Month: June 2020

Supporting the environment becomes a new area of focus

The Rotary Foundation Trustees and Rotary International Board of Directors have both unanimously approved adding a new area of focus: supporting the environment.

More than $18 million in Foundation global grant funding has been allocated to environment-related projects over the past five years. Creating a distinct area of focus to support the environment will give Rotary members even more ways to bring about positive change in the world and increase our impact.

Supporting the environment becomes Rotary’s seventh area of focus, which are categories of service activities supported by global grants. It joins peacebuilding and conflict prevention; disease prevention and treatment; water, sanitation, and hygiene; maternal and child health; basic education and literacy; and community economic development.

Grant applications for projects will be accepted beginning on 1 July 2021. Gifts and commitments from Rotarians and others will be sought to provide global grant support for the new area of focus.

More information about this new cause will be announced soon.

Rotary provides $20 million to help communities worldwide respond to COVID-19

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EVANSTON, Ill. (June 23, 2020) — Rotary members throughout the world are working safely and diligently to assess and provide for urgent community needs as they strive to respond and recover from the effects of COVID-19 coronavirus.

While following social-distancing and health guidelines, they are providing comfort and hope to those feeling the effects of isolation and fear, and focusing their resources and solutions toward supporting frontline health workers and first responders as they battle this disease and save lives.

“As leaders in virtually every community on earth, we bring a unique combination of local knowledge and access to a global network of expertise and resources,” said Mark Daniel Maloney, president of Rotary International. “In the face of uncertainty, we are adapting to shifting needs to offer immediate help to people at a rapid pace. And we’ll remain committed to recovering from this health crisis for as long as it takes.”

Rotary members are taking action to provide a range of solutions including handwashing stations and food to those unable to social distance in Kenya, lifesaving information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 in India, ventilators and protective gear for overstretched hospitals in Italy and vital social connections to neighbors who live alone in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Rotary Foundation, Rotary’s charitable arm, has to date awarded $20 million to support Rotary clubs worldwide in their immediate response to COVID-19 in their communities, and to long term recovery efforts.

To learn more about Rotary’s response to COVID-19 and to find out how you can get involved, visit

About Rotary: Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping those in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world.


Contact: Stephanie Herzfeld, 847-425-5797,

Clem Renouf, the RI president who inspired Rotary’s polio eradication efforts, dies

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1978-79 RI President Clem Renouf recalls conversations with Rotary leaders
as the organization turned its attention to eradicating polio.

Sir Clem Renouf, the 1978-79 Rotary International president who helped propel Rotary toward its top goal of eradicating polio worldwide, has died at age 99.

Renouf was a member of the Rotary Club of Nambour, Queensland, Australia, for 70 years. He served as RI director, Foundation trustee, district governor, RI committee member and chair, and International Assembly discussion leader.

In early 1979, on a flight home from the Philippines, Renouf read a magazine story about the eradication of smallpox. He wondered if Rotary’s new Health, Hunger and Humanities (3-H) Grants could be used to eliminate another disease. They, for the first time, allowed Rotary projects to be taken on by more than just one club or district.

Renouf consulted with a friend, John Sever, who was a district governor in Maryland, USA, and chief of infectious diseases at the United States National Institutes of Health. Sever happened to be friends with Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, who developed polio vaccines in the 1950s and 1960s. After doing some research, Sever said that polio would be the best disease for Rotary to work on.

“Clem then set his sights on polio eradication as a Rotary worldwide project,” wrote Ray Klinginsmith, 2010-11 Rotary International president, in a tribute to Renouf. In November 1979, the RI Board agreed to set the eradication of polio as a primary goal of the 3-H program.

Renouf was instrumental in raising funds for the early effort. “In order to raise money, Clem asked all the clubs to contribute some cash, which was about $15 per member, for service projects, and the appeal raised the surprising amount of $7 million,” Klinginsmith wrote. “Part of that money was then used to fund the first polio immunization project in the Philippines … The success was real”

In 1985, Rotary launched the PolioPlus program, and it later spearheaded the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with its partners — national governments, the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF. The GPEI continues to pursue worldwide eradication of polio.

Renouf served in the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II. After the war, he was an accountant and partner in the firm of Renouf and Clarke. He was an associate of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries and Administrators and a fellow of the Australian Society of CPAs, later called CPA Australia. He was also a founder of Sundale Garden Village for the elderly.

Rotary honored Renouf with the PolioPlus Pioneer Award for his extraordinary service to PolioPlus, as well as the Service Above Self Award, Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service, and Rotary Foundation Distinguished Service Award. He was a Rotary Foundation Benefactor and Major Donor and a member of the Paul Harris Society and the Bequest Society.

Klinginsmith described Renouf as quiet but a natural leader.

“Clem was always kind and supportive of younger Rotarians, and he is the one who gave me a chance to travel the Rotary Road,” Klinginsmith wrote. “Rotary would not be at the high point it is today without the improvements made by Clem and his team.”

Winners of the 2020 Rotarian magazine photo contest

Snap judgments

From Hong Kong to Hungary, Rotarians captured perfect moments in our annual photo contest

This year, we received more than 600 entries to our photo contest from 56 countries and geographical areas. The photographs take us from the vast plains of Inner Mongolia to the manmade canyons of Hong Kong. They tell a story of Rotarians exploring the world with open eyes and hearts, making connections across cultures, and capturing beauty wherever they find it.

Our judge, Damon Winter, has brought to his task the discerning eye of a professional photographer. His comments on the images our readers submitted are like a master class in photography; like the best teachers, he sees what is good — and how it might be even better.  

In addition to the winners and honorable mentions that appear in this issue, we’ll feature more photos from the contest in The Rotarian throughout the coming year.

First place

Photographer: Tono Valdés
Rotary Club of Guatemala Sur, Guatemala
Location: Fuego Volcano, near Escuintla, Guatemala

Winter: With every color in the spectrum represented, this nighttime volcano scene is like a deconstructed rainbow stretched by time and punctuated by the raw power of nature. It is the rare photo that you would be happy to have on your wall, to stop and stare at every time you pass by. I love the collision of the blue-hued star trails, all traveling through the composition in tidy, concentric circles, with the chaos and violence of the exploding volcano. The green hue of the fluorescent-lit cityscape below helps balance the frame.

Second place

Photographer: Fang Keong Lim
Rotary Club of Bandar Utama, Malaysia
Location: Xiapu, China

Winter: Godly beams of morning light penetrating this foggy forest scene make this photo come to life. The beautifully stacked and layered vertical composition, in which the main subjects are perfectly silhouetted against a layer of lush groundcover, is a thoughtful way to utilize all the elements and bind them together. This is a tricky exposure that could have benefited from just a little more fine-tuning to retain more detail in the highlights.

Third place

Photographer: Yuan Lung Hsieh
Rotary Club of Tainan Cherng-Ta, Taiwan
Location: Tainan, Taiwan

Winter: A masterful use of light, exposure, and composition allowed the photographer to render this colorful indoor-outdoor abstract scene. I wish there had been a little more care with the edges of the frame and a more clearly defined moment with the silhouette at left, but it is a valiant effort and clever use of exposure to see beyond how our eyes perceive this scene.

Honorable mention

Photographer: M A Taher
Rotary Club of Sonargaon Dhaka, Bangladesh
Location: Sylhet, Bangladesh 

Winter: Lovely composition and framing, and a great job by the photographer getting close to the subjects to bring an intimate experience to the viewer. It looks like a difficult place to maneuver, so I’m sure careful planning and forethought were necessary to get this shot. By choosing the moment when the central woman’s head turns up and catches the light, the photographer gives us an entry point into the photo and an anchor for the composition.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Shravan BM
Rotary Club of Bantwal Loretto Hills, India
Location: Udupi, India

Winter: Peak action in magic-hour light — what more could you want? Maybe a bit of golden backlighting under a crowd transfixed by the moment, just to top it off? This photograph has that too.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Carlo Antonio Romero
Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
Location: Hong Kong

Winter: At first I thought these were stacks of shipping containers waiting to be lifted onto a cargo ship. Then I looked a little closer and saw that it was a different kind of storage — the human kind. This is a very interesting use of an ultra-wide-angle lens and an unexpected low-angle perspective along with mixed-source nighttime lighting and a surreal illuminated city sky to create this beautiful abstract architectural study that is also a poignant commentary on the modern human condition.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Lola Reid Allin
Rotary Club of Belleville, Ontario
Location: Fez, Morocco

Winter: One of the very few portraits I looked at that went beyond the feeling of an ordinary posed snapshot and showed quiet grace and a direct and intimate connection between the subject and the photographer. A beautifully detailed face is but one of the many patterns and textures that make up this photograph — from the weathered paint on the walls to the multiple decorative iron grates and stone details, to the different fabric textures and designs. Somehow his eyes still pierce right through that patchwork of textures.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Philbert Williams
Rotary Club of Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago
Location: Stone Haven Bay, Tobago

Winter: What an amazing scene, with the fallen tree as a backstop for the young goalie as a group of boys play soccer in the misty orange glow of the setting sun. It brings back many fond memories of the best time of day on the beach, when the tourists have gone home and just the people who live there remain. It’s a small thing, but I keep wishing I could see if that ball was headed for the goal.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Yeong Hsiou Chen (Asic)
Rotary Club of Taipei Hwachung, Taiwan
Location: Inner Mongolia, China

Winter: This reminds me of the Marlboro Man ads from the 1970s, minus the weathered cowboy in a dusty ten-gallon hat. It is such an amazing scene, but it’s missing a little something to take it to the next level.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Ken James
Rotary Club of Kalamalka, British Columbia
Location: Elliston Point, Newfoundland

Winter: A simple but lovely puffin portrait with a little something extra to make it unusual and wonderful. These birds are not herbivores, so was it doing a little home decorating? Those sorrowful eyes suggest something more meaningful.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Cynthia Barasz
Rotary Club of Saint Petersburg Sunset, Florida
Location: Walvis Bay, Namibia

Winter: Absolutely perfect timing captures the battle between sea and air for feeding-time supremacy. The seagull’s wings are in peak extension, with every single feather on display, beak open, ready to snatch that tasty morsel from what seems to be a very calm person. A very nice execution on a fun photograph.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Richard Hallick
Rotary Club of Tucson Sunrise, Arizona
Location: Dunapataj, Hungary

Winter: The way those four horse heads stack up together as if carved from a single piece of Italian marble lends such wonderful texture to this action shot that I almost don’t care what’s happening with the rider in back. I find myself wishing this were either shot wider, with some room to breathe around the subjects, or just really tight on those magnificent horses.

Get ready for your close-up

The next edition of The Rotarian’s photo contest will open on 1 October 2020 and close on 15 December 2020. For more information, go to

Meet our judge

Damon Winter is a photographer for the New York Times, who won the Pulitzer prize for feature photography in 2009 for his photographs of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

Statement from Rotary International

Statement from Rotary International

At Rotary, we have no tolerance for racism. Promoting respect, celebrating diversity, demanding ethical leadership, and working tirelessly to advance peace are central tenets of our work.

We have more work to do to create more just, open and welcoming communities for all people.

We know there are no easy fixes and that challenging conversations and work lie before all of us. Rotary’s strength has long been our ability and commitment to bringing people together. We will tap into that strength now as we stand with those who are working for peace and justice. 

Rotary will do our part to listen, learn and take action to ensure that we continue to contribute to making positive change.

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