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History of Rotary International

 

General
 
Rotary International is an organization of service clubs known as Rotary Clubs located all over the world. It is a non-religious organization and open to all persons regardless of race, colour or creed. There are more than 32,000 clubs and over 1.2 million members world-wide. The members of Rotary Clubs are known as Rotarians. The stated purpose of the organization is to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. Members usually meet weekly for breakfast, lunch or dinner, which is a social event as well as an opportunity to organize work on their service goals.
 

 
Rotary's best-known motto is "Service above Self", and its secondary motto is "They profit most who serve best".
 
Rotary is a worldwide organization of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders. Members of Rotary clubs, known as Rotarians, provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.

There are over 32,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds. As signified by the motto Service Above Self, Rotary’s main objective is service — in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world.
 
Rotary club membership represents a cross-section of the community's business and professional men and women. The world's Rotary clubs meet weekly and are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds.

The main objective of Rotary is service - in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world. Rotarians develop community service projects that address many of today's most critical issues, such as children at risk, poverty and hunger, the environment, illiteracy, and violence. They also support programs for youth, educational opportunities and international exchanges for students, teachers, and other professionals, and vocational and career development.

 
The early years

The first Rotary Club was formed in Chicago by attorney Paul P. Harris on February 23, 1905, Harris held the first meeting with three friends, Silvester Schiele, coal merchant, Gustave E. Loehr, mines engineer and Hiram E. Shorey, tailor. The members chose the name Rotary because they rotated club meetings to each member's office each week.

The National Association of Rotary Clubs was formed in 1910. The same year, Rotary chartered a branch in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, marking the first establishment of an American-style service club outside the United States. This was followed in 1911 by the founding of the first club outside North America in Dublin, Ireland.

During World War I, Rotary in Britain increased from 9 to 22 clubs, and other early international branches were Cuba in 1916 and India in 1920.

In 1922, because branches had been formed in six continents, the name was changed to Rotary International. By 1925, Rotary had grown to 200 clubs with more than 20,000 members.

In 1985, Rotary launched its PolioPlus program to immunize all of the world's children against polio. In 2005 Rotary claimed to have contributed half a billion dollars to the cause, resulting in the immunization of nearly two billion children worldwide.

Rotary started opening new clubs in former communist countries and the first Russian club was chartered in 1990.

As of 2006, Rotary has more than 1.2 million members in over 32,000 clubs among 200 countries and geographical areas, making it the most widespread by branches and second largest service club by membership, behind Lions Club International. The number of Rotarians has slightly declined in recent years: Between 2002 and 2006, they went from 1,245,000 to 1,223,000 members. North America accounts for 450,000 members, Asia for 300,000, Europe for 250,000, Latin America for 100,000, Oceania for 100,000 and Africa for 30,000.