About Rotary


Rotary International is an international service organization whose stated human rights purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. It is a secular organization open to all people regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender, or political preference. There are approximately 34,500 member clubs worldwide with 1.2 million plus individuals called Rotarians have joined these clubs.

The Cohase Rotary Club serves towns on both sides of the Connecticut River. The Vermont towns include Newbury (Newbury village, Wells River village, and West Newbury village), Bradford, and Fairlee. The New Hampshire towns of Haverhill (Haverhill Corner village, North Haverhill village, Pike village, and Woodsville village), Orford, and Piermont.


Rotarians usually gather weekly for breakfast, lunch, or dinner to fulfill their first guiding principle to develop friendships as an opportunity for service. It is the duty of all Rotarians outside their clubs, to be active as individuals in as many legally constituted groups and organizations as possible to promote, not only in words but through exemplary dedication, awareness of the dignity of all people and the respect of the consequent human rights of the individual. The Rotarian’s primary motto is “Service Above Self”; its secondary motto is “One profits most who serves best.”

The first Rotary Club was formed when attorney Paul P. Harris called together a meeting of three business acquaintances in downtown Chicago, at Harris’s friend’s office in the on February 23, 1905. In addition to Harris and Loehr (a mining engineer and freemason), Silvester Schiele (a coal merchant), and Hiram E. Shorey (a tailor) were the other two who attended this first meeting. The members chose the name Rotary because initially they rotated subsequent weekly club meetings to each other’s offices, although within a year, the Chicago club became so large it became necessary to adopt the now-common practice of a regular meeting place.

The next four Rotary Clubs were organized in cities in the western United States, beginning with San Francisco, then Oakland, Los Angeles, and Seattle. The National Association of Rotary Clubs in America was formed in 1910. On November 3, 1910, a Rotary club began meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  On 22 February 1911, the first meeting of the Rotary Club Dublin was held in Dublin, Ireland. This was the first club established outside of North America. To reflect the addition of a club outside of the United States, the name was changed to the International Association of Rotary Clubs in 1912.


Rotary exists in 200+ countries. The reason Rotary exists in all these countries is while Rotarians gain much more from Rotary than they will ever give, it is an outward reaching organization working to accomplish good works and peacemaking throughout the world. Rotary International has ongoing partnerships with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Global FoodBanking Network, ShelterBox, UNESCO – IHE (Institute for Water Education), UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), United Nations, and the WHO (World Health Organization). These are the global efforts accomplished on a large scale.

What really counts and makes the in person connections that is so essential to Rotary though, is the project accomplished by each individual Rotary Club. Individual Rotary clubs are given support and encouragement to find their own meaningful projects internationally and accomplish them with the physical, financial and intellectual resources from their own club. As they need help, they can reach up to the District level or even Rotary International. Rotary International encourages such projects through their DDF (District Designated Funds) program. That’s the beauty of it. If what you are trying to accomplish is bigger than you can handle, you reach up and out for more support.  You become a mouthpiece for the people around the world that need your help in their lives.

No wonder that peace is accomplished from the various international service projects, the youth exchanges, and business leader international trips and the various conventions offered through Rotary. When you are two feet steadfast on the ground standing toe to toe with someone you are serving, looking into their smiling face and brilliant eyes – how can you not “feel” what Rotary is all about.