Things that every Rotarian should know about Rotary. Author: Steve Garret, a former District Governor 1994-1995
Definition of Rotary
How do you describe the organization called "Rotary"? There are so many characteristics of a Rotary club as well as the activities of a million Rotarians. There are the features of service, internationality, fellowship, classifications of each vocation, development of goodwill and world understanding, the emphasis of high ethical standards, concern for other people an many more descriptive qualities.
In 1976 the Rotary International Board of Directors was interested creating a concise definition of the fundamental aspects of Rotary. The turned to the three men who were then serving on Rotary's Public Relation Committee and requested that a one-sentence definition of Rotary be pre pared. After numerous drafts, the committee presented this definition, which has been used ever since in various Rotary publications:
"Rotary is an organization of business and professional person united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace in the world.”
Those 31 words are worth remembering when someone asks, "What is a Rotary club?"
THE OFFICIAL ROTARY FLAG
An official flag was formally adopted by Rotary International at the 1929 Convention in Dallas, Texas. The Rotary flag consists of a white field with the official wheel emblem emblazoned in gold in the center of the field The four depressed spaces on the rim of the Rotary wheel are colored royal blue. The words "Rotary" and "International' printed at the top and bottom depressions on the wheel rim are also gold. The shaft in the hub and the key way of the wheel are white.
The first official Rotary flag reportedly was flown in Kansas City Missouri, in January 1915. In 1922 a small Rotary flag was carried over the South Pole by Admiral Richard Byrd, a member of the Winchester, Virginia Rotary Club. Four years later, the admiral carried a Rotary flag in his expedition to the North Pole.
Some Rotary clubs use the official Rotary flag as a banner at club meetings. In these instances it is appropriate to print the words "Rotary Club" above the wheel symbol, and the name of the city, state or nation below the emblem. The Rotary flag is always prominently displayed at the World Headquarters as well as at all conventions and official events of Rotary International.
ROTARY'S WHEEL EMBLEM
A wheel has been the symbol of Rotary since our earliest days. The first design was made by Chicago Rotarian Montague Bear, an engraver who drew a simple wagon wheel, with a few lines to show dust and motion. The wheel was said to illustrate "Civilization and Movement." Most of the early clubs had some form of wagon wheel on their publications and letterheads. Finally, in 1922, it was decided that all Rotary clubs should adopt a single design as the exclusive emblem of Rotarians. Thus, in 1923, the present gear wheel, with 24 cogs and six spokes was adopted by the "Rotary International Association." A group of engineers advised that the geared wheel was mechanically unsound and would not work without a "keyway" in the center of the gear to attach it to a power shaft. So, in 1923 the keyway was added and the design which we now know was formally adopted as the official Rotary International emblem.
OBJECT OF ROTARY
In some areas of the world weekly Rotary club meetings begin with all members standing and reciting the Object of Rotary This statement, which comes from the Constitution of Rotary, is frequently seen on a wall plaque in Rotarians' offices or place of business.
The Object of Rotary is "to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise." The statement then lists four areas by which this "ideal of service" is fostered: "through the development of acquaintance as the opportunity for service; the promotion of high ethical standards in business and professions; through service in one's personal, business and community life; and the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace."
The Object of Rotary has not always been expressed in this manner. The original Constitution of 1906 had three objects: promotion of business interests, promotion of good fellowship and the advancement of the best interests of the community By 1910 Rotary had five Objects as increased emphasis was given to expanding Rotary. By 1915 there were six Objects. In 1918 the Objects were rewritten again and reduced to four. Four years later they had again grown to six and were revised again in 1927.
Finally, at the 1935 Mexico City Convention the six Objects were restated and reduced to four. The last major change came in 1951, when the "Objects" were streamlined and changed to a single "Object" which is manifested in four separate ways. The "ideal of service" is the key phrase in the Object of Rotary. This ideal is an attitude of being a thoughtful and helpful person in all of one's endeavors. That's what the Object truly means.
The first motto of Rotary International, “He Profits Most Who Serves Best," was approved at the second Rotary Convention, held in Portland, Oregon, in August 1911. The phrase was first stated by a Chicago Rotarian, Art Sheldon, who made a speech in 1910 which included the remark, "He profits most who serves his fellows best." At about the same time, Ben Collins, president of the Rotary Club of Minneapolis, Minnesota, commented that the proper way to organize a Rotary club was through the principle his club had adopted-"Service, Not Self." These two slogans, slightly modified, were formally approved to be the official mottoes of Rotary at the 1950 Convention in Detroit- "He Profits Most Who Serves Best" and "Service Above Self." The 1989 Council on Legislation established "Service Above Self" as the principal motto of Rotary, since it best explains the philosophy of unselfish volunteer service.
THE 4-WAY TEST
One of the most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics in the world is the Rotary "4-Way Test." It was created by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor in 1932 when he was asked to take charge of the Chicago based Club Aluminum Company, which was facing bankruptcy. Taylor looked for a way to save the struggling company mired in depression-caused financial difficulties. He drew up a 24-word code of ethics for all employees to follow in their business and professional lives. The 4-Way Test became the guide for sales, production, advertising and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company was credited to this simple philosophy. Herb Taylor became president of Rotary International during 1954-55. The 4-Way Test was adopted by Rotary in 1943 and has been translated into more than 100 languages and published in thousands of ways. The message should be known and followed by all Rotarians.
"Of the things we think, say or do:
1. Is it the TRUTH?
2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?"
FIRST NAMES OR NICKNAMES
From the earliest days of Rotary, members have referred to each other on a first-name basis. Since personal acquaintanceship and friendship are cornerstones of Rotary, it was natural that many clubs adopted the practice of setting aside formal titles in conversations among members. Individuals who normally would be addressed as Doctor, Professor, Mister, the Honorable or Sir are regularly called Joe, Bill, Charley or Jerry by other Rotarians. The characteristic Rotary club name badge fosters the first-name custom.
In a few areas, such as Europe, club members use a more formal style in addressing fellow members. In other parts of the world, mainly in Asian countries, the practice is to assign each new Rotarian a humorous nickname which relates to some personal characteristic or which is descriptive of the member's business or profession. A member nicknamed "Oxygen" is the manufacturer of chemical gas products. "Trees" is the nickname for the Rotarian in the lumber business, "Building" is the contractor, "Paper" is the stationery or office supply retailer. Other members might carry nicknames like "Muscles," "Foghorn" or "Smiles" as commentaries on their physical features.
The nicknames are frequently a source of good-natured fun and fellowship. But whether a Rotarian is addressed by a given first name or a nickname, the spirit of personal friendship is the initial step which opens doors to all other opportunities for service.
FOUR AVENUES OF SERVICE
The term "Four Avenues of Service" is frequently used in Rotary literature and information. The "Avenues" refer to the four elements of the Object of Rotary: Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service and International Service.
Although the Avenues of Service are not found in any formal part of the constitutional documents of Rotary, the concept has been accepted as a means to describe the primary areas of Rotary activity.
• "Club Service" involves all of the activities necessary for Rotarians to perform to make their club function successfully.
• "Vocational Service" is a description of the opportunity each Rotarian has to represent the dignity and utility of one's vocation to the other members of the club.
• "Community Service" pertains to those activities which Rotarians undertake to improve the quality of life in their community. It frequently involves assistance to youth, the aged, handicapped and others who look to Rotary as a source of hope for a better life.
• The Fourth Avenue, "International Service," describes the many programs and activities which Rotarians undertake to advance international understanding, goodwill and peace. International Service projects are designed to meet humanitarian needs of people in many lands.
When a Rotarian understands and travels down the "Four Avenues of Service," the Object of Rotary takes on even greater meaning.
INTERNATIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF A ROTARIAN
As an international organization, Rotary offers each member unique opportunities and responsibilities. Although each Rotarian has first responsibility to uphold the obligations of citizenship of his or her own country, membership in Rotary enables Rotarians to take a somewhat different view of international affairs. In the early 1950s a Rotary philosophy was adopted to describe how a Rotarian may think on a global basis. Here is what it said:
"A world-minded Rotarian:
• looks beyond national patriotism and considers himself as sharing responsibility for the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace;
• resists any tendency to act in terms of national or racial superiority;
• seeks and develops common grounds for agreement with peoples of other lands;
• defends the rule of law and order to preserve the liberty of the individual so that he may enjoy freedom of thought, speech and assembly, and freedom from persecution, aggression, want and fear;
• supports action directed toward improving standards of living for all peoples, realizing that poverty anywhere endangers prosperity everywhere;
• upholds the principles of justice for mankind;
• strives always to promote peace between nations and prepares to make personal sacrifices for that ideal;
• urges and practices a spirit of understanding of every other man's beliefs as a step toward international goodwill, recognizing that there are certain basic moral and spiritual standards which will ensure a richer, fuller life."
That is quite an assignment for any Rotarian to practice in thoughts and actions!
THE SPONSOR OF A NEW MEMBER
The bylaws of Rotary clearly outline the procedure for a prospective member to be proposed for Rotary club membership. The "proposer" is the key person in the growth and advancement of Rotary. Without a sponsor, an individual will never have the opportunity to become a Rotarian.
The task of the proposer should not end merely by submitting a name to the club secretary or membership committee. Rotary has not established formal responsibilities for proposers or sponsors, however, by custom and tradition these procedures are recommended in many clubs. The sponsor should:
1. Invite a prospective member to several meetings prior to proposing the individual for membership.
2. Accompany the prospective new member to one or more orientation/informational meetings.
3. Introduce the new member to other club members each week for the first month.
4. Invite the new member to accompany the sponsor to neighboring clubs for the first make-up meeting to learn the process and observe the spirit of fellowship.
5. Ask the new member and spouse to accompany the sponsor to the club's social activities, dinners or other special occasions.
6. Urge the new member and spouse to attend the district conference with the sponsor.
7. Serve as a special friend to assure that the new member becomes an active Rotarian.
When the proposer follows these guidelines, Rotary becomes stronger with each new member.
WOMEN IN ROTARY
Until 1989, the Constitution and Bylaws of Rotary International stated that Rotary club membership was for males only. In 1978 the Rotary Club of Duarte, California, invited three women to become members. The RI board withdrew the charter of that club for violation of the RI Constitution. The club brought suit against RI claiming a violation of a state civil rights law which prevents discrimination of any form in business establishments or public accommodations. The appeals court and the California Supreme Court supported the Duarte position that Rotary could not remove the club's charter merely for inducting women into the club. The United States Supreme Court upheld the California court indicating that Rotary clubs do have a "business purpose" and are in some ways public-type organizations. This action in 1987 allowed women to become Rotarians in any jurisdiction having similar "public accommodation" statutes.
The RI constitutional change was made at the 1989 Council on Legislation, with a vote to eliminate the "male only" provision for all of Rotary.
WORLD UNDERSTANDING MONTH
The month of February is very special in the Rotary calendar since it is designated World Understanding Month. The month also includes the anniversary of the first meeting of Rotary held on February 23, 1905, now designated World Understanding and Peace Day.
In designating World Understanding Month, the Rotary International board asks all Rotary clubs to plan programs for their weekly meeting and undertake special activities to emphasize "understanding and goodwill as essential for world peace."
To observe this designated month, many clubs arrange international speakers, invite youth exchange students and international scholars from schools and universities to club meetings, plan programs featuring former Group Study Exchange team members, arrange discussions on international issues, present entertainment with an international cultural or artistic them and schedule other programs with an international emphasis.
Many clubs take the opportunity to launch an international community service activity or make contact with a Rotary club in another country is a good month to initiate a Rotary Fellowship Exchange, a 3-H project o encourage support for PolioPlus and other Rotary Foundation programs.
World Understanding Month is a chance for every club to pause, plan and promote the Fourth Avenue of Service-Rotary's continued quest for goodwill, peace and understanding among people of the world.
THE CLASSIFICATION PRINCIPLE
Virtually all membership in Rotary was based upon a "classification." Basically a classification describes the distinct and recognized business or professional service which the Rotarian renders to society.
The principle of Rotary classification is somewhat more specific and precise. In determining the classification of a Rotarian it is necessary to look at the "principal or recognized business or professional activity of the firm, company or institution" with which an active member is connected or "that which covers his principal and recognized business or professional activity." It should be clearly understood that classifications are determined by activities or services to society rather than by the position held by a particular individual. In other words, if a person is the president of a bank, he or she is not classified as "bank president" but under the classification "banking."
It is the principal and recognized activity of a business or professional establishment or the individual's principal and recognized business or professional activity that determines the classification to be established and loaned to a qualified person. For example, the permanently employed electrical engineer, insurance adjuster, or business manager of a railroad company, mining company, manufacturing concern, hospital, clinic, etc., may be considered for membership as a representative of the particular work he or she may be doing personally or as a representative of the firm, company, or institution for which the professional service is being done.
The classification principle also permits business and industries to be separated into distinct functions such as manufacturing, distributing, retailing and servicing. Classifications may also be specified as distinct and independent divisions of a large corporation or university within the club's territory, such as a school of business or a school of engineering.
Though the classification principle is not as dominant as it once was it is still important that we make an effort to assure that each Rotary club represents a cross section of the business and professional service of the community.
EXCHANGE OF CLUB BANNERS
One of the colorful traditions of many Rotary clubs is the exchange of small banners, flags or pennants. Rotarians traveling to distant locations often take banners to exchange at "make up" meetings as a token of friendship. Many clubs use the decorative banners they have received for attractive displays at club meetings and district events.
The Rotary International board recognized the growing popularity of the banner exchange back in 1959 and suggested that those clubs which participate in such exchanges give careful thought to the design of their banners in order that they be distinctive and expressive of the community and country of which the club is a part. It is recommended that banners include pictures, slogans or designs which portray the territorial area of the club.
The board was also mindful of the financial burden such exchange may impose upon some clubs, especially in popular areas where many visitors make up and request to exchange. In all instances, clubs are cautioned to exercise discretion and moderation in the exchange of banners in order that the financial obligations do not interfere with the basic service activities of the club.
Exchanging club banners is a very pleasant custom, especially when a creative and artistic banner tells an interesting story of community pride. The exchange of banners is a significant tradition of Rotary and serves as tangible symbol of our international fellowship.
SHARING ROTARY WITH NEW MEMBERS
Are you aware of the responsibility or obligation most Rotarians fail to perform? Paying their dues? Attending meetings? Contributing to the club service fund? Participating in club events and projects? No-none of these!
Of all the obligations a person accepts when joining a Rotary club the one in which most Rotarians fail is "sharing Rotary." The policies of Rotary International clearly affirm that every individual Rotarian has an "obligation to share Rotary with others and to help extend Rotary through proposing qualified persons for Rotary club membership." It is estimated that less than 30 percent of the members of most Rotary clubs have ever made the effort to propose a new member. Thus, in every club, there are many Rotarians who readily accept the pleasures of being a Rotarian without ever sharing that privilege with another qualified individual.
The Rotary policy on club membership states: "In order for a Rotary club to be fully relevant to its community and responsive to the needs of those in the community, it is important and necessary that the club include in its membership all fully qualified prospective members located within its territory" One merely has to glance through the yellow pages of the local telephone directory to realize that most clubs have not invited qualified members of all businesses and professions into Rotary
Only a Rotarian may propose a customer, neighbor, client, supplier, executive, relative, business associate, professional or other qualified person to join a Rotary club. Have you accepted your obligation to share Rotary? The procedures are very simple, and everyone must know at least one person who should belong to Rotary.
TOLERANCE OF DIFFERENCES
Occasionally there is a temptation to criticize the laws, customs and traditions of another country which may seem strange or contrary to our own. In some instances illegal practices or customs of one nation are completely lawful and acceptable in another.
As members of an international organization dedicated to world understanding and peace, it behooves Rotarians to exercise restraint in judging our Rotary friends and citizens from other countries when their behavior seems unusual to us. A Rotary policy has existed for more than half a century relating to this dilemma of international relationships.
The statement, adopted in 1933, says that because it is recognized that some activities and local customs may be legal and customary in some countries and not in others, Rotarians should be guided by this admonition of tolerance:
"Rotarians in all countries should recognize these facts and there should be a thoughtful avoidance of criticism of the laws and customs of one country by the Rotarians of another country." The policy also cautions against "any effort on the part of Rotarians of one country to interfere with the laws or customs of another country."
As we strive to strengthen the bonds of understanding, goodwill and friendship, these policies still provide good advice and guidance.
Vocational Service is the "Second Avenue of Service." No aspect of Rotary is more closely related to each member than a personal commitment to represent one's vocation or occupation to fellow Rotarians and to exemplify the characteristics of high ethical standards and the dignity of work. Programs of vocational service are those which seek to improve business relations while improving the quality of trades, industry, commerce and the professions. Rotarians understand that each person makes a valuable contribution to a better society through daily activities in a business or profession.
Vocational Service is frequently demonstrated by offering young people career guidance, occupational information and assistance in making vocational choices. Some clubs sponsor high school career conferences. Many recognize the dignity of employment by honoring exemplary service of individuals working in their communities. The 4 -Way Test and other ethical and laudable business philosophies are often promoted among young people entering the world of work. Vocational talks and discussion of business issues are also typical vocational service programs at most clubs.
Regardless of the ways that Vocational Service is expressed, it is the banner by which Rotarians "recognize the worthiness of all useful occupations" and demonstrate a commitment to "high ethical standards in all businesses and professions." That's why the Second Avenue of Service is fundamental to every Rotary club.
ROTARY ANNS / ROTARY PARTNERS
In many Rotary clubs throughout the world, wives of male members are affectionately called "Rotary Anns". This designation was never one of disparagement, but rather grew out of an interesting historical occasion.
The year was 1914 when San Francisco Rotarians boarded a special train to attend the Rotary convention being held in Houston. In those days few wives attended Rotary events, and until the train stopped in Los Angeles, the only woman aboard was the wife of Rotarian Bru Brunnier. As the train picked up additional convention-bound delegates, Mrs. Ann Brunnier was introduced as the Rotarian's Ann. This title soon became "Rotary Ann." Since the clubs of the West were inviting the Rotarians to hold their next convention in San Francisco, a number of songs and stunts were organized which would be performed in Houston. One of the Rotarians wrote a "Rotary Ann" chant. On the train's arrival at the Houston depot, a delegation greeted the West Coast Rotarians. One of the greeters was Guy Gundaker of Philadelphia, whose wife was also named Ann. During the rousing demonstration, someone started the Rotary Ann chant. The two petite ladies, Ann Brunnier and Ann Gundaker, were hoisted to the men's shoulders and paraded about the hall. The group loved the title given to the two women named Ann. Immediately the same term of endearment was used for all of the wives in attendance, and the name "Rotary Ann" was here to stay. Guy Gundaker became president of Rotary International in 1923 and Bru Brunnier was elected president in 1952. Thus, each of the two original Rotary Anns became the "first ladies of Rotary International."
Very few clubs have Rotary Anns, but many have Partners organizations, some are stilled called “Inner Wheel.” The word Rotary Ann can be heard on a rare occasion, and now you know where it came from.
A BRIEF ROTARY HISTORY
The world's first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA, was formed on 23 February 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wished to recapture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The name "Rotary" derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members' offices.
Rotary's popularity spread throughout the United States in the decade that followed; clubs were chartered from San Francisco to New York. By 1921, Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents, and the organization adopted the name Rotary International a year later.
As Rotary grew, its mission expanded beyond serving the professional and social interests of club members. 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 principal motto: Service Above Self. Rotary also later embraced a code of ethics, called The 4-Way Test, that has been translated into hundreds of languages.
INVOCATIONS AT CLUB MEETINGS
In many Rotary clubs, particularly in Judeo-Christian nations, it is customary to open weekly meetings with an appropriate invocation or blessing. Usually such invocations are offered without reference to specific religious denominations or faiths. Rotary policy recognizes that throughout the world Rotarians represent many religious beliefs, ideas and creeds. The religious beliefs of each member are fully respected, and nothing in Rotary is intended to prevent each individual from being faithful to such convictions. At international assemblies and conventions, it is traditional for a silent invocation to be given. In respect for all religious beliefs and in the spirit of tolerance for a wide variety of personal faiths, all persons are invited to seek divine guidance and peace "each in his own way." It is an inspiring experience to join with thousands of Rotarians in an international "silent prayer" or act of personal devotion. Usually all Rotary International board and committee meetings begin with a few moments of silent meditation. In this period of silence, Rotary demonstrates respect for the beliefs of all members who represent the religions of the world.
Since each Rotary club is autonomous, the practice of presenting a prayer or invocation at club meetings is left entirely to the traditions and customs of the individual club, with the understanding that these meeting rituals always be conducted in a manner which will respect the religious convictions and faiths of all members and visitors.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR FELLOWSHIP
Most Rotarians are successful professional and business executives because they hear opportunities knock and take advantage of them. Once a week the opportunity for Rotary fellowship occurs at each club meeting, but not all members hear it knocking. The weekly club meeting is a special privilege of Rotary membership. It provides the occasion to visit with fellow members, to meet visitors you have not known before, and to share your personal friendship with other members. Rotary clubs which have a reputation of being "friendly clubs" usually follow a few simple steps: First, members are encouraged to sit in a different seat or at a different table each week. Second, Rotarians are urged to sit with a member they may not know as well as their long-time personal friends. Third, members invite new members or visitors to join their table just by saying: "Come join us, we have an empty chair at this table." Fourth, members share the conversation around the table rather than merely eating in silence or talking privately to the person next to them. Fifth, Rotarians make a special point of trying to get acquainted with all members of the club by seeking out those they may not know. When Rotarians follow these five easy steps, an entirely new oppor1tunity for fellowship knocks each week. Soon Rotarians realize that warm and personal friendship is the cornerstone of every great Rotary club.
"Honorary" is one of the two types of membership a person may have in a Rotary club. This type of membership is the highest distinction a Rotary club can confer and is exercised only in exceptional cases to recognize an individual for unusual service and contributions to Rotary and society. Honorary members cannot propose new members to the club, do not hold office and are exempt from attendance requirements and club dues. Many distinguished heads of state, explorers, authors, musicians, astronauts and other public personalities have been honorary members of Rotary clubs, including King Gustaf of Sweden, King George VI of England, King Badouin of Belgium, King Hassan III of Morocco, Sir Winston Churchill, humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, Charles Lindbergh, composer Jean Sibelius, explorer Sir Edmund Hillary, Thor Heyerdahl, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Bob Hope, Dr. Albert Sabin, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and many of the presidents of the United States. Truly, those selected for honorary membership are those who have done much to further the ideals of Rotary.
The Rotary district governor performs a very significant function in the world of Rotary He or she is the single officer of Rotary International in the geographic area called a Rotary district, which usually includes about 45 Rotary clubs. The district governors, who have been extensively trained at the worldwide International Assembly, provide the "quality control" for the 27,000 Rotary clubs of the world. They are responsible for maintaining high performance within the clubs of their district.
The district governor, who must make an official visit to each club in the district, is never regarded as an "inspector general." Rather, he or she visits as a helpful and friendly adviser to the club officers, as a useful counselor to further the Object of Rotary among the clubs of the district, and as a catalyst to help strengthen the programs of Rotary. The district governor is a very experienced Rotarian who generously devotes a year to the volunteer task of leadership. The governor has a wealth of knowledge about current Rotary programs, purposes, policies and goals and is a person of recognized high standing in his or her profession, community and Rotary club. The governor must supervise the organization of new clubs and strengthen existing ones. He or she performs a host of specific duties to assure that the quality of Rotary does not falter in the district, and is responsible to promote and implement all programs and activities of the Rotary International president and the RI Board of Directors. The governor plans and directs a district conference and other special events.
THE DISTRICT ASSEMBLY
In view of the annual turnover of Rotary leadership each year, special effort is required to provide the 27,000 club leaders with appropriate instruction for the tasks they will assume. The annual district assembly is the major leadership training event in each Rotary district of the world. The district assembly offers motivation, inspiration, Rotary information and new ideas for club officers, directors and key committee chairmen of each club. Some of the most experienced district leaders conduct informative discussions on all phases of Rotary administration and service projects. The assembly gives all participants valuable new ideas to make their club more effective and interesting. Usually eight to ten delegates from each club are invited to attend the training session.
Another important feature of a district assembly is a review by the incoming district governor of the program theme and emphasis of the new RI president for the coming year. District goals and objects are also described and plans are developed for their implementation. The success of each Rotary club is frequently determined by the club's full representation and participation in the annual district assembly.
THE DISTRICT CONFERENCE
Most Rotarians have never attended a Rotary district conference. They have not experienced one of the most enjoyable and rewarding privileges of Rotary membership. A district conference is for all club members and their spouses, not just for club officers and committee members. The purpose of a district conference is for fellowship, good fun, inspirational speakers and discussion of matters which make one's Rotary membership more meaningful. Every person who attends a district conference finds that being a Rotarian becomes even more rewarding because of the new experiences, insights and acquaintances developed at the conference. Those who attend a conference enjoy going back, year after year.
Every one of Rotary's more than 500 districts has a conference annually. These meetings are considered so important that the Rotary International president selects a knowledgeable Rotarian as his personal representative to attend and address each conference. The program always includes several outstanding entertainment features, interesting discussions and inspirational programs. One of the unexpected benefits of attending a district conference is the opportunity to become better acquainted with members of one's own club in an informal setting. Lasting friendships grow from the fellowship hours at the district conference.
Rotary Youth Exchange is one of Rotary's most popular programs to promote international understanding and develop lifelong friendships. It began in 1927 with the Rotary Club of Nice, France. In 1939 an extensive Youth Exchange was created between California and Latin America. Since then the program has expanded around the world. In recent years more than 7,000 young people have participated annually in Rotary-sponsored exchange programs.
The values of Youth Exchange are experienced not only by the high school-age students involved but also by the host families, sponsoring clubs, receiving high schools and the entire community Youth Exchange participants usually provide their fellow students in their host schools with excellent opportunities to learn about customs, languages, traditions and family life in another country. Youth Exchange offers young people interesting opportunities and rich experiences to see another part of the world. Students usually spend a full academic year abroad, although some clubs and districts sponsor short term exchanges of several weeks or months.
Approximately 36 percent of Rotary Youth Exchange students are hosted or sent by the clubs in the United States and Canada. European countries account for about 40 percent, and 12 percent come from Australia and New Zealand. Asian clubs sponsor 5 percent, and 7 percent come from Latin American countries. Over 70 percent of all Rotary districts participate in Youth Exchange activities. Youth Exchange is a highly recommended program for all Rotary clubs as a practical activity for the enhancement of international understanding and goodwill.
"EVERY ROTARIAN AN EXAMPLE TO YOUTH"
In much of the official literature of Rotary International relating to service to young people, a special slogan will be found -"Every Rotarian an Example to Youth." These words were adopted in 1949 by the Rotary International Board of Directors as an expression of commitment to children and youth in each community in which Rotary clubs exist. Serving young people has long been an important part of the Rotary program.
Youth service projects take many forms around the world. Rotarians sponsor Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, athletic teams, handicapped children's centers, school safety patrols, summer camps, recreation areas, safe driving clinics, county fairs, child care centers and children's hospitals. Many clubs provide vocational counseling, establish youth employment program and promote use of The 4 -Way Test. Increasingly, drug and alcohol abuse prevention projects are being supported by Rotarians.
In every instance, Rotarians have an opportunity to be role model for the young men and women of their community. One learns to serve by observing others. As our youth grow to become adult leaders, it is hoped each will achieve that same desire and spirit to serve future generations of children and youth.
The slogan accepted over 40 years ago is just as vital today. It is a very thoughtful challenge, "Every Rotarian an Example to Youth."
WORLD COMMUNITY SERVICE
World Community Service is the Rotary program by which a club or district in one country provides humanitarian assistance to a club in another country. Typically the aid goes to a developing community where the Rotary project will help raise the standard of living and the quality of life. The ultimate object of World Community Service is to build goodwill and understanding among peoples of the world. One important way to find a club in some other part of the world which needs help on a worthy project is to use the WCS Projects Exchange, a list of dozens of worthy activities in developing areas. The exchange list is maintained in the RI Secretariat in Evanston and is readily available upon request. It outlines projects, provides estimated costs and gives names of the appropriate contacts.
Clubs which need assistance, or are seeking another club to help with a humanitarian project, such as building a clinic, school, hospital, community water well, library or other beneficial activity, may register their needs. Clubs seeking a desirable World Community Service project may easily review the list of needs registered in the Projects Exchange. Thus, the exchange provides a practical way to link needs with resources. Every Rotary club is urged to undertake a new World Community Service project each year. The WCS Projects Exchange list is an excellent tool to find a real need, a project description and cooperating club in a developing area. The job then is to "go to work" to complete the project, and at the same time build bridges of friendship and world understanding.
FUNCTIONAL LITERACY PROGRAM
It has been estimated that a billion people -- one-fourth of the world's population -- are unable to read. Illiteracy of adults and children is global is a concern in both highly industrialized nations and in developing countries. The number of adult illiterates in the world is increasing by 25 million each year! In the United States, one quarter of the entire population is considered functionally illiterate. The tragedy of illiteracy is that those who cannot read lose personal independence and become victims of unscrupulous manipulation, poverty and the loss of human feelings which give meaning to life. Illiteracy is demeaning. It is a major obstacle for economic, political, social and person development. Illiteracy is a barrier to international understanding, cooperation and peace in the world.
Literacy education was considered a program priority by Rotary's original Health, Hunger and Humanity Committee in 1978. An early 3-H grant led to the preparation of an excellent source book on the issues of literacy in the world. The Rotary-sponsored publication, The Right to Read, was edited by Rotarian Eve Malmquist, a past district governor from Linkoping, Sweden, and a recognized authority on reading and educational research. The book was the forerunner of a major Rotary program emphasis on literacy promotion.
In 1985 the RI Planning and Research Committee proposed, and the RI board approved, that the Rotary clubs of the world conduct a ten-year emphasis on literacy education. Many Rotary clubs are thoughtfully surveying the needs of their community for literacy training. Some clubs provide basic books for teaching reading. Others establish and support reading and language clinics, provide volunteer tutorial assistance and purchase reading materials. Rotarians can play a vitally important part in their community and in developing countries by promoting projects to open opportunities which come from the ability to read.
CONCERN FOR THE AGING
One current area of special emphasis for Rotary clubs focuses on providing "new opportunities for the aging." In 1990, the RI Board of Directors urged Rotarians to identify new projects serving the elderly that emphasize intergenerational activities and the integration of seniors into society and the workplace. The following year, the board called for an approach that stressed service "with" the elderly as well as "for" them. With the substantial upswing in the worldwide population of older persons, their needs for special attention have greatly multiplied. As citizen grow older, it becomes increasingly important for them to retain their personal independence and to remain in control of their own lives to the extent this is possible.
Many Rotary clubs are seeking ways to serve the older persons of their community who face problems of deteriorating health, loneliness, poor nutrition, transportation difficulties, inability to do customary chores, loss of family associations, reduced recreational opportunities, inadequate housing and limited information about available social agencies for emergency assistance. Some clubs have initiated a valuable community service to assist older persons in retirement planning and adjustment by organizing and sharing the wealth of information available within the club's membership. Other clubs have developed foster grandparent programs and other intergenerational activities that allow seniors to use their experience and knowledge to help young people. Rotarians often can provide services which seniors can no longer do for themselves.
The greatest need of aging individuals is frequently a mere expression of real caring and concern by thoughtful friends. All Rotarians should seriously consider how they and their clubs may actively participate in programs for the aging. It is one area of community service in which there is a growing possibility that each of us may some day be on the receiving end.
Each May or June, Rotary International holds a worldwide convention "to stimulate, inspire and inform all Rotarians at an international level." The convention, which may not be held in the same country for more than two consecutive years, is the annual meeting to conduct the business of the association. The planning process usually begins about four or five years in advance. The RI board determines a general location and invites cities to make proposals. The conventions are truly international events which 20,000 to 40,000 Rotarians and guests attend. All members should plan to participate in a Rotary International convention to discover the real internationality of Rotary. It is an experience you'll never forget.
RECREATIONAL AND VOCATIONAL FELLOWSHIPS
From stamp collecting to wine appreciation, the hobbies of Rotarians are as diverse as the membership itself. Yet, among the more than one million Rotarians worldwide, an amateur-radio enthusiast or a chess player is bound to find others who share the same passions. But Recreational Fellowship members share more than just their common interest in sport diving or Esperanto; they share an interest in fellowship and service and in promoting world understanding. As such, it's no wonder that the International Skiing Fellowship of Rotarians donates the profits from ski events to The Rotary Foundation or that the Flying Rotarians help ferry medical personnel and supplies.
One has only to look at the types of Vocational Fellowships to recognize how they differ from their recreational counterparts. With Rotarians united by their shared professional interest in such fields as Hospital Administration and Finance/Banking, it's obvious that Vocational Service is as important a concern as international fellowship to the members of these groups. Members exchange technical information and seek opportunities to employ their expertise in service not just to their own communities and countries, but to their professions as well. For example, the Ophthalmology International Vocational Fellowship organized a professional seminar on the subject of eye surgery in developing countries.
ROTARY FRIENDSHIP EXCHANGE
An interesting Rotary program of fellowship is the Rotary Friendship Exchange. This activity, originally recommended by the New Horizons Committee in 1981, is intended to encourage Rotarians and spouses to visit with Rotarian families in other parts of the world. It may be conducted on a club-to-club or district-to-district basis. The idea is for several Rotarian couples to travel to another country on the Rotary Friendship Exchange. Later the hospitality is reversed when the visit is exchanged. After a successful pilot experiment, the Rotary Friendship Exchange has become a permanent program of Rotary. The Rotary Friendship Exchange is frequently compared to the Group Study Exchange program of The Rotary Foundation, except that it involves Rotarian couples who personally pay for all expenses of their inter-country experience. Doors of friendship are opened in a way which could not be duplicated except in Rotary. Rotarians seeking an unusual vacation and fellowship experience should learn more about the Rotary Friendship Exchange. Some unusual Rotary adventures are awaiting you!
34 - ROTARY YOUTH LEADERSHIP AWARDS (RYLA)
Each summer thousands of young people are selected to attend Rotary-sponsored leadership camps or seminars in the United States, Australia, Canada, India, France, Argentina, Korea and numerous other countries. In an informal out-of-doors atmosphere, 50 to 75 outstanding young men and/or women spend a week in a challenging program of discussions, inspirational addresses, leadership training and social activities designed to enhance personal development, leadership skills and good citizenship. The official name of this activity is the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program (RYLA), although the event is occasionally referred to as Camp Royal, Camp Enterprise, Youth Leaders Seminars, Youth Conferences or other terms.
The RYLA program began in Australia in 1959, when young people throughout the state of Queensland were selected to meet with Princess Alexandra, the young cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. The Rotarians of Brisbane, who hosted the participants, were impressed with the quality of the young leaders. It was decided to bring youth leaders together each year for a week of social, cultural and educational activities. The RYLA program gradually grew throughout all the Rotary districts of Australia and New Zealand. In 1971, the RI Board of Directors adopted RYLA as an official program of Rotary International.
ROTARY AND THE UNITED NATIONS
During and after World War II, Rotarians became increasingly involved in promoting international understanding. In 1945, 49 Rotary members served in 29 delegations to the United Nations Charter Conference. Rotary still actively participates in UN conferences by sending observers to major meetings and promoting the United Nations in Rotary publications. Rotary International's relationship with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) dates back to a 1943 London Rotary conference that promoted international cultural and educational exchanges. Attended by ministers of education and observers from around the world, and chaired by a past president of RI, the conference was an impetus to the establishment of UNESCO in 1946.
Interact, the Rotary youth program, was launched by the RI Board of Directors in 1962. The first Interact club was established by the Rotary Club of Melbourne, Florida. Interact clubs provide opportunities for boys and girls of secondary school age to work together in a world fellowship of service and international understanding. The term, Interact, is derived from "inter" for international, and "act" for action. Every Interact club must be sponsored and supervised by a Rotary club and must plan annual projects of service to its school, community and in the world. Today there are over 7,200 Interact clubs with more than 155,000 members in 88 countries. "Interactors" develop skills in leadership and attain practical experience in conducting service projects, thereby learning the satisfaction that comes from serving others. A major goal of Interact is to provide opportunities for young people to create greater understanding and goodwill with youth throughout the world.
After the success of Interact clubs for high school-age youth in the early 1960s, the RI board created Rotaract in 1968. The new organization was designed to promote responsible citizenship and leadership potential in clubs of young men and women, aged 18 to 30. The first Rotaract club was chartered by the Charlotte North Rotary Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1994 there were more than 149,000 members in more than 6,500 Rotaract clubs in 107 countries.
Rotaract clubs emphasize the importance of individual responsibility as the basis of personal success and community involvement. Each club sponsors an annual project to promote high ethical standards in one's business and professional life. Rotaract also provides opportunities leading to greater international understanding and goodwill. Rotaractors enjoy many social activities as well as programs to improve their community. A Rotaract club can exist only when continuously sponsored, guided and counseled by a Rotary club. The programs of Rotaract are built around the motto "Fellowship Through Service."
ROTARY FLOAT IN ROSE PARADE
The Rotary International float in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade is undoubtedly the largest public relations project of the Rotary clubs of the United States and Canada. Since 1924 a Rotary float has been entered 18 times including every year since 1981. The famous Pasadena, California, parade is seen by an estimated 125 million people via worldwide television. Funds for the construction of the Rotary parade entry are voluntarily given by Rotarians and clubs in the U.S. and Canada. The cost of designing, constructing and flower covering a Rose Parade float begins at about $120,000.
A multi-district Rotary committee in Southern California coordinates planning of the Rotary float and provides hundreds of volunteer hours of service. The Rotary float must portray the annual parade theme, usually depicting one of the worldwide service programs of Rotary International.
Each New Year's Day, Rotarians take pride in seeing their attractive float and realize they have shared in its construction by contributing a dollar or two to this beautiful public relations project.
THE ROTARY FOUNDATION'S BEGINNING
Some magnificent projects grow from very small seeds. The Rotary Foundation had that sort of modest beginning. In 1917 RI President Arch Klumph told the delegates to the Atlanta Convention that "it seems eminently proper that we should accept endowments for the purpose of doing good in the world." The response was polite and favorable, but the fund was slow to materialize. A year later the "Rotary Endowment Fund," as it was first labeled, received its first contribution of $26.50 from the Rotary Club of Kansas City, which was the balance of the Kansas City Convention account following the 1918 annual meeting. Additional small amounts were annually contributed, but after six years it is reported that the endowment fund had only reached $700. A decade later, The Rotary Foundation was formally established at the 1928 Minneapolis Convention. In the next four years the Foundation fund grew to $50,000. In 1937 a $2 million goal was announced for The Rotary Foundation, but these plans were cut short and abandoned with the outbreak of World War II.
In 1947, upon the death of Paul Harris, a new era opened for the Rotary Foundation as memorial gifts poured in to honor the founder of Rotary. From that time, The Rotary Foundation has been achieving its noble objective of furthering "understanding and friendly relations between peoples of different nations." By 1954 the Foundation received for the first time a half million dollars in contributions in a single year, and in 1965 a million dollars was received.
It is staggering to imagine that from those humble beginnings, The Rotary Foundation is now receiving more than $85 million each year for educational and humanitarian work around the world.
The Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarships Program is the world's largest privately funded international scholarships program. In 1947, 18 "Rotary Fellows" from 11 countries were selected to serve as ambassadors of goodwill while studying in another country for one academic year. Since that time, approximately $242 million has been expended on some 25,000 scholarships for people from more than 125 countries, studying in 105 countries around the world.
The purpose of the Scholarships Program is to further international understanding and friendly relations among people of different countries. Scholars are expected to be outstanding ambassadors of goodwill to the people of the host country through both informal and formal appearances before Rotary and non-Rotary groups.
Beginning with the 1994-95 program year, The Rotary Foundation offers two new types of scholarships in addition to the Academic-Year Ambassadorial Scholarship offered since 1947. The Multi-Year Ambassadorial Scholarship is awarded for two or three years of specific degree-oriented study abroad. The Cultural Ambassadorial Scholarship provides three or six months of funding for intensive language study and cultural immersion in a language other than their native language.
Rotarians know that Rotary Foundation scholarships are very worthwhile investments in the future and one important step in seeking greater understanding and goodwill in the world.
GROUP STUDY EXCHANGE
One of the most popular and rewarding programs of The Rotary Foundation is the Group Study Exchange. Since the first exchange between districts in California and Japan in 1965, the program has provided educational experiences for about 25,000 business and professional men and women who have served on about 5,500 teams. The GSE program pairs Rotary districts to send and receive study teams. Since 1965, more than $42 million has been allocated by The Rotary Foundation for Group Study Exchange grants.
One of the attractive features of GSE is the opportunity for the visiting team members to meet, talk and live with Rotarians and their families in a warm spirit of friendship and hospitality. Although the original Group Study Exchanges were male only, in recent years teams include both men and women.
In addition to learning about another country as the team visits farms, schools, industrial plants, professional offices and governmental establishments the GSE teams serve as ambassadors of goodwill. They interpret their home nation to host Rotarians and others in the communities in which they visit. Many of the personal contacts blossom into lasting friendships. Truly, the Group Study Exchange program has provided Rotarians with one of its most enjoyable, practical and meaningful ways to promote world understanding.
42 - HEALTH, HUNGER AND HUMANITY GRANTS
In 1978, Rotary launched its most comprehensive humanitarian service activity with the Health, Hunger and Humanity Program. The 3-H Program is designed to undertake large-scale service projects beyond the capacity of individual Rotary clubs or groups of clubs. By 1994, more than 135 different 3-H projects have been approved and undertaken in 49 different countries, with an appropriation at more than $37 million. The objective of these projects is to improve health, alleviate hunger and enhance human, cultural and social development among peoples of the world. The ultimate goal is to advance international understanding, goodwill and peace. The first 3-H project was the immunization of 6 million children in the Philippines against polio. As 3-H progressed, new programs were added to help people in developing areas of the world. Now, in addition to the mass polio immunization of over 100 million children in various countries, 3-H has promoted nutrition programs, vocational education, and improved irrigation to increase food production, polio victim rehabilitation and other activities which benefit large numbers of people in developing countries. All 3-H projects are supported by the voluntary contributions of Rotarians through The Rotary Foundation. In years to come the 3-H Program may well be considered Rotary's finest service activity, showing how Rotarians care and are concerned about people in need, wherever they may be.
Among the programs of The Rotary Foundation are the Matching Grants that assist Rotary clubs and districts in conducting international service projects. Since 1965, more than 3,700 grants have been awarded for projects in about 135 countries with awards of more than $23 million. A club or district must contribute an amount at least as large as that requested from The Rotary Foundation with at least half the funds that the Foundation will match coming from a country outside of the country where the project will take place. Grants have been made to improve hospitals, develop school programs, drill water wells, assist the handicapped or persons requiring special medical attention, provide resources for orphanages, create sanitation facilities, distribute food and medical supplies and many other forms of international community service in needy areas of the world. Some grants are for projects in the magnitude of from $15,000 to $50,000, but most are in the range of $5,000 to $10,000.
Matching Grants are not approved to purchase land or build buildings, and they may not be used for programs already underway or completed. Personal participation by Rotarians is required and the benefits should extend beyond the recipients. The Matching Grants program is a very significant part of The Rotary Foundation and provides an important incentive for clubs to undertake worthwhile international service projects in another part of the world. They certainly foster goodwill and understanding, which is in keeping with the objectives of The Rotary Foundation.
PolioPlus is Rotary's massive effort to eradicate poliomyelitis from the world by the year 2005. It is part of a global effort to protect the children from five other deadly diseases as well as the "plus" in PolioPlus. The program was launched in 1985 with fund-raising as a primary focus. The original goal was to raise $120 million. By 1988, Rotarians of the world had raised more than $219 million in cash and pledges. By 1994, the cash total exceeded $246 million! These gifts have enabled The Rotary Foundation to make grants to provide a five-year supply of vaccine for any developing country requesting it to protect its children. Grants have been made to nearly 100 countries-a commitment, thus far, of $181 million to buy vaccine and to improve vaccine quality.
Achieving eradication will be difficult (only one other disease, smallpox, has ever been eradicated) and expensive (estimated cost to the international community is nearly $2 billion). It will require continuing immunization of children worldwide, and it also must include systematic reporting of all suspected cases, community-wide vaccination to contain outbreaks of the disease, and establishment of laboratory networks. Rotary will not be alone in all these efforts but in partnership with national governments, the World and Pan American Health Organizations, UNICEF and others. Rotary's "people power" gives us a special "hands on" role. Rotarians in developing countries have given thousands of hours and countless in-kind gifts to help eradication happen in their countries.
No other non-governmental organization ever has made a commitment of the scale of PolioPlus. Truly it may be considered the greatest humanitarian service the world has ever seen. Every Rotarian can share the pride of that achievement!
ROTARY PEACE PROGRAMS
A special program of The Rotary Foundation was originally labeled the "Rotary Peace Forum". The concept of a center or educational program to promote greater understanding and peace in the world was originally discussed in 1982 by the New Horizons Committee and the World Understanding and Peace Committee. In 1984 it was further explored by a New Programs Committee of The Rotary Foundation. The essence of the Rotary Peace Program is to utilize the non-governmental but worldwide resources of Rotary to develop educational programs around the issues that cause conflict among nations in the world as well as those influences and activities which promote peace, development and goodwill. The program includes seminars, publications or conferences as a means to initiate a global dialogue to find new approaches to peace and world understanding. Specific Rotary Peace Programs are selected annually by the trustees of The Rotary Foundation. Many peace programs are held in conjunction with presidential conferences.
PAUL HARRIS FELLOWS
Undoubtedly the most important step to promote voluntary giving to The Rotary Foundation occurred in 1957, when the idea of Paul Harris Fellow recognition was first proposed. Although the concept of making $1,000 gifts to the Foundation was slow in developing, by the early 1970s it began to gain popularity. The distinctive Paul Harris Fellow medallion, lapel pin and attractive certificate have become highly respected symbols of a substantial financial commitment to The Rotary Foundation by Rotarians and friends around the world. The companion to the Paul Harris Fellow is the Paul Harris Sustaining Member, which is the recognition presented to an individual who has given, or in whose honor a gift is made, a contribution of $100, with the stated intention of making additional contributions until $1,000 is reached. At that time the Paul Harris Sustaining Member becomes a Paul Harris Fellow. By 1994, more than 450,000 Paul Harris Fellows and 160,000 Sustaining Members have been added to the rolls of The Rotary Foundation. A special recognition pin is given to Paul Harris Fellows who make additional gifts of $1,000 to the Foundation. The distinctive gold pin includes a blue stone to represent each $1,000 contribution up to a total of $5,000 in additional gifts. Paul Harris recognition provides a very important incentive for the continuing support needed to underwrite the many programs of The Rotary Foundation which build goodwill and understanding in the world.
SPECIAL ROTARY OBSERVANCES
In the annual Rotary calendar several months are designated to emphasize major programs of Rotary International. January is Rotary Awareness Month. This is a time to expand knowledge of Rotary and its activities among our membership and throughout the community. February is designated as World Understanding Month. This month was chosen because it includes the birthday of Rotary International, February 23. During the month, Rotary clubs are urged to present programs which promote international understanding and goodwill, as well as launch World Community Service projects in other parts of the world. World Rotaract Week is the week in which March 13 falls. It's a time when Rotary clubs and districts highlight Rotaract by joining in projects with their Rotaract clubs.
April is set aside as Rotary's Magazine Month. Throughout the month, clubs arrange programs and activities which promote the reading and use of THE ROTARIAN magazine and the official regional magazines of Rotary. August is Membership and Extension Month, a time to focus on Rotary's continuing need for growth, to seek new members and form new clubs. September is Youth Activities Month. Rotary clubs of the world give special emphasis to the many Rotary-sponsored programs which serve children and young people. During this month many clubs give increased attention to youth exchange activities.
October is Vocational Service Month. During this period, clubs highlight the importance of the business and professional life of each Rotarian. Special activities promote the vocational avenue of service. November is selected to be Rotary Foundation Month. Clubs and districts call attention to the programs of The Rotary Foundation and frequently cultivate additional financial support for the Foundation by promoting contributions for Paul Harris Fellows and Sustaining Members. Each of these special months serves to elevate the awareness among Rotarians of some of the excellent programs of service which occur within the world of Rotary.
ABOUT COMMUNITY SERVICE
A community, defined in its simplest terms, is a group of people who have something in common. But in real life, it is something far more complex than that. Each member — every individual, group, organization, and business — draws benefits from the community in many different ways. For a community to thrive, each of its members must honor a commitment to contribute to the well-being of the whole by returning those benefits in kind. Rotarians recognize the importance of giving back to the community. After all, Community Service is one of the Four Avenues of Service. Every Rotary club and every Rotarian assumes a responsibility to find ways to improve the quality of life for those in their communities and to serve the public interest. When those efforts are effective, they not only contribute to the greater good, they also promote Rotary's positive image.
What makes a community service effort effective? Relevance. A community service project must address a real, current community concern or issue. Rotary clubs should start by surveying their communities to find out where help is needed. Once a club has listened to its community, it can begin to envision effective responses to problems.