Rotary is a worldwide organisation of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. Approximately 1.3 million Rotarians belong to more than 31,000 Rotary clubs located in 166 countries.
Rotary club membership represents a cross-section of the community’s business and professional men and women. The world’s Rotary clubs meet weekly are non-political, non-religious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds. Clubs are pretty autonomous but follow a similar pattern of operation. Rotary clubs in one locality are joined, for administrative purposes, in what Rotary calls a District. Most of the Rotary clubs in Devon are in Rotary District 1170.
The main objective of Rotary is service — in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world. Rotarians develop community service projects that address many of today’s most critical issues, such as children at risk, poverty and hunger, the environment, illiteracy, and violence. They also support programmes for youth, educational opportunities and international exchanges for students, teachers, and other professionals, and vocational and career development. The Rotary motto is Service Above Self.
Although Rotary clubs develop autonomous service programmes, all Rotarians worldwide are currently united in a campaign for the global eradication of polio. The Polio Plus programme has contributed US$500+ million to this cause. In addition, Rotary has provided an army of volunteers to promote and assist at national immunisation days in polio-endemic countries around the world.
The Rotary Foundation (Rotary’s own Charity) is a not-for-profit corporation that promotes world understanding through international humanitarian service programmes and educational and cultural exchanges. It is supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and others who share its vision of a better world. Since 1947, the Foundation has awarded more than US$1.1 billion in humanitarian and educational grants, which are initiated and administered by local Rotary clubs and districts.
One of the Rotary Foundation’s projects is the Group Study Exchange (GSE). The GSE is an international exchange programme for young professionals (non-Rotarians, aged 25-40). It provides a fantastic opportunity for the next generation of leaders to experience their own vocations as practiced abroad, engage in cultural exchange, develop personal and professional relationships, and enhance global communication. GSE’s take place between Rotary Districts and is funded by Rotarians.