RI President 2022-23 Jennifer
Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland
Dear Fellow Rotarians, Rotaractors, and friends,
Introducing the Rotary Youth Network
How do you take the best from the worst?
None of us will forget how the pandemic altered our world and our
lives. Each of us had to traverse this period of uncertainty, and
no one had a free pass from the effects.
I personally believe this has created space for a different kind
of global leadership — one that is courageous, empathetic,
and vulnerable. I met my good friend Anniela Carracedo online in
early 2020. She is one such leader, and I'm thrilled to turn this
month's column over to her.
— Jennifer Jones
In March 2020, I had a panic attack. I couldn't breathe, and I felt
a terrible pain in my chest.
It had been a few days since the World Health Organization declared
COVID-19 a global pandemic, and I was in the middle of my year as
a Rotary Youth Exchange student in the United States. Think about
it: an 18-year-old girl stuck in a different country, with a foreign
language, with people she had only met six months before. It was
But I am familiar with uncertainty. I was born and raised in Venezuela,
which is going through one of the worst humanitarian and political
crises in the Western Hemisphere. But my mom always said, "Challenges
are nothing more than needs that require a solution."
I called up my Interact and Youth Exchange friends. Together, we
organized an online meeting to share projects and get inspired by
what everyone else was doing during the quarantine. In that first
meeting, we had 70 people, mainly students, from 17 countries.
From that beginning, we built an online platform for Rotary youths
worldwide to share their experiences and inspire others with project
ideas during isolation. We looked for mentors and supporters who
would help our group connect young people, share cultures, and open
new collaborative opportunities for international service projects.
We called it Rotary Interactive Quarantine, or RIQ.
After only a year, we engaged with more than 5,000 students from
80 countries. Several of our team members became district Interact
representatives and district committee members, and some of us even
serve on Rotary International councils.
Eventually, quarantine restrictions were being lifted, and the needs
of our participants were changing. At our last official meeting
as RIQ, Past RI President Barry Rassin inspired us to create even
bigger change, so we transformed RIQ into the Rotary Youth Network,
A few of our members, including me, were selected to serve on the
inaugural Interact Advisory Council, where we presented our vision
for youth in Rotary to the RI Board of Directors.
Our presentation to the Board inspired President Jennifer and her
team to create a Youth Advisory Council in Rotary International,
which I am honored to serve on as a co-chair.
The Rotary Youth Network officially launched during a breakout session
at the 2022 Rotary International Convention in Houston. Five of
us, who had participated in Interact, Youth Exchange, and Rotary
Youth Leadership Awards, traveled across continents to launch an
organization we had kicked off online two years before. The convention
was also the first time we had met in person.
When my friends and I finished our talk, we realized more than 500
people were giving us a standing ovation. Tears filled our eyes,
and the feeling of excitement and accomplishment took over.
Who would have thought that a panic attack would lead to this?
Trustee Chair's Message - April
Trustee Chair 2022-23
Sandringham, Victoria, Australia,
In a letter to his brother Theo in
1874, ??Vincent Van Gogh wrote: “If you truly
love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”
You can see Van Gogh’s love of the natural world
in his paintings: luminous sunflowers, gnarled olive
trees, and the starry night sky over a Provençal
village. When you see nature through Van Gogh’s
eyes or through your own, such as during a trip to
the park or a beach, you can’t help but stop
to appreciate it. And when you love nature, you also
want to take care of it.
April is Environmental Month for Rotary, and Earth
Day is the 22nd. Marking the occasion with local projects
such as roadside cleanups is fantastic and makes a
difference. Consider also thinking big about protecting
the environment — one of Rotary’s seven
areas of focus — by partnering with other clubs
and districts on a larger-scale project funded through
The Rotary Foundation.
The more our clubs work together on larger projects,
the more we accomplish. Supported by a Foundation
global grant, Rotary clubs in Pennsylvania and Brazil
teamed up to provide plastic-processing equipment
for a waste pickers cooperative in the city of Rio
Claro. The workers, who recover recyclables from trash,
increased their income by 50 percent and expanded
the cooperative, while contributing to a cleaner environment.
Acting big is also one of the main ideas behind the
Foundation’s Programs of Scale. With each $2
million grant distributed over a program’s three-
to five-year duration, the work done on the ground
scales up to fulfill the potential for long-term sustainable
change. The 2021-22 Programs of Scale recipient, Together
for Healthy Families in Nigeria, is hard at work right
now on solutions aimed at reducing the country’s
maternal and neonatal mortality rates.
Programs of Scale grants are among the most exciting
developments of Rotary and its Foundation in recent
years. They will have a big impact on the world. Remember
that Programs of Scale grants take nothing away from
your Foundation grant projects; the money invested
is a relatively small portion of the Foundation’s
total. In addition, The Rotary Foundation designed
Programs of Scale to foster greater partnerships,
which can include co-funding the initiative.
So, think big this month — about the environment
and about global grants and Programs of Scale —
and you will see that, when it comes to the good we
can do through our Foundation, the “starry night”
sky’s the limit.
Ian H.S. Riseley
Trustee Chair 2022-23
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