This month the Rotary Club of Tampa begins its Centennial Year Celebration. The occasion merits the community’s attention and applause.
The Rotary’s motto is “service above self,” and Tampa Rotarians have supported — through contributions and physical labor — hundreds of worthy causes through the decades.
They have provided earthquake relief for Haiti, built wheelchair ramps at the homes of the disabled, bought water filters for impoverished Dominican Republic residents and obtained personal transportation devices for wounded veterans.
Just the other day the club announced a plan to raise $100,000 to equip 100 police cars with heart defibrillators.
Among the dozens of charitable organizations the club has supported are the Crisis Center, Habitat for Humanity, Alpha House’s facility for homeless pregnant women, and Metropolitan Ministries.
Club officials say the Rotary Club of Tampa began in April 1914 when local business executive John A. Turner convened a meeting of professional men at the Hillsboro Hotel. (The club now includes women.) Turner had been impressed by a visit to the Rotary Club of Jacksonville the previous year.
The original Rotary was founded in Chicago in 1905.
The organization holds weekly luncheons and focuses on community needs.
The Rotary Club has been proactive whenever a local need is identified. It started the Boys Club of Tampa, which evolved into the Boys and Girls Club, to help disadvantage youngsters and prevent delinquency.
It is unfortunate that through the years interest in such volunteer service organizations has declined. This may be partly a result of a changing business climate, where jobs are less secure, hours are long and relocations are common.
But the Rotary Club of Tampa, characteristically, has been proactive. It has aggressively recruited younger members. The club now has more than 150 active participants.
After 100 years, the Rotary Club of Tampa remains strong, relevant and committed to its tradition of service and fellowship.