February 24, 2005
Rotary International is a nonprofit service organization celebrating its 100th anniversary on Wednesday, Feb. 23 as the group marks its 100th anniversary. As a proud Rotary member, I know firsthand the importance and good works of this international organization. As the world leader in privately funded international scholarships, Rotary International has helped more than 35,000 students from 111 countries by awarding scholarships and sponsoring exchange student programs and humanitarian grants. Here in New York, I am joined by more than 16,300 fellow Rotarians who make up 446 clubs in 10 regions. In New York, Rotarians sponsor service projects that focus on issues such as poverty, health, hunger, literacy and the environment. In addition, here in Central New York and the Finger Lakes region we are blessed to have the highest number of camps for disabled children and their families of any region in the world. Our local district, 7120, which currently includes 68 clubs in eleven counties, can be traced back to the beginning of Rotary International in 1905. Initially, Rotary was intended to serve the professional and social interests of its club members. As the club expanded and gained popularity members began pooling their resources and contributing help to their communities. After noticing the effect they could have on their communities, the Rotarians expanded their mission and dedication to include community involvement and improvement. Rotary has completed hundreds of programs to better not only the lives of those in the United States, but also lives all over the world. In 1985, Rotary made a commitment to immunize all of the world’s children against polio. This year will mark the completion of that twenty-year goal – Rotary in conjunction with nongovernmental organizations and national governments have immunized more than one billion children worldwide. By the end of the program Rotary will have contributed half a billion dollars to the cause. As we reflect on the influence that Rotary International has had on our communities and the world, I ask that you remember these significant contributions and support your local Rotary when you have the opportunity. I would also like to congratulate my fellow Rotarians on a great 100 years of service. I look forward to continuing to work with my local Rotary, as well as Rotary International, to make our world a better place.