Four avenues of service
Four avenues of service
An the winter of 1928, King George V of England recovered from a serious illness through use of a new electrotherapeutic treatment—a sun-ray machine.
After his recovery, the Rotary Club of St. Pancras, London, England, was addressed by a physician, who described the new treatment.
In his audience was Rotarian George Kimber, who had not been overly active in club affairs.
These three facts combined to produce an example of Rotary action which began when Kimber surprised his president by asking to attend the next board meeting. Invited as a matter of course, Kimber told the board he had been doing a bit of thinking about the King and the new sun-ray treatment. Kimber explained he had led a fairly active business life and he had not had much time to attend to anything else. Now he would like to take a hand in something outside his own business.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “it would be a grand thing if the poorest child in St. Pancras, when needing it, could get just as good treatment as King George. We ought to have available here in St. Pancras that same sun-ray treatment which even the neediest child could have. This club should do something about it.”
That was the beginning of what later became the Camden Town clinic. George Kimber contributed heavily in a financial way, but he made an even larger contribution by initiating and organizing the project. It is an example that can be duplicated many times in Rotary annals—one of the basic reasons why Rotary has attained such success and growth. It is the translation of a theory and an ideal into practical service.
The translation begins with the object of Rotary, quoted in full on page three. This sets forth the ideal of service as the goal, and from it derives the Rotary concept of four categories of service. These “avenues” channel the operations of a world fellowship of business and professional men into “service above self.”
The avenues are: club, community, vocational, and international service. In each of these are broad opportunities matching the individual’s talents and interests. These talents may be put to work through the individual, through stirring the club to action, through club action stirring the individual, or in a completely non-Rotary context where action results from Rotary principles. As a general rule, in all the avenues Rotarians co-operate whole-heartedly with other organizations seeking the same goal and, often as members of those other groups, they are responsible for turning them toward the goal.
Club service activities in themselves offer a fruitful field, especially to the newer member. Since they constitute the base of operations, the foundation of all other Rotary work, they have been termed the “most essential.” There can be little effective service if the club’s structure and mechanics are weak. One of the member’s first obligations is to strengthen his own club.
Vocational service links business or profession with the member’s obligation to apply Rotary standards outside of Rotary. It is incumbent upon him, since he is the representative of his vocation in the club, to maintain its standing therein. And conversely, since he is the representative of Rotary (in the community) to his vocation, it is equally incumbent to carry to it his special knowledge. Hence, this is the field where Rotary principles are most often applied in a non-Rotary context.
Every Rotarian also is a citizen of his community, with a citizen’s interest in its welfare and progress. Rotary membership intensifies this interest because it usually opens his eyes to unsuspected opportunities.
Finally, membership in a world organization provides a unique opportunity to attack the most pressing problem of modern times: misunderstanding between peoples and nations. Again the Rotarian is in a favored position to do something here by virtue of his personal contacts through Rotary with persons in almost all the other nations of the world.
A traveler in Spain heard of a mountain chapel containing many paintings of exceptional beauty. With high expectations—and at considerable personal inconvenience —he made his way to the remote spot. However, when he entered and looked around, he was bitterly disappointed. The paintings were lifeless and unexciting.
Muttering, he turned to leave, when a small, elderly guide approached him.
“You are disappointed, sir?” the guide inquired.
“That’s not the word,” replied the traveler. “These paintings aren’t worth going around a corner to see!”
“Ah,” said the guide, and without a word he led the visitor to a spot exactly in the center of the hall.
“Now look,” he said.
The traveler was amazed. The paintings which he had thought to be mere blobs were now vibrant with beauty as light angled in to intensify and differentiate colors.
So it is with club service. With proper positioning and lighting coming through Rotary information, what appears to be mere routine administration becomes vital and challenging. Club service can be the beginning of the member’s adventure in service.
Having a good Rotary club resolves itself to some fundamentally simple things, such as being present at meetings to participate in the club fellowship, paying dues on time, serving as an officer or committeeman, assisting in programming and other things which give purpose and meaning to the weekly meeting. It also means representing the club in outside activities, speaking at other Rotary clubs, attending intercity meetings, district conferences, conventions, and assisting in organizing new clubs—one of the most important obligations, since new Rotary clubs are traditionally sponsored by existing clubs.
As specified in the object, club service leads the member to “the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service.” It is the most fundamental field, since the other three avenues can be traveled effectively only when there is full appreciation of Rotary principles and policies. This appreciation, applied to the reality of club life, develops only from personal service. It is summed up by an inscription on the statue of a famous statesman: “Not what he got, but what he gave.”
Sometimes personal service has results far beyond the local scene. One of the delegates to the first International Labor Conference held in Washington in 1919 was an Amsterdam, Holland, businessman named Anton Verkade. After the conference he visited a friend in Seymour, Indiana, U.S.A., who took him to a meeting of the new Rotary club, organized just a year previously. Anton Verkade was greatly impressed by what he saw and heard. The easy camaraderie of these men meeting for lunch, their broader purposefulness in considering the needs of the community and the nation, appealed to him. On his return to Amsterdam, he resolved to organize a similar club.
His prudent Dutch friends told him it couldn’t be done, that this was just another fad of the impetuous Americans, a fancy that could not last and which had no application in the very different community that was Amsterdam. Verkade, however, persisted. With the help of a few close friends, he organized the Rotary Club of Amsterdam in November, 1922. Anton Verkade was the first president; subsequently he became a director of Rotary International, and his club foreshadowed some 80 other clubs organized in The Netherlands during the next three decades. In a way, it began with a man who went to lunch with a friend in Seymour, Indiana, U.S.A.
Obviously, all club service is not that broad or spectacular. Most of it is purely local: the bringing in of a new member, attendance at a “fireside meeting” and similar things. It is delineated in the activities usually considered part of it: attendance, classification, fellowship, programs, club bulletin, magazine, Rotary information, and public information.
Attendance already has been described as the basis of all other Rotary activity. This cannot be emphasized too strongly. If a member is consistently absent, he is not participating and cannot contribute. Most of the rest of Rotary derives directly from attendance at the weekly meetings.
Fellowship, for example, begins at the meeting and at other Rotary gatherings. It is carried forward by common work toward a common goal, which is why a Rotarian, asked to assume a responsibility, does so willingly. It is because he knows from experience that it will result—the objective quite aside—in the finest kind of fellowship, the fellowship of working together. In many communities men address each other by their first names, another custom of Rotary which helps break down the barriers between men.
The club, of course, has a fellowship committee charged with planning special events, making seating arrangements, recognizing unusual service—civic or otherwise— by individual members, and other things of that nature. This committee cannot function in a vacuum, however; it depends upon the participation of all members.
All of this revolves about attendance, the importance of which is indicated by the fact that clubs the world over maintain an average attendance around 85 per cent. There are times, of course, when absence is unavoidable; in that case, most members endeavor to “make up” at a convenient club either the week before or the week after, as explained earlier. If a member is traveling, his club secretary can supply a copy of the Official Directory, which lists the times and places of meeting of every club in the world. A Rotary membership card is the only introduction needed.
Rotarians take pride in their attendance records, and one reason for it is the imaginative type of programming in many clubs. The weekly program has been rescued from the dull and stereotyped by the touch of imagination. One of the larger clubs, for example, wishing to dramatize the traffic problem, stationed nurses in white uniforms at the door to the dining room. As members entered, they had to pass in single file between two ambulances. At each end of the head table, a regulation traffic light blinked red, amber, and green during the meeting.
Another club, presenting a program on fire safety and fire rescue methods, climaxed the speaker’s address with a realistic demonstration. As soon as the speaker had concluded his talk, firemen entered the room through the windows and proceeded to carry out some of the members on ladders which had been placed in position outside the building.
Programs at the weekly meeting generally gear closely into timely and local topics, placing important issues within the context of Rotary objectives. Member participation is also a characteristic of many programs, with increasing emphasis upon “buzz sessions,” panels, debates, and other forms of open discussion—not led, or participated in, by “imported” talent, but by members themselves. All of these things are reasons why Rotarians make a special effort to keep up their attendance.
Important as attendance is, it is almost impossible to set up priorities in this field of club service. Certainly the subject of classifications would rank well up in any such listing. It is the unique characteristic distinguishing a Rotary club from any other club, the attribute which makes it truly a cross section of the business and professional life of the community. By loaning classifications to selected individuals, Rotary brings together a group that is truly representative of the community, but which, in most communities, is not so large as to be unwieldy. It permits a cross-fertilization of ideas, a freedom of discussion which is essential to the accomplishment of the work for which a Rotary club is organized.
That is why clubs everywhere make a major effort to keep their classifications “clean.” There is always the temptation, in the case of a particularly desirable prospective member, to become lax in the matter of classifying. There have been Rotary clubs which have done this— to their regret. It is something that can make a mockery of public protestations about being a cross section of the community. The community knows full well that Joe Doan is a druggist, and calling him an apple grower because he happens to have a few apple trees on his farm does not alter the public’s knowledge. It only alters its respect for the particular Rotary club.
That is why the classifications committee of a club is considered to be of such importance. Yet, classification is no mystery. It simply is a matter of choosing the one word or phrase which describes a man’s principal and recognized activity in the economic life of his community.
Most of the other elements of club service are reasonably self-explanatory. What often is not immediately clear is their inter-relationship. Programs, for example, can inform members on club projects, on community needs, and a variety of other things. They can introduce new members through the medium of “my job” talks; they can convey general and specific Rotary information. They can help inform the public, and often they are the first step in a planned project.
Rotary information, however, is somewhat more specialized. It relates not only to information received in weekly programs, club forums, or fireside meetings, but also to reading of basic Rotary literature. This includes the invaluable reference, the Manual of Procedure, a handbook of all the basic procedures of Rotary. The two books, Service is My Business and Seven Paths to Peace, are basic in any understanding of the two avenues of vocational and international service. Together with Adventure in Service, they should be part of every Rotarian’s library, and numerous clubs have made them a part of their public libraries as well, often as part of a Rotary bookshelf maintained there.
The monthly magazine in two languages, The Rotarian in English, and Revista Rotaria in Spanish, is read by thousands of Rotarians and non-Rotarians. The magazine first appeared in January, 1911, under the editorship of “Ches” Perry and with the title, The National Rotarian. The reception was so enthusiastic that the press run had to be extended to a total of 5,000 copies. At the Portland convention held later that year, it was made the official publication of the National Association of Rotary Clubs and placed on a regular basis. In 1912 the title was changed to the present one. In 1933 the board authorized publication of a Spanish language edition, Revista Rotaria
The magazine fills an important need in Rotary. Not only does it provide timely news and information about Rotary clubs and individual Rotarians. but it also offers pertinent background information on trends of the current world scene, particularly as they bear on Rotary. Its articles are sufficiently authoritative to be used constantly as reference material.
Its influence is pervasive. Once it carried a brief account of an industrial chapel built by a Rotary club in the southern United States. Half a world away, in Australia, a similar chapel came into existence—the direct result of the magazine article. There is no way of telling how many similar instances there have been.
An unusual story in which the magazine played a leading role concerns the man who fished a discarded copy from a wastebasket in the post office of one of the smaller cities in southern United States. He was attracted by the cover, a painting of a sailboat, and the title of an article by the historian Hendrik Willem van Loon. He took the magazine home and read it from cover to cover.
He liked what he read. During the ensuing months, he managed to read other copies just as eagerly. Then, he received an invitation to speak to a Rotary club. He accepted. He was asked to other clubs, and just a year and a half after he found the magazine in the post office waste-basket he was elected to Rotary club membership. Thanks to his assiduous reading, he started out as a well-informed Rotarian—and developed further. Eventually he was elected a district governor and, later, a member of one of the standing international committees.
This story illustrates the appeal and educational impact of the magazine which, in the United States and Canada, members pay for when they remit their dues. Subscriptions outside the U.S.A. and Canada are not in- eluded with the dues; Rotarians subscribe either through their club secretary or by remitting directly to the secretariat.
A number of districts or regions publish their own periodicals such as Le Rotarien in France; Rotary no Torno in Japan; Rotary in Africa; Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland and many others. In Switzerland the official district publication appears in French, German, and Italian. Thousands of clubs publish their own bulletins, some on simple mimeograph, others in elaborate letterpress editions. The minority of clubs which do not have club publications is decreasing, as members come to understand the necessity for maximum internal communication.
A key word in club service is communication. There is no “acquaintance” without communication, either spoken or written. In the club or district it can be spoken—accompanied by sincere smiles and warm handclasps. Across the borders or seas it may be written—and winged with incredible swiftness to even the remote corners of the earth. But Rotary thrives best where all forms of communication are harnessed—to motivate interest, to give full information, to build club spirit, and to generate maximum energy in the cause of “service above self.”
In a back street of Accra, Ghana, the Rotarian was trying to interest a furniture maker in a small-business clinic being organized by the local Rotary club. Question arose whether a competitor in the neighborhood also had been invited. “Oh, yes,” the consultant replied, “we want him, too.” The prospect’s face fell. Evidently he didn’t want his competitor to share the benefits of the clinic. Thereupon the consultant produced a pound note and asked the prospect to do the same. “Now, look here, if I give you my pound note and if you give me yours, neither of us are better off. But if I give you an idea and you give me an idea, then each of us has two ideas. We’re both better off. That’s how it’s going to be with you and your competitor in this small-business clinic.”
Here was the very principle that led to the development of vocational service in the early days of Rotary. Rotarians discovered that much more could be gained by exchanging ideas for improving service and efficiency rather than obtaining orders for goods or services. Sharing business know-how with small-business men in their communities is a contribution Rotarians in the developing countries make to the economic growth of their countries. The small-business clinic operates on a person-to-person basis with visits by Rotarians to the workplaces and discussion of problems in small groups. Dramatic improvements in productivity often are introduced with little difficulty. Sound financing, better record keeping, changes in technology and improved plant layout lead to expanded business, lower prices and more employment. To help start the
small-business clinic the Rotary club invites a Rotarian from another country to come for a few weeks to serve without pay as a consultant.
Another application of the same principle is the case-study approach to vocational service. Members of a Rotary club discuss problems of business or professional practice. Discussion of these case studies make lively programs at club or fireside meetings. Members are reminded of experiences or problems of their own which the combined wisdom of the club could well illuminate. To launch the case study approach, samples of case studies furnished by Rotarians in many countries are available from the secretariat of Rotary International.
Both in the small-business clinic and in the case study approach, the initial interest is strictly practical—to increase productivity, to solve a real problem. However, with surprising frequency the ideal of service emerges as it did in the early Rotary clubs. Vocational service is bedded in the reality of actual experience and fresh meaning is given to that part of the object of Rotary:
To encourage and foster . . . high ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying by each Rotarian of his occupation as an opportunity to serve society.
There are many ways in which this policy can be fulfilled. Are business and professional relationships and practices in the community so good that they need no improvement? Is there no place for an employee courtesy contest? What about cooperation -among competitors for the improvement of the business climate? Would a business relations conference be of service? Can a member use his trade or professional association to the ends of vocational service?
These things have been done, many times over, by both clubs and individuals. Several among the early codes of ethics adopted by trade associations derived, as explained earlier, directly from Rotary inspiration. And Rotary inspiration is directly behind another major Rotary contribution to business ethics, The Four-Way Test. As often happens, it has significance beyond the business world.
The story began in 1932. The times were bleak. It was the depth of the great depression in the United States. Factory chimneys were smokeless and the dole was the main support of literally millions of people. Fear gripped the land.
A young businessman, Herbert J. Taylor, had left the security of a major executive position with a food company to take over a struggling cooking utensil firm. Its financial position was desperate; a personal loan from the bank to Taylor was the only thing that kept it going; and a single misjudgment might well have been the final act preceding catastrophe.
Taylor knew all this. He also knew he had—as did his competitors—a good product. In those grim times it can not be said that his competitors were eager for him to succeed. How could Taylor’s firm, with all these handicaps plus the economic storm, hope to survive? The answer was that by all rational analysis it could not. Taylor’s analysis led him to the same conclusion, unless some superiority in the policies and practices of the company could prove to be the deciding factor.
The more Taylor studied this, the more he became convinced that, good management aside, his company’s survival depended upon some way of reaching decisions on the lightness of policies. It needed to be a simple yardstick whereby all personnel could make decisions on their own. After long consideration, four questions suggested themselves :
1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build good will and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
This is what came to be called “The Four-Way Test”.* If company policies or practices could not answer all the questions affirmatively, they were changed in such a way as to do so. The company survived. It prospered. It came to achieve a leading position in its field, respected and welcomed by its competitors.
Later Taylor, who served as president of R.I. in 1954-55, presented the copyright to Rotary International on behalf of the company which had held it. The Test proved its practical value in countries all around the world; it has been translated into virtually all modern languages. It is displayed on signs along streets and highways. Japanese Rotarians print it on umbrellas they place in the waiting rooms of railway stations for the use of people caught by sudden showers. Very few of these umbrellas are ever lost. It appears on little plaques on thousands of Rotarian and non-Rotarian desks—even on the desks of legislators in state and national capitals. It has been used in schools, and it remains a fundamental tool in vocational service.
The Four-Way Test, however, is only one of the tools of vocational service—effective as it may be. Members soundly influenced by the Test could never regard it as the whole of vocational service. Basically, vocational service is the recognition of the dignity and interdependence of all constructive work and the obligation laid upon each citizen to apply a sense of responsibility in all vocational matters.
Some Rotarians apply such terms as “vague,” “intangible,” and “theoretical” to vocational service. New members have sometimes heard explanations of it and murmured, “I just don’t get it.”
In one case, however, a prospective member not only “got it”—he was so impressed that it tipped the scales in favor of that particular community forming a Rotary club. It seemed that this city had grown to a point that its civic leaders were ready to consider the formation of one service club, such as Rotary. But these leaders were at the “shopping” stage; they were willing to listen to the stories of all of them.
A district governor related how, in the process of telling the Rotary story to these community leaders, he and his special representative called upon the community’s leading physician—a man whose word was recognized as carrying the most weight in making the final decision. In the end, after all the information was in, the physician was reported as saying: “I favor organizing a Rotary club. In the classification principle and in the related concept of vocational service, I see a principle which is different from all the others—and it challenges me . . .” So it was that a new Rotary club came into being.
Vocational service derives from the principle which is the very core of Rotary—the selection of members on the basis of classification. As a trustee of his classification, each member is obligated to share Rotary’s vocational practices with others who are not Rotarians, and particularly with those associated with him in business or profession. Vocational service is the warp and woof of all professional and business relations—with employees, competitors, customers, suppliers. Practicing vocational service to the limit of one’s vision makes a difference whether an employer regards his employees as “robots or human beings” ; it makes a difference in the kind of advertisements he publishes or broadcasts; it makes a difference how he reacts under pressure from a competitor; it makes a difference in the quality of his service. For, the Rotarian who truly practices vocational service believes that service is his business
Beyond setting this objective for himself, the Rotarian will take seriously his relationship to young people in the realm of vocational service. “Every Rotarian an Example to Youth” is a motto with significant vocational service overtones, and many Rotarians and Rotary clubs have translated this goal into concrete activities designed to help youth. Many Rotary clubs, for example, have organized career conferences in which young people are given helpful counsel in the choice of vocations.
Even more significant perhaps is the growing custom of Rotarians making themselves available, on a planned and systematic basis, for personal counsel concerning the profession or business in which the individual Rotarian is engaged. Who is better qualified to give advice than the man who is engaged full time in the occupation? In many clubs this activity goes beyond the giving of advice; it results in an invitation from the Rotarian to the young person to spend time—full or part-time—in a temporary on-the-job assignment. In all such relationships the individual Rotarian, himself well-grounded in the service aspects of his job, is in a position to help the young person understand that the ultimate satisfaction the latter receives from his job depends on more than how much money he can expect to make.
The third avenue, community service, probably is the most widespread single Rotary club activity in all its varied manifestations. Rare is the club lacking some kind of community service, although any given club may concentrate upon individual service where another will prefer corporate action. Broadly speaking, the avenue embraces everything Rotarians and Rotary clubs do to help improve their communities. It is guided by resolution 34, adopted in 1923 by the international convention in St. Louis. In summary, the resolution says:
What is the job that needs doing? Is there a community agency which can do the job? If so, co-operate and strengthen, don’t duplicate. If not, start the ball rolling with the appropriate project which may in time generate its own agency.
The story of a Rotarian in Toledo, Ohio, U.S.A., illustrates this process, although the incident itself happened long before the resolution was made a part of Rotary policy. This Rotarian discovered the job one day when he happened to notice a 16-year-old boy without arms or legs painfully propelling himself forward on a scooter-like contraption with jerky movements of his trunk. Investigation revealed that the boy could not read, for he had never gone to school. Deeply moved, the Toledo Rotarian felt that something should be done.
Perhaps he did not realize what a field would open up when he laid the problem before his Rotary club. This was in 1915, two years after Rotarians in Syracuse, New York, U.S.A., had become similarly interested in a crippled girl whose parents were unable to afford the kind of specialized surgery required for her rehabilitation. Successful in this, the club sought out other disabled youngsters. What happened in Syracuse, Toledo, and in other places sparked interest in pioneering service projects for all crippled children. In Toledo, where one crippled boy caused a Rotarian to be deeply concerned, a search began—a search which revealed one school in the neighboring state of Michigan for handicapped boys. At that time it was one of the few such schools in the entire United States. The boy went there, was fitted with artificial limbs, and a process had been started that led directly to formation of the Toledo Society for Crippled Children. This led to state and regional societies formed from similar Rotary inspiration. In all of this a dedicated Ohio, U.S.A., Rotarian, Edgar F. Alien—who became known as “Daddy” Alien—was a prime mover. Eventually his pioneer work, along with that of other Rotarians, helped to create national and international societies for the welfare of cripples.
The Toledo story, however, is not yet finished. One day several years later a young visitor, erect and self-confident, attended the regular meeting of the Rotary club. He sat at the head table, and many members assumed he was one of the frequent student guests from various of the city schools. Then he was introduced and began to speak—he was the lad from the scooter of so long ago! He thanked the assembled Rotarians for what they had done for him and for all crippled children, and as he spoke he came to symbolize, in a way, all the efforts, past and future, on behalf of crippled children. Businessmen who listened to him were not ashamed of the tears welling in their eyes; it was a moment to be cherished.
The Toledo story typifies another basic aspect of community service: corporate and individual action. The two are complementary, although either may stand by itself. Usually they are in double harness, the one reinforcing the other. In Toledo, as in other examples cited in this book, club action derived directly from an individual Rotarian’s special knowledge of a special situation.
In other cases a club project leads individual Rotarians into individual service as, for example, when a club undertakes sponsorship of a Boy or Girl Scout troop—one of the largest single activities of clubs, by the way. An individual may well become, and continue to be, the Scoutmaster long after the club has turned its major attention elsewhere. There are hundreds of illustrations of the policy that, when a project has been solidly established and accepted by the community, it will continue under its own momentum with the participation of a few Rotarians rather than the club as a whole.
It is apparent that effective community service, whether individual or corporate, is based upon knowledge, not only of Rotary but of the community. Rotary clubs have evolved techniques for acquiring this knowledge through intensive community surveys with consequent planning to implement the survey findings. One club president, after directing such a survey, wrote that it had uncovered “enough work to keep the club busy for ten years.” The key here is to avoid duplication of services while simultaneously strengthening existing work or filling gaps. It is better, for example, to strengthen a weak Scout troop than it is to start a competing weak troop.
Clubs formalize their services in a variety of ways. One Rotary club, typical of those deeply concerned about changing conditions, conducted a series of what came to be called “The Future of Our City” programs. These were monthly panel discussions during which four members discussed community service questions previously submitted by the entire membership.
Local newspapers became interested. At their request, the club supplied copies of the discussions so that the general public became acquainted with the frank observations on the city’s most pressing problems. Such questions as these were discussed: What type of industries should our city seek to attract? What factors hinder our city’s growth? What is the wisest way of using our natural resources? What can the Rotary club do to bring increased prosperity to the city?
As the programs developed, many of the meetings were opened to general discussion, and it was found that the programs not only increased attendance but also moved members to bring special guests. This resulted in the planning of another series on employer-employee relations.
Or take the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.A., as another example. Rotarians have expended nearly $160,000 on various community service projects
in little more than a quarter century. It is done through an annual, formalized method of choosing specific projects.
The operation is simple and the method is applicable to any club. Each year the president appoints a “Christmas project” committee, charged with the duty of choosing one project for the year. A constant stream of suggestions flows to this committee from the membership, committeemen, and others, and the mass is winnowed into a single concrete project chosen on the basis of importance. This, specified in great detail, is presented to a full club meeting. The presentation is a working blueprint, including cost estimates; the committee must be prepared to defend and justify its choice. When adopted (always unanimously) it becomes the project for the year.
Service projects range the entire spectrum of human needs. The Rotarians of Sao Paulo, Brazil, discovered that their greatest community need was the education of underprivileged youth from the surrounding rural areas. After much planning a Rotary school was established for the primary grades, a school which combined many features of the home. In addition to learning standard academic subjects, boys are taught modem methods of agriculture, manual arts, and home economics. Each boy is assigned a small plot of land where he may apply the lessons he has learned. One-third of the product of the land goes home with each boy, one-third goes to the school kitchens, and one-third is given the boys to sell for their own profit.
In India it may be an attack on illiteracy, a subject engaging the attention of an increasing number of clubs the world around; or “adoption” of a village to help lift it to modern standards. In England it may be a home for boys; in Australia a library for the whole community or a center for “senior citizens.”
Broadly speaking, the categories of community service reflect the needs of the times: youth, conservation, urban renewal, old age, welfare of cripples, health and recreation, traffic, scholarships, loans and awards, rural-urban, and student guests. There are, of course, many variations on these themes according to local needs, but all of them contain at least one feature in common: responsiveness to the changing needs of the communities of men. Clubs have found, for example, that a traditional project which has operated satisfactorily through many years has been rendered obsolete, either by establishment of agencies to meet the problem or through new developments which solve the particular problem but create new and different ones.
This adaptability to changing conditions is well illustrated by Rotary’s historic work with youth. Since the Rotary Club of New York first celebrated Boys and Girls Week in 1920, clubs have constantly expanded their work in this field. Science and hobby fairs, student awards, youth centers, recreation camps, Scouting, driver training and traffic safety—the list of such activities has grown in response to changing times.
Youth work, in fact, is Rotary’s long-term investment in the future of the community, the nation, and the world. Rotary clubs sponsor Interact clubs for young men and young women of secondary school age and Rotaract clubs for young adults.
Interact clubs undertake a variety of projects to create international understanding and to serve school and community. Rotaract clubs, which draw their membership from the 17 to 28 age group, carry out balanced programs of activity which include at least one major project annually in each of the club’s fields of endeavor—to stimulate acceptance of high ethical standards in all occupations, to develop leadership and responsible citizenship through service to the community, and to promote international understanding and peace.
A splendid building had been erected on the island of Fiji designed to house its first vocational school and to train much-needed craftsmen. Funds had run out before it could be equipped, and there were few books for its library. The Rotary Club of Suva decided to lend a hand as a community service project. After the club had done as much as it could with its limited resources, a notification of the need was communicated to all Rotary clubs by Rotary International. A response came from the Rotary Club of Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
Seattle at the time was in a district matched with a district which includes part of New Zealand and Fiji. The matched district and club program includes all Rotary districts and non-districted Rotary clubs. It provides a focus for international service through exchange of correspondence, programs for club meetings, exhibits, visits by Rotarians and Rotary-sponsored young people and group tours organized by clubs or districts.
The needs of the vocational school in Suva appealed particularly to Rotarians in Seattle. They began by collecting books and used equipment. A Seattle Rotarian visited Suva and learned of additional needs. The result was the supply of training films on 36 different trades valued at several thousand dollars and a mobile dental clinic. The Rotary Club of Suva reciprocated, not only through their frequent progress reports about the project, but with gifts of local art objects which realized considerable funds when they were sold to pay the expenses of the project. Rotarians of both clubs united in a common enterprise.
This is only one example of a trend in international service that has attracted the enthusiastic efforts of hundreds of Rotary clubs and districts. An infinite variety of projects has been successfully completed. Wherever there is a human need a Rotary club is striving to meet with insufficient resources, there is the opportunity for a Rotary club in some other part of the world community to share in the project. A district in England joined forces with Rotarians of its matched district which comprises several African countries to provide a number of Land-rovers to serve the medical needs of people in remote areas. Australian and Canadian-U.S.A. matched districts financed wells for villages in a desert region of India. Hundreds of Rotary clubs notify all Rotary clubs of their interests in world community service, in sponsoring Rotarian consultants for small-business clinics, in youth exchange and in other contacts through a pamphlet that reports the interests of clubs in projects in international service.
World community service has been made a dominant emphasis in international service by the board of directors of Rotary International. It offers to every Rotarian a practical opportunity to fulfill that part of the object of Rotary which commits him
to encourage and foster . . . international understanding, good will and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional men united in the ideal of service.
Above all, world community service is significant in that it confronts squarely the most challenging task of our generation—meeting the desperate needs of the two-thirds of mankind living in the newly developing countries. These needs are not being met. Hunger, disease and illiteracy are increasing. Through world community service, Rotarians can give leadership that may help to turn the tide.
Obviously, the great aims of international service cannot be achieved by Rotarians alone. A Rotary club must seek to involve large numbers of other people in the quest for international understanding. This phase of international service can be accomplished most easily by an “into-their-shoes” conference, a world affairs forum which invites local people to take the part of other countries in a discussion of the great issues of the day. The topic might well be world community service. This program has been followed successfully by Rotary clubs in every type of community from metropolitan to rural in 15 countries.
International exchange of students is a third way—a way practiced by local clubs as individual projects and as district projects. As early as 1920, the Rotary Club of Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A., recorded in its minutes that its Educational Foundation chairman had arranged to finance six boys from funds contributed by a few members. From this modest beginning the project came to be called the Rotary Educational Foundation of Atlanta. In the twenty years between 1920 and 1940 approximately 900 students were assisted; the total is now past the 1,000 mark. The success of the program led the two Rotary districts in Georgia to create a joint fund which made possible enrollments of additional students from some fifty countries in American colleges and universities.
Only the scope of the project differentiates it from literally hundreds of other student projects of Rotary clubs. Thousands of young persons are involved annually in such exchange projects. Rare is the club which has not had contact, in one form or another, with a student from another country, and both sides have been enriched by the meetings; often the young people assist in marking World Understanding Week in September, another international service activity spreading around the world.
The Rotary Foundation, through its various programs— Graduate Fellowships, Undergraduate Scholarships, Technical Training, Group Study Exchange, and Special Grants—has provided a common channel for efforts of Rotary clubs and Rotarians worldwide to give substance to their hopes for world peace. The Foundation traces back to 1917 when the late Arch Klumph, then president of the International Association of Rotary Clubs, pointed out the need for an endowment in order for Rotary to “measure up to its full opportunities for service during the years to come.” He envisioned “some great educational service to mankind.” The world was in the midst of the first global war, and men’s minds were deeply concerned with the spiritual collapse the conflict represented.
The idea of such a foundation took root. The 1928 convention formally adopted a Rotary Foundation. The 1938 convention approved a plan to raise two million dollars for its programs. World War II interrupted the fund-raising endeavor, but further emphasized the need for such a program. In 1947, Paul P. Harris, the founder of Rotary, died. That year marked the launching of The Rotary Foundation Fellowships program, which enables selected students to engage in a year of graduate study in a country other than their own. Acting in the dual role of scholar and ambassador of goodwill, these young people are able to serve as bridges of friendship and understanding between the peoples of their home and host countries during and after their Fellowship year abroad. In the months after the death of Rotary’s founder, contributions in tribute to his memory reached more than one million dollars. In 1947-48, the first Fellowships were granted to 18 students from seven different countries.
Since then new programs have been added. Undergraduate Scholarships are similar to Graduate Fellowships. Both awards pay travel, living expenses, tuition and other educational fees for a year of study abroad.
The Technical Training program makes awards to young technicians and artisans for training abroad. Awards have been made in diverse fields such as medicine, agricultural and engineering technology, mining, advertising art and hotel management. Travel, living, and educational expenses are paid by The Rotary Foundation. Local Rotary clubs provide guidance and counsel to Trainees assigned to their communities.
Today, every Rotary district in the world is eligible for an educational award—Graduate Fellowship, Undergraduate Scholarship, or Technical Training—every year.
In the Group Study program, teams of five young business and professional men reciprocate visits of two months
or more between districts in countries paired for that purpose. Participants are able to study the institutions of the host country and. experience all aspects of life in that land. Travel between countries is paid by The Rotary Foundation; meals, lodging and transportation during the visit are provided by Rotarians of the host district.
Lively interest is created by participants in these programs when they return home to report their experiences. One Group Study Exchange team member said: “When our Group Study Exchange takes place, an international awareness is generated in literally thousands of people. For the first time in many cases, they have a meaningful involvement with a concept—international goodwill and understanding—leading to an international community which never before has had expression other than in speeches of statesmen and writings of philosophers. An ideal has been given a tangible experience!”
The programs of the Foundation are possible because of the voluntary contributions by individuals and Rotary clubs worldwide. Some Rotarians have left bequests; others take out term insurance policies in favor of the Foundation; and substantial direct gifts have been made. This support enables the Foundation to grant more than 500 Graduate Fellowships, Undergraduate Scholarships, Technical Training and Group Study Exchange awards annually.
What has been the result of all this? One Fellow from France, reporting on his sojourn in the U.S.A. mid-west, said, “Many times I hear people saying: ‘I should like to do something for peace, but I am not a diplomat—I am just a common citizen. What can I do?’ Then I remember what I have learned from Rotary, and I reply that every man in his daily life has many opportunities to promote international understanding if he will but find them and put them into practice.”