In 1896 a young attorney, Paul Harris arrived in Chicago to make his way in the world. He had grown up in the small town of Willmington, Vermont and while excited about the big city's possibilities he missed the small town's warmth and sense of community. He understood that many others must be feeling the same way as people flooded into the big city from farms and villages seeking to establish themselves.
So in 1905 he founded Rotary along with three other businessmen. At first it was simply a chance to meet up over lunch to make new friends and business contacts, but he quickly realised they needed a greater purpose and so in 1907 they started a community project to build public toilets in Chicago and Rotary as we know it today was born. Incidently, the name comes from the fact the early members used to rotate the meeting between their places of work.
Rotary spread quickly, it answered a real need by bringing people together in friendship while at the same time contributing to their communities. Today Rotary has 1.2 million members in 34,000 clubs and is found in every corner of the world.
Rotary is non-political and non-religious, it is open to all races, cultures and creeds. It is a social network, real not virtual, whose main objective is 'service above self'.
more Rotary has been involved in the fight to eradicate polio since 1979.
more Shelter Box provides emergency shelter and vital supplies to support families and communities overwhelmed by conflict or natural disaster.
more Rotary supports the Light of Maasai, an organisation which works in the Rombo region of Kenya.