The Rotary Foundation is Celebrating 100 Years of Humanitarian Outreach

By Joseph P. Batory

Ceremonies all over the world are being held to recognize the 100th anniversary of the Rotary International Foundation during 2016–2017. And one of those commemorations is about to occur here in our area. A gala “Million Dollar Journey Celebration Dinner” will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Springfield Country Club (5:30–9 p.m., 400 W. Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064). Rotary International John Germ, the leader of 1.2 million Rotary members in 200 countries, will be the guest of honor. 

As a remarkable enhancement for the Dec. 7 centennial celebration, a local Rotarian donor has recently made a $1 million bequest gift to the Rotary International Foundation. This gift involves a challenge to area Rotary members to match this contribution through individual legacies. The Million Dollar Celebration Dinner will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Rotary International Foundation and also be focused on the success of this matching challenge. 

From a humble initial contribution of $26.50 in 1917, individual donations of many of hundreds of thousands of individual Rotary members worldwide have built the Rotary International Foundation into one of the largest ($1 billion) and most reputable foundations in the world. 

Over the past 100 years, the Rotary International Foundation has been the humanitarian engine for Rotary, distributing hundreds of millions of dollars to support thousands of projects in multiple countries, including the USA, to provide clean water, fight disease, promote peace, provide basic education and grow local economies. 

The Rotary International Foundation has also been the leader in the battle to eradicate polio internationally, which is now more than 99 percent accomplished. Since 1979, Rotary has been involved with the immunization of 2.5 billion children in 122 countries. 

Promoting world peace is also a priority for the Rotary International Foundation. Each year, Rotary selects up to 100 individuals from around the world to receive fully-funded academic fellowships at one of its peace centers. In just over a decade, the Rotary Peace Centers have trained more than 900 fellows for careers in peace building and violence prevention. Many of them have gone on to serve as leaders in government, the military, law enforcement, and international organizations like the United Nations and Word Bank. 

Additionally, for experienced professionals working in peace-related fields who want to enhance their professional skills, Rotary International Foundation also sponsors 50 fully funded three-month programs in peace and conflict prevention and resolution each year at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. This program enhances the skill and knowledge base of participants for use when they return to their jobs. Two Philadelphia police officers and a Philadelphia district attorney have recently benefited from these fellowships. 

In addition to the humanitarian impacts of Rotary International Foundation, there are thousands of service activities by 35,000 Rotary clubs in their communities each year. Rotary has been and continues to be a constant force in doing good things to help people in need and create a better world. 

Here in the Greater Philadelphia area (Rotary District 7450 which covers Philadelphia and many of its adjacent suburbs), there are 50-plus Rotary clubs, all doing projects and contributing to the needs of their community. 

Happy 100th Anniversary to the Rotary International Foundation and the hundreds of thousands of Rotary members worldwide who support its efforts. 

Joseph Batory, a current member of the Rotary Club of Philadelphia, has been a Rotary member for more than 30 years, including 13 years in the Upper Darby Rotary.   

Originally published on November 30, 2016 in The Delaware County Daily Times, the daily newspaper of Delaware County, PA., covering local, regional, and national news.