August 23, 2005 > Rotary International - serving the world
Rotary International - serving the world
by Linda Stone
This is a first in a series of service club articles to spotlight the dedication and community involvement from these clubs who work hard for us, yet often go unrecognized.
It started out as a weekly meeting of three business leaders to enjoy their friendship and expand business and professional relationships. Over time this small group expanded to become a worldwide organization known as Rotary International. That first club began in Chicago in 1905, over 100 years ago. Now Rotary International boasts a membership of 1.2 million with clubs in 166 countries. From inception, clubs rotated meetings among member places of business resulting in the name, Rotary. The original club emblem, a wagon wheel design, was the precursor of the familiar cogwheel emblem now used by Rotarians.
Rotary's mission expanded beyond professional and social interests of club members to serving communities in need. A motto of "Service Above Self" was adopted and they fashioned a code of ethics called "The 4-Way Test;"
- Is it the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?"
This philosophy is credited for the survival of Rotary and has been translated into more than 100 languages.
Rotary International has many programs including participation in United Nations conferences, working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), promoting international cultural and educational exchanges, and supporting scholarships and humanitarian grants.
The Rotary's oldest and best-known program is Ambassadorial Scholarships, the world's largest privately funded international scholarship program for undergraduate and graduate students as well as professionals pursuing vocational studies. Beneficiaries give presentations about their homeland to Rotary clubs and other groups around the world. Upon return they share their experience with other Rotary members, leading to a better understanding between cultures. Over 1,000 scholarships were awarded in 2003-04 through grants of $428 million to recipients from 70 countries who studied in over 70 nations. Youth exchange programs started in 1929 and to date, over 7,000 high school students throughout the world travel abroad staying with Rotarian host families.
Other youth programs through Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) like Interact and Rotaract were developed to equip teens and young adults with essential life skills. Each year, thousands of young people ages 14-30 are chosen for their leadership potential and attend a seminar or camp, paid by Rotary, to discuss and learn leadership skills.
Interact is Rotary International's service club for youth ages 14-18. They are sponsored by individual Rotary clubs but are self-governing and self-supporting. Each year Interact clubs complete at least two community service projects. Rotaract is a Rotary sponsored club for young adults ages 18 to 30 that emphasizes the importance of individual responsibility as the basis for personal success and community involvement. It is one of the most significant and fastest-growing programs of Rotary service, with more than 7,600 Rotaract clubs in 158 countries.
1985 Rotary created PolioPlus in partnership with World Health Organization, US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and UNICEF to eradicate Polio around the world. The program has immunized more than one billion children. By the end of this year, Rotary expects to eradicate Polio completely and will have contributed half a billion dollars to the cause.
Throughout the late 20th century, Rotary began to address global environmental issues by forming the Preserve Planet Earth program as well as other programs to address illiteracy, drug abuse and needs of the aging population and children at risk.
Rotary's parliament voted in 1989 to eliminate the male-only provision of its charter and began admitting women. Today there are 145,000 women in Rotary; many serving in leadership roles.
Club membership is by invitation only. Contact one of the clubs listed below to find out more about local rotary activities or visit www.rotary.org.
Fremont- Wednesdays at Massimo's Restaurant, 12:15 p.m. 510-792-2000
Fremont Sunrise- Wednesdays at Original Pancake House, 7:15 a.m. 510-656-5258
Fremont-Union City-Newark Sunset- Thursdays at Fremont Vista Retirement Homes 7 p.m. (510) 489-0579
Mission San Jose- Fridays at 159 Washington St. Fremont, 12:15 p.m. 510-793-6331
Niles (Fremont)- Thursdays at 2500 Mowry Ave., 12:15 p.m. 510-7977512
Warm Springs- Tuesdays at Courtyard by Marriott, 7:15 a.m. 510-494-7053
Newark- Tuesdays at Beck's Steakhouse, 12:15 p.m. 510-8183800
Milpitas- Mondays at Embassy Suites, 12:15 p.m. 408-945-9722
Hayward- Mondays at Masonic Hall, 12:15 p.m. 510-582-8535
Hayward South- Wednesdays at Mission Hills Golf Course, 12:15 p.m. 510-881-1234 ext. 120
Hayward Sunset- Mondays at Mission Paradise 7 p.m. 408-971-1977