Turning 100

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 7, 2004

Many of our local towns and/or communities offer a Rotary Club.

Before anyone starts speaking up about the other numerous organizations and clubs that do good for the area, let me just say first and foremost – you are absolutely right. There are many fine organizations in the area and this column isn’t to ignore, overlook or put down any of them.

However, this column is in honor of the celebration of 100 years of Rotary.

I have been a member of Rotary for several years. I joined because I had to, or rather was strongly encouraged to by others in my newspaper group.

I have not been very active, and on many occasions have not been able to attend some of the meetings due to conflicts.

However, recently, I have put forth an extra effort to get to the meetings and to try to become more involved in the local Rotary.

I find that most of the members of Rotary are people I’ve known for years and all are people I enjoy being around.

Therefore, attending Rotary is quite a pleasant and the food is always a delight.

But something else has come up by my recent re-acquaintance with this organization, and that is the rich history of how it came to be.

In 1905, on the cold and bitter evening of February 23, Paul Harris invited three friends to a meeting.

The purpose was simply to get the three, and himself – an attorney, together to discuss business issues and create a friendship that would somehow tie into the business community.

This simple meeting, with such a simple purpose sparked a growing trend of the early 1900s and it also sparked much controversy.

Many people, mostly business people outside the growing Rotary family, began to downplay the club as nothing more than a &uot;social club&uot; that did little more than &uot;talk&uot; and have lunch.

But the downplaying of the club was soon forgotten as the club continued to bring in more and more members as the years progressed.

In 1910, just five years after its beginning, the club went international as a club formed in Canada.

The name Rotary, came about due to the method in which the club first began to meet. As more and more members joined the club, they would rotate from business office to business office.

The club today is known for the various projects and services provided throughout the communities. It provided its first service in 1907 by donating a horse to a local doctor.

Rotary has since made a strong reputation of becoming involved in the communities in which they are located and this reputation continues to make Rotary a very popular club.

Yes, even today Rotary is made up mostly of business men and women, and truth be known, they do get together at lunch and talk.

But the discussions are 80 percent geared around activities the organization is doing and/or planning to do in the community.

In Ahoskie, the Rotary Club generally has a guest speaker and those speakers are geared to talking about areas where the communities need help.

Just over the past three weeks, Ahoskie Rotarians have been educated on the number of individuals in the area who lack a high school education and the work being done by the local community college to reach out and help these people obtain what they need.

They’ve been introduced to programs that are being done through the local hospital to teach people about healthy lifestyles and the number of people in the area who are not living the life of longevity – so to speak.

And, they’ve been introduced to the growing need for volunteers in the immediate area to help with the elderly who have no one to depend upon day in and day out.

Yes, as it has been written about Rotary in the past, they do get together over lunch and they do talk. But the talk is about a better community, a better tomorrow and a better way of life for all concerned – not just the business owner or operator.

Rotary does a good job. They must be. Today there are over 30,000 clubs in the world with clubs in 166 countries.

Rotary turns 100 years old in February of next year. Congratulations and keep up the good work.