On February 23, 1905, Paul P. Harris an attorney in Chicago founded the first service club in the world – the Rotary Club of Chicago. The idea was to gather a group of professionals who shared the same spirit of friendship common in small towns such as those to which he was accustomed in his youth.
The Rotary name drifts from the initial system of the meetings that followed a rotating schedule that alternated in location between the offices of the members of the group.
In 1921, Rotary clubs already existed in six continents and a year later the name Rotary International was adopted. By the year 1925, there were already about 200 Rotary clubs with more than 20,000 rotarians including personalities such as author Thomas Mann, diplomat Carlos P. Romulo, humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, and composer Jean Sibelius.
In 1942, in preparation for the postwar, Rotary held a conference to promote international exchange with an educational and cultural scope, which inspired the founding of UNESCO.
Few people fail to recognize the work done by Rotary clubs throughout the free world, once said the former prime minister of Britain, Winston Churchill.
With the proximity of the XXI century, Rotary worked to meet the needs of a changing society, expanding its services to focus on topics of high importance such as environmental degradation, illiteracy, hunger, and children at risk.
Today, 1.2 million Rotarians integrate 32,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas leading projects undisputed international importance such as PolioPlus described by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan as a wonderful example of achievements through cooperation between the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations.
This is an extraordinary project based on a global campaign to eradicate polio. Rotary contributions account for mote than $ 650 million and resulted in more than 2 billion children saved from premature death or permanent physical disability through oral vaccination since 1985.
The performance of a Rotary club has five main components, incorporated in the five avenues of service (commissions) in all existing clubs:
The Community Services are responsible for social action projects to the community in which it operates;
Internal Services that fosters fellowship, unity within the club and the maintenance of social frameworks for the integration of new members;
International Services which manages relations with other clubs and entities internationally for the purpose of exchange programs, volunteering and various joint projects;
Professional Services that fosters leadership training at a professional level, establishing contacts with companies and serves as an intermediary between those who want to help and who need this help.
And finally New Generations Service that recognizes that activities for development of leadership skills, service projects and exchange programs to help young people to undertake positive changes in the world.
Rotary is thus an opportunity to make a difference and make a statement in the world – accompanied by a personal and professional experience that develops unquestionably those who follow the theme “Service above Self”
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