The world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, was formed on February 23rd, 1905 by Paul Harris, an attorney who wished to capture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The Rotary name derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members offices.
Rotary’s popularity spread, and within a decade, clubs were chartered from San Francisco to New York to Winnipeg, Canada (chartered April 13/1912). By 1921, Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents. The organization adopted the Rotary International name a year later.
As Rotary grew, its mission expanded beyond serving club members’ professional and social interests. 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 motto: SERVICE ABOVE SELF.
By 1925, Rotary had grown to 200 clubs with more than 20,000 members. Over the years the organization’s distinguished reputation attracted prime ministers, presidents, mayors and distinguished luminaries -among them Neil Armstrong, Angela Merkel, John Kennedy, Walt Disney, Bill and Melinda Gates
Rotarians take pride in their history. In honour of that first club, Rotarians have preserved its original meeting place. Room 711 in Chicago’s Unity Building, by re-creating the office as it existed in 1905. In 1993, the R.I. Board of directors set aside a permanent home for a restored Room 711 at R.I World headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Evanston. Rotary International in 2022 now has 1.4 million Rotarians, in 130 countries with over 46,000 clubs.
Happy Birthday Rotary International Feb 23, 2022 for helping others for 117 years. Thank you, Fergus-Elora Rotarians, for being part of this great organization.
Rob Galloway-President Rotary Club of Fergus-Elora 2021-22