In 1900, Paul P. Harris was a young attorney living in Chicago. He did not know many people and was lonely. One fall day, he met another attorney, Bob Frank, for dinner and as they walked around the area, Paul was impressed by the number of friendships Bob Frank had formed with local shopkeepers.
Paul Harris began to think about the kind of camaraderie that could be shared among businessmen. Over time, he persuaded other local businessmen to meet and discuss forming a club for trade and fellowship.
In 1905, that first club was formed. It was from this vision that the present day Rotary organization arose.
One hundred eight years later, there are 32,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries, and a membership of 1.2 million members.
The mission of the Rotary Foundation is to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace throughout the world through the improvement of health, the support of education and the alleviation of poverty.
The Rotary Foundation, the humanitarian service arm of Rotary, is a not-for-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the foundation who share its vision of a better world.
Rotary has carefully chosen its projects to fulfill the mission mentioned above. One of its primary goals has been through the PolioPlus program, which intends to eradicate polio throughout the world. For more than 25 years, Rotarians have traveled abroad to immunize children against Polio. They have been aided by many other organizations, including the Bill Gates Foundation in this endeavor.
A key part of Rotary’s method of operation is this: Rather than sending money abroad for projects, Rotarians themselves (traveling usually at their own cost) go to the country being helped to “put a face” to the gift. When there is a tragedy in the world (such as the Christmas tsunami of a few years ago), one often finds that Rotarians are among the first to arrive to help.
Something, which is often a surprise to people when they are learning about Rotary, is to find that Rotary’s charities have very little overhead cost. Money given to the charity goes toward the charity and Rotarians themselves oversee every aspect of the expenditure of the fund.
If you would like to know more about Rotary, you can go to www.rotaryinternational.org and learn a great deal.
Stevie Green, member,
Rotary Club of Madera