Rotarians worldwide participate and celebrate the week of the anniversary of Rotary’s founding as World Understanding and Peace Week.  During this week, our Club will celebrate Rotary service, reflect upon our past achievements, and focus on programs of peace, understanding, and goodwill in the community and throughout the world.

It’s easy to get lost in the day to day minutia of living and neglect to focus on the larger causes on which we as Rotarians are focused - peace, disease prevention and treatment, clean water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development. 


Rotary is all about friendship and collaboration - on the personal level, on the Club level, at the community level, and globally - and always between people as individuals, not the faceless bureaucratic entities that seem to define life these days. While we use our website and social media pages to support our communications in our club and communities, it is really that face-to-face contact that helps us move forward both as individuals and as Rotarians, to focus on issues outside of ourselves in order to improve our communities through our action.    


At that first meeting in Chicago, attended by just four men, Paul Harris, Rotary’s founder, shared “his sense of emptiness at having no true friends in the city, his indignation at the dog-eat-dog business attitudes and the uncertainty of knowing whom he could trust in his personal and commercial dealings. He proposed they form a club different from any other, one which he described as ‘a very simple plan of mutual cooperation and informal friendship such as all of us had once known in our villages.’”


From that simple beginning, and developed over the past 115 years by tens of millions of men and women working face to face at the club level, was developed the idea of Rotary. While club members were encouraged to buy locally and from other Rotarians in the first several years of the new Club’s existence, and “long before the (Chicago) club adopted “service” as an objective, members gave freely of their time, talent and treasure to those in need.” By 1907, two years after Rotary’s founding, the concept of community service was added to the club constitution, and just ten years later, as Rotary Clubs sprang up across the Americas, The Rotary Endowment Fund was established, a precursor to what we know today as The Rotary Foundation. 


The idea of “World Understanding and Peace Week” seems rather high flown and remote, especially in our day and age - yet, Rotarians have contributed immeasurably in manners large and small to achieving those ends. From Rotary Friendship Exchanges, Rotary Youth Exchanges, Peace Fellowships, countless projects large and small supported by clubs all around the world, scholarships, and more, to name just a few, Rotarians have voluntarily donated their personal energy, time and money to working towards world understanding and peace, all without any recompense save the satisfaction of knowing their contribution has made a positive and lasting difference. Think of it as “the butterfly effect” - even the smallest act of service, generosity and goodwill can have lasting implications. 


Over the next week, we’ll take a look at how Rotarians from the Rotary Club of East Jefferson County have lived up to the Rotary ideal of  service above self, and have contributed to those six Causes locally, and globally.      


(quotes from “A Century of Service - The Story of Rotary International”, by David C. Forward).