Ways to serve your community during the pandemic

By Jeff Smith, District 7170 Community Service Chair, United States

Our district and clubs are taking action during this pandemic to support each other and our communities. Many communities have embarked on recovery strategies which tend to follow three distinct phases: response (0 to 6 months), recovery (3 to 12 months) and resiliency (12 to 24 months).  District 7170 intends to be a source of support through all three phases.

Ways the district is taking action:

  • Checks on the safety of each club
  • Promotes hosting virtual meetings for clubs and for project work
  • Promotes the Volunteer Surge program which seeks to train 1,000,000 health care workers in the U.S.
  • Continues to assess needs across the district
  • Hosts a Zoom conference every two weeks to further assess developments and actions the district should take
  • Promotes the use of district grants for COVID relief projects
  • The leadership meets on a regular basis to track the current situation
  • Made donations to the Rotary Disaster Fund and local food pantries as well as donated masks

The district hopes to take further action by:

  • Finding other sources of funding, including non-Rotary sources
  • Promoting messaging that reinforces safe distancing and highlights healthcare heroes and positive actions taken in the community
  • Evaluating ways Rotary can be involved in recovery phases 2 and 3
  • Urging partnerships with community organizations
  • Further identifying district needs
  • Evaluating other regions and their response
  • Identifying healthcare heroes to receive Paul Harris Awards

Our district also coordinates with the three neighboring districts.  Each week a message goes out from one of the district governors with updates from their region.

The clubs have embarked on programs targeting their unique community’s needs.  Some of these efforts have garnered media coverage.  And of course, many of our members are directly involved in the crisis due to their jobs. 

We urge clubs to be part of community collaborations.  In Endicott, we have a collaboration that has been in existence for five years that includes health care providers, mayors, non-profits and local businesses.  Two Rotary clubs are involved, along with members of the district’s executive committee.  Our latest Zoom conference involved the mayor, town supervisor, state assembly representative, police chief, fire chief, the school district and others as presenters.  This level of involvement allows Rotary members to be informed and involved in each phase of the recovery.  One Rotary club was praised for their program supporting food security for the school system.

There are many ways for clubs to take action in their communities during this crisis. Below are some ideas:

  • Be part of or help form community collaborations
  • Organize pools of volunteer support to safely assist with projects
  • Involve the family of Rotary
  • Promote “buy local” programs
  • Benchmark other recovery programs to get ideas
  • Promote funding opportunities
  • Help businesses and organizations complete grant applications
  • Develop innovative fundraisers
  • Develop public messaging to promote safe practices, key services for business and the community, and positive stories about how Rotary and others are responding to the crisis
  • Survey businesses, schools and non-profits to identify their needs
  • Help develop Wi-Fi hot spots for distance learning
  • Serve those on the frontlines

Now, more than ever, our communities need Rotary members to support them. It is our responsibility to step up and leaders and serve those in need.  


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