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ROTARY INTERNATIONAL

What is Rotary?

Rotary is an organisation of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. In more than 160 countries worldwide, approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 30,000 Rotary clubs.

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 non-political, 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 Rotary motto is Service Above Self.

The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International is a not-for-profit corporation that promotes world understanding through international humanitarian service programs and educational and cultural exchanges. It is supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and others who share its vision of a better world. Since 1947, the Foundation has awarded more than US$1.1 billion in humanitarian and educational grants, which are initiated and administered by local Rotary clubs and districts.

History

The world's first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA, was formed on 23 February 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wished to recapture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The name 'Rotary' derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members' offices.
Rotary's popularity spread throughout the United States in the decade that followed; clubs were chartered from San Francisco to New York. By 1921, Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents, and the organization adopted the name Rotary International a year later.

As Rotary grew, its mission expanded beyond serving the professional and social interests of club members. Rotarians began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to help serve communities in need. The organization's dedication to this ideal is best expressed in its principal motto: Service Above Self. Rotary also later embraced a code of ethics, called The 4-Way Test, that has been translated into hundreds of languages.

During and after World War II, Rotarians became increasingly involved in promoting international understanding. A Rotary conference held in London in 1942 planted the seeds for the development of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and numerous Rotarians have served as consultants to the United Nations.

An endowment fund, set up by Rotarians in 1917 'for doing good in the world', became a not-for-profit corporation known as The Rotary Foundation in 1928. Upon the death of Paul Harris in 1947, an outpouring of Rotarian donations made in his honour, totalling US$2 million, launched the Foundation's first program - graduate fellowships, now calledAmbassadorial Scholarships. Today, contributions to The Rotary Foundation total more than US$80 million annually and support a wide range of humanitarian grants andeducational programs that enable Rotarians to bring hope and promote international understanding throughout the world.

In 1985, Rotary made a historic commitment to immunize all of the world's children against polio. Working in partnership with nongovernmental organisations and national governments thorough its PolioPlus program , Rotary is the largest private-sector contributor to the global polio eradication campaign. Rotarians have mobilized hundreds of thousands of PolioPlus volunteers and have immunized more than one billion children worldwide. By the 2005 target date for certification of a polio-free world, Rotary will have contributed half a billion dollars to the cause.

As it approached the dawn of the 21st century, Rotary worked to meet the changing needs of society, expanding its service effort to address such pressing issues as environmental degradation, illiteracy, world hunger, and children at risk. The organisation admitted women for the first time in 1989 and claims more than 90,000 women in its ranks today. Following the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Rotary clubs were formed or re-established throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Today, 1.2 million Rotarians belong to some 30,000 Rotary clubs in more than 160 countries.

Look at www.rotary.org  for information on Rotary programmes, press releases about Rotary activities, the meeting dates and places of all Clubs, and much more.