As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads uncertainty and hardship around the world, Rotary members and participants are innovating, caring for those affected, and showing that even at a distance, there are ways to help.
As people of action, Rotary members are engaged in their communities — gathering for projects and offering help to those in need. But in many areas, life is changing drastically. Health experts are urging people to maintain distance from others or even isolate themselves in order to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Fighting disease is one of Rotary’s main causes, so members already support efforts to promote proper hand washing techniques, teach people other ways to stay healthy, and supply training and vital medical equipment to health care providers. Now they’re helping health authorities communicate lifesaving information about COVID-19 and donating protective gear and other supplies to clinics and hospitals that are under strain because of the pandemic.
These are just some of the ways that members are supporting their communities right now:
- In Italy, one of the countries that has been affected most, clubs in District 2080 are raising funds to purchase ventilators and protective gear for overstretched hospitals. And when the worst of the outbreak was raging in China, the district’s clubs raised more than $21,000 for protective masks to prevent spread of the disease there.
- Clubs in District 2041, also in Italy, raised funds online to buy protective gear for health workers who will care for COVID-19 patients at a 400-bed hospital being built at Milan’s fairgrounds.
- In Hong Kong, Rotary clubs have raised funds, packed medical supplies, and visited public housing to distribute masks and sanitizers.
- Rotary clubs in Sri Lanka installed thermometers in airport bathrooms and produced posters to raise awareness about the coronavirus for schools across the country.
- The Rotary Club of Karachi Darakhshan, Sind, Pakistan, distributed thousands of masks to people in Karachi.
- Clubs in District 3700 (Korea) have donated $155,000 to the Red Cross.
- Rotary clubs in Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom state conducted a campaign to raise awareness about the threat of the virus. Members shared information about the illness and how to keep safe at two schools and distributed materials about using good hygiene to stay healthy.
- The Rotary club of Metro Bethesda, Maryland, USA, is contacting neighbors who live alone and are quarantined. Volunteers are asked to contact at least five of those people each week to ask how they are and if they need anything. Members are also leaving flowers on their doorsteps.
Using technology to address the crisis
- Although clubs and districts are canceling or postponing their in-person meetings and events, they are still finding ways to keep up their fellowship, reimagine their service efforts and respond to the pandemic:
- The Rotary E-Club of Fenice del Tronto invited the public to its 11 March online meeting to raise awareness about the coronavirus. A virologist spoke about the virus, how it spreads, and how to keep safe.
- The Rotary Club of Singapore hosted a webinar in which an epidemiologist and an infectious disease expert addressed questions and concerns about the coronavirus and the pandemic.
- The Rotary Club of East Jefferson County, Washington, USA, used crowdsourcing to create an online listing of area grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants that offer home delivery.
- Rotary members in Hereford, England, created a Facebook group for Rotary members and others to use to link people who need support with people or organizations that can help. More than 6,900 people have joined the group since it was started 14 March.
- Two days before its annual fundraiser, the Rotary Club of Schaumburg-Hoffman Estates, Illinois, USA, moved the event to Facebook. It auctioned more than 100 items and raised more than $100,000, about the same amount as in previous years. Food set to feed 350 people at the event was delivered to those in need.
- The Rotary E-Club of Silicon Valley, California, USA, held an online meeting for members of other clubs to share advice on using digital tools to remain connected. The club recorded the meeting so members could watch it later and share it with others.
- Rotary clubs in Zone 34 (Georgia and Florida, USA, and the Caribbean) created a guide to help members stay connected online. The Rotary E-Club of the Caribbean 7020 is helping clubs in the zone arrange online meetings. Read more.