By Joseph P. Batory
In spite of the fact that Rotary is one of the top humanitarian organizations in the world, many people are not familiar with what Rotary is and does. And so, as a 30+ year member of Rotary, I am hoping to shed just a bit of light on the organization.
Rotary's 1.2 million members start with a commitment to Service Above Self, something Rotarians have now been practicing since the organization began 108 years ago. In Rotary’s 34,000 clubs in 200 countries worldwide, you will find its volunteer members developing projects that address many of today's most critical issues, such as children at risk, disabled persons, health care, international understanding and goodwill, literacy and numeracy, population issues, poverty and hunger, the environment, clean water, and Polio eradication. They also support programs for youth, educational opportunities and international exchanges for students, teachers, and other professionals, and vocational and career development.
In the Greater Philadelphia area, there are 50 Rotary clubs located in different communities in and around Philadelphia which annually produce hundreds of unique projects to support and enhance their local communities and improve the quality of life for all of us.
Rotary club membership represents a cross-section of the community's business and professional men and women, as well as community leaders. The world's Rotary clubs meet weekly and are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds.
In terms of accomplishments, as recently as 1985, more than 1,000 persons were being victimized by polio each day internationally. Since that time, Rotary has expended millions of dollars worldwide to immunize two billion children. Polio is now 99% eliminated worldwide. In addition to the funding, Rotary has provided an army of volunteers to promote and assist at national immunization days in polio-endemic countries around the world.
Indeed, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention have become Rotary partners and have urged Rotary to finish this job in the two remaining countries (Pakistan and Afghanistan) where polio is still active. And Bill Gates has also joined this battle with more than $300 million of his own money given to this Rotary cause. The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International is a not-for-profit corporation that promotes world understanding through international humanitarian service programs and educational and cultural exchanges. It is supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and others who share its vision of a better world. Since 1947, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.1 billion in humanitarian and educational grants, which are initiated and administered by local Rotary clubs and Rotary districts.
During and after World War II, Rotarians became increasingly involved in promoting international understanding. In 1945, 49 Rotary members served in 29 delegations to develop the United Nations Charter. 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 when it began its participation in the establishment of UNESCO which occurred in 1946.
Rotary long ago embraced a simple but powerful code of ethics, called the 4-Way Test which has been translated into hundreds of languages. From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarians were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. It has now become one of the world's most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics:
1. Is it the TRUTH?
2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
In summary, Rotary is a worldwide network of caring individuals who translate their passions into relevant social causes to change lives for the better. Rotary is all about responding to a world filled with too much suffering, violence and despair. Rotary is “good people doing good things for people in need.”