What is Rotary
Rotary is defined as "an organization of business and
professional people united worldwide, who provide humanitarian service, encourage
high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the
The main objective of Rotary is service - in the community and
throughout the world. Rotarians build goodwill and peace, provide humanitarian
service, and encourage high ethical standards in all vocations. The Rotary motto
is "Service Above Self".
Rotarians - men and women alike - volunteer their efforts to improve
the quality of life in their own community and beyond its borders. The world?s
Rotary clubs meet weekly and are non-political, non-religious and open to all
cultures, races and creeds. Club membership represents a cross-section of local
business and professional leaders.
Rotarians work with and for youth to address challenges facing young
people today. Through participation in Rotary-sponsored Interact clubs (for
secondary school students), Rotaract clubs (for young adults), and Rotary Youth
Leadership awards, young people worldwide learn leadership skills and the
importance of community service. Rotary Youth Exchange gives high school students
the opportunity to broaden their world view and build international
The vision of Rotary founder Paul Harris was of a club that would
kindle friendship among members of the Chicago business community. He wanted to
find in the large city the kind of friendly spirit and helpfulness that he had
known in the small towns where he had grown up - the spirit to reach out in
service to others less fortunate. Through the subsequent spread of the Rotary
movement, the spirit of friendship and service evolved quite naturally into a
focus on helping to build goodwill and peace in the world.
It was also Harris? thought that the first club should represent a
cross-section of the business and professional life of the community. From this
idea developed Rotary's Classification Principle. Admission to Rotary club
membership is by invitation, and accepting the invitation represents a personal
commitment of the Rotarian to exemplify high ethical standards in one?s own
vocation or occupation.
As the entity representing the global association of all Rotary
clubs, Rotary International's mission is to assist Rotarians and Rotary clubs to
accomplish the Object of Rotary, emphasizing service activities by individuals and
groups that enhance the quality of life and human dignity, encouraging high
ethical standards, and creating greater understanding among all people to advance
the search for peace in the world.
Rotary International ("RI") is headquartered in Evanston.,
Illinois, USA at an 18-storey office building called One Rotary Center. This
building was purchased by RI in 1987 and provides 400,000 square feet of office
space, two-thirds of which is leased to commercial tenants, until needed by future
Rotary growth. The building has a 190-seat auditorium and 300-seat cafeteria for
the 500 employees of RI and the Rotary Foundation, and houses the offices of the
RI president, president-elect and general secretary.
Object of Rotary
The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service
as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:
- the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
- high ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the
worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying by each Rotarian of his
occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
- the application of the ideal of service by every Rotarian to his personal,
business, and community life; and
- the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through
a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of
What does Rotary do?
A Rotary club is a service club. Rotary clubs exist for the purpose
of giving men and women an organized outlet to do something for others in an
organized manner which could not be done, at least as well, by individuals working
Rotary's community development programmes address many of today?s
most critical issues - hunger, the environment, literacy, to name a few. RI also
offers programmes that focus primarily on young people, including service clubs
for high school students and young adults, leadership training workshops and
student exchanges. The international component of RI programmes enables clubs and
districts to assist Rotary efforts abroad and to share information and arrange
exchanges with Rotarians in other countries. Vocational concerns figure in many
club and district projects designed to promote high ethical standards in the
workplace and to help young people and others become and remain productive members
On the evening of February 23rd, 1905, Paul Harris and three
friends, Sylvester Schiele, Gustavus Loehr and Hiram Shorey met in Loehr's
business office in Room 711 of the Unity Building in downtown Chicago to discuss
Paul's idea that businessmen should get together periodically for camaraderie and
to enlarge their circle of business and professional acquaintances.
From their discussion came the idea for a men's club which would
meet weekly and whose membership would be limited to one representative from each
business and profession. After enlisting a fifth member, Harry Ruggles, the group
was formally organized as the Rotary Club of Chicago. By the end of 1905, the
club?s roster showed a membership of 30 with Sylvester Schiele as president and
Ruggles as treasurer. Paul Harris declined office in the new club and didn't
become its president until two years later.
It is significant that each of the members of the first Rotary club
was a comparative stranger from a small town who had come to that great metropolis
of Chicago to go into business. Each felt a need for personal friendships to
replace those severed by moving from their former homes.
The name "Rotary" was suggested by Harris; prompted by the original
plan of the club members meeting in rotation at their various places of business.
As the membership increased, it became necessary to hold dinner meetings which
later gave way to weekly noonday meetings. Contrary to general opinion, although
Paul Harris was the originator of Rotary, he was not the first President. That
distinction went to Sylvester Schiele, one of the original four. Paul Harris
became the President of Chicago Club No.1 in 1907. Also in 1907 the first Rotary
community project was undertaken - the establishment of public comfort stations in
Chicago?s City Hall.
Soon to follow was Club No.2 in San Francisco, then Oakland,
followed by Seattle, Los Angeles, New York and Boston (which sponsored our club).
The first Rotary Convention was held in 1910 in Chicago with 29 members present,
representing 14 of 16 organized Rotary clubs. Today the idea of Paul Harris and
his friends has spread to over 150 countries with 1,200,000 members in over 28,000
Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, was born in Racine, Wisconsin, USA, on
April 19th, 1868, but moved at the age of 3 to Wallingford, Vermont, to be raised
by his grandparents. In the forward to his autobiography My Road to Rotary, he
credits the friendliness and tolerance he found in Vermont as his inspiration for
the creation of Rotary.
Trained as a lawyer, Paul gave himself five years after his
graduation from law school in 1891 to see as much of the world as possible before
settling down and hanging out his shingle. During that time, he traveled widely,
supporting himself with a great variety of jobs. He worked as a reporter in San
Francisco, a teacher at a business college in Los Angeles, a cowboy in Colorado, a
desk clerk in Jacksonville, Florida, a tender of cattle on a freighter to England,
and as a traveling salesman for a granite company, covering both the U.S. and
Great Britain & Ireland
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