Winnetka/Northfield Rotary Club

Gazette Article by: Suzanne Timble
Appeared in the Gazette: Fall 2004

The Winnetka Rotary Club is celebrating its 80th anniversary. It held its first meeting on May 24, 1924, at the Winnetka Community House, and to this day, the weekly meetings are held at the same location. In 2002, the name of the Club was changed to the “Winnetka/Northfield Rotary Club.”

At the first meeting, there were 20 charter members, including Alva L. Adams, Elmer E. Adams, M.L. Adams, Edward A. Anderson, Edmund G. Brochu, Burton Blow, Frederick D. Clerk, Frederick J. Eckart, Dr. James E. Fonda, Alfred D. Herrmann, Harold O. Hill, Victor J. Killian, Raymond N. Kloepfer, Rev. James A. Richards, Reuben H. Schell, George W. Slocum, E.C. Missenberg, Early L. Weinstock, William L. Wente and William T. Wersted.

In 1987, Ellen Gerding, Mary Martin and Faye Becker were the first women to join the Winnetka Rotary Club. In 1994-1995, Lynda Anderson was the first woman president, and currently the Club has more than 90 members representing a cross-section of local business and professional leaders.

Rotary International is the world’s oldest service organization, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Attorney Paul Harris organized the first Rotary meeting on February 23, 1905, in Chicago. Rotary expanded to other countries beginning in 1911, when clubs were formed in Canada, Great Britain and Ireland. The first Rotary club in a non-English speaking country was formed in Cuba in 1915. Currently there are more than 1.2 million members in more than 31,000 clubs in 165 countries.

The ideal of service, exemplified by the Club’s motto “Service Above Self,” is the link that unites Rotarians around the world. The first community service project for the Chicago club was the provision of a public toilet outside of Chicago’s City Hall. Over the years, Rotary has expanded its service efforts through clubs for adolescents and young adults, and through volunteer efforts which promote recreational, vocational, medical and educational needs. In 1979, the Rotary Foundation provided a grant to immunize six million Philippine children against polio, and in 1984, the Foundation launched the PolioPlus campaign to raise $120 million to immunize all the children of the world against polio.

The objective of Rotary is to encourage and foster:

• The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
• High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
• The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life;
• The advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.

The Winnetka Northfield Club has a long history of supporting local, regional and international organizations and causes. The club has assisted numerous organizations including, but not limited to, New Trier Township High School, the North Shore Senior Center, inner city schools and literacy programs. In 1998, the club launched a micro-lending banking program in Uganda that has made it possible for thousands of women to start their own businesses and break the cycle of abject poverty. In addition to financial assistance, there is hands-on participation including food drives, blood drives and participation in environmental projects. As part of Rotary’s Centennial Celebration, the Winnetka Northfield Club made a significant contribution to help with Winnetka’s Schmidt-Burnham Log House project, including the provision of handicapped access and pathways.

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