Images from Rotary: Left, a volunteer
holds an infant in Kano, Nigeria; below, a
young boy receives polio vaccine during
national immunization day in Nigeria.
global initiative involving close to $500 million donated by Rotary members. More than
a billion children have been immunized
under this program, which includes partners
such as the World Health Organization,
UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
Membership in Rotary is by invitation,
but the process is somewhat open. Frequently members invite a person being considered for membership to attend one or
more meetings to learn about the organization and to develop acquaintances.
Sustained growth is what enables Rotary
to continually widen its reach. “The more members we get,” summarizes Majiyagbe, “the
more humanitarian service we can render
throughout the world.”
By David Wight To locate a Rotary club in your commu-
Hnity, call the local chamber of commerce or
ere’s a task to add to your “things-to- held in New York City, during which Paul visit Rotary International’s informative Web
do list.” Form a group composed of Harris was elected president. site ( www.rotary.org) for a directory of meet-yourself and three friends with pro- ing locations. C
fessions different from your own. Service above self
Have weekly meetings that “rotate” to each of According to Jonathan Majiyagbe, Rotary
your business places. Oh, and commit your International’s new president, the club builds
group to humanitarian service and high ethi- a platform on friendship as a basis for service.
cal standards. “The first object of Rotary is the
The membership of each local Rotary Majiyagbe, anattorneyand
club reflects a cross section of local business a citizen of Nigeria, has been a Rotary mem-
and professional leaders—men and women ber since 1967. “I was attracted to the organi-
volunteering their time and focused on mak- zation by the spirit of sharing and caring, the
ing an organized contribution to their com- opportunity to be able to meet with people of
munity and beyond. different professions and to render solace on
an international scale,” he says. “A fascinating
Sound simple? That’s just how easily developmentofacquaintanceas
Rotary International started 98 years ago. an opportunity to serve,” he tells
Today, Rotary is well known throughout the The Connection. “Members be-world for its dedication to service and inter- come friends, and they’re kind
national goodwill, and has 30,000 clubs in of hinged together in serving.
more than 160 countries with some 1. 2 mil- That becomes permanent and
lion members around the globe. keeps them going.”
Simple beginnings thing about Rotary is you’re never alone when
Paul P. Harris, a Chicago attorney, formed you travel around the world.”
a group in 1905 with three friends: a tailor, a
coal dealer and a mining engineer. Harris’ Scope of programs
goal was to recapture the camaraderie he had The individual Rotary clubs support
witnessed among businesspeople in the rural diverse service programs. Members are en-
Vermont community where he grew up. couraged to find their passion and pursue it,
Originally a social organization, by 1907 devoting their time to service for the club, for
the Rotary Club of Chicago had refocused its the community or in various international or
energies on reaching out to those less fortu- vocational programs.
nate. Their initial project, constructing Chi- Each of the 30,000 chapters is expected
cago’s first public restrooms, was the birth of to develop projects in its own community
the world’s first service-club organization. based on local needs. Critical issues addressed
News of the club’s deeds spread and a by these projects include drug abuse, violence,
second chapter formed in San Francisco in hunger, disease, illiteracy and pollution.
1908, then a third in Oakland, followed On an international level, a remarkable
rapidly by others in Seattle, Los Angeles and example of Rotary’s programs is PolioPlus,
New York. In 1910, the first convention of a drive to eradicate polio by 2005. The pro-the National Association of Rotary Clubs was gram, launched in 1985, has grown into a
Costco exec “donates”
Many people can identify
with the quandary of
deciding how to spend a
two-week vacation, but how many
of us know what it’s like to donate
that hard-earned time to the service of others?
For Costco senior vice president of human resources John
Matthews and his wife, Mary
Ellen, two weeks in Ethiopia immunizing children against polio became the vacation that
made a big impact on their lives.
John is active in the Rotary club near his
home on Mercer Island, Washington. Intrigued
with the idea of helping to eliminate the last 1
percent of a disease, he and Mary Ellen joined
a 66-member Puget Sound contingent that,
with thousands of other volunteers, immunized
7 million children in Ethiopia in just two weeks.
“Ours was the largest humanitarian
group to come to Ethiopia, and we were very
warmly received,” John says. “They are a
beautiful people, with a beautiful spirit. Their
lives are hard, but the love they have for their
children is obvious.
“I’ve had the chance to do a lot of things
in my life, but nothing has impacted me like
my trip to Ethiopia. It was an amazing learning
experience—very rewarding, but also very
Rotary’s PolioPlus program intends to rid
the world of polio by 2005. Now 99 percent
complete, Rotary’s measurable goal seems
very realistic given the commitment and dedication of its members. —DW