Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rotary Celebrates 100 Years Local Clubs Look toward 100 More

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rotary Celebrates 100 Years Local Clubs Look toward 100 More

Article excerpt

Fresh from celebrating the 100th birthday of Rotary International, 51 Rotary clubs scattered throughout Allegheny, Beaver and Westmoreland counties are gearing up for more milestones in 2005.

Though Rotary International was founded in Chicago in 1905, the organization's story in the Steel City area began five years later when the Pittsburgh club was established, making it just the 20th Rotary founded. Today, the organization has more than 31,000 clubs across the globe with 1.2 million members.

The Rotary took its name from the early practice of rotating meetings among the business offices of its members.

Pittsburgh has some special connections with the Rotary. The group's logo -- a gold spoked gear bearing the words "Rotary International" -- was designed by a Pittsburgher, Louis E. Evans. And the Rotary's flagship international effort -- the PolioPlus program, which has immunized more than 2 billion children worldwide - - was made possible by the vaccine invented by Dr. Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh.

After a low point in enrollment three years ago, the local clubs have seen a 10 percent to 15 percent growth in recent years, estimated Jonathan Maurer, governor of Rotary District 7300, which encompasses the Pittsburgh area clubs.

"Rotary is rebuilding itself just as Pittsburgh is," he said. "The fastest-growing clubs are in what I would call 'the new Pittsburgh economy' ... where things are really happening in the district."

Maurer, 45, a native of Fayette County, joined Rotary 15 years ago while working in Elkins, W.Va. He is particularly excited about the future of Rotary in and around Pittsburgh.

The organization, he said, gives members unparalleled opportunities to be part of international efforts to better the world. But only a moment's observation of the district's centennial celebration last month at the Rivers Club in One Oxford Center, Downtown, showed that District 7300 is clearly most invested in local efforts.

Eddie Grimes, a member of the Green Tree Rotary, gave an emotional thanks to those assembled for the privilege of representing the organization in local flood relief efforts.

"The last few months, you allowed me to give flood victim businesses almost $20,000. And when we gave them the money, the check, I represented you and that's really quite an honor ... and in all that [we] do, that's the payoff."

Rotary also accepted a citation from the state Legislature at the centennial event as well as a proclamation from the office of Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato, both honoring Rotary for a century of service in Western Pennsylvania.

Maurer said one of the goals of this year's centennial celebration is "getting people to understand their opportunity to serve the community would be vastly increased with some sort of affiliation with Rotary. …

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