Rotary Club of Coachella Valley
Celebrating over 50 years of Community Service

Rotary History Month

 
May is Rotary History Month
Rotary International was founded in 1905. What began as four men meeting in local Chicago businesses has now grown to 1.2 million Rotarians belonging to over 34,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.
 
The First Years of the Rotary Club
The first Rotary Club was formed when attorney Paul P. Harris called together a meeting of three business acquaintances in downtown Chicago, at Harris' friend Gustave E. Loehr's office in the Unity Building on Dearborn Street on February 23, 1905. In addition to Harris and Loehr (a mining engineer and freemason), Silvester Schiele (a coal merchant), and Hiram E. Shorey (a tailor) were the other two who attended this first meeting. The members chose the name Rotary because initially they rotated subsequent weekly club meetings to each other's offices, although within a year, the Chicago club became so large it became necessary to adopt the now-common practice of a regular meeting place.
 
The next four Rotary Clubs were organized in cities in the western United States, beginning with San Francisco, then OaklandLos Angeles, and Seattle. The National Association of Rotary Clubs in America was formed in 1910. On 22 February 1911, the first meeting of the Rotary Club Dublin was held in Dublin, Ireland. This was the first club established outside of North America. In April 1912, Rotary chartered a club in Winnipeg, ManitobaCanada, marking the first establishment of an American-style service club outside the United States. To reflect the addition of a club outside of the United States, the name was changed to the International Association of Rotary Clubs in 1912.
 
In August 1912, the Rotary Club of London received its charter from the Association, marking the first acknowledged Rotary club outside North America. It later became known that the Dublin club in Ireland was organized before the London club, but the Dublin club did not receive its charter until after the London club was chartered.
During World War I, Rotary in Britain increased from 9 to 22 clubs, and other early clubs in other nations included those in Cuba in 1916, Philippines in 1919 and India in 1920.
In 1922, the name was changed to Rotary International. By 1925, Rotary had grown to 200 clubs with more than 20,000 members.

World War II Europe

Rotary Clubs in Spain ceased to operate shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Other clubs were disbanded across Europe in 1938-1942 in the following order: Austria, Italy, Czechoslovakia, EstoniaLatviaLithuaniaPolandYugoslavia, Luxembourg, Hungary and Netherlands.

From 1945 onwards

Rotary clubs in Eastern Europe and other communist-regime nations were disbanded by 1945-46, but new Rotary clubs were organized in many other countries, and by the time of the national independence movements in Africa and Asia, the new nations already had Rotary clubs. After the relaxation of government control of community groups in Russia and former Soviet satellite nations, Rotarians were welcomed as club organizers, and clubs were formed in those countries, beginning with the Moscow club in 1990.
In 1985, Rotary launched its PolioPlus program to immunize all of the world's children against polio. Rotary is close to eliminating the second human disease in history after smallpox, with a 99 percent reduction in polio cases worldwide since 1985, when Rotary launched its PolioPlus program. In 1988, Rotary spearheaded the creation of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with its partners the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Polio eradication remains Rotary’s top priority. To date, Rotary has contributed more than US$1.2 billion and countless volunteer hours to help immunize more than two billion children against polio in 122 countries. Currently, Rotary is working to raise $35 million per year through 2018 for polio eradication, which will be matched 2 to 1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
 
Rotary has more than 1.2 million members in over 34,000 clubs among 200 countries and geographical areas, making it the most widespread by branches and second largest service club by membership, behind Lions Club International. The number of Rotarians has slightly declined in recent years: Between 2002 and 2014, they went from 1,245,000 to 1,222,000 members. In round numbers, North America accounts for 400,000 members, Asia for 320,000, Europe for 260,000, Latin America for 110,000, Oceania for 100,000 and Africa for 32,000.