Rotary International is one of the world’s first service organizations. Founded in 1905, it has grown to over 35,000 chapters with over 1.2 million members in virtually every country. Defined by their website, Rotary’s purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. It is a non-political, non-sectarian organization, open to all people regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender, or political preference.
In 1980, a Rotary chapter funded the first 500,000 doses of anti-polio vaccine to the Philippines. Since that time, Rotarians have contributed over $850 Million and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours, leading to the inoculation of more than two billion of the world’s children. Recently joined by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, polio has been nearly eradicated with only six cases total in two countries, Afghanistan and Somalia, year to date 2017.
Rotary advances other service projects too, including student exchange programs which allow high school students to live in American and foreign family’s homes and attend local schools. Since 2002, a number of universities have partnered with Rotary Foundation to create centers for peace and conflict resolution, receiving student scholarships to earn professional certificates and Master's Degrees in peace and conflict studies.
Rotary places high emphasis on literacy. The Rochester clubs raise funds with the December Rotary Holiday Classic and provide grants to local youth and education related nonprofits. The STRIVE program pairs a Rotarian with a high school senior who is struggling academically, hoping a successful mentorship can aid the student’s success.
Rotarians usually gather weekly for breakfast, lunch, or dinner to fulfill their first guiding principle to develop friendships as an opportunity for service. They actively promote an awareness of the dignity of all people and the respect of the human rights of the individual. The Rotarian’s primary motto is “Service Above Self”. Each week the group encourages members to consider the Four Way Test: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? and Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Several LKPB Engineering leaders have been Rotary leaders for decades. Gayland Bender, the B in LKPB, has been a Rotarian for decades, including terms as Chapter President and District Governor. Similarly, Jeff Allman has been a Rotarian for many years and is currently serving as secretary of his Rochester club.
Anyone interested in learning more, or visiting a meeting is invited to contact Jeff to see firsthand what Rotary is about.