On February 23 1905 a Chicago Lawyer, Paul Harris, met with three friends to form a club that would encourage fellowship amongst members of the business community. The idea originated from his desire to find the kind of friendly spirit he had known in the villages where he grew up.
At the end of the meeting little did the four men realise they had created the first ever Rotary Club.
From such small beginnings has grown the largest service organisation in the world today with some 34,000 clubs in over 200 countries with over 1.22 million members.
Rotary’s best known campaign, PolioPlus, is contributing to the global eradication of polio. As a result, India, where the disease has long been endemic, was declared polio-free by the WHO at the World Polio Summit in New Delhi on 25 February 2012. This is a major achievement which highlights the urgency and viability of eradication in the parts of the world where it still exists. Since 1985, Rotarians have contributed over US$850 million and tens of thousands of volunteer-hours, leading to the inoculation of more than two billion of the world's children.
The Object of Rotary
While Rotary works in different ways in the various parts of the world the following Objects are followed everywhere:
- The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service
- High ethical standards in business and professions and the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations as an opportunity to serve society.
- The application of the ideal of service by all Rotarians to their personal, business and community life.
- The advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace through a world of fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.