R otary International, the world's first service organization , is made up of over 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Its members form a global network of business and professional leaders who volunteer their time and talents to serve their communities and the world.

Rotary's motto, Service Above Self , exemplifies the humanitarian spirit of the organization's more than 1.2 million members. Strong fellowship among Rotarians and meaningful community and international service projects characterize Rotary worldwide.

Chess fellowship stays one move ahead


David Smith (right), chair of the International Chess Fellowship of Rotarians, plays a noncompetitive game at the House of Friendship during the 2008 RI Convention in Los Angeles.
Gone are the days when it took a couple of years to complete a chess match by mail.

Now, instead of licking a stamp and mailing their winning moves, the members of the International Chess Fellowship of RotariansÃ' can capture the king with a click of a mouse.

By playing through e-mail, players can finish matches in a few weeks. But Internet correspondence did more than just speed up games, says fellowship chair David Smith. It fostered closer friendships, better communication, and a stronger sense of fellowship.

"Technology has definitely made international play among Rotarians more feasible," says Smith, a member of the Rotary Club of Barkingside, Greater London, England. "It's easier to meet new players, exchange thoughts on current events, and share information on what one another's club is doing."

Smith adds that it's easy to participate in the chess fellowship because face-to-face meetings are not necessary to be active.

Since it was formed in 1977, the fellowship has hosted booths at many RI conventions, including almost all the U.S. sites and many international ones. At the 2008 RI Convention in Los Angeles, a record 20 new members joined. The fellowship's low annual dues of US$25 appeal to Rotarians, Smith says.

"Fellowships are an important part of Rotary," he continues. "Combining the two pleasures of my life, chess and Rotary, brings me great personal satisfaction."

Rotary FellowshipsÃ' offer Rotarians the opportunity to make friends with others in Rotary who share a common vocation, hobby, or recreational interest. From antique cars to yachting, Rotary Fellowships have been busy.

  • The Antique, Classic, and Historic Automobile World Fellowship of RotariansÃ' will be spending much of June on a car tour through North Wales and the West Midlands. The tour will finish at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England, coinciding with the 2009 RI Convention.
  • The International Fellowship of Rotary on StampsÃ' produced stamps to raise funds for PolioPlus, which have been selling in the Netherlands, with 10 stamps per sheet. The stamps, designed by Rotarian Anthony van Vliet, feature an End Polio Now design.
  • More than 2,000 Rotarians and Rotaractors from around the globe make up the Environment Fellowship of Rotarians. "We have fun while sharing key information aboutÃ'  successful Rotary projects as a means to encourage more Rotary clubs to achieve environmental projects," says fellowship president Marco Kappenberger. In June, the fellowship will launch an e-mentoring programÃ' through a project of the Rotary E-Club of Latinoamérica, Quintana Roo, Mexico, which will link Rotarians with Rotaractors in an online mentoring relationship.
  • The International Yachting Fellowship of RotariansÃ' continues to expand. In March, a new fleet was chartered in the Philippines, in conjunction with a medical mission to administer tetanus, diphtheria, and flu shots to employees at the Manila Yacht Club. "Three more fleets are to be chartered in America, another in Spain, and hopefully one in Tasmania, which shows the Yachting Fellowship is still expanding," says Terry Stretton, the fellowship's international vice commodore.