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Rotary Happenings: The bits, pieces and the ABCs of Rotary

By Staff | Aug 6, 2019

If you asked a Rotarian if he or she belonged to Rotary International, the individual probably would look puzzled and answer, “Of course I’m a member of Rotary International.” But in this instance, the confident Rotarian would be technically wrong. No Rotarian can be a member of Rotary International. The explanation of this apparent contradiction is simple. The constitutional documents of RI state that membership in Rotary International is limited to Rotary Clubs. A Rotary Club is composed of persons with the appropriate qualifications of good character and reputation and a business or professional classification. The Rotarian belongs to a club – the club belongs to Rotary International.

Rotary International is an international service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. It is a non-political and non-religious organization open to all people, regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender or political preference. There are 35,000-plus member clubs worldwide, and 1.2 million individuals.

Frequently, friends ask whether Rotarians receive special business benefits from their Rotary Club membership. Should Rotarians expect a special discount or some preferential service just because they are dealing with a fellow Rotarian? The answer is clearly “no.” The Rotary Manual of Procedure expressly states the Rotary position on this matter. The policy, originally approved by the RI board of directors in 1933, is that in business and professional relations “a Rotarian should not expect, and far less should he ask for, more consideration or advantages from a fellow Rotarian than the latter would give to any other business or professional associate with whom he has business relations.” Over 50 years ago the concept was expressed that “true friends demand nothing of one another, and any abuse of the confidence of friendship for profit is foreign to the spirit of Rotary.”

On the other hand, if new or increased business comes as the natural result of friendship created in Rotary, it is the same normal development that takes place outside of Rotary as well as inside, so it is not an infringement on the ethics of Rotary membership. It is important to remember that the primary purpose of Rotary membership is to provide each member with a unique opportunity to serve others, and membership is not intended as a means for personal profit or special privileges.

Each Rotary Club is unique on its own merits, representing its own community and the complexities of the business and social entities of that unique place. The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary members involve themselves in the community and take leadership roles in all manner of businesses and non-profit entities on the islands and just off-shore leading to the islands. In doing so, San-Cap Rotarians have a knowledge base that provides the club with exceptional knowledge of how to service our own community. The Rotary Club of Sanibel-Captiva’s Trust Fund Board is able to evaluate grant applications submitted by organizations and non-profits in the community and make decisions on grant requests based on projected positive outcomes aligned with Rotary fundamentals.

In the last few years alone, the San-Cap Rotary has pledged large grant contributions to the capital/building/special project funds of The Community House, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, BIG ARTS, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, Sanibel Historical Museum and Village, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and so many more important and community valued enrichment entities. The club supports a plethora of important non-profits on-island and in Lee County, from Community Housing and Resources on Sanibel to the Harlem Heights Community Center in Fort Myers.

Rotary Clubs across the globe are part of their Rotary District giving and International giving, as well. Involving themselves by partnering with Rotary Clubs both nationally and internationally on special projects defined by our focus of service models toward:

– Disease prevention and treatment

– Water and sanitation

– Maternal and child health

– Basic education and literacy

– Economic and community development

– Peace and conflict prevention/resolution

Rotary International’s pledge to eliminate polio from being anywhere in the world is an ongoing top priority for Rotary. The number of polio cases worldwide has dropped 99 percent, and the virus remains endemic in just three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Rotary Club members are like-minded in the fact that they have the vision to see the world as a better place for all and their dedication to “Service Above Self” is the driving force to do so.

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are welcome to attend.