(by Steve Garret, District Governor 1994-1995)
1- DEFINITION OF ROTARY How do you describe the organization called "Rotary"? There are so many characteristics of a Rotary club as well as the activities of a million Rotarians. There are the features of service, internationality, fellowship, classifications of each vocation, development of goodwill and world understanding, the emphasis of high ethical standards, concern for other people an many more descriptive qualities. In 1976 the Rotary International Board of Directors was interested creating a concise definition of the fundamental aspects of Rotary. The turned to the three men who were then serving on Rotary's Public Relation Committee and requested that a one-sentence definition of Rotary be pre pared. After numerous drafts, the committee presented this definition, which has been used ever since in various Rotary publications: "Rotary is an organization of business and professional person united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace in the world.” Those 31 words are worth remembering when someone asks, "What is a Rotary club?" 2 - THE OFFICIAL ROTARY FLAG An official flag was formally adopted by Rotary International at the 1929 Convention in Dallas, Texas. The Rotary flag consists of a white field with the official wheel emblem emblazoned in gold in the center of the field The four depressed spaces on the rim of the Rotary wheel are colored royal blue. The words "Rotary" and "International' printed at the top and bottom depressions on the wheel rim are also gold. The shaft in the hub and the key way of the wheel are white. The first official Rotary flag reportedly was flown in Kansas City Missouri, in January 1915. In 1922 a small Rotary flag was carried over the South Pole by Admiral Richard Byrd, a member of the Winchester, Virginia Rotary Club. Four years later, the admiral carried a Rotary flag in his expedition to the North Pole. Some Rotary clubs use the official Rotary flag as a banner at club meetings. In these instances it is appropriate to print the words "Rotary Club" above the wheel symbol, and the name of the city, state or nation below the emblem. The Rotary flag is always prominently displayed at the World Headquarters as well as at all conventions and official events of Rotary International. 3 - ROTARY'S WHEEL EMBLEM A wheel has been the symbol of Rotary since our earliest days. The first design was made by Chicago Rotarian Montague Bear, an engraver who drew a simple wagon wheel, with a few lines to show dust and motion. The wheel was said to illustrate "Civilization and Movement." Most of the early clubs had some form of wagon wheel on their publications and letterheads. Finally, in 1922, it was decided that all Rotary clubs should adopt a single design as the exclusive emblem of Rotarians. Thus, in 1923, the present gear wheel, with 24 cogs and six spokes was adopted by the "Rotary International Association." A group of engineers advised that the geared wheel was mechanically unsound and would not work without a "keyway" in the center of the gear to attach it to a power shaft. So, in 1923 the keyway was added and the design which we now know was formally adopted as the official Rotary International emblem. 4 - OBJECT OF ROTARY In some areas of the world weekly Rotary club meetings begin with all members standing and reciting the Object of Rotary This statement, which comes from the Constitution of Rotary, is frequently seen on a wall plaque in Rotarians' offices or place of business. The Object of Rotary is "to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise." The statement then lists four areas by which this "ideal of service" is fostered: "through the development of acquaintance as the opportunity for service; the promotion of high ethical standards in business and professions; through service in one's personal, business and community life; and the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace." The Object of Rotary has not always been expressed in this manner. The original Constitution of 1906 had three objects: promotion of business interests, promotion of good fellowship and the advancement of the best interests of the community By 1910 Rotary had five Objects as increased emphasis was given to expanding Rotary. By 1915 there were six Objects. In 1918 the Objects were rewritten again and reduced to four. Four years later they had again grown to six and were revised again in 1927. Finally, at the 1935 Mexico City Convention the six Objects were restated and reduced to four. The last major change came in 1951, when the "Objects" were streamlined and changed to a single "Object" which is manifested in four separate ways. The "ideal of service" is the key phrase in the Object of Rotary. This ideal is an attitude of being a thoughtful and helpful person in all of one's endeavors. That's what the Object truly means. 5 - ROTARY MOTTOES The first motto of Rotary International, “He Profits Most Who Serves Best," was approved at the second Rotary Convention, held in Portland, Oregon, in August 1911. The phrase was first stated by a Chicago Rotarian, Art Sheldon, who made a speech in 1910 which included the remark, "He profits most who serves his fellows best." At about the same time, Ben Collins, president of the Rotary Club of Minneapolis, Minnesota, commented that the proper way to organize a Rotary club was through the principle his club had adopted-"Service, Not Self." These two slogans, slightly modified, were formally approved to be the official mottoes of Rotary at the 1950 Convention in Detroit- "He Profits Most Who Serves Best" and "Service Above Self." The 1989 Council on Legislation established "Service Above Self" as the principal motto of Rotary, since it best explains the philosophy of unselfish volunteer service. 6 - THE 4-WAY TEST One of the most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics in the world is the Rotary "4-Way Test." It was created by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor in 1932 when he was asked to take charge of the Chicago based Club Aluminum Company, which was facing bankruptcy. Taylor looked for a way to save the struggling company mired in depression-caused financial difficulties. He drew up a 24-word code of ethics for all employees to follow in their business and professional lives. The 4-Way Test became the guide for sales, production, advertising and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company was credited to this simple philosophy. Herb Taylor became president of Rotary International during 1954-55. The 4-Way Test was adopted by Rotary in 1943 and has been translated into more than 100 languages and published in thousands of ways. The message should be known and followed by all Rotarians. "Of the things we think, say or do: 1. Is it the TRUTH? 2. Is it FAIR to all concerned? 3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? 4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?" 7 - FIRST NAMES OR NICKNAMES From the earliest days of Rotary, members have referred to each other on a first-name basis. Since personal acquaintanceship and friendship are cornerstones of Rotary, it was natural that many clubs adopted the practice of setting aside formal titles in conversations among members. Individuals who normally would be addressed as Doctor, Professor, Mister, the Honorable or Sir are regularly called Joe, Bill, Charley or Jerry by other Rotarians. The characteristic Rotary club name badge fosters the first-name custom. In a few areas, such as Europe, club members use a more formal style in addressing fellow members. In other parts of the world, mainly in Asian countries, the practice is to assign each new Rotarian a humorous nickname which relates to some personal characteristic or which is descriptive of the member's business or profession. A member nicknamed "Oxygen" is the manufacturer of chemical gas products. "Trees" is the nickname for the Rotarian in the lumber business, "Building" is the contractor, "Paper" is the stationery or office supply retailer. Other members might carry nicknames like "Muscles," "Foghorn" or "Smiles" as commentaries on their physical features. The nicknames are frequently a source of good-natured fun and fellowship. But whether a Rotarian is addressed by a given first name or a nickname, the spirit of personal friendship is the initial step which opens doors to all other opportunities for service. 8 - FOUR AVENUES OF SERVICE The term "Four Avenues of Service" is frequently used in Rotary literature and information. The "Avenues" refer to the four elements of the Object of Rotary: Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service and International Service. Although the Avenues of Service are not found in any formal part of the constitutional documents of Rotary, the concept has been accepted as a means to describe the primary areas of Rotary activity. • "Club Service" involves all of the activities necessary for Rotarians to perform to make their club function successfully. • "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. • "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. • The Fourth Avenue, "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. When a Rotarian understands and travels down the "Four Avenues of Service," the Object of Rotary takes on even greater meaning. 9 - INTERNATIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF A ROTARIAN As an international organization, Rotary offers each member unique opportunities and responsibilities. Although each Rotarian has first responsibility to uphold the obligations of citizenship of his or her own country, membership in Rotary enables Rotarians to take a somewhat different view of international affairs. In the early 1950s a Rotary philosophy was adopted to describe how a Rotarian may think on a global basis. Here is what it said: "A world-minded Rotarian: • looks beyond national patriotism and considers himself as sharing responsibility for the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace; • resists any tendency to act in terms of national or racial superiority; • seeks and develops common grounds for agreement with peoples of other lands; • defends the rule of law and order to preserve the liberty of the individual so that he may enjoy freedom of thought, speech and assembly, and freedom from persecution, aggression, want and fear; • supports action directed toward improving standards of living for all peoples, realizing that poverty anywhere endangers prosperity everywhere; • upholds the principles of justice for mankind; • strives always to promote peace between nations and prepares to make personal sacrifices for that ideal; • urges and practices a spirit of understanding of every other man's beliefs as a step toward international goodwill, recognizing that there are certain basic moral and spiritual standards which will ensure a richer, fuller life." That is quite an assignment for any Rotarian to practice in thoughts and actions! 10 - THE SPONSOR OF A NEW MEMBER The bylaws of Rotary clearly outline the procedure for a prospective member to be proposed for Rotary club membership. The "proposer" is the key person in the growth and advancement of Rotary. Without a sponsor, an individual will never have the opportunity to become a Rotarian. The task of the proposer should not end merely by submitting a name to the club secretary or membership committee. Rotary has not established formal responsibilities for proposers or sponsors, however, by custom and tradition these procedures are recommended in many clubs. The sponsor should: 1. Invite a prospective member to several meetings prior to proposing the individual for membership. 2. Accompany the prospective new member to one or more orientation/informational meetings. 3. Introduce the new member to other club members each week for the first month. 4. Invite the new member to accompany the sponsor to neighboring clubs for the first make-up meeting to learn the process and observe the spirit of fellowship. 5. Ask the new member and spouse to accompany the sponsor to the club's social activities, dinners or other special occasions. 6. Urge the new member and spouse to attend the district conference with the sponsor. 7. Serve as a special friend to assure that the new member becomes an active Rotarian. When the proposer follows these guidelines, Rotary becomes stronger with each new member.
11 - WOMEN IN ROTARY Until 1989, the Constitution and Bylaws of Rotary International stated that Rotary club membership was for males only. In 1978 the Rotary Club of Duarte, California, invited three women to become members. The RI board withdrew the charter of that club for violation of the RI Constitution. The club brought suit against RI claiming a violation of a state civil rights law which prevents discrimination of any form in business establishments or public accommodations. The appeals court and the California Supreme Court supported the Duarte position that Rotary could not remove the club's charter merely for inducting women into the club. The United States Supreme Court upheld the California court indicating that Rotary clubs do have a "business purpose" and are in some ways public-type organizations. This action in 1987 allowed women to become Rotarians in any jurisdiction having similar "public accommodation" statutes. The RI constitutional change was made at the 1989 Council on Legislation, with a vote to eliminate the "male only" provision for all of Rotary.
12 - WORLD UNDERSTANDING MONTH The month of February is very special in the Rotary calendar since it is designated World Understanding Month. The month also includes the anniversary of the first meeting of Rotary held on February 23, 1905, now designated World Understanding and Peace Day. In designating World Understanding Month, the Rotary International board asks all Rotary clubs to plan programs for their weekly meeting and undertake special activities to emphasize "understanding and goodwill as essential for world peace." To observe this designated month, many clubs arrange international speakers, invite youth exchange students and international scholars from schools and universities to club meetings, plan programs featuring former Group Study Exchange team members, arrange discussions on international issues, present entertainment with an international cultural or artistic them and schedule other programs with an international emphasis. Many clubs take the opportunity to launch an international community service activity or make contact with a Rotary club in another country is a good month to initiate a Rotary Fellowship Exchange, a 3-H project o encourage support for PolioPlus and other Rotary Foundation programs. World Understanding Month is a chance for every club to pause, plan and promote the Fourth Avenue of Service-Rotary's continued quest for goodwill, peace and understanding among people of the world.
13 - THE CLASSIFICATION PRINCIPLE Virtually all membership in Rotary was based upon a "classification." Basically a classification describes the distinct and recognized business or professional service which the Rotarian renders to society. The principle of Rotary classification is somewhat more specific and precise. In determining the classification of a Rotarian it is necessary to look at the "principal or recognized business or professional activity of the firm, company or institution" with which an active member is connected or "that which covers his principal and recognized business or professional activity." It should be clearly understood that classifications are determined by activities or services to society rather than by the position held by a particular individual. In other words, if a person is the president of a bank, he or she is not classified as "bank president" but under the classification "banking." It is the principal and recognized activity of a business or professional establishment or the individual's principal and recognized business or professional activity that determines the classification to be established and loaned to a qualified person. For example, the permanently employed electrical engineer, insurance adjuster, or business manager of a railroad company, mining company, manufacturing concern, hospital, clinic, etc., may be considered for membership as a representative of the particular work he or she may be doing personally or as a representative of the firm, company, or institution for which the professional service is being done. The classification principle also permits business and industries to be separated into distinct functions such as manufacturing, distributing, retailing and servicing. Classifications may also be specified as distinct and independent divisions of a large corporation or university within the club's territory, such as a school of business or a school of engineering. Though the classification principle is not as dominant as it once was it is still important that we make an effort to assure that each Rotary club represents a cross section of the business and professional service of the community.
14 - EXCHANGE OF CLUB BANNERS One of the colorful traditions of many Rotary clubs is the exchange of small banners, flags or pennants. Rotarians traveling to distant locations often take banners to exchange at "make up" meetings as a token of friendship. Many clubs use the decorative banners they have received for attractive displays at club meetings and district events. The Rotary International board recognized the growing popularity of the banner exchange back in 1959 and suggested that those clubs which participate in such exchanges give careful thought to the design of their banners in order that they be distinctive and expressive of the community and country of which the club is a part. It is recommended that banners include pictures, slogans or designs which portray the territorial area of the club. The board was also mindful of the financial burden such exchange may impose upon some clubs, especially in popular areas where many visitors make up and request to exchange. In all instances, clubs are cautioned to exercise discretion and moderation in the exchange of banners in order that the financial obligations do not interfere with the basic service activities of the club. Exchanging club banners is a very pleasant custom, especially when a creative and artistic banner tells an interesting story of community pride. The exchange of banners is a significant tradition of Rotary and serves as tangible symbol of our international fellowship.
15 - SHARING ROTARY WITH NEW MEMBERS Are you aware of the responsibility or obligation most Rotarians fail to perform? Paying their dues? Attending meetings? Contributing to the club service fund? Participating in club events and projects? No-none of these! Of all the obligations a person accepts when joining a Rotary club the one in which most Rotarians fail is "sharing Rotary." The policies of Rotary International clearly affirm that every individual Rotarian has an "obligation to share Rotary with others and to help extend Rotary through proposing qualified persons for Rotary club membership." It is estimated that less than 30 percent of the members of most Rotary clubs have ever made the effort to propose a new member. Thus, in every club, there are many Rotarians who readily accept the pleasures of being a Rotarian without ever sharing that privilege with another qualified individual. The Rotary policy on club membership states: "In order for a Rotary club to be fully relevant to its community and responsive to the needs of those in the community, it is important and necessary that the club include in its membership all fully qualified prospective members located within its territory" One merely has to glance through the yellow pages of the local telephone directory to realize that most clubs have not invited qualified members of all businesses and professions into Rotary Only a Rotarian may propose a customer, neighbor, client, supplier, executive, relative, business associate, professional or other qualified person to join a Rotary club. Have you accepted your obligation to share Rotary? The procedures are very simple, and everyone must know at least one person who should belong to Rotary.
16 - TOLERANCE OF DIFFERENCES Occasionally there is a temptation to criticize the laws, customs and traditions of another country which may seem strange or contrary to our own. In some instances illegal practices or customs of one nation are completely lawful and acceptable in another. As members of an international organization dedicated to world understanding and peace, it behooves Rotarians to exercise restraint in judging our Rotary friends and citizens from other countries when their behavior seems unusual to us. A Rotary policy has existed for more than half a century relating to this dilemma of international relationships. The statement, adopted in 1933, says that because it is recognized that some activities and local customs may be legal and customary in some countries and not in others, Rotarians should be guided by this admonition of tolerance: "Rotarians in all countries should recognize these facts and there should be a thoughtful avoidance of criticism of the laws and customs of one country by the Rotarians of another country." The policy also cautions against "any effort on the part of Rotarians of one country to interfere with the laws or customs of another country." As we strive to strengthen the bonds of understanding, goodwill and friendship, these policies still provide good advice and guidance.
17 - VOCATIONAL SERVICE Vocational Service is the "Second Avenue of Service." No aspect of Rotary is more closely related to each member than a personal commitment to represent one's vocation or occupation to fellow Rotarians and to exemplify the characteristics of high ethical standards and the dignity of work. Programs of vocational service are those which seek to improve business relations while improving the quality of trades, industry, commerce and the professions. Rotarians understand that each person makes a valuable contribution to a better society through daily activities in a business or profession. Vocational Service is frequently demonstrated by offering young people career guidance, occupational information and assistance in making vocational choices. Some clubs sponsor high school career conferences. Many recognize the dignity of employment by honoring exemplary service of individuals working in their communities. The 4 -Way Test and other ethical and laudable business philosophies are often promoted among young people entering the world of work. Vocational talks and discussion of business issues are also typical vocational service programs at most clubs. Regardless of the ways that Vocational Service is expressed, it is the banner by which Rotarians "recognize the worthiness of all useful occupations" and demonstrate a commitment to "high ethical standards in all businesses and professions." That's why the Second Avenue of Service is fundamental to every Rotary club.
18 - ROTARY ANNS / ROTARY PARTNERS In many Rotary clubs throughout the world, wives of male members are affectionately called "Rotary Anns". This designation was never one of disparagement, but rather grew out of an interesting historical occasion. The year was 1914 when San Francisco Rotarians boarded a special train to attend the Rotary convention being held in Houston. In those days few wives attended Rotary events, and until the train stopped in Los Angeles, the only woman aboard was the wife of Rotarian Bru Brunnier. As the train picked up additional convention-bound delegates, Mrs. Ann Brunnier was introduced as the Rotarian's Ann. This title soon became "Rotary Ann." Since the clubs of the West were inviting the Rotarians to hold their next convention in San Francisco, a number of songs and stunts were organized which would be performed in Houston. One of the Rotarians wrote a "Rotary Ann" chant. On the train's arrival at the Houston depot, a delegation greeted the West Coast Rotarians. One of the greeters was Guy Gundaker of Philadelphia, whose wife was also named Ann. During the rousing demonstration, someone started the Rotary Ann chant. The two petite ladies, Ann Brunnier and Ann Gundaker, were hoisted to the men's shoulders and paraded about the hall. The group loved the title given to the two women named Ann. Immediately the same term of endearment was used for all of the wives in attendance, and the name "Rotary Ann" was here to stay. Guy Gundaker became president of Rotary International in 1923 and Bru Brunnier was elected president in 1952. Thus, each of the two original Rotary Anns became the "first ladies of Rotary International." Very few clubs have Rotary Anns, but many have Partners organizations, some are stilled called “Inner Wheel.” The word Rotary Ann can be heard on a rare occasion, and now you know where it came from.
19 - A BRIEF ROTARY HISTORY The world's first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA, was formed on 23 February 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wished to recapture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The name "Rotary" derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members' offices. Rotary's popularity spread throughout the United States in the decade that followed; clubs were chartered from San Francisco to New York. By 1921, Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents, and the organization adopted the name Rotary International a year later. As Rotary grew, its mission expanded beyond serving the professional and social interests of club members. Rotarians began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to help serve communities in need. The organization's dedication to this ideal is best expressed in its principal motto: Service Above Self. Rotary also later embraced a code of ethics, called The 4-Way Test, that has been translated into hundreds of languages.
20 - INVOCATIONS AT CLUB MEETINGS In many Rotary clubs, particularly in Judeo-Christian nations, it is customary to open weekly meetings with an appropriate invocation or blessing. Usually such invocations are offered without reference to specific religious denominations or faiths. Rotary policy recognizes that throughout the world Rotarians represent many religious beliefs, ideas and creeds. The religious beliefs of each member are fully respected, and not