Sixteen Victor-Farmington Rotary Club members recently joined a group of over 500 Rotarians from upstate New York, southern Canada and New England at Rotary Club of Rochester’s sold-out Eastern Cities Fellowship Dinner at the Riverside Convention Center.
The 80th annual dinner is one of the most prestigious Rotary gatherings in the northeast. Rotarians gathered to hear John Germ, president of Rotary International, speak about the Rotary Foundation and the impact Rotarians can have on the less fortunate of the world through its resources.
Rotary Club of Rochester started the Eastern Cities Fellowship Dinner in 1921. Paul Harris, who organized the first Rotary Club in 1905 in Chicago, attended the dinner in 1936 to celebrate Rotary Club of Rochester’s 25th anniversary. The Rochester club was founded in 1912 and became the 36th club in Rotary. There are over 32,000 Rotary clubs around the world and over 1.2 million Rotarians today.
Victor-Farmington Rotary Club has utilized Rotary Foundation resources for service projects in Nicaragua and Paraguay.
Past District Gov. Don Alhart, a news anchor and Rochester Rotarian, served as the dinner’s master of ceremonies. Past District Gov. Scott MacDonell, of Clifton Springs Rotary Club, served as an aide for Germ during his visit. District 7120 Gov. Tom Rogers, of the Canandaigua Rotary Club, introduced Germ at the dinner.
The Rotary Foundation was initiated in 1917 to provide a funding mechanism to finance Rotary’s service projects. Rotarians around the world donate money to the Foundation through their clubs and as individuals.
Germ said that the Rotary Foundation is the heart of what Rotary does — service to others. The Foundation disburses $225,000,000 in grants every year to further Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self.”
“The money is not as important as what the money can do,” Germ said.
He also reviewed the many things Rotary has accomplished through foundation funding, from worldwide efforts to eradicate polio to service projects Rotarians support to improve the lives of others.
Germ commented on the partnership between Rotary and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates has donated hundreds of millions of dollars in matching funds to Rotary efforts to eliminate polio around the world. Germ said that Bill Gates has explained in the past why he is committed to supporting Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio with a simple, “I trust you.”
Those attending the dinner were invited to sign pledge cards to contribute an additional $100 in the coming year to the Foundation, resulting in an additional $22,000.