Club Information
Welcome to the Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay!  Celebrating Over 38 Years Serving Homer and the World
Homer-Kachemak Bay

Four Way Test: True, Fair, Goodwill & Beneficial to All

We meet In Person
Thursdays at 12:00 PM
Best Western Bidarka Inn
575 Sterling Hwy
PO Box 377
Homer, AK 99603
United States of America
Currently meetings are being held both "in person" and by Zoom.

How the CART Fund is fueling Alzheimer’s research


Nancy Rogers seemed too young to have Alzheimer's disease. But in 1999, her husband, Norm, knew something was wrong. First, she misplaced a couple of pocketbooks. Then, she started getting lost on the 11-mile commute from her office to her home in Raleigh, North Carolina.

"I would get a call from a highway patrolman 60 miles away in Greensboro saying that your wife is here at 7-Eleven, and she's lost," remembers Rogers.

As the years passed, he had to explain to his grandchildren why Grandma didn't know them. "It's horrible," he says. "It's the longest goodbye you'll ever have in your life."

Nancy died in 2010 at age 61. Rogers was in the depths of grief when a fellow Rotarian asked for a favor. He was the district chair of an effort called Coins for Alzheimer's Research Trust, or CART Fund, which raises money from Rotary members to support Alzheimer's research grants. He had to quickly leave town to care for an ill family member and asked if Rogers could step in and take over his duties.

"I jumped in the car, went to 51 Rotary clubs in three months, and drove 1,200 miles, and that was my introduction to CART," says Rogers. At the clubs, he encouraged members to empty their pockets into a little blue bucket. Each coin donated would go on to fund early-stage research on Alzheimer's. "I did it to honor Nancy."

From left: Norm Rogers, Rotary Club of District 7730 Passport, North Carolina; Carol Burdette, Rotary Club of Anderson, South Carolina; Rod Funderburk, Rotary Club of Lake Murray-Irmo, South Carolina; Tiffany Ervin, Rotary Club of Hendersonville-Four Seasons, North Carolina; and Bill Shillito, Rotary Club of Catawba Valley (Conover), North Carolina

Photography by Sean Rayford

Twelve years later, Rogers is a regional director for CART. When he travels to talk to Rotary clubs in North and South Carolina, he always asks the same question: "How many of you have been touched by Alzheimer's?" Invariably, at least 50 percent of the room raises a hand. That's because there's no cure or effective and accessible treatment. And there's much work to be done.

Some of that hard work has been made possible by CART, which started with an idea that came to longtime South Carolina Rotarian Roger Ackerman in the middle of the night back in 1995.

Ackerman was a go-getter, a problem solver, an ideas man. An active Rotary member since the 1960s, he relished the way Rotarians tackled different community challenges. But he puzzled over how Rotary members, or anyone, could help solve Alzheimer's, which had also touched his family.

Over nearly two decades, he and his wife, Deane, had watched their "Mother Love" — Deane's mom and Ackerman's mother-in-law, Rae Wodis — slowly lose herself to the disease. In the last four years of her life, she lost the ability to communicate. She couldn't remember who her family was.

"I cannot give you an adjective to describe the heartbreak to a family to see someone you love absolutely in a living-death status," Ackerman recounted during a Rotary presentation in 2013. "Can you imagine not being able to tell someone that you're hungry? That you need to go to the bathroom? That your throat hurts? Things that we do every day and take for granted. No one should have to do that."

During the time that his mother-in-law was suffering, he couldn't find research that gave him hope for an end to the disease, or even a way to treat it. That meant that other families were bound for the same tragic road he'd gone down, and that pained him.

That's when the early-morning inspiration hit. Ackerman had been fast asleep in his bed in Sumter, South Carolina. The day before, he'd had lunch with a friend, who had told him that $8 billion to $9 billion in coins changed hands every day in America. He jolted out of bed, realizing that pocket change could be the key to a cure.

Ackerman waited for the sun to rise and then called the president and president-elect of his Rotary club. He explained his vision. He wanted the effort to be straightforward: Place a little blue bucket on a table and ask Rotarians to toss in their pocket change at each meeting. It would be called the Coins for Alzheimer's Research Trust Fund, or the CART Fund, and all money would go to research grants.

The club's board of directors took it to a vote and unanimously agreed to start a trial program in late 1995. In seven months, the initiative raised $4,200.

To Ackerman, that was proof his concept could work — that people were willing to empty their pockets, and that pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters could add up to some serious cash. If other clubs joined the effort, the sky was the limit. To rally support, Ackerman traveled to different clubs — first in the area, and then around South Carolina, and eventually to clubs in North Carolina, Georgia, and beyond — to talk about a disease that today affects 1 of 9 older Americans. He urged clubs to add a little blue bucket to meetings and drop their coins in. He believed in the CART Fund so strongly himself, it didn't take long to get buy-in.

Ackerman died in 2018, but his legacy lives on. "He had the ability to persuade you to hitch your wagon to his horse," remembers Rod Funderburk, board president of the CART Fund and a member of the Rotary Club of Lake Murray-Irmo, South Carolina. "I mean, it was a crazy idea. But Roger had the ability to persuade people."

In 1999, that loose change added up to $100,000, and the CART Fund, with guidance from the American Federation for Aging Research, made its first grant to a team at Emory University led by neurologist Allan Levey. He was researching whether biological markers in a person's blood could be an early indicator of Alzheimer's disease.

That grant was life-changing for him and his lab. "It came at a really important time early in our career and our trajectory, and was sufficient to influence the course of research for us for the next several decades," recalls Levey, who today is the director of both the Goizueta Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and the Goizueta Institute @Emory Brain Health.

Although Levey and his team weren't successful in developing a blood test, he says that the project opened a new era of research for them — and led to millions of dollars in grants that would follow. Today, they lead national programs for understanding the causes of Alzheimer's disease, its biological markers, and possible treatment targets.

Norm Rogers, Rotary Club of District 7730 Passport, North Carolina.

But it wasn't just the funding that shaped Levey's life and his career. He became close friends with Ackerman and other Rotary members involved with the CART Fund. He admired what they were doing and saw that he could fill an important role in the organization. "Roger always put me in the role of helping me translate science into lay understanding for him and the rest of the CART board," Levey says.

That role was formalized in 2006, when Levey became part of CART's scientific advisory board. He helps select several annual grant recipients and translates their work into plain language that makes sense to Rotarians without a science or medical background. The selected scientists vary by interest and background, but they tend to have one thing in common: They're pursuing ideas that wouldn't receive traditional funding, usually because they don't yet have the data to support the idea at hand.

"The CART approach is to invest in young, promising scientists and research that is higher risk but could have a higher impact if that research could be sustained," says Levey. "So it's really to help get the seed funding for the initial experiments that will then grow and gather support to really take off."

Over about two decades, Ackerman attended more than 200 Rotary functions as a guest speaker, telling the story of his mother-in-law and the CART Fund, and how Rotarians could help unlock new understandings about the disease.

When he talks to Rotary clubs, Norm Rogers asks: “How many of you have been touched by Alzheimer’s?” Invariably, at least 50 percent of the room raises a hand.

"He's the reason that CART is successful. It's a brilliant concept. And it's so easy to explain," says Bill Shillito, chairman of the Alzheimer's/Dementia Rotary Action Group, who served as CART Fund's executive director from 2009 until retiring in May 2022. "But it would have died without Roger's passion. He was courageous and tenacious."

Alzheimer's, a progressive neurological disorder and the most common type of dementia, mostly affects people older than 65, though it can develop in those who are younger. The disease, which causes memory loss, disorientation, personality changes, and other symptoms, has grown more prevalent in recent decades. Between 1990 and 2019, global incidences of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias increased by nearly 150 percent, according to a study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. The older adult population in the U.S. is expected to grow, and by the year 2050, the Alzheimer's Association predicts that the number of Americans 65 and older with Alzheimer's may reach more than 12 million — nearly double what it is today.

Ackerman found purpose in CART, and now others do too, like Funderburk, the CART Fund board president. In the mid-1980s, when Funderburk was an engineering supervisor, a remarkable engineer named Joseph Bearden joined his team. "He was brilliant," Funderburk says. "We built chemical plants all over the world." When Bearden retired, Funderburk stayed in touch. At age 70, the engineer was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and Funderburk watched with sadness as his essence seemed to fade. "The last 3½ years of his life, he knew nobody. He was in a shell by himself," says Funderburk. "He'd been the most organized engineer I've ever met. But Alzheimer's took over." When Bearden died, Funderburk was at a loss. "I looked around and asked: How do you solve this thing?" he says. That led him to the CART Fund.

Tiffany Ervin, the fund's executive director and a member of the Rotary Club of Hendersonville-Four Seasons, North Carolina, says that most of the people involved have a personal connection to the disease. Her mom started showing signs of Alzheimer's in 2010, at age 70. Watching her lose her memory was agonizing. In particular, Ervin recalls a Mother's Day visit. "She said, 'Why are you wanting to spend the day with me today? Wouldn't you rather be with your mom or your family?'" she recalls. "It was like a knife to my gut." Shortly after her mom died in 2018, Erwin was invited to become vice president of public image for the CART Fund. She says that it gave her purpose and a platform to share her mom's story. Today Ervin says, "Everywhere I go, someone has an Alzheimer's story, unfortunately. Our goal is for people to no longer have an Alzheimer's story."

Over the last two-plus decades, pocket change — and donations made at, which accepts funds in an increasingly cashless society — has accumulated more than anyone had dared to dream. Today, 41 Rotary districts contribute, and, as of last year, the donations had amounted to $11.2 million dollars, funding 64 grants. Over that time, 100 percent of every dollar donated has gone to research, just as Ackerman insisted. Those grant recipients have gone on to receive many millions more in traditional funding, from sources such as the National Institutes of Health. "We have a huge percentage of success," says Funderburk, "if you count success as a researcher that proves their hypothesis and gets additional money." Reflecting on past grant recipients, Levey says that many of those early-career scientists have gone on to become prominent figures, even referring to them as "giants in the field."

CART-funded research has been wide-ranging and experimental; some of the researchers have called their own studies "provocative," "high-risk," and "highly controversial." In 2022, CART awarded grants to three research teams for a total of $850,000. Those researchers are studying ways to transport protective antibodies into the brain; whether medications for other illnesses, such as malaria, might potentially slow Alzheimer's; and the role ancient viruses may play in diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Tiffany Ervin, Rotary Club of Hendersonville-Four Seasons, North Carolina.


Beyond the impact of the research, the CART Fund has paved the way for relationships and experiences that Rotarians and researchers relish. Grant recipients are asked to travel at their own expense to the annual CART Fund board meeting in May in South Carolina for the announcement of the winners. There they have dinner with CART Fund board members and present their research to Rotarians.

Norm Rogers says he has learned an extraordinary amount about the disease through these meetings. He channels the grief over his wife's death into educating others and encouraging them to empty their pockets into that little blue bucket. "We go back and keep it at a third grade level and explain it to our clubs," he says. "And it's proven that when we tell them what we're working on, they say, 'Oh Lord, we need to give you more!'"

The scientists, too, take away more than funding. All of the 2022 grant recipients say that they are energized by the dedication of the Rotary members. "They have an incredible passion," says grant recipient Peter Tessier, the Albert M. Mattocks Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan. "After spending time with them, I went back and was completely humbled and honored and appreciative and impressed. I've not really met a group like that. They're really unique."

And Jerold Chun, a 2022 grant recipient who is a professor and senior vice president of neuroscience drug discovery with the Sanford Burnham Prebys biomedical research institute in La Jolla, California, was similarly moved and grateful to be a part of CART. "They gave their blood, sweat, tears, and money to allow us to take a crack at this," he says.

“Everywhere I go, someone has an Alzheimer’s story, unfortunately. Our goal is for people to no longer have an Alzheimer’s story.”

Chun believes that this kind of grassroots motivation is key to helping scientists pursue new ideas and gain a deeper understanding of the brain. "There's so much that we as scientists don't know," he says. "Every effort to better define how our brains work is an effort worth pursuing and supporting."

That notion, in fact, was what was on Levey's mind in the fall of 2022 when he read about promising results in a late-stage trial for a new drug, developed by companies Biogen and Eisai, that seems to modestly slow cognitive decline in people with early-stage Alzheimer's. "It's the first drug that really seems to have consistent benefits in slowing down the course of Alzheimer's disease," he says. "That's a huge breakthrough to have the first treatment that looks like it's on our doorstep."

Of course, his mind went to CART Fund research. While the drug didn't come from the initiative, he says that it rests on the shoulders of thousands of researchers and decades of work, and those little blue buckets have been a part of that. You could say that Alzheimer's research has been building like pocket change. It started small and fragmented, but with dedication, determination, and vision, it has flourished.

This story originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of Rotary magazine.

The Alzheimer’s/Dementia action group is addressing the challenge of the rising

number of people affected by brain disorders.


Turkey and Syria were struck by a devastating earthquake on 6 February that has killed tens of thousands of people, destroyed thousands of homes and other structures, and left people across the region without shelter in bitterly cold winter weather. While still providing aid to those impacted by the first earthquake, another 6.4 magnitude earthquake occured in the same area on 20 February, bringing even more devastation. 

The Rotary world responded to this catastrophe immediately. RI President Jennifer Jones activated our disaster response efforts, communicated with the affected districts, and encouraged governors in those regions to apply for disaster response grants and share information about their relief efforts so that Rotary can amplify the calls for support.

The Rotary Foundation Trustees decided that all donations made, from now until 31 March, to the Turkey/Syria Disaster Response Fund will be used to aid earthquake relief projects. In addition, the Trustees made available more than $125,000 to Rotary districts affected by the earthquake through Disaster Response Grants.

Rotary's project partner ShelterBox also has an emergency response team assessing the needs in the region and how it can respond. That team is communicating with Rotary district leaders. Rotary's service partner Habitat for Humanity International is also working on its response. Many Rotary members are asking how they can help. Here's how to have the greatest impact:

  • Give to Turkey/Syria Disaster Response Fund. Donations help clubs and districts provide aid and support rebuilding efforts where the need is greatest. The funds are distributed to affected communities through disaster response grants. The Disaster Response Fund can accept cash contributions and District Designated Funds (DDF).
  • Support local initiatives. As we learn about local response efforts that are being led by clubs and districts, Rotary raises awareness about how to support them. People can then support these projects by working directly with Rotary members in the region. If you want us to publicize information about local response efforts, write to


A Multiyear Medical Mission in Moldova Adapts to a Pandemic — and a War


In December 1999, Stephen Mackler was on a medical mission to Bucharest, the capital of Romania. As he completed his work there, a colleague pulled him aside.

“Steve,” he said, “I need you to go with me to Moldova.”

“Great,” replied Mackler. “Where is Moldova?”

Moldova, of course, is the Eastern European country and former Soviet republic situated between Romania and Ukraine. Mackler’s visit there would lead to a series of Rotary Foundation global grants and significant improvements to Moldova’s outmoded nursing program — and this endeavor would continue despite the global pandemic and the outbreak of war.

In Moldova, nursing students from the National Medical College in Chișinău demonstrate different types of medical technology.

Courtesy of Lauren Sterenberg

But first, back to 1999. While in Moldova, Mackler visited several hospitals, and he returned to his home in the U.S. distressed at what he’d seen, especially the number of people suffering from illness related to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Fortunately, Mackler, a periodontist and adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina’s school of dentistry, was also a member of Rotary. He had joined the Rotary Club of Guilford (Greensboro) in 1995 after an earlier medical mission — this one to the jungles of Brazil — where he’d seen Rotary in action. So he knew exactly where to turn.

Mackler reached out to a fellow Rotarian who told him about a recently formed partnership between Moldova and the state of North Carolina. The partnership was the outgrowth of a program, originally military in nature, promoted by the U.S. Department of Defense to encourage cooperation among U.S. states and the former Soviet republics. Mackler met with Elaine Marshall, North Carolina’s secretary of state (Marshall continues to hold that office today and remains a champion of the Moldova-N.C. partnership), and in 2000 he traveled to Moldova to provide dental care. “We’ve been coming back year after year,” he says, “and we’ve been doing the things [Moldova’s health care leaders] wanted us to do. So we were building a lot of trust, which is the first thing that we had to do.”

As the years passed, Mackler recruited other dental professionals, as well as some of his students, to accompany him on those trips, which were supported in part by contributions from his Rotary club. Often those recruitments took place at his North Carolina practice, and in 2006, a nurse landed in his dental chair. Before long she too became a member of Mackler’s traveling team and began enlisting other nurses who might help modernize another aspect of Moldova’s medical system.

A nursing student from the medical college addresses a student project fair.

Courtesy of Lauren Sterenberg

“Moldova had nursing colleges that young women and some men attended right out of high school,” explains Mackler. “But they were more like nurse assistants, doing things like changing bedpans.” What’s more, Moldova lacked the regulatory standards applied to nurses in most developed countries.

Mackler and his volunteer team of medical professionals set out to rectify that. Once again, he got help from his Guilford (Greensboro) club, as well as from District 7690 (North Carolina), which provided district grant funding. Working with the Nursing Association of the Republic of Moldova, the team sought to develop a core curriculum in professional nursing for the Nicolae Testemițanu State University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Moldova’s capital, Chișinău. The Rotary Foundation provided the project its first global grant in 2015, with the Rotary Club of Chișinău Cosmopolitan serving as the host club and the Guilford (Greensboro) club as the international partner; in the three global grants that followed, the Rotary Club of Chișinău Centru served as host.

As the project expanded and evolved, Mackler concentrated on fundraising and assembling the right personnel. Eventually he ceded the lead role on medical matters to a 15-member vocational training team known today as the North Carolina-Moldova Nursing Collaborative. As Mackler recalls: “I told my wife, ‘You know, I’m not used to working with nurses.’ She said, ‘Steve, keep your mouth shut, and they’ll take charge, which is what nurses do.’ And that’s exactly what they have done.”

The training team includes medical professionals and educators from several schools in North Carolina. Among them are three key players with ties to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro: team leader Deborah Lekan, a recently retired assistant professor of nursing; Audrey Snyder, a professor and the associate dean for experiential learning and innovation; and Nancy Hoffart, the recently retired Forsyth Medical Center distinguished professor who is the project director on the collaborative’s latest global grant. “In describing these women, I use the words ‘committed’ and ‘dynamic,’” says Mackler. “They’re doing this on their free time, and it’s unbelievable the amount of time that they’re spending on this.”

“Thanks to the partnership, we were able to have higher studies for the training of nurses at the university level and obtaining licensed nurses,” says Elena Stempovskaia, the president of the Moldova nursing association. “Nurses can also continue their studies toward masters and doctoral degrees. All these activities contributed to the development of the nursing profession and the improvement of the quality of care provided by nurses.”

By the numbers

  1. $343,000

    Total amount of money provided by Rotary Foundation global grants to the North Carolina-Moldova Nursing Collaborative

  2. 1,117

    Number of people in Moldova trained by the collaborative as of October 2022

  3. 10

    Number of webinars prepared by the collaborative to address trauma-informed care and other medical issues that arose with the influx of refugees to Moldova from Ukraine


Two years ago, after reevaluating its strategies and goals, the nursing collaborative began laying the groundwork for what would become its fourth and largest global grant: a $197,400 bequest made possible in part by $150,000 in gifts to The Rotary Foundation presented by Guilford (Greensboro) club member Eugene Parker, and his wife, Margaret.

At the same time, the collaborative planned to continue the exchange of visits between the two countries that, beginning in 2014, had provided delegations of nurses and other medical professionals the opportunity to teach and learn together in person. The last exchange occurred three years ago when the North Carolina team traveled to Moldova, followed by a visit in which Moldovan doctors saw U.S. nurses at work. After that session, the doctors “were bubbling,” says Hoffart. “They began to see that having better-educated nurses with more autonomy and a broader scope of practice could help them as physicians and improve the services they were offering patients. So that was a really cool visit.”

It was also the last visit, as COVID-19 halted the in-person exchanges. The educational outreach, however, continued. In North Carolina, nursing collaborative members produced digital slide presentations and webinars that provided their Eastern European counterparts with information about dealing with the pandemic — and, when translated into Romanian (Moldova’s official language) and Russian, the slides and videos could be distributed to a wider audience than the personal exchanges had allowed.

“The webinars organized during the pandemic gave us the best lessons on how to [respond to COVID],” says Stempovskaia. “We had six webinars at the national level, in which up to 600 nurses participated each time. But since the webinars were recorded, we transmitted them to every medical institution in the country, where every nurse had the opportunity to participate.”

Nursing faculty demonstrate nursing simulation tools used at the National Medical College in Chișinău.

Courtesy of Lauren Sterenberg

The webinar approach also proved effective when war broke out in Ukraine and refugees began flooding into Moldova. “We were able to turn on a dime and redirect our [efforts] to something that met the immediate need for education,” says Hoffart.

“The war in Ukraine led to a large number of complicated situations that nurses in Moldova had not encountered before,” says Stempovskaia. “Together with our colleagues from North Carolina, we picked the important topics and organized 10 webinars that were also recorded and placed on YouTube, web pages, and Facebook,” further extending their reach.

“The global grants had had a great impact, especially during the pandemic and now during the war in Ukraine,” adds Irina Rusanovschi, a member of the Rotary Club of Chișinău Centru. “The war also affects us because the Ukrainians are our neighbors, and we are trying to support them in this difficult time. We have many refugee centers, and any help is welcome.”

“We want to give sincere thanks to all our partners in North Carolina,” says Stempovskaia. “They have big and kind hearts and have done so many beautiful things for our republic, for our people, and for our nurses.”

In June, with help from the Rotary-sponsored nursing collaborative, the State University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Chișinău graduated its first class of students who earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing; the graduates dispersed to hospitals across the country to share their expertise. Meanwhile, members of the nursing collaborative are looking forward to resuming the exchanges between the two countries. At the end of a recent webinar, having concluded her 45-minute lecture, Lekan — who joined the Guilford (Greensboro) club in 2017 — smiles and addresses her virtual audience. “I wish you good health and much success in your work,” she says. “I look forward to a visit to Moldova in the future, and I hope that our paths will cross.” Undoubtedly.

This story originally appeared in the December 2022 issue of Rotary magazine.

Disease prevention and treatment is one of Rotary’s seven areas of focus.



Register and pay in full by 15 December before the rate increases.


Here are seven reasons you’ll want to attend the 2023 Rotary International Convention in Melbourne.


    You’ll (re)connect with the Rotary family.

    The last Rotary International Convention, in Houston, was proof there’s nothing like connecting face to face. But for many Rotary members in the Asia-Pacific region, where COVID-19 restrictions complicated travel plans, Melbourne will be their first in-person convention in four years. With five districts (representing more than 250 Rotary and Rotaract clubs) across the state of Victoria hosting the event, it’s sure to be a big reunion.



    You’ll explore the world — all in one place.

    The convention is the best way to appreciate Rotary’s global scale and reach, says Rebecca Fry, founding chair of RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) Oceania and charter president of the Rotary Club of Social Impact Network, New South Wales. “The House of Friendship is a true festival of Rotary, showcasing our organization’s fellowships, action groups, and community projects from around the world.”



    You’ll discover cities within a city.

    The coastal metropolis is known as the Australian capital of culture, food, sports, architecture, and theater. It’s also a shopping mecca.

    Mary Barry, chair of the Host Organization Committee, proudly notes Melbourne’s regular recognition as one of the world’s most livable cities. It is a family friendly place where visitors will feel instantly welcomed and at ease. “The city looks after its tourists with excellent public transport to unique attractions,” says Roslyn Teirney, an assistant Rotary public image coordinator for Zone 8 and a member of the Rotary Club of North Hobart, Tasmania.



    You’ll be inspired.

    Rotary conventions are all about an exchange of ideas. And each year’s gathering brings you big name speakers to inspire, connect, and spur solutions to the world’s toughest challenges. Just look at the list of some past speakers: Bill Gates, Justin Trudeau, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Princess Anne of the United Kingdom. “While still early to announce 2023 program highlights, be assured only outstanding international speakers will take part,” says HOC Chair Barry.



    You’ll get your kangaroo fix.

    Experience quintessential Australia with a visit to the Melbourne Zoo for a close-up and safe encounter with some of the world’s most unusual, cute, and dangerous species — kangaroos, koalas, snakes, spiders, crocodiles, wombats, and platypuses. Just 13 miles northeast of Melbourne’s central business district, the Gresswell Forest nature reserve provides spectacular sightings of eastern gray kangaroos, says Jennifer Scott, a past district governor and member of the Rotary Club of Central Blue Mountains.

    Need more cuteness? Head to Phillip Island, 75 miles southeast of Melbourne, and check out the largest colony of little penguins in the world.



    You’ll feel energized.

    Looking for a place to hang out with all your new Rotary friends once the day is over? Melbourne has endless options. Laura Telford, chair of the Rotaract Australia multidistrict information organization and member of the Rotaract Club of Canberra, describes Melbourne as another of the famous cities that “never sleep.”

    “Visitors will enjoy jumping on one of more than 475 trams that cover 250 kilometers [155 miles] of track to take you to every corner of this exciting city.”



    You’ll want to see more of Australia.

    While the distance can be a challenge in traveling to Melbourne, visitors may fly in to Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, or Perth to make the most of a unique travel opportunity by seeing other parts of Australia. “The Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and the Red Centre, our tropical north, and the rugged coast of Western Australia all present memorable sightseeing experiences,” Scott says.


The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and the Polly Woodside ship-turned-museum.


For more ideas, visit

This story originally appeared in the December 2022 issue of Rotary magazine.

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JonDarr Bradshaw, a former military aviator and contractor for the U.S. space agency, has a different kind of mission now.