THE BEGINNING OF FRESNO ROTARY
On December 13, 1915, twenty-three men sat down together at the Hotel Fresno to discuss forming a new sort of organization.
The new group would bring together business and professional men to volunteer their time in service to their community as well as an opportunity to network. The 23 men enthusiastically endorsed the formation of just such a club in Fresno and The Rotary Club of Fresno was born.
The Rotary Club of Fresno and The Rotary Club of Fresno Foundation has a history of service to the Fresno community starting March 1, 1916 with the planting of trees in Fresno. Over the years, Rotarians of the Club have given thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the community of Fresno a better place. In addition, there have been dozens of projects completed around the world through the involvement of The Rotary Club of Fresno through funding and hands-on volunteers.
✓ Fresno Rotary developed the Boy Scouts Council, organized raisin growers to develop a cooperative to serve them better, helped to establish the Community Chest, the forerunner of United Way, helped in the organization of the California Society for Crippled Children, the Boy’s Work Council for needy young men, the Jr. Traffic Officer’s programs for school crossings, and financial support for the development of Christmas Tree Lane.
✓ Fresno Rotary acquired the land for Scouts Island. They arranged entertainment for the servicemen at Hammer Field, began participating in the Rotary International Foundation, contributed to the Girls Scouts camp at Dinkey Creek, and the Boy Scout’s camp at Shaver Lake. Rotary instigated the purchase of the Fresno Zoo’s beloved elephant – Nosey.
✓ Fresno Rotary began raising funds for the development of Rotary Playland to be followed later by Storyland and the development of Camp Royal, designed to develop leadership qualities for selected students.
✓ Fresno Rotary financially supported the creation of the intensive care unit, a hospice facility, and the Rotary House at Valley Children’s Hospital.
✓ Physicians and Rotarians from the Club began Project Nino, an annual visit to Mexico to bring needed medical care to thousands of patients, mostly children.
✓ Duncan Polytechnic High School and University High School are the Club’s adopted Interact Rotary Clubs.
✓ Fresno Rotary built the Rotary Amphitheater at Woodward Park, kicked off Solar Cooking and Water Purification for Africa, launched the restoration of the Fresno Water Tower, and a Highway Beautification Art Project (Murals on Highways).
Over the years the Club has expanded in membership to over 300 and in service to include over 40 committees under five avenues of service; club, community, international, vocational, and youth.
As The Rotary Club of Fresno marches towards its 100th year of service, we continue to grow, to commit and extend participation to the very life of Fresno and surrounding communities.
Rotarians regularly experience the fulfillment that comes from giving back to the community. As members of the oldest service Club in the world, Rotarians represent a cross-section of their community’s business owners, executives, managers, political leaders, and professionals – people who make decisions and influence policy. The Rotary Club of Fresno is always looking for outstanding men and women committed to helping Fresno. Rotary is an organization of successful leaders. Team-building, fundraising, public speaking, planning, organization, and communication are just some of the leadership skills that Club members can exercise and enhance.
The Rotary Club of Fresno Club did its part in the growth of Rotary through the sponsoring of many clubs in the valley: Bakersfield in ’20, Porterville ’21, Visalia ’21, Madera ’22, Dinuba ’22, Selma ’24, Avenal ’36, Corcoran ’40, Los Banos ’40, North Fresno ’48, and Cultural Arts ’53. The Club’s formation family tree is over 56 Rotary Clubs.
Today, club members meet weekly to plan service projects, discuss community and international issues, and enjoy fellowship. Rotary meetings are open to members and their guests. Clubs are nonpolitical and open to every race, culture, and creed.