The Rockford Rotary Club is the oldest service club in Rockford. It was chartered on June 15, 1916 on the condition that regular meetings would be held from September through June of each year. This was against the rules that had been set by Rotary's founder, Paul Harris. The Rockford Group insisted that if they couldn't take July and August off to enjoy their boating and baseball activities, that they would not form a Rotary Club in Rockford. After much negotiation and a lot of persuasion, Paul Harris agreed to the condition and to this day, Rockford Rotary is one of the few Rotary Clubs in the world that maintains the 10 month tradition. There have been numerous attempts by Rotary International to change this, but the Rockford Club maintains that since the exception was made by Paul Harris himself, they will continue to meet according to the original charter conditions.
Another tradition of the Club is that there are no annual fundraising events. Money earned from the Rockford Rotary Charitable Association is used to fund projects throughout the year. For special projects like New American Theatre or Polio Plus, members are asked to contribute what they feel is appropriate and the money goes directly to the project.
Rockford Rotary has a long tradition of recruiting members who are considered the leaders of the community. Our members are very active in the community. They serve on the Boards of many of the local community organizations and support these organizations with their time, talent and treasure. It is a rare charitable event or fundraiser that does not have a Rockford Rotary member either working or attending.
While we try to maintain our traditions, Rockford Rotary takes pride in changing with the times. The first woman member was admitted in January of 1988 and the first woman President was installed in 1999. There has been an effort during the recent years to change the conception of an "old guys" club and actively recruit women members and also seek out younger members.
Rockford Rotary will continue to redefine ourselves to become more relevant to the community, to continue to grow and be of service to the Rockford Community.