12 Steps to Rotary’s Centennial

Frequently, Rotarians ask what they should be doing in their Club, District and as individuals to help promote the 100th Anniversary of Rotary International. The official launching of Centennial activities will be on February 23, and will continue through Rotary’s Centennial Convention in Chicago from June 18 to 23, 2005. The following twelve steps may provide guidance for Rotarians who wish to become involved in promoting and supporting this once-in-a-lifetime Rotary event.
Cliff Dochterman, Chairman Centennial Operations Committee


In 1982, the Rotary’s PolioPlus program was designated a “birthday gift to the children of the world” for our 2005 Centennial. Every Rotarian’s activity to help conduct National Immunization Days, supporting PolioPlus Partners projects, or maintain awareness of PolioPlus can actually assist Rotary achieve our Centennial Goal of a “polio-free world.”


Every Rotarian should help and encourage their club to complete a Centennial Community Project to fulfill some significant community need. Over 5000 clubs have registered their Centennial Community projects with Rotary International. (This can still be done.) Children’s playgrounds, community parks, health clinics, groves of trees, senior centers, food banks and civic plazas are but a few of the various projects planned around the world.


Hundreds of clubs have established a “twin club” in another part of the world to promote international goodwill and friendship through joint projects, youth exchange, World Community Service, Friendship Exchanges and regular communication. Rotarians should seek out a “twin club,” register the relationship and create new experiences in international fellowship.


Many clubs are collecting memorabilia, photographs of service activities, civic awards given to Rotary, and other interesting historical items to prepare attractive centennial displays for store windows, libraries and local museums. The rich history of Rotary in your community can be portrayed on high quality displays and posters to show how Rotary has been a significant influence to the quality of life in your community. Rotary International has produced a set of three colorful Centennial posters (at a cost of only $10) which can be incorporated into local displays.


Rotarians can make plans now to attend and participate in the Centennial UN Day at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in November, 2004. This day-long event will enable Rotarians to see and explore the facilities of the United Nations and join in seminars related to critical issues of peace, conflict resolution and the promotion of international goodwill and understanding. Details of Centennial Rotary-UN Day will be announced soon. Many Rotarians will wish to travel to New York to join in this special Centennial event.


The vocational avenue of Rotary will be observed the month of April, 2005 during Centennial Volunteer Month. All Rotarians will be encouraged to volunteer at least 10 hours of service in their vocation, profession, avocation or community service during the month. The event will demonstrate the tremendous importance and commitment which Rotarians have given in serving their communities during the past 100 years. A special report form will be made available to record each club’s volunteer contribution. Local club leaders should soon be planning community volunteer activities. A worldwide goal of 10 million hours of donated service is anticipated from the Rotarians of the world.


A beautiful 354 page book has been written and published by Rotarian David C. Forward called, “A Century of Service – The Story of Rotary International.” This colorful historical publication is now on sale for $25. Many Rotarians will want to secure a personal copy of the book, as well as additional copies to place in local libraries. The story of Rotary would also make a nice gift to college, university and high school libraries. Each club should anticipate where the Centennial History Book should be donated.


Many clubs are already setting aside one meeting per month, beginning in July, 2004, to feature the Centennial as the club meeting program. Twelve power-point presentations are under production for use at one of the meetings of Rotary clubs each month. These presentations on different historical features and programs of Rotary may be downloaded from the Rotary website as soon as the power-point presentations are completed. Monthly historical features will cover such topics as Rotary and Youth activities; Community Service; The Rotary Foundation; the Past Presidents of Rotary; Polio Eradication and Rotary, etc. Clubs and districts will also be planning birthday celebration banquets during February, 2005. Many Clubs are scheduling a short “historical moment” at each club meeting to recall special events in Rotary’s first 100 years.


The 100th birthday of Rotary International is the greatest opportunity Rotary has ever had to expand our public image. It is a chance to tell the community and the world what Rotary is and what Rotary does. Rotarians should be planning now to take advantage of every local media opportunity. Many clubs are seeking support from billboard companies for free or reduced costs to place attractive centennial billboards and large posters which tell of a century of service to the world. Some clubs are planning special sections of newspapers and television productions to commemorate Rotary in their community. A documentary video has been commissioned and is being prepared for showing on U.S. Public Broadcasting stations, and later become available and translated for worldwide distribution. Rotary International is preparing materials for public service announcements on radio and television which clubs may use locally. Some states are seeking Rotary commemorative license plates which promote the Rotary identity along the highways. Many clubs are appointing public relations teams to promote the centennial.


Two major goals will challenge Rotarians during the Centennial celebration. The Centennial Membership goal is to seek several hundred thousand new Rotarians during 2004-05. By bringing in new members Rotary will demonstrate that even at the age of 100, Rotary Inter-national is still strong, healthy and very attractive to men and women of all ages. An active membership, retention and orientation plan should be created in all clubs to achieve this goal. A Rotary Foundation contribution goal of an average $100 per member has been established for the Centennial. This goal will require a personal commitment and some sacrifice by many Rotarians. However, when achieved, it will enable the humanitarian and educational programs of The Rotary Foundation to be greatly expanded.


All of the Centennial activities will culminate at the International Convention to be held in Chicago in June, 2005. Thousands of Rotarians are already making plans to attend the convention of the century. A centennial parade will initiate a fantastic convention weekend. Many groups are already preparing to participate in the parade through the streets of Chicago. World renown speakers will be on hand and visiting Rotarians will find Rotary at its very best. A large menu of activities is being planned by the host, Chicago Rotary Club Number One.


There are dozens of other ideas on the Rotary International website www.rotary.org which will give your club and district many additional ways to observe the Rotary Centennial. Browse the Centennial pages to learn more about the Centennial Bell, the Centennial Calendar, 100 Ideas for Rotary clubs, Famous Rotarians, and much, much more. The Centennial is limited only by the imagination of Rotarians.