Along the shores of the North Oregon Coast, a Rotary club has successfully emerged from the efforts and hard work of its local members. The Rotary Club of Seaside was admitted as a member of Rotary International on March 20, 1947 as Club #6553. Today Rotary has over 32,000 clubs. The Rotary Club of Seaside has proven time and again, that even small organizations can accomplish great things, and continues to do so with each passing year. The Seaside Club draws its membership, from not only Seaside, but also from the surrounding coastal communities of Gearhart, Cannon Beach, Arch Cape, and Manzanita.
Rotary was born on the evening of February 23, 1905, when Paul Harris, then a young Chicago attorney, met with three friends to discuss an idea that has long haunted him: create a club for people of different professions, regular meetings about friendship, to spend some time in the company and expand their professional knowledge. That evening, along with Paul Harris, there were Silvestre Schiele, coal merchant, Gustavus Loehr, a mining engineer and Hiram Shorey, a tailor. They met in Loehr’s office in Derarborn Street 127, in a building, the Unity Building, which still exists today in Chicago. At the next meeting, with the election of a fifth member, printer Harry Ruggles, the group officially took the name of Rotary Club of Chicago.
In 2007, on the 60th birthday of the Club, a Seaside Rotary 60th Anniversary insert was published and circulated to thousands of people by several local newspapers. In Rotary the word “community” encompasses the entire world, and the Seaside Club has extended its helping hands to not only local problems, but to many troubled areas throughout the world. Although the club has at times had 70 or more members, in the last few years the membership has usually ranged in the 40′s.
The idea of Rotary started with a Chicago attorney, Paul P Harris, in 1905. He wanted the business community of Chicago to reach out and serve others in need. His idea caught on with others and spread rapidly across the USA (Portland was club #15) and quickly into other countries (Canada 1911, Great Britain 1912, Cuba then India in 1920. The 2nd big Convention of Rotarians was in Portland in 1911.
At the time of his death in 1947, the Rotary foundation was infused with donations in his honor and was able to grow to a point where it could support a wide range of educational programs, humanitarian grants, peace programs, and special projects which have brought hope and salvation to the poor of our world. Today Rotarians raise over $100 million annually for The Rotary Foundation, and has donated incredible time and expertise plus raised hundreds of millions to eradicate Polio from every comer of the earth. Thu number of villages suffering with polio are reduced everyday, as we go the final inch.
One of our biggest programs is the Youth Exchange Program, which not only gives selected children from our community a chance to really become familiar with a foreign culture, but offers a home to a student from elsewhere in the world to become familiar with us. Over the last 43 years the Seaside Club has sent over 55 students abroad and received over 45 students as “inbounds.” The club observes that this experience in our young people helps them reach outside of themselves, extend their horizons, and become much better world citizens.
In 1985 the club began offering scholarships to Seaside High School graduates. It is estimated the club has awarded over $145,000 in scholarships. The club now grants five scholarships to graduating seniors, a 4 year scholarship of $2,000 a year to a graduating senior, and up to three post graduate scholarships, every year.
Other annual projects of the club include the Wishing Tree Project, The Dictionary Program, Park & Highway Clean-up, other Hands On Projects, World Community Service, and fill Donation Requests from other organizations in the community. The Wishing Tree Project has become a wide-spread community project involving hundreds of non-Rotarians, and last year helped over 550 children in our community to have a happy holiday. The club raises the money to buy gifts, organizes the gifts by child and then invites the community to the Seaside Convention Center to wrap gifts. The community continues to wrap their arms around this project and to feel a pride in being able to help others.
The Dictionary Program gives out dictionaries to all 4th graders in our community, public and private schools. The club is responsible for cleaning the highway between 24th Avenue and Dooley Bridge in Seaside four times a year, and also Goodman Park, which the Club has adopted.
The club’s World Community Service Committee has matched our club up with other other club around the world for projects and grants. For example, we have brought clean water and sanitation to places like Sumba and Bali Islands in Indonesia, Myanmar orphanages, and helped hundreds of people see for lack of cataracts in India. We provided more efficient burning stoves in Honduras, sent books and computers to students in Indonesia, sent tool boxes to wheel chair mechanics in Guatemala, and so many more worthwhile projects throughout the world.
Locally, Seaside Rotary has also helped paint and refurbish a Hospice Home in Clatsop County, help repair and refurbish a Head Start School in Seaside, plant trees in a Seaside Reserve Area, built a ramp for a gentleman confined to a wheelchair in his home, painte and repaired out-buildings for a public baseball field, and the list goes on and on.
The Seaside Club is one of over 70 clubs that make up Rotary District 5100. The district covers the Northern portion of Oregon from Western to Eastern borders, south including Salem, and also includes areas around Vancouver, Washington and the SW Pacific Peninsula Club in Long Beach, Washington. District 5100 is one of over 500 Rotary Districts around the world, comprising over 32,000 clubs. Rotary reaches across 200 countries and geographic areas, and continues to grow with each passing year.
The Rotary Club of Seaside is proud of its affiliation with Rotary International and with its accomplishments over the years. The entire history of our club has been to follow the principal motto of Rotary, “Service Above Self.” In so many ways, the club has fulfilled its belief in and devotion to community; locally, nationally, and internationally. We welcome other similar-minded people in our local communities to join in this service.