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 What is Rotary?

Rotary is an international service club whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. It is a secular organization open to all persons regardless of race, colour, creed, religion, gender, or political preference.   The members of Rotary Clubs are known as Rotarians. 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 primary motto is "Service above Self"

The first Rotary Club was formed when attorney Paul P. Harris called together a meeting of three business acquaintances in downtown Chicago, at Harris' friend Sylvester Schiele's office in the Unity Building on Dearborn Street on February 23, 1905.  In addition to Harris and Schiele, Gustave E. Loehr and Hiram E. Shorey were the other two who attended this first meeting. The members chose the name Rotary because initially they rotated subsequent weekly club meetings to each other's offices.  Within a year, the Chicago club became so large it became necessary to adopt the now-common practice of a regular meeting place.

The next four Rotary Clubs were organized in cities in the western United States, beginning with San Francisco, then Oakland, Los Angeles, and Seattle. The National Association of Rotary Clubs in America was formed in 1910. On  February 22, 1911, the first meeting of the Rotary Club of Dublin was held in Dublin, Ireland. This was the first club established outside of North America. In April 1912, Rotary chartered a club in Winnipeg, Canada marking the first establishment of an American-style service club outside the United States.  To reflect the addition of a club outside of the United States, the name was changed to the International Association of Rotary Clubs in 1912.

In August 1912, the Rotary Club of London received its charter from the Association, marking the first acknowledged Rotary club outside of North America. It later became known that the Dublin club in Ireland had been organized before the London club, but the Dublin club did not receive its charter until after the London club.

During World War I, Rotary in Britain increased from 9 to 22 clubs,  and other early clubs in other nations included those in Cuba in 1916, China in 1919 and India in 1920.

In 1922, the name was changed to Rotary International.   By 1925, Rotary had grown to 200 clubs with more than 20,000 members.  Today, there are 34,282 clubs and over 1.2 million members worldwide.


(Courtesy Rotary Internation and Wikipedia)

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