About Rotary

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Rotary is a worldwide organization of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders. Members of Rotary clubs, known as Rotarians, provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.

There are 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds. As signified by the motto Service Above Self, Rotary's main objective is service - in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world.
The history of Rotary International
The world's first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, was formed on February 25, 1903, by Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wished 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.
Rotary's popularity spread. Within a decade, clubs were chartered from San Francisco to New York to Winnipeg, Canada. By 1921, Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents. The organization adopted the Rotary International name a year later.
As Rotary grew, its mission expanded beyond serving club members' professional and social interests. 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 motto: Service Above Self.
By 1925, Rotary had grown to 200 clubs with more than 20,000 members. The organization's distinguished reputation attracted presidents, prime ministers, and a host of other luminaries to its ranks - among them author Thomas Mann, diplomat Carlos P. Romulo, humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, and composer Jean Sibelius.

Rotary and World War II

During World War II, many clubs were forced to disband, while others stepped up their service efforts to provide emergency relief to victims of the war. In 1942, looking ahead to the postwar era, Rotarians called for a conference to promote international educational and cultural exchanges. This event inspired the founding of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
In 1945, 49 Rotary club 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 covering the United Nations in its publications.
"Few there are who do not recognize the good work which is done by Rotary clubs throughout the free world," former Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain once declared.

Dawn of a new century

As it approached the 21st century, Rotary worked to meet society's changing needs, expanding its service efforts to address such pressing issues as environmental degradation, illiteracy, world hunger, and children at risk.
In 1989, the organization voted to admit women into clubs worldwide and now claims more than 145,000 women  among the 1.2 million members
After 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. The first Russian Rotary club was chartered in 1990, and the organization underwent a growth spurt for the next several years.
Today, 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 32,000 Rotary clubs in 200-plus countries and geographical areas.