Rotary International: What is it and What does it do?

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. Our own club, like many, receives requests for financial assistance from people with no other sources of help when statutory assistance is not available. We also consider help for local organisations such as clubs for the funding of essential equipment etc. As we are dispensing money collected or received from the public we are duty bound to exercise care in deciding whether or not we can help, given all the circumstances.

One of the things that we have done for some years is to donate around £2000/2500 each Christmas to the Salvation Army in Worthing to enable them to prepare and deliver parcels of food to needy families and individuals in our local community.  We do much besides in the field of education and welfare for instance. A recent scheme devised by a club member was to recruit suitable, mature volunteer mentors to help older children who have lost their way with the aim of helping them to focus on their future life when they leave school and to change their attitude. We work with a local school and the teachers have noticed that the pupils in the scheme have benefited. On completion of a course the children who have made the effort are presented with a certificate which they can present in due time to a prospective employer.

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 club aims to give £1000 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. Our club has, since 1985, given a significant sum to Polio Plus - the campaign to eradicate Polio from the world.

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. 

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