What is Rotary?

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.

Rotary International is a volunteer organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service, and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. Founded in Chicago in 1905, Rotary celebrated 100 years of service in 2005. During the past 60 years, The Rotary Foundation has awarded more than US$1.1 billion in humanitarian and educational grants, which are administered at the local level.

What is the purpose of Rotary?

Rotary clubs exist to improve communities locally and around the world. Rotary also encourages high ethical standards in business and professions. Rotary clubs work to advance international understanding by partnering with clubs in other countries.

What do Rotary clubs do?

Rotary clubs address critical issues in communities worldwide. Examples of Rotary's focus areas include the following:

Polio eradication — In 1985, Rotary's members vowed to make the world free of the crippling disease polio. This commitment to end polio represents the largest private-sector support of a global health initiative to date. Rotary has already committed US $600 million and countless hours of volunteer work to help immunize nearly 2 billion children throughout the world. Fewer than 2,000 new polio cases were reported worldwide in 2005, a 99 percent reduction since 1988, when polio paralyzed more than 350,000 children a year. Rotary is a spearheading partner — along with UNICEF, WHO, and the CDC — in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

International education — Rotary is the world's largest privately funded source of international scholarships. Each year, about 1,000 university students receive Rotary scholarships to study abroad. Rotary clubs also coordinate a high school-age student exchange program that sends nearly 8,000 students abroad for three months to a year.

Peace — In an effort to educate current and future peacemakers and ambassadors, Rotary administers two peace-related educational programs. The Rotary Centers for International Studies provides master's level education in conflict resolution at eight prestigious universities worldwide to groups of 60 Rotary World Peace Fellows chosen annually. The Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Program provides professional development training for up to 30 professionals chosen biannually from a wide variety of industries and professions.

Humanitarian projects — Rotary clubs initiate thousands of humanitarian projects every year. Rotary addresses problems that create instability and trigger conflicts — hunger, poverty, poor health, and illiteracy.

Literacy — Rotary clubs are engaged in the fight against illiteracy worldwide. One example is a program in Thailand that dramatically reduced school failure and was adopted by the Thai government for all the nation's schools.

Water management — Recognizing the importance of clean water, many Rotary clubs help to install wells and develop water treatment and distribution systems to increase access to fresh drinking water for communities in need, especially in developing countries.

A Brief History of Rotary

The world's first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA, was formed on February 23, 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. He tested his conviction that business people could become more than acquaintances by working together in community service, so he invited three friends to the first meeting in 1905. After the first meeting, the four were joined by Harry Ruggles. An enthusiastic vocalist, Ruggles leapt onto a chair and began to sing, starting a tradition which sees singing a regular part of Rotary meetings around the world. The name "Rotary" derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members' offices. The Rotary symbol was designed by an engraver, Montague Bear, who prepared a sketch of a wagon wheel in 1905. 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.

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.

An endowment fund, set up by Rotarians in 1917 "for doing good in the world," became a not-for-profit corporation known as The Rotary Foundation in 1928. Upon the death of Paul Harris in 1947, an outpouring of Rotarian donations made in his honor, totaling US$2 million, launched the Foundation's first program — graduate fellowships, now called Ambassadorial Scholarships. Today, contributions to The Rotary Foundation total more than US$80 million annually and support a wide range of humanitarian grants and educational programs that enable Rotarians to bring hope and promote international understanding throughout the world.

In 1985, Rotary made a historic commitment to immunize all of the world's children against polio. Working in partnership with nongovernmental organizations and national governments thorough its Polio Plus program, Rotary is the largest private-sector contributor to the global polio eradication campaign. Rotarians have mobilized hundreds of thousands of Polio Plus volunteers and have immunized more than one billion children worldwide. By the 2005 target date for certification of a polio-free world, Rotary will have contributed half a billion dollars to the cause.

As it approached the dawn of the 21st century, Rotary worked to meet the changing needs of society, expanding its service effort to address such pressing issues as environmental degradation, illiteracy, world hunger, and children at risk. The organization admitted women for the first time (worldwide) in 1989 and claims more than 90,000 women in its ranks today. Following the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Rotary clubs were formed or re-established throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Today, 1.2 million Rotarians belong to some 31,000 Rotary clubs in 166 countries.

Guiding Principles

The Object of Rotary: The object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:

1. The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;

2. High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying by each Rotarian of his occupation as an opportunity to serve society;

3. The application of the ideal of service by every Rotarian to his personal, business and community life;

4. The advancement of international understanding, good will, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional men united in the ideal of service.

Avenues of Service: Based on the Object of Rotary, the Avenues of Service are Rotary's philosophical cornerstone and the foundation on which club activity is based:

Club Service focuses on strengthening fellowship and ensuring the effective functioning of the club.

Vocational Service encourages Rotarians to serve others through their vocations and to practice high ethical standards.

Community Service covers the projects and activities the club undertakes to improve life in its community.

International Service encompasses actions taken to expand Rotary's humanitarian reach around the globe and to promote world understanding and peace.

New Generations Service recognizes the positive change implemented by youth and young adults through leadership development activities, service projects, and exchange programs.

The Four-Way Test:The test, which has been translated into more than 100 languages, asks the following questions:

Of the things we think, say or do -

1. Is it the TRUTH?

2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?


4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Mission: The mission of Rotary International is to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.

Diversity and Rotary: Rotary International recognizes the value of diversity within individual clubs. Rotary encourages clubs to assess those in their communities who are eligible for membership, under existing membership guidelines, and to endeavor to include the appropriate range of individuals in their clubs. A club that reflects its community with regard to professional and business classification, gender, age, religion, and ethnicity is a club with the key to its future.

About the Maple Shade Rotary

There was some concern among charter members of the Maple Shade Rotary Club that it would survive its neophyte days. Not long after it received its charter on March 23, 1970 and Edward Bailey was installed as president of an original group of 20, the club fell on hard times. About half of the charter 20 dropped out the first year and, according to Maple Shade archives, "It was touch and go for a few years. But we've made it—and made it good."

Made it, indeed. Maple Shade has established a solid reputation as a vibrant and busy participant in District 764 activities through the years while holding a steadfast resolve to serve its community in a variety of important ways that underscore the Rotary motto of "Service Above Self." Maple Shade quickly asserted itself on a district scale by helping to fund a playground in Mexico. It historically has had more members attend district conventions than required.

Maple Shade's list of community projects through the years is a lengthy and impressive one. It initiated a sidewalk sale in the early years which still flourishes today as an annual event. The sale of hot dogs and soda by club members helps fund a scholarship for a Maple Shade High School senior - throughout this report it will become clear that Maple Shade does much good for children.

Another project which was started during the early years was preparation of the club's parade floats which helped unite the membership for an important cause.

As an ongoing event, Maple Shade Rotary sponsors a day trip for retarded children to either a circus or to Disney on Ice at the Spectrum. The heartwarming program was launched in '81 during Jim Ryan's year as president.

The club purchased a special chair for a child with polio so she could attend school. It placed an answering machine in the local police station and then installed compatible telephones in the homes of local deaf residents to enhance their chances of reporting fires or other emergency calls.

The club supplied bulletproof vests for members of the Maple Shade Police Department. In turn, the police assist the Rotarians by donating to the annual trip for handicapped children. In another cooperative community partnership, the Rotary and the Maple Shade Advisory Board combine efforts on both the annual flea market sale and the Christmas lights project. Two Christmases ago, Rotary purchased a pole and made a donation for the lights, while the advisory board installed a public address system on Main St. Maple Shade Rotary has been a firm booster of the annual American. Red Cross blood drives in support of fire victims or seriously ill local residents as well as unfortunate people throughout the world.

Rotarians visit the good folks at area nursing homes at Christmas, Easter and other special holidays. They donate to both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts anti numerous other community organizations.

In yet another chapter in the club's commitment to the community, Maple Shade Rotary spearheaded a campaign to send teachers from the Maple Shade school system to special classes on drug problems. It has purchased materials for the police to use in their ongoing project to educate the elementary school children about the risks of drugs.

The club's good relationship with Maple Shade schools is well documented. It hosts exchange students. It sponsors an annual Student Government Day at which the youngsters operate government for a day, and then awards them certificates for their efforts. It sponsors a boy and a girl annually in the RYLA program. In recent years, Maple Shade Rotary has sponsored a Toys for Tots project at the Thanksgiving football game. With funds collected from a new Bowl-a-thon event, a Maple Shade senior receives a scholarship at graduation from a self-perpetuating trust fund.

On a district level, Maple Shade Rotary is established as a 100 percent sustaining Paul Harris club and has the distinction of having the youngest district Rotarian honored as a Paul Harris fellow. It also is on target in its commitment to Polio-Plus. That's not bad for a Rotary which wasn't certain it would be able to survive its first year.

How to Join Us

Membership is open to anyone, male or female, from any walk of life who believes in the Rotarian motto of Service above Self. Service above Self is more than just words. Rotarians are expected to help the community that they live in and also people in other parts of the world that are in need.

As a member of a Rotary Club, you have the opportunity to give something back, to give hope to those less fortunate and to make lives worthwhile and fulfilled.

If you would like to join Maple Shade Rotary, please contact us at info@mapleshaderotary.org.