What would it take to change the world? Rotary International is the world’s first service club organization, with more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally, and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio under the motto Service Above Self.
At the very first Rotary club meeting Paul Harris. Gustavus Loehr, Hiram Shorey, and Silvester Schiele met in Chicago and talked about their personal experiences. At that meeting on February 23rd, 1905, Harris unfolded his general plan for regular club meetings. This was the simple beginning of the world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago. It was created because of Harris’ wish 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.
From the beginning Rotarians have taken pride in their history. The essence of Rotary today has a direct lineage to Paul Harris’ first Rotary meeting. The concept of ‘Service Above Self is as alive today in the hearts and minds of over 1.2 million Rotarians as it was when Harris developed the idea of a club dedicated to fellowship in community service. Mr. Harris’ own words explaining what Rotary is about. In the pages that follow you can learn even more about what Rotary is.
Paul Harris’ obituary was published in the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday January 28th, 1947. Paul Harris had died at his Chicago home the day before. He was 79 years old. In his life he had seen his first club grow into an international movement. That movement continues to grow today.
What is Rotary?
The Rotary Club of Charlottetown is one of more than 32,000 Rotary individual clubs operating in over 200 countries. There are six clubs operating on Prince Edward Island. The members of all these autonomous clubs are called Rotarians, and together they form a global network of 1.2 million business and professional leaders, all volunteering their time and talents to serve their communities and the world. Individual Rotary clubs belong, in turn, to the global association called Rotary International.
If you browse the “More Information” links on the right you will learn much about Rotary. Our hope is that you’ll see that Rotary is a great way for you to provide service to others.
What Rotary Isn’t
it isn’t a religious, political, or nationalistic organization. It in no way interferes with the men and women members’ religious, political, or other beliefs. There are Rotary clubs in most countries of the world. As Rotarians we recognize there is far more that makes us all alike and that the differences between us are really insignificant.
Rotary isn’t some kind of secret society. There are no secret handshakes or the like. We welcome visitors. Rotary clubs are a bunch of like-minded people united in their desire to make a difference in their community and the world. At the Rotary Club of Charlottetown our club meetings are televised locally. Our community can see exactly what happens at our meetings and be informed right along side of us by our guest speakers.
It isn’t a social club, although strong fellowship is a key component that unites the club in its projects. Members are expected to make a contribution to the life of the club, to the extent that they are able. Rotary offers plenty of scope for members’ initiatives and for the promotion of their concern for the community at large.
Rotary isn’t “an old boy’s club” dominated by a established group of cronies. It is intentionally structured to offer leadership opportunities to all its members. Furthermore, Rotary’s membership classification system actively encourages diversity and recognizes : as a strength.
The motto of Rotarians is “Service above Self. It reminds Rotarians to think of how they can help others instead of selfish thoughts. The motto originated when Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, asked Rotarian Frank Collins to address the participants of the second annual Rotary Convention. The year was 1911. Frank Collins, a fruit merchant from Minneapolis, in the impromptu speech, told how his club had used the phrase
Service, Not Self as a motto and that it was fundamental to them as to what it meant be a Rotarian. The speech and the motto struck a cord with all the Rotarians. It really did neatly sum up in three words what Rotary, at its core, was all about. The Convention participants took the motto back to their own clubs and soon it captured the imaginations of all Rotarians.
Over time the motto evolved to “Service Above Self”. At the 1950 Rotary Convention the motto was officially adopted. Frank Collins’ simple idea remains as evocative today as it was nearly 100 years ago.
Interestingly, Frank Collins’ Minneapolis Rotary Club was also one of the first clubs to have weekly luncheon meetings. They have become a fixture of most Rotary dubs the world over.