By Brenda Gibson
Back in 1917, a fellow named Arch C. Klumph had an ambitious dream.
A self-made lumber magnate and founding member of the Rotary Club of Cleveland in 1911, Klumph had a philanthropic vision that Rotary “should accept endowments for the purpose of doing good in the world.”
After launching his idea publicly in 1917 and receiving favorable response, the first donation was received from the Rotary Club of Kansas City in the amount of $26.50.
After a few dormant decades, the concept flourished when, in 1947, Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary and a close friend of Klumph, made it his dying wish that anyone who wanted to truly honour his memory would do it in the form of a donation to The Rotary Foundation. A year-and-a-half later, the Paul Harris Memorial Fund had raised over $1.3 million from Rotarians around the world. Before Klumph himself passed away in 1951, he charged Rotarians to use the foundation as a “mighty lever, to move the world.”
And they have done that since, in ways both large and small.
Initially using foundation funds to aid Rotarians displaced by the Second World War, the foundation over time began to think bigger and bigger.
From its first program, Fellowships for Advanced Study (later known as Ambassadorial Scholarships), the foundation later awarded its first gift of $500 in 1930 to the International Society for Crippled Children (Easter Seals). That led to the 3-H program (Health, Hunger and Humanity) and the first 3-H Grant was awarded in 1979 to immunize six million children in the Philippines against polio.
In 1980, Rotary vowed to eradicate the polio virus through global immunization. This past Oct. 24 marked the fourth annual World Polio Day, celebrating Rotary’s progress on the road to the achievement of this lofty goal.
This often-crippling infectious disease has no specific treatment and not all who contract it fully recover. Yet, the disease is preventable with a vaccine and, for as little as 60 cents, a child can be protected against this disease for life.
After that first vaccination project in the Philippines, the PolioPlus program was launched in 1985, and Rotary and its partners – WHO, UNICEF, the CDC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – have immunized more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.
Rotary is pleased to report that polio has been eradicated in more than 120 countries and the number of cases has reduced by 99.9 per cent worldwide.
We’re almost there!
In 2016-’17, The Rotary Foundation turns 100, after a century of changing lives and improving communities all over the world.
A year of festivities has already begun in Korea at the 2016 Rotary Convention.
This month, the Semiahmoo club will celebrate with their annual foundation dinner, awarding Paul Harris Fellows to those individuals who have contributed, or who have contributions made in their name, US$1,000 to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.
The good work of Rotary continues.
Last month, the Rotary Club of South Surrey’s Beatles Tribute Evening raised $3,000 for PADS (Pacific Assistance Dogs Society) to sponsor a Canine Assisted Team (dog and handler). As promised, The Fab Fourever band rocked the Legion, proving plenty of excuses to get up and dance.
Thank you to everyone who supported this fun event.
Across the Peninsula a few days later, White Rock Rotary president Raj Rajagopal presented cheques to three Earl Marriott students for their thought-provoking essays written in response to articles they had read in the Peace Arch News. The three judges were from the Rotary Club of White Rock, the Peace Arch News and from Panorama Ridge Secondary.
From over 50 submissions, the selected winners were Claudine Paed, Molly Fizzard and Kiera Clark.
Thank you and congratulations to everyone who participated.
The story that began with one man’s vision has touched billions of lives, and continues to gain momentum.
Where will the next 100 years take it? We can’t wait to see!
Brenda Gibson writes monthly on behalf of the Semiahmoo Peninsula’s five Rotary Clubs – firstname.lastname@example.org