It was 1900. Change was everywhere. Thousands of people were fleeing oppression, political upheaval, and famine to come to our shores. Industry boomed with new technology. New scientific practices invaded human thinking and the education of our nation moving God and a religious worldview out and secularism in. Our population began to shift from the country to urban centers. There was upheaval in the lives of thousands and opportunities to help the needy abounded.
A young man from Iowa relocated to Chicago to practice law. Eager for friends, fellowship, and purpose, he sought out business associates to meet and discuss organizing a group for local professionals. They rotated among their offices during lunch to discuss and plan. It was 1905 and this was the birth of the Rotary Club.
From that first meeting, the club has grown from a local club of four men to an international network of 1.2 million men and women in over 35,000 clubs. It is an international organization of clubs with a foundation that helps fund their outreach of humanitarian projects. Each club comes “together to strengthen their connections to friends and neighbors and their commitment to improving lives.” They discover ways to improve their community through projects, partners, and programs. They participate in national and international humanitarian projects and friendship exchanges, sending local youths abroad and welcoming international youths to the U.S. to expand and enrich their lives. Rotary focuses on promoting peace; fighting disease; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; saving mothers and children; supporting education; growing local economies; and eradicating polio worldwide.
The Rotary Club is looking for members willing to think outside the box, share their strengths, and work with others to improve their world. Their motto is Service Above Self. They seek to befriend and serve with the highest ethical standards in personal and business relationships as a means to advance goodwill and peace worldwide. Minnesota has not lagged behind in this area of service. Northfield started their Rotary Club in 1925 and is one of the older and largest clubs in the area. They volunteer to drive for Meals-On-Wheels, help children read through the Northfield Promise literacy campaign, sponsor the annual fundraisers Jesse James Bike Tour and Turkey Trot 5K Run. They send students overseas and host internationals to Northfield through the Youth Exchange program and help clean the Cannon River Watershed Clean-up. In 2017 the Northfield Rotary raised funds to “develop a major clean water project for some 50 villages that surround Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Past projects funded, in part, by Northfield Rotary include Books for Africa, a generator project for Yendube Children’s Hospital in Togo, and solar panels for a rural medical clinic in Korbongou.”
The Northfield Rotarians are a friendly and giving group. You are invited to visit any time. Not close to Northfield? Check out the other clubs in the southeastern districts of Minnesota here and discover how you may work within your community to serve others.
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