What are Rotary clubs?

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By Dick Denison
 
Among the many service clubs and organizations is the very popular one called Rotary. It is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.

There are more than 27,500 Rotary Clubs in more than 150 countries. They have a total membership in excess of 1,200,000. There are three Rotary Clubs in West Hawaii. The Rotary Club of Kona was chartered in 1948 and meets in the King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel each Thursday noon. The Rotary Club of North Hawaii began in 1954 and meets at noon on Wednesdays at the Island Bistro Restaurant in Waimea. The Kona Mauka Club has had their noon meetings on Tuesdays at Teshima's Restaurant in Honalo since 1967 when they began operations.
        
The first Rotary Club in the world was organized in Chicago. Illinois, on February 23, 1905 by Paul P. Harris, a young lawyer who gathered, in a spirit of friendship and understanding, a group of  men, each of whom was engaged in a different form of service to the public. That basis for membership - one person from each business and profession in the community - still exists in Rotary.  At first, the members of the new club met in rotation at their various places of business and this suggested the name "Rotary."
        
There are four "Avenues of Service" that comprise the four elements of the Object of Rotary.

1) "Club Service" involves all the activities necessary for Rotarians to perform to make their club function successfully.

2) "Vocational Service" is a description of the opportunity each Rotarian has to represent the dignity and utility of one's vocation to the other members of the club.

3) "Community Service" pertains to those activities which Rotarians undertake to improve the quality of life in their community. It frequently involves assistance to youth. the aged, handicapped and others who look to Rotary as a source of hope for a better life.

4) "International Service" describes the many programs and activities which Rotarians undertake to advance international understanding, goodwill and peace. International Service projects are designed to meet humanitarian needs of people in many lands.

Rotarians believe in the Four-Way Test. This is a test of the things they think, say or do. Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
   
Membership in Rotary requires a sponsor. You must meet classification, requirements that designate you hold an important position in your firm, are an outstanding leader in your vocation and that your profession or business is not already represented among the membership of the club.

Among the many activities of Rotary Clubs are the establishing and awarding of scholarships for international educational programs. Grants are made for health, hunger and humanity. These are large, scale projects, international in scope, that emphasize self-help to improve health, alleviate hunger and enhance human and social development. Other projects are PolioPlus that purchases vaccines and distributes them in developing countries around the world, and Group Study Exchange, a program that pairs Rotary districts to send and receive study teams composed of young professionals. They visit farms, schools, industrial plants, professional offices and governmental agencies in promoting friendly help and understanding between peoples and nations.