Posted by Steve Lettau on Oct 06, 2021

Eighteen months ago, the world ground to a halt, and for one brief moment, Rotary paused along with it. In March 2020, the magazine stopped the presses on its May issue in order to include a newly written message from 2019-20 RI President Mark Maloney.

“Throughout early March, the news about COVID-19 became increasingly serious throughout the world,” he explained. “We asked all Rotary districts and clubs to curb face-to-face meetings until further notice and to hold virtual meetings instead.” Then Maloney kicked things back into gear: “The world is changing rapidly,” he wrote, “and so must Rotary. Our adaptability and strength will help us navigate this experience.”

Rotarians everywhere responded to Maloney’s call to action. In some cases, they had even anticipated it. By the time that May issue landed in mailboxes, many clubs had already shifted to virtual meetings, and members worldwide were providing on-the-ground support for health care workers, communities in need, and the people most susceptible to the pandemic’s reach.

In June 2020, we published our first roundup of COVID-related projects, and in July, 2020-21 RI President Holger Knaack noted in his first magazine message that “every great challenge is an opportunity for renewal and growth.” In that same issue, we showed how Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative had been drawing on their experience to respond to the pandemic, and in August, we told personal stories from 10 frontline workers around the world — nine Rotarians and one Rotaractor who, despite the grave risk to their own health, stepped forward to offer assistance, comfort, and inspiration.