The 115 members of the Rotary Club of Naperville unite under the mission of Leadership through Community Service. Working locally and globally, Rotarians seek areas where opportunities for humanitarian service exist, encouraging members to serve through their vocations, seek an area of service that interests them and to help build goodwill and peace win the world.
Each new year, the Rotary International President chooses a global theme for Rotary. Rotary Opens Opportunities is a theme that has manifested itself into many ways to pivot, adapt, and still do good in the world, even when faced with a pandemic, proving that Rotarians are resilient and will find a way to serve their fellow man. Reflecting upon the challenges of the year ahead at the beginning of 2020, the President of the Naperville club chose a local theme of “Be Well To Do Good” with a focus on members’ self-care, mental wellness and health and safe choices so the club could creatively and safely continue their work to serve.
History of Rotary
The vision of Paul Harris, who formed the first Rotary Club in Chicago in 1905, was that professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships.
Over time, Rotary’s reach and vision gradually extended to humanitarian service. Members have a long track record of addressing challenges in their communities and around the world. Today there are over 34,000 Rotary Clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas with 1.2 million members worldwide. The Rotary Club of Naperville is a member of Rotary International. 2021 marks the 80th year of our club’s founding with 15 members in 1941. The original founding spirit of Rotary is open to all professions and promotes the highest ethical standards, service to others, and to help build goodwill and peace throughout the world.
The global Rotary focus areas are the environment, peace building and conflict prevention; disease prevention and treatment; water, sanitation, and hygiene; maternal and child health; basic education and literacy; and community economic development. Rotary has also been fighting to eradicate polio since 1979 with a project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. Today, polio remains endemic in only three countries — down from 125 in 1988.
Accomplishments of Rotary Club of Naperville
The Rotary Club of Naperville supports basic humanitarian needs to our local community with over $300,000 annually in financial support through grants to local nonprofits in and around Naperville and scholarship opportunities to High School Graduates who demonstrate leadership through service to their community. Over the last 20 years, the Club has given over $2.2 million to local organizations to support humanitarian programs through Naperville Rotary Charities and Rotary Club of Naperville Charities. In collaboration with Century Walk the club also installed Rotary Harmony Park in 2018 as a gift to Naperville along the Riverwalk.
The club is proud of the outcome of their major fundraiser, Jazz Quilt, in November 2020. Chaired by club President-elect Brian O’Malley, $70,000 of aid was provided by pulling together world class jazz artists from across the country who presented a one of a kind virtual concert to benefit the local causes of mental health awareness, domestic violence and suicide prevention, all areas that have become topics in the forefront of this past year.
Rotary Club of Naperville has also installed life-saving smoke detectors in at-risk housing areas, held blood drives, provided iPads to residents of nursing homes to provide a communication tool with loved ones, and much more. Even during the pandemic, the club collected record numbers of coats for the Homeless Veteran’s Coat Drive, did garden clean-up for St. Patrick’s Residence in Naperville, rang bells for the Salvation Army, delivered meals to families through the Community Christmas Meals program with the Park District and the YMCA, all with safety at the forefront. The club has proven that service can be accomplished safely even in the face of a health crisis.
How can community members engage with Rotary and become members?
The club currently meets most Thursdays at 12:15pm by Zoom. The virtual format has allowed the club to present programs by global speakers otherwise impossible. The club welcomes anyone who would like to join us for a meeting to do so by the Zoom link on our website. Contacting us through the information you will show on the screen, we will respond to welcome you to our next meeting so you can see if Rotary membership might be a fit for you. We are a club focused on service, yet we also enjoy opportunities to engage and have fun together as members united to do good in the world.
Alma Jones, President