What is Rotary???

Rotary’s Remarkable Ongoing Success Story

I have often been asked….What is Rotary?????

By Joseph Batory

Well, here is my answer!

Rotary is a worldwide organization of caring individuals on a mission.  Rotary International’s 40,000 clubs in 200 countries all do good things for their local communities and beyond each year. In fact, there are 1.4 million Rotary members internationally  including more than 1200 members in the 50 Rotary Clubs just in the Greater Philadelphia area which includes 14 Rotary Clubs in Delaware County.

Rotary’s target areas for improvement are:  Disease Prevention; Peace Building and Conflict Resolution;  Clean Water and Sanitation; Maternal Health and Child Care; Basic Education and Literacy; Economic and Community Development; the Environment. So Rotary’s activities, locally and internationally, are almost all built around those areas.

Rotary’s umbrella organization, Rotary International, has its own Foundation which in 2020-2021 (the latest year for which data is available) distributed nearly $400 million mostly contributed by Rotary’s 1.4 million members to improve lives worldwide. 

Charity Navigator, an independent organization which evaluates the commitment to accountability and transparency of foundations nationally, has given the Rotary International Foundation its highest “Four Star Rating” in each of the past 13 years.

Beyond that, each local Rotary club is dedicated to “service,” with its members doing 5-10 “hands-on” caring outreach projects in its community and also providing financial support where needed.

Below are just a few highlights of Rotary International’s Goals and  achievements during 2020-21.

Polio Eradication:  Since 1988, Rotary International has been working to eradicate polio using the donations of its one million + members and its world partners. When Rotary’s involvement began, 1000 people, mostly children, were paralyzed with the polio virus each day.  Remarkably, since becoming a founding partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary International has helped immunize a staggering three billion children in 122 countries and contributed $2.2 billion toward polio eradication. As a result, polio cases worldwide have now been reduced 99.9%. This past August, the World Health Organization announced that all 47 countries in its African region are now polio free—and Rotary International has played a major role here.

Peace Building: Today, over 70 million people are displaced because of conflict, violence, persecution, and human rights violations. Half of them are children.Rotary refuses to accept conflict as a way of life. Rotary International projects provide training that fosters understanding and provides communities with the skills to resolve conflicts. Rotary International has created its own unique Peace Fellowships which since 2003 have trained more 1487 leaders from 115 countries to better enable them to address the underlying causes of conflict, including poverty, discrimination, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources.  In 2020-2021, Rotary International awarded 117 fully paid fellowships to recipients in 63 countries.

Rotary International Global Grants: In 2021, Rotary International awarded 2066 Global Grants around the world totaling $130 million for humanitarian causes, scholarships, and vocational training teams.

Disaster Relief Grants: Rotary International also supported 55 Disaster Relief Grants around the world with more that $3 million last year.  And $25+ million was awarded for Covid 19 related projects to meet immediate community needs in 2020-2021.

Providing Clean Water and Sanitation: When people have access to clean water and sanitation, waterborne diseases decrease, children stay healthier and attend school more regularly.Through water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs, Rotary International’s people of action mobilize resources, form partnerships, and invest in infrastructure and training that yield long-term change.

Literacy: More than 775 million people over the age of 15 are illiterate. That is 17 percent of the world’s adult population. Rotary’s goal is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy, reduce gender disparity in education, and increase adult literacy.

Health Care: Rotary makes high-quality health care available to vulnerable mothers and children so they can live longer and grow stronger.Rotary International is significantly expanding access to quality care, so mothers and children everywhere can have the same opportunities for a healthy future. An estimated 5.9 million children under the age of five die each year because of malnutrition, inadequate health care, and poor sanitation — all of which can be prevented.

Economic Development: Nearly 800 million people live on less than $2.00 a day. Rotary members are passionate about providing sustainable solutions to poverty.The Rotary International Foundation works to strengthen local entrepreneurs and community leaders, particularly women, in impoverished communities. And Rotary provides training and access to well-paying jobs and financial management institutions.

All of this is the ongoing daily work of Rotary Clubs and Rotary International….a wonderful breath of fresh air and a bit of hope in our turbulent world.

Joseph Batory, a former superintendent of schools in Upper Darby,  has been a Rotary member for more than 30 years and is currently a member of the Rotary Club of Philadelphia.


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