Rotary International: What is it & What it does

A potted history of Rotary International

Rotary International is the world’s oldest service organisation and one of the best known. Its motto is ‘Service Above Self’ – members seek to serve others and enjoy so doing. Rotary’s members are made up of men and women in all walks of life. There are some 35,000 clubs in more than 166 countries (and 200 if other territories are included), with 1.2 million members. Rotary is for people of all races,of all religions and of none, and it is non-political.

Amongst Rotary’s achievements is the important role it played in the formation of UNESCO and some 50 Rotarians served as delegates and consultants at the creation of the UNITED NATIONS.

Rotary was founded by Paul Harris a Chicago lawyer on 23 February 1905. He formed the first club – the Rotary Club of Chicago – with five other friends. They decided to hold meetings in each others’ houses on a rota system – hence the name ‘Rotary’.  The first ever public service carried out by a Rotary Club was in Chicago where the newly formed club financed a public convenience in the city centre.  Clubs worldwide annually undertake many acts of service in their local communities which they regard as of the utmost importance.

On the international stage ROTARY FOUNDATION, Rotary’s own charity was formed in 1917 so it was exactly 100 years old in 2017.  It finances the largest charitable humanitarian programme in the world and each year more that 1,200 international projects are helped.  Since 1947 well over £3billion has been awarded. Individual clubs worldwide support it and our new club aims to give annually to the Rotary Foundation.  Projects such as the provision of water wells, medical care and literacy classes are provided for poor communities abroad and of course in addition individual clubs such as ours fund similar such causes from our own charity accounts.  Rotary also provides disaster aid., often through a sister Foundation – Shelter Box.

A main focus for Rotary International over several years now is the global eradication of Polio. Polio is now only present in a few countries. Together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we will hope to eradicate polio totally in the next few years.

This then is but a snapshot of what Rotary International is all about.  Our Rotary Club is constantly looking for new recruits who share our philosophy and wish to help make the world a better place.

Why not join us?!

More information at www.rotary.org.

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