Among service organizations, one of the most distinguished is Rotary International. With over 1.2 million members, 34,000 clubs worldwide, and a century of assisting those in need, Rotary International deserves its reputation.
Rotary was founded in Chicago, Illinois, on 23 February 1905 by Paul P. Harris for the purpose of creating a professional club for gentlemen he felt had the same friendly and spirited ambitions he experienced in small towns during his youth. Rotary’s name would later come from the practice the founding members had of rotating club meetings between member’s offices.
Rotary Clubs spread quickly. Within a decade, clubs had traveled across North America, and by 1921 there were Rotary Clubs on six continents. Because of this worldwide growth, Rotary officially changed its name to Rotary International and widened its focus beyond simply serving the social and professional interests of its members and into providing aid for communities in need.
To help themselves better suit these new goals Rotary adopted The Four-Way Test in 1943, which focused on whether group club actions were truthful, fair to all affected, promoted good as well as friendship, and benefited all involved.
Rotary continued to grow in prestige and attracted many famous and distinguished member,s including presidents and other world leaders, though it wasn’t until 1989 that women would be allowed to be admitted into clubs.
Rotary now assists people all around the world, even with more modern issues such as environmental problems, illiteracy, hunger, and children in need. Rotary still is dedicated to promoting friendly and social environments for not just adults but also for youth and is responsible for the Interact Club and many other programs. Through these programs, Rotary can provide young people scholarships, the opportunity to travel to different countries on cultural exchanges, and community service programs.