Published in the Delaware County Daily Times 11 30 2016
By Joseph Batory
Ceremonies all over the world are being held to recognize the 100th anniversary of The Rotary International Foundation during 2016-2017. And one of these commemorations is about to occur here in Delaware County. A gala Million Dollar Journey Celebration Dinner will be held on Wednesday, December 7 at the Springfield County Club (5:30 PM to 9:00 PM, 400 W. Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064). And Rotary International President John Germ, the leader of 1.2 million Rotary members in 200 countries, will be the guest of honor.
As a remarkable enhancement for the December 7 centennial celebration, a local Rotarian donor has recently made a $1,000,000.00 bequest gift to the Rotary International Foundation. This gift involves a challenge to area Rotary members to match this $1,000,000.00 contribution through individual legacies. The Million Dollar Journey Celebration Dinner will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Rotary International Foundation and also be focused on the success of this matching challenge.
From a humble initial contribution of $26.50 in 1917, individual donations from many hundreds of thousands of individual Rotary members worldwide have built the Rotary International Foundation into one of the largest ($1 billion) and most reputable (highest ratings from Charity Navigator for financial accountability and transparency) foundations in the world.
Over the past 100 years, the Rotary International Foundation has been the humanitarian engine for Rotary, distributing hundreds of millions of dollars to support thousands of projects in multiple countries including here in the USA to provide clean water, fight disease, promote peace, provide basic education, and grow local economies.
The Rotary International Foundation has also been the leader in the battle to eradicate polio internationally which is now more than 99% accomplished. Since 1979, Rotary has been involved with the immunization of 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.
Promoting world peace is also a Rotary International Foundation priority. Each year, Rotary I selects up to 100 individuals from around the world to receive fully funded academic fellowships at one of its peace centers. In just over a decade, the Rotary Peace Centers have trained more than 900 fellows for careers in peace building. Many of them have gone on to serve as leaders in national governments, NGOs, the military, law enforcement, and international organizations like the United Nations and World Bank.
For experienced professionals working in peace-related fields who want to enhance their professional skills, Rotary also sponsors 50 fully funded three-month programs in peace and conflict prevention and resolution each year at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. This program enhances the skills and knowledge base of participants for use when they return to their jobs. Two Philadelphia police officers and a district attorney have recently benefited from these fellowships.
Here in the Greater Philadelphia area (Rotary District 7450) there are 50+ Rotary clubs, including 13 Rotary Clubs in Delaware County, all doing projects and contributing to the needs of their communities.
Coupled with the thousands of service activities by 35,000 Rotary clubs each year, Rotary has been and continues to be a constant force in doing good things to help people in need and create a better world.
Happy Anniversary to the Rotary International Foundation and the thousands of Rotary members worldwide who support its efforts.
(Joseph Batory, the former superintendent of schools in Upper Darby, has been a Rotary member for more than 30 years.)