What is it that sets Rotary apart?

Published 1:17am Friday, February 1, 2013

By Dr. DON ROBINSON
Guest Columnist
As the Bainbridge Rotary Club builds towards our third Casino Night fundraiser on Feb. 9, it seems to be the time to explain just what it is that makes our activity unique and worthwhile.
Back in 1905, a man named Paul Harris envisioned a new type of cooperative organization. While he was a successful businessman in Chicago, he remembered his roots from a small town, and he wished to preserve those values. He and three other business leaders began meeting together. The name for the new organization became “Rotary,” because they rotated meeting sites among their offices.
Under the leadership of Paul Harris, the organization took off. Within 10 years, there were Rotary Clubs all over the United States, and by 1925 there were clubs on six continents. There are now 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide, living the basic values of sharing, service, and payback to our communities.
Rotary was never intended to be a social club, although forming relationships is essential for our success. The object of Rotary is a set of principles that guides our actions. It formally states that the purpose of our gathering together is to build acquaintance as an opportunity for service.
Service is emphasized as vital for Rotarians throughout our business, personal, and community lives. Rotary is also unique in its intended membership. Local clubs should be formed from business and professional men and women from varied vocations.
The Rotary Club is for community leaders, those who may have the influence and resources to be put to work in bettering the areas in which we live. As each club works in its own community and then joins hands with other clubs around the world, we hope that we are reaching out to build world peace.
Here in Bainbridge, our Rotary Club had its beginnings in 1937 under the leadership of Ramsay Simmons. One of the first activities was to support a soup kitchen. Over the last 75 years, our club has been continuously involved in helping our neighbors, not only in Bainbridge, but reaching beyond the borders of Decatur County to embrace projects that assist all around the world.
For many years now, we have participated in the Georgia Rotary Student Program. We provide funds, friendship, and facilities each year to bring an international student into our area. This year, that student is Katya from Kazakhstan. She is studying at Valdosta State University. We have enjoyed getting to know this bright and shining star of the future. We are optimistic enough to think that, once she knows us, she will always remember that we are caring people. We think that is a small step towards world understanding.
This year we will continue to be involved in the worldwide effort to eradicate polio. Can you believe that we have been successful at eliminating that horrid disease from India? We also plan to support an effort to build health infrastructure in central Africa, a program called Heart for Africa, as well as reach out to the slums behind the idyllic tourist area of Puerto Vallarta.
We could go on about our international work, but the Casino Night fundraiser is really about the kids of Bainbridge and Decatur County. We do so much here for our kids and youth. Following is a list of some of our local efforts:
• Four-Way Test project — We go into all the elementary schools in Decatur County, explaining our Four-Way Test code of ethics that emphasizes truth, fairness, friendship and caring for others. We let fourth graders write essays for prizes.
• Library books — Weekly, we contribute a book to the children’s section of our public library, in honor of our speaker.
• BHS Interact Club — We encourage our younger associates in their efforts to provide service to the community.
• Laws of Life essay program — High school students are asked to write essays based upon a truth or maxim that has been reflected in his/her life. This program promotes communication skills, and often serves as a catalyst to reveal character and challenges.
• Scholarships — Annually we provide financial rewards to outstanding students at the high school level, and also at Bainbridge College. These monetary awards reward service-oriented students and promote further educational accomplishment.
• Bainbridge College Rotaract Club — We support this college level Rotary Club, and these community-minded students and aspiring leaders in their outreach projects.
• Boy Scouts — We provide a Scout Hut and other types of support.
• Core Curriculum books — As a result of the state adopting Core Curriculum Standards, our school system must acquire new books listed in the Standards. We have arranged a Rotary grant to buy many of these books.
• 3-D Rover — Last year we bought a 3-D Rover system with programs and add-ons. This is currently being used to teach Bainbridge High School students, primarily in the sciences. Administrators and teachers are united in praise of the benefits of this tool that can create an image with a dimension of depth. From anatomy to chemical formulas, this tool replaces the two-dimensional page, allowing for new insight and understanding.
• 3-D Rovers for middle school — These 3-D Rovers have been shown to improve understanding and retention. However, projectors are quite expensive and there are no funds available in the school budget. Big need is where Rotarians find big answers! Our primary goal for the funds we raise at this Casino Night this year is a 3-D system for Bainbridge Middle School. They need it, our kids need it, and we plan to get it for them!
As the Bainbridge Rotary Club approaches our Casino Night fundraiser, we wanted Bainbridge and Decatur County to know that we are active and beneficent stewards of our resources. We are an integral and necessary part of this community. We strive to answer the needs of all the youth in our community. Please support our efforts!
Dr. Don Robinson is the chairman of the public-relations committee for the Bainbridge Rotary Club.

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