The Rotary Club strives to foster friendships, promote equality and encourage tolerance and respect among people of all races, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds. The Rotary Club began in the United States in 1905, through the work of attorney Paul P. Harris. Harris resided in Chicago, Ill., and envisioned a place for professionals from all disciplines to meet and brainstorm ways to provide services for members of their communities.
The inaugural Rotary Club, based in Illinois, proved successful and valuable. Other Rotary Clubs emerged in the U.S. These clubs adopt the same three characteristics set forth by Harris and other Rotarian leaders. These traits include dedication to national and international service, perseverance in difficult times, such as wars and natural disasters, and commitment to community service. These characteristics, Rotarians assert, distinguish the Rotary Club from other, similar organizations. Rotary Clubs contain more than one million members worldwide and exist in more than 160 countries. Although they function independently, all rotary clubs carry out services for improving lives of citizens in surrounding communities. These services include combating disease, promoting peace and camaraderie, and establishing high standards for moral and ethical conduct. The Rotary Club promotes friendships among people of different backgrounds, which generates feelings of respect and tolerance. Rotarians worldwide encourage truth and fairness to benefit society.