Don’t Miss Rotary’s Float in the Rose Bowl Parade!

Rotary's float this year was a crowd pleaser

Rotary’s float this year was a crowd pleaser

The Rotary International float in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade is undoubtedly the largest public relations project of the Rotary clubs of the United States and Canada. The famous Pasadena, California parade is seen on New Year’s Day by an estimated 300 million people via worldwide television.The annual Rotary float is not a project of Rotary International. Rather, funds for the construction of the Rotary parade entry are voluntarily given by Rotarians, clubs, and districts in the United States and Canada. The cost of designing, constructing and flower-covering a Rose Parade float is well over $100,000. Approximately 93% of the money raised goes to the cost of building, decorating, and entering the float in the parade. The balance of the funds raised pays for business, banking, insurance, and other miscellaneous costs related to the float and hosting the RI president while attending the parade and other related activities. None of the money raised is spent on professional staff.

2011 Rotary Float Rose Bowl Parade

2011 Rotary Float Rose Bowl Parade

A multi-district Rotary committee in southern California coordinates the planning and execution of the Rotary float. Hundreds of Rotarians voluntarily travel to Pasadena each year to help put flowers on the Rotary float. The theme of this year’s float will be “All the Places We Go”, emphasizing Rotary’s worldwide reach to provide services and to promote peace. It will feature a globe and gears that move. It will also have cherry blossoms and origami to make the float’s design conform with President Tanaka’s theme for 2012-2013 – Peace through Service.


Why I Joined Rotary

My name is Marcus O’Malley and I recently joined the Fairfax Rotary Club. I grew up in Warrenton, Virginia and I am the sixth of seven children from an Irish family. I went to James Madison University and before graduating, entered a Microsoft competition. Four Computer Science students flew out to Redmond, Washington and won the national competition. This led us to decide to create a business called Immerge Technologies, which is still in existence today. During my time at the company I accepted Christ and it changed my life. I desired to become community focused and help others; this escalated when I heard Reverend Desmond Tutu speak of a need in South Africa for adults to come to volunteer time to work with kids in the community.  The work involved helping those desolated by AIDS to have mentors, be encouraged, and assisted in growing up. I was later nominated and selected to be part of a GSE team. However, upon praying about it I thought that I wouldn’t be able to impact the community in the way that I wanted to via the GSE group and regretfully declined the position.

In September 2008 I sold everything and moved to Cape Town, South Africa where I spent a year doing missions work. I worked with youth in the community from starting a Bible study with kids, to playing soccer and just hanging out and learning about the community. We  went on mission trips to rougher areas of South Africa to try to help and minister. We raised money to buy food, toys/games, learning tools, equipment and more to help folks that were starting after school programs, working with the homeless or under-served, orphans and other great programs. I used my skills as a designer to help with business cards, fliers, websites and marketing concepts for local entrepreneurs. Some days we made a bunch of hot dogs and drove around handing them out to the hundreds and thousands of homeless people in the area. It was an incredible journey and then I returned in September 2009 to be with my family and start a new business doing web development and marketing. I moved to Fairfax in January 2010 and reached out to the local Rotary club in which Irby Hollands invited me to and then Dr. Laura Hills encouraged me and shared about the passion of the group to do bigger and greater things domestically and abroad. I was invited to join up shortly thereafter and am really excited to be a part of Rotary moving forward.

 Posted by Marcus O’Malley, member of The Fairfax Rotary Club

January is Rotary Awareness Month

It’s a New Year, and a perfect time to consider all of life’s new possibilities!

Have you been considering doing something new with your life this year . . .maybe joining a service club that helps people both in your local community and people all over the world?  Most people have heard about Rotary, but not as many know the incredible advantages of becoming a Rotarian.  Since January is “Rotary Awareness Month,” I thought I would share just a few of them with you. 

The Opportunity to Serve  Rotarians provide service at both the community and international levels. Service programs address health-care needs, hunger and poverty, illiteracy, disaster relief, and environmental cleanups, to name a few. Members experience the fulfillment that comes from giving back to the community. 

Professional Networking  A founding principle of Rotary was to provide a forum for professional and business leaders. Members are leaders in business, industry, the professions, the arts, government, sports, the military, and religion. They make decisions and influence policy. Rotary is the oldest, most prestigious service club organization in the world. 

Personal Growth and Development  Membership in Rotary ensures continuing personal and professional development. Leadership, public speaking and communication, organization and planning, team-building, fundraising, and teaching are just a sampling of the skills that can be exercised and enhanced through Rotary.

Friendship  Fellowship was a primary reason Rotary was started in 1905, and it remains a major attraction. Today, with more than 31,000 Rotary clubs in over 165 countries, Rotarians have friends wherever they go. Rotary helps to build community as well as enduring friendships.

Cultural Diversity  Rotary International is an association of local clubs in many countries. Clubs are open to members of every ethnic group, political persuasion, language, and religious belief. Rotary clubs contain a cross-section of the world’s leaders. They practice and promote tolerance.

Good Citizenship  Membership in Rotary makes one a better citizen. Weekly Rotary club programs keep members informed about what is taking place in the community, nation, and world.  Rotary’s expansive network of clubs and programs provides extensive opportunities for service and interchange. 

World Understanding  Rotary members gain an understanding of humanitarian issues and have a significant impact on them through international service projects and exchange programs of RI and its Foundation. The promotion of peace is one of Rotary’s highest objectives.

Entertainment  Every Rotary club and district hosts parties and activities that offer diversion from one’s personal and business life. Conferences, conventions, assemblies, and social events provide entertainment as well as Rotary information, education, and service.

Family Foundations  Rotary sponsors some of the world’s largest youth exchange and educational exchange and scholarship programs. Rotary clubs provide innovative training opportunities and mentoring for future leaders. They involve family members in a wide range of social and service activities.

Ethical Environment  Rotarians practice a 4-Way Test that measures words and actions by their truthfulness, fairness, goodwill, and benefit to all. Encouraging high ethical standards in one’s profession and respect for all worthy vocations has been a hallmark of Rotary from its earliest days.

 So there you have it!  There’s lots of advantages to being a Rotarian.  If you would like more information, contact a local Rotary Club in your area.  Go to

                                                   posted by: Jennifer Rose, Fairfax Rotary Club Secretary

Service Above Self

Recently, I was attending a Rotary meeting, enjoying breakfast and the fellowship of my fellow Rotarians, when I was reminded of one of the reasons I love this organization.  Our guest speaker, Scott Mills, a fellow Rotarian (and wonderful person I might add) shared a story with us that really touched my heart.  I thought I would share it with you:

Jamal was still being carried in his mother’s arms when Rotarians came to his village to begin giving him the pink drops that would ensure he would never contract the crippling disease polio.  While his country has been certified “polio free,” isolated outbreaks occasionally still occur.   For Jamal and his playmates, however, a much more persistant and insidious killer stalks the small children of his village.  It’s harbored in the very life-sustaining water that their mothers carry to the village each morning on their heads from pools and streams several miles away.  Their source of clean water is scarce, and the water that IS available often is polluted by runoff from cattle or municipal waste.  Many days, Jamal, now almost three, plays in the streets of his village naked from the waist down because of the  persistent diarrhea that eventually may cause his wasting and death if his village doesn’t develop a clean, reliable source of water.  Hundeds of children in his village have already died.  It’s a situation we here in the U.S. should never tolerate, and neither would Jamal’s mother if she had any other options.

All over the world, more than 24,000 children will die today — most, like Jamal, are under age five.  One thousand children will die in the time it takes most of us to mow our lawns this week.  Yet, most of these deaths are entirely preventable.

Fortunately for Jamal and the other children of his village, hope is already on its way.  Two years ago, work began on a three-year, multi-phased Rotary Foundation-funded project to bring clean, mountain spring water to the village of Wum, Cameroon.  This project was spearheaded by a Charlottesville, VA Rotarian named Tom Dunnells with funding from the Rotary Foundation, using plans developed through an enterprising design contest by engineering students at the University of Virginia.  In one day, with the help of local Cameroon Rotarians, Jamal’s own mother and other village residents assisted in digging the trench from their village up the side of a mountain so that pipes for the gravity-fed water main can be installed to bring the clean water to Wam. 

This is just one example of what Rotarians do . . .we restore a sense of safety and security for people in need.  Through the volunteer work of the over 1.2 million Rotarians world-wide and their contributions to the Rotary Foundation, lives of people we will never see are changed for the better in hundreds of ways.  Hence, our motto:  Service Above Self.

Did you know?  The Rotary Foundation is distinguished from all other organizations because 100% of donations to the Annual Programs Fund supports the humanitarian and educational programs of Rotarians.  Donations to the Rotary Foundation go even further than most other non-profit organizations because they support projects that are administered by local Rotarian business and community leaders who put volunteer energies into the improvement of communities and the lives of people who live in them. 

Did you also know?  Independent evaluator, Charity Navigator, ranks The Rotary Foundation as No. 4 on its list of “10 Best Charities Everyone’s Heard Of,” saying “These 10 Charities became household names in part because of their exceptional financial management, no easy feat considering the scope and size of their operations.  Charitable givers should feel confident that these national institutions put their donations to good use.”

Service Above Self.  If you are looking for a way to bring some balance to your life, and help people in need at the same time, do what I did.  Attend a local Rotary meeting and see how you can help.  You’ll be glad you did.  For info on finding a Rotary Club near you, go to