the team is researching other similar programs and the fifth member is looking at the cost data.

Together we hope to be able to demonstrate that the program’s benefits are much larger than its costs, which would help LAYC raise more funds and expand its program nationally. In doing this work pro bono, we feel that we are in a small way contributing to community development in our area.



Young Rotary leaders take action to empower their community through education

By Med Yassine Boukhari, Officer of the Interact Club of Tunis Inner City, District 9010, Tunisia

During September, Rotary Basic Education and Literacy Month, the Interact Club of Tunis Inner City visited the Elderly House of Mannouba. Volunteer teachers accompanied us, and during our visit, we talked with the seniors and reminded them that they have no limits, that it isn’t too late, and that learning has no age. We taught them letters and step by step, they started to understand until some were able to write their own names. At the end of the day, our joy was great when we saw that the majority of them were enthusiastic and determined to study and learn more.

How are you celebrating Rotary Basic Education and Literacy Month? Leave a comment below sharing what your club is doing or add your project to Rotary Showcase! Read more posts on Basic Education and Literacy.  


How will you celebrate Rotary and our service to humanity?



By Azka Asif, Rotary Service Connections Staff

Service to humanity has been the cornerstone of Rotary since its earliest days, and has been its main purpose ever since. RI President John F. Germ believes no other organization effectively brings together committed, capable professionals in a wide variety of fields, and enables them to achieve ambitious goals like Rotary does.

Throughout the years, Rotary members have supported thousands of projects to provide clean water, fight disease, promote peace, provide basic education, and grow local economies. We’ve also been a leader in the fight to eradicate polio worldwide. In 2016-17, the Rotary Foundation turns 100. That’s a century of Rotary members using their capacity, network, and knowledge to change the world. And that’s definitely something worth celebrating.

The centennial is a great time to share our accomplishments, but also a time for Rotary members to continue to use their unique abilities to catapult Rotary forward to be an even greater force for good in the world.

President Germ is challenging Rotarians to continue changing lives and improving communities all over the world. Here are just a few ways you can do that:

The 2016-17 Rotary year is a time for Rotary members to celebrate 100 years of Doing Good in the World. Throughout the year showcase your 100 acts of good by posting photos of the impact you are making in your community, along with a brief description onto Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the #100ActsofGood hashtag. Be sure to list all your efforts on Rotary Showcase.

Remember, 2016-17 Presidential Citation will recognize clubs that achieve an array of accomplishments intended to make Rotary stronger. Encourage your clubs to focus on the Humanitarian Service goals listed in the Presidential Citation brochure.



Read more about John Germ’s 2016-17 theme, Rotary Serving Humanity.

How can you make new friends from all over the globe?

By Azka Asif, Rotary Service Connections Staff

By joining a Rotary Fellowship! Throughout the month of June, we’ve been celebrating Rotary Fellowships Month by sharing inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories have inspired you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship.

As the 2015-16 Rotary year comes to end, we’re taking a look back at all the new fellowships that were recognized this year:

  • International Fellowship of Rowing Rotarians plans joint travels and sporting contests for those interested in rowing. Visit their website or contact chair Hartmut Jaeger.
  • Rotarian Fellowship of Corporate Social Responsibility aims to help Rotarians address social responsibility issues as well as encourage clubs and districts to incorporate social responsibility themes into their service projects. Contact chair Gaetano Papa.
  • The International Fellowship of Rotarian Educators was formed to promote quality education (both public and private) as well as training and development initiatives such as continuing education; read how this group got started. Visit their website and contact chair Charles Grant.
  • The 4X4 International Fellowship for Rotarians will attract those who enjoy outdoor exploration in 4×4 vehicles while experiencing nature and conserving it for future generations. Contact chair Ida van den Bergh.
  • Rotary on Pins Fellowship will connect those passionate about Rota
    ry pins and serve as a resource for clubs and individual Rotarians who want to learn more. Follow their Facebook page or contact chair Ed Book.

View a complete list of Rotary Fellowships or form a new one today!



Combining vocational service and fellowship


By Dr. Charles Grant, Rotary Club of North Shore (Houston), Texas, USA, and Chair of the International Fellowship of Rotarian Educators

Last year when I received the June issue of the Rotarian magazine, I noticed the listing of all the Rotary Fellowships.  Before then, I wasn’t that familiar with fellowships, I thought they were just for Rotarians who were interested in the same hobbies like chess, golf, or yachting.  I didn’t know there were vocationally oriented fellowships as well.  I looked at the list and saw a few fellowships for professionals such as doctors, lawyers and police & law enforcement but I thought there were many missing, so I went on to to see if there were more and there weren’t. That’s when I decided I wanted to take action.

The last sentence on that page of The Rotarian encouraged those interested in forming a new fellowship to contact and so I did. Zuhal Sharp, the Service and Networking Programs Specialist at Rotary International, helped start the process of forming a brand new fellowship for educators. To qualify, we had to have at least 25 interested members from three different countries.  We had interested Rotarians from seven countries!  During this time I met Maria Bossa from the Rotary Club of Río Tercero, Argentina,  who is now our Fellowship Secretary.

Maria had been using Rotary Discussion Groups to exchange ideas and had started the Rotarian Educators group which has more than 200 members and is one of the most active groups in My Rotary! She always had the dream of transforming the group into a fellowship. Maria found out about my fellowship idea and contacted me telling me she wanted to get involved. Through our collaborative efforts, we were able to make Maria’s dream a reality.

At the start of the 2015-16 Rotary year in July, I met with Belinda Kaylani from the Rotary E-Club of Houston, USA, on her first day as District 5890’s Fellowship Chair to discuss the idea.  She helped me get all the required signatures and documents for our proposal which was submitted and approved in December 2015!

The International Fellowship of Rotarian Educators was formed to promote quality education (both public and private) as well as training and development initiatives such as continuing education. We also hope to provide access to education, especially for girls, in many developing countries.

Get involved

It is important to note that one does NOT have to an educator by trade to be a part of our fellowship. Anyone who has a passion for or interest in education is encouraged to join.  Frankly, I don’t know of any Rotarians who aren’t interested in education.  We all know that education is the key to a better quality of life!  Contact me for more information.

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.



International Fellowship of Scouting Rotarians encourages youth service

By Steve Henning, Rotary Club of Kutztown, USA, and member of the International Fellowship of Scouting Rotarians

In the early 1990’s, several Rotarians who were also Scouters met and discussed how to provide an outlet for other Rotarians who shared their same interest through a Rotary Fellowship. The principles and goals of Rotary and Scouting are closely aligned: serving our community, others, and ourselves, developing leadership skills, building character, and becoming aware of the world around us.

A group of British Rotarians interested in scouting formed the basis of the International Fellowship of Scouting Rotarians (IFSR). An organizing meeting was held at the Rotary International Convention in Mexico City in 1991 and shortly after the fellowship was approved. The Fellowship’s first formal meeting was held in Marseille, France; today we have more than 1000 members worldwide and promote the Rotary motto of Service Above Self.

IFSR is a group of Rotarians dedicated to promoting the scouting movement internationally. We aim to develop a strong international network of Rotarians with a passion for scouting. IFSR provides opportunities for social and fellowship interaction among its members. We also give active encouragement to scouting at local, national and international levels and recognize individuals who have provided exceptionally unique service to scouting and Rotary.

We are committed to supporting youth in their physical, mental and spiritual development through a strong focus on the outdoors and survival skills. We encourage youth service and honor Rotary clubs who provide service to or work with Scouts with the IFSR Youth Service Award.  Below are some recent recipients of this award:

  • In the Cayman Islands, seniors were in for a special treat when young ladies from the Girl Guides, Brownies and Rainbows spent the evening with them at the Cayman Brac Rotary Club’s Annual Senior Citizen Dinner. Seniors were treated to a traditional Caymanian Christmas dinner and each given a gift prepared by the Rotarians.
  • In Australia, the Diamantina Scouts lost their scout hall when the building was targeted by arsonists in 2010. Through sausage sizzles and badge sales, the group raised more than USD $20,000. With the support of the Rotary Club of Belconnen, the Scouts Australia ACT branch raised the remaining USD $130,000 needed to rebuild.
  • The Brentwood Noon Rotary Club of Tennessee in the United Sates held its 11th Annual Little Harpeth River Cleanup, cleaning up nearly 3,000 pounds of trash in a river that runs more than 10 miles through the city. In addition to Rotary club members, volunteers from the Boy Scout Troops and Cub Scout Packs helped.
  • In England, thanks to a generous donation from the Rotary Club of Sherborne Castles, 21 members of the 1st Sherborne Girl Guides will take part in a camping trip.

Membership in the International Fellowship of Scouting Rotarians is open to Rotarians, family members, program participants and alumni in any country, who are also former current members or supporters of any (girl or boy) Scout or Guide Association. Learn more on our website and join today!

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.



Fostering international understanding through Rotary Fellowships

By Franco Clemente, Rotary E-Club of and Chair of the Italian Culture Worldwide Rotarian Fellowship  

My first encounter with Rotary Fellowships was in 1993 when the Magna Graecia Fellowship hosted their annual tour in South Italy. This was the first time I met Rotarians from around the world and enjoyed their fellowship. In 1994, I took part in the Italian Rotarian Ski Championship with my family, spending a week in the mountains alongside Rotarian skiers. In 1997, I joined the Yachting Fellowship (IYFR), launching the South Italy Fleet, and since then I have taken part in meetings all around the world, making friends with Rotarian sailors from everywhere:  Hawaii, England, the Philippines and Spain.

I joined Rotary in 1992, and I almost immediately appreciated its huge global network. Along with that I appreciated the wide variety of Rotary Fellowships. I’ve been a member of many Fellowships, and I have participated as a guest in many events organized by other Fellowships. My family has always been involved in these activities, and I can say that Rotary Fellowships helped my daughters understand what Rotary really is, since in Italy we tend to be a little too formal and serious in our meetings.

I was among the founders of the Italian Culture Worldwide Rotary Fellowship (ICWRF) and I can say that this fellowship truly embodies the Rotary spirit. ICWRF originated from the common activities of a small group of Rotarians from different continents who met through Rotary exchanges and international projects, and for almost ten years had been using their friendships to support their own district’s international projects.

The ICWRF is open to all Rotarians, their spouses, Rotaractors and Rotary alumni to be used as an international service network for those interested in Italian culture, living abroad, and meeting Italian Rotarians. ICWRF’s purpose is to promote collaboration among various cultures, people and countries, using the Rotary network for better understanding how different cultures adapt and integrate with each other, and paying particular attention to immigration problems and fostering international understanding.

Since the formation of ICWRF, my Rotary life has changed, as has my personal life. On one hand, I had a new means of getting in touch with old Rotarian friends, often met through other Rotary Fellowships. I have led quite an unconventional life. I have lived in many different countries, and I have always been grateful to Rotary for the opportunity to make so many friends, and to serve locally with them. Unfortunately, changing jobs and changing countries, I have lost touch with a lot of them.

I had the incredible pleasure of being contacted by young Rotarians from London, England and Tirana, Albania who formed new ICWRF teams in their nations. These teams included friends of mine who I hadn’t seen for years but they recognized my name and got in touch with me. I’ve been living in the Arabian Peninsula for the last three years – the last two in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), where Rotary is currently not present – and believe me, it was very good getting in touch with so many new friends, and being able to serve, even from the remote KSA. Miracles of Rotary!

Every year the Italian Culture Worldwide Rotary Fellowship (ICWRF) observes the Day of Remembrance on 8 August to concentrate our actions on celebrating immigration and analyzing common and shareable roots to better understanding different cultures. Contact me to learn how you can get involved.

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.



Providing service through Rotary Fellowships

By Ralf Ludewig, Rotary Club of Bad Kissingen, Germany, and Chair of the Fellowship of Rotarian Marathon Runners

The Fellowship of Rotarian Marathon Runners (IMFR) was founded in France in 2006. The initial idea for forming the fellowship came after the very first group of Rotarian runners formed a team that took part in the Paris Marathon of 2005, with more than 200 Rotarians running for Rotary. The founding of IMFR was celebrated in October of 2006 in Berlin, Germany during the Berlin Marathon. Since then, IMFR has taken part in many marathons around the world (New York, London, Paris, Australia, Vienna, Rome and many more). This year we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary in Budapest, Hungary this October!

I’ve been a member of IMFR since the very first team in Berlin and I’ve never regretted the decision. I’ve met many Rotarians from all parts of the world and our fellowship events are always a lot of fun and filled with enthusiasm. It’s wonderful to meet so many people who share your same interest of running and Rotary values. The highlight of my experience with IMFR was when we took a three-week trip to Australia where we were crowned the largest team of participants in the Townsville Marathon.

Our 10th anniversary in Budapest from 7-10 October will be a very special event. There will be a chance to run shorter distances (10 km, 30 km). That’s a great opportunity for EVERYONE to have fun, learn more about our fellowship and members, and enjoy a nice weekend with Rotarians while doing good. Proceeds from the event will go towards the Rotary project Gift of Life, which is saving children with heart diseases.

The IMFR board, the Rotary Club of Budapest-Center and the District Governor Elect of Hungary Ilona Pénzes have all been planning the program for this event for over a year and it’s something you don’t want to miss!

Join us and please pass along this information to any Rotarian you think would be interested. Help us become the largest group of participants in the Budapest Marathon and help as many children with heart diseases as possible. Learn more about IMFR and about this special event on our website and like us on Facebook for the latest updates. Thank you very much for your support.

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.