What Made Orange Great: Rotary International serves Orange and the world

Published 7:17 am Wednesday, July 21, 2021

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By Mike Louviere

Rotary International is an international service organization whose stated purpose if to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and advance goodwill and peace around the world. It is a non-political and not-religious organization open to all. There are over 3500 member clubs with a membership of over 1.2 million individuals known as Rotarians.

Paul Harris, a Chicago attorney founded the Rotary Club on February 3, 1905. He wanted an organization where professionals of diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful friendships. His vision for Rotary was stated by him after the club was established, “Whatever Rotary means to us, it will be known by the results it achieves.”

Over time, Rotary’s reach and vision gradually extended to humanitarian service.

Rotary has remained a truly international organization. Only six years after its founding, Rotary had clubs on six continents. In 1979, the fight against polio began with a project to immunize six million children in the Philippines. Today, polio is endemic in only three countries down from 125 in 1988.

The name Rotary was proposed by Harris because he intended for meetings to be held in rotation in members houses.

The name became the International Association of Rotary Clubs when clubs were established in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. In 1922, clubs were established on six continents and the name changed to Rotary International.

Rotary develops service projects in six broad areas: promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children through accessible health care and other services, supporting basic education and literacy, and growing local economics.

The Orange, Texas, club was admitted to Rotary International on June 1, 1919. The first club president was H.J.L. Stark. Stark and other influential men of the Orange Community believed that Orange would benefit from being a part of the service and humanitarian efforts of the national organization. Club meetings were held at the Holland Hotel.

Over the next few decades, the Orange club grew in both members and influence within the larger Rotary community. Stark provided leadership on the State of Texas regional level and eventually served as a director and vice president of Rotary International.

Rotary’s presence in Orange County grew with the Orange club sponsoring clubs in Vidor, chartered in 1970, and a club in Bridge City, chartered in 1974. The Bridge City club expanded and is now the Bridge City-Orangefield Rotary Club. The Orange County clubs provide full coverage for Rotary activities in the different communities in the county.

The motto, “Service Above Self” is put into practice in the four avenues of service. Club Service includes providing interesting and informative meeting programs, encouraging growth and participation among members. Community Service includes providing scholarships for local high school students and providing financial support for other community groups. Vocational Service recognizes persons who have made significant achievements in their business or profession. International Service involves the local club in a variety or service programs sponsored by the Rotary International. Orange Rotarians volunteer at the Lions Club Charity Carnival at the well-loved Goldfish Booth.

The Rotary Club of Orange is proud of its heritage and looks forward to meeting the opportunities and challenges which will bring its members to continue to put “Service Above Self” in their personal or business environments.