Rotary One

The world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, was formed on 23 February 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wanted to capture in a professional club the same friendly spirit that he had felt in the small towns of his youth.

One hundred and seventeen years later that Club – affectionately known as Rotary One – still meets in Chicago and is visited by thousands of Rotarians from around the world. Our Club Secretary John Margetts recently had the opportunity to join them and to bring back one of their Club banners which he this evening presented to President John.

“A trip to Chicago to attend the US Housewares Show offered me the opportunity to visit the club where Paul Harris founded Rotary in 1905.

Today the club meets on the 5th floor of the elegant Union League Club, a low rise skyscraper, close to City Hall and west of State Street. Although they have 400 members meetings usually generate just 40 or 50 attendees. There is no minimum attendance attached (sic) to membership. It has not affected their giving as Chicago One has raised over £733,000 for Polio eradication since 1986.

There are differences to Tettenhall, grace is replaced by a ‘thought for the day’ and the toast to the Queen by the assembly standing and reciting the objects of Rotary.  An excellent three course cost $34 (£22) at a round tables and coffee is available throughout the meal. Their hospitality was generous and I ended up talking to many people but not one had heard of Wolverhampton, so it was ‘a club near Birmingham’. Members wear large round badges 4”Ø which await them on arrival. All organised by a full time secretary and assistant. Photos are taken of everyone as they arrive which are projected throughout the meal on a large screen on the dais; you can see mine with their President Barry.

It was an honour to have been where it all started and I shall not forget my lunch with Club One.”

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