Clubs at the End of the World
There are Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries, including some of the world’s most remote locations. Indeed, it’s accurate to say Rotary has spread to virtually every corner of the globe. Here, meet six far-flung clubs and learn what they do.
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
St. John’s has five Rotary and Rotaract clubs. Founded in 1921, the 60-member Rotary Club of St. John’s is the oldest in this Canadian province. “Rotary is wonderfully represented in our small city,” says Ron Burke, the club’s president. The provincial capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s has just under 110,000 inhabitants. The city’s Rotary clubs do not see themselves as competitors, but pool their forces to make a difference. Together, they created the Rotary Sunshine Park, a recreational area with a water pier, a leisure center, and a chalet that can be rented for overnight stays.
Networking with other clubs is especially important in an area where cities are separated by long distances. In June, District 7815 held a conference in Moncton, New Brunswick, attended by Rotarians from four provinces. “It is expected that our district will continue these annual conferences to promote cooperation, networking, and the exchange of best practices and initiatives,” Burke says.
Recently the St. John’s clubs bought a house for a local organization that aids homeless veterans. “We paid for new furniture, created a community room that will bear Rotary’s name, and provided rent subsidies for residents. The club agrees that this should be a long-term project,” Burke says. That should not be a problem for a club that has existed for 103 years.
The Rotary Club of Fairbanks, Alaska, USA is now 84 years old. The 95-member club’s lunch meetings are always well attended. club member “Usually, it’s business relationships that lead to new memberships,” says club member Jonal Lani Machos. “It’s also not unusual that in a small town like Fairbanks, new members are already known beforehand.”
The Rotary members are looking forward to the completion of a multi-year project in May. The club invested US$500,000 to build a large playground. The club maintains a close partnership with the Rotary Club of San Ignacio, Cayo, Belize. There have been mutual visits in recent years, always combined with projects. For example, the club supported the construction of sanitary facilities at several schools in and around San Ignacio.
Members of the Rotary Club of Helgoland, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany must travel at least two and a half hours by ship to visit another club. The nearest one is located about 60 kilometers from the island, which lies on the North Sea coast. A total of 1,300 people live there. In such a small community, “the bond among the members is strong,” says club member Bärbel Wichmann.
The 25-member club has just celebrated its 30th anniversary. After several fundraising projects at various island festivals, the club recently gave the local school two suitcases of learning materials for “End Plastic Soup,” an initiative of Rotary clubs across Europe. Another project, “Food on Legs,” delivers food to seniors by handcart. The club also worked closely with the Rotary Club of Otterndorf-Land Hadeln, Lower Saxony, Germany, to send aid to Ukraine. “We find this cooperation very enriching,” Wichmann says.
District 9920 includes half of Auckland, New Zealand, as well as the American territory of American Samoa and the Pacific nations of the Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Samoa, Tonga, and Kiribati. There are 53 Rotary clubs in the district, a third of which are located in the Pacific countries. The Rotary Club of Tarawa, Kiribati, founded in 2019 on the country’s main atoll, has 10 members. It is 2,230 kilometers from the next nearest Rotary club on the Fiji Islands, and has carried out projects worth nearly US$2 million, including immunizing children on 21 inhabited islands of the Gilbert Islands group as part of “Give Every Child a Future,” an initiative of Rotary Zone 8.
Saint Pierre and Miquelon, France
The 21-member Rotary Club of Saint Pierre and Miquelon was chartered in 1989 on a small archipelago of 6,000 inhabitants, 25 kilometers south of Newfoundland that is part of France. inhabitants
It is the only French club in Canadian District 7815, which includes the four Atlantic Canadian provinces of: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Due to the isolated location, club members tend to work together with local service clubs and other associations.
In the past year, members have organized 15 projects and events, including a bingo night in partnership with the local radio station that raised money for End Polio Now. They also helped set up a free library in the town square.
Saint Pierre and Miquelon will host its first district conference in 2024. The incoming governor, Roger Sévigny, is a member of the local club.
Shetland, United Kingdom
In 1972, the Rotary Club of Shetland, Shetland Islands, Scotland, took root on this archipelago which lies between Orkney and Norway where the North Sea meets the rugged North Atlantic. The club is located in Lerwick, the main town and port of the archipelago. “Since the nearest club is 129 kilometers away, there are no activities with other clubs,” club member Susan Stout says.
Since residents of the island travel infrequently, service is what connects the 17 members. . A recent dinner raised money to support local charities.
The club capitalizes on space in the public square, where they promote Rotary to the island’s 7,000 people. “We have a stand at a large local agricultural fair to advertise our club,” Stout says.
This article first appeared in Rotary in Deutschland.
- February 2024