The Rotary Clubs of The Bahamas: A brief history

THE world's first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, was formed on February 23 by Paul P Harris, an attorney who wished to capture the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth in a professional club The Rotary name derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members' offices. Rotary's popularity spread and, within a decade, clubs were chartered from San Francisco to New York to Winnipeg, Canada. By 1921, Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents. The organisation adopted the Rotary International name a year later. As Rotary grew, its mission expanded beyond serving club members' professional and social interests. Rotarians began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to help serve communities in need. The organisation's dedication to this ideal is best expressed in its motto: Service Above Self. By July 1925, Rotary had grown to more than 2,000 clubs and an estimated 108,000 members. Almost sixty years later, Rotary came to the Bahamas when Jack Shillan, with sponsorship from the Rotary Club of South Miami, became the first president of the Rotary Club of Nassau, which was chartered on January 19, 1962. The Nassau Club sponsored the formation of the East Club (1963) to provide an alternate location for make-ups. This was followed by Abaco (1971), West (1975), South East (1976), New Providence (1988), Sunrise (2001), Eleuthera (2009) and Cat Island (2009). There are currently approximately 409 Rotarians in the Bahamas. Over the past 50 years, the Clubs, both jointly and on their own, have worked to fulfill Rotary's motto of 'Service Above Self'. Rotarians have worked with communities, individuals, civic associations and charities to help provide a better quality of life. Part of District 7020, several Bahamian Rotarians have filled the position of district governor and Rotarian Barry Rassin is a past Rotary international director. The Bahamas now also has (4) Rotaract Clubs, (9) Interact Clubs and two newly formed Earlyact Clubs. With this strong, younger base, the future growth of Rotary in the Bahamas should be assured. Notable achievements over the years have been: * 'Rotarama' - A joint project of the Nassau and East Clubs which raised in excess of $200,000 between 1967 and the early seventies - was an annual fair with horse racing, booths and the USAF Thunderbirds. Proceeds went to the Boy Scouts, BASRA (a new search and rescue craft) and the Salvation Army Youth Hostel and Workshop. Over 160 Rotarians participated. * 1995 - The first two women were inducted into Rotary in the Bahamas. * Funds donated towards the Cancer Care Centre * Built the Cheshire Home for the Disabled * 'Coins Against Crime' raised funds nationwide for the fight against crime * 'Hands Across The Bahamas' partial funds built a Detoxification Centre at Sandilands Hospital. * 'Project Read' - a functional literacy programme * In conjunction with US Clubs, we obtained a Rotary grant to purchase a Bloodmobile * Incubators for the Neonatal ICU at Princess Margaret Hospital * 6,200 gallon water plant built in Grand Bahama * Financial and material aid given to Haiti earthquake relief and cholera control, together with a telethon. * Disaster relief to islands in the Bahamas affected by hurricanes, including Grand Bahama and Inagua. * Since 1997, have held the Model United Nations Session


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