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COMMUNITY connection

rotary international Since the first Rotary club was formed in 1905, Rotary has become almost ubiquitous. Every state, all major cities, most large towns and many small communities in the U.S. have established clubs over the last 114 years. The 5650 District covering southwestern Iowa and eastern Nebraska has 43 clubs— about a dozen in the Omaha area alone—and membership of more than 2,100 Rotarians who meet regularly.

So what is Rotary, and what do Rotarians do?

AT ITS core

ROTARY INTERNATIONAL IS A SERVICE ORGANIZATION. A CHICAGO ATTORNEY, PAUL HARRIS, FORMED THE FIRST ROTARY CLUB 114 YEARS AGO TO BRING PROFESSIONALS WITH DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS TOGETHER TO EXCHANGE IDEAS, FORM MEANINGFUL FRIENDSHIPS, AND GIVE BACK TO THEIR COMMUNITY. THE FOUNDING MEMBERS, ALL BUSINESSMEN, CHOSE THE NAME “ROTARY” AS A NOD TO THEIR PRACTICE OF ROTATING MEETING SITES BETWEEN THEIR OFFICES. ALTHOUGH THE RAPID GROWTH OF THE CLUB SOON NECESSITATED A REGULAR MEETING SITE, THE NAME STUCK.

The fundamental objective of the organization is to foster service in each Rotarian’s personal, professional and community life. As the organization grew to an international scale, its mission grew as well to advancing “international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.” More than 1.2 million men and women are part of more than 35,600 member clubs around the globe today.

Rotary Four-Way Test, a series of four simple evaluative “I always volunteered, and it’s important to me to give questions: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will back to my community—especially in a small town— it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be and to be involved,” she said. “’Service Above Self’ is beneficial to all concerned? the Rotary motto, and even though I had never heard of it before I joined Rotary, it’s kind of how I always

Infinite projects

lived my life.”

All of that leaves individual Rotarians and local clubs with the freedom to coordinate or support an infinite variety of projects that serve humanity, said Frank Goldberg, who’s been with his club, Suburban Rotary, since 1972 and held numerous leadership positions at various levels of the organization through his years of service.

her favorite activities is local: reading with secondgraders at Skinner Elementary in Omaha. She’s proud of the large-scale projects her club has contributed to, too. “We’ve raised money to eradicate polio and repair hearts

“The reason to join Rotary is because you want to do something good for the community, and that community is not just your local community; it’s an international organization,” he said. “There are thousands of projects going on around the world.”

in Belize,” she said. “We as Rotarians have the capacity to change the world. We do amazing things.”

Changing the world The Rotary International fight against polio began in

1979 with a project to immunize six million children in Some projects are very local, like cleaning up a cemetery, the Philippines. In 1985, Rotary launched its PolioPlus stocking a food pantry, planting trees at a school, or program with a goal of immunizing all children against collecting coats for people in need. If Rotarians see a polio, and a total of nearly two billion children need in their communities, they seek solutions. worldwide have since been immunized. Gretchen Bren is

The primary motto of Rotary is “Service Above Self” and a secondary motto is “One profits most who serves best.” “Whatever it is, whatever you can think of to help others Club members are expected to pay club dues, attend meetings and events, and use their professional skills to in need, that’s the beautiful part about being in Rotary,” John Hoich of Suburban Rotary said. His induction was in make a difference. early 1980. “I was 19 years old. To the best of my knowledge, I was the youngest in the world who’s ever On an international scale, Rotary is dedicated to six joined Rotary since 1905.” areas of focus: promoting peace; fighting disease; providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene; saving mothers and children; supporting education; and growing local economies. Local clubs can participate in global projects, focus on local efforts, or do both. Ethics of any planned action are simply gauged against the

Jill Slupe, president of Omaha West Rotary, said one of

part of the Omaha Downtown club, but she’s very involved in the Polio Survivors and Associates Rotarian Action Group (RAG) made up of 500 Rotarians, including polio survivors, from 15 countries. She’s traveled around the world to help administer vaccinations. “There’s a quote by Margaret Mead: ‘Never doubt that a

Julie O’Hara, the district governor for the 5650 District, said one factor in her initial decision to join Rotary was that most of the projects executed by her Shenandoah, Iowa, club are right in the community.

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small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,’” Bren said. “That really does sum up what you can do in Rotary.”

aPRIL 2019

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metroMAGAZINE APRIL 2019  

metroMAGAZINE presents our APRIL 2019 issue online now! metroMAGAZINE is published quarterly by ALH Publications, serving the Omaha/Lincoln/...

metroMAGAZINE APRIL 2019  

metroMAGAZINE presents our APRIL 2019 issue online now! metroMAGAZINE is published quarterly by ALH Publications, serving the Omaha/Lincoln/...

Profile for metmago