About Westfield Rotary

In the 1920s Westfield was a bustling, prosperous center of commerce and professional services. A savvy group of community leaders, bankers, physicians, attorneys, educators and others, were reading about and considering bringing to Westfield a unique club founded in 1905 by Chicago attorney, Paul P. Harris. The original objective was to serve its members’ professional and social interests. The first meetings of Harris’ club were held in members’ offices on a rotating schedule, hence the group became known as the Rotary Club. In ensuing years the movement grew to international proportions. Among those attracted to membership were author Thomas Mann, diplomat Carlos Romulo, humanitarian Albert Schweitzer and composer Jean Sibelius.

The Westfielders applied for and in 1921 received one of the first Rotary charters in New Jersey. Rotary meetings were held at lunchtime weekly in a friendly spirit and the membership soon embraced the expanded Rotarian practice of pooling resources and volunteering their talents to help serve those in need. The commitment to this ideal is expressed in it’s the international motto: Service Above Self.

The 20th Century saw local and international growth and innovation in Rotary which in the 1940s adopted the Four Way Test as its code of ethical practice: Of the things we think, say or do, 1. Is it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned? Clubs were organized according to four choices of personal interest known as “avenues of service.” Members could choose service to their club, community, vocational-related initiatives or international projects.

On the international scene Rotary clubs throughout the world in 1987 were united in helping to fund an immunization program, Polio Plus, with the goal of wiping out the scourge virus, infantile paralysis, by Rotary’s one hundredth anniversary in 2005. While today there remain some pockets of outbreak in third world countries, most of the world is polio-free. By 2011 Rotary raised $900,000 and nearly two billion children have been vaccinated.

Any professional can aspire to Rotary membership regardless of race, color, religion or national origin. But it wasn’t until 1989 that the organization voted to admit women to clubs worldwide. Women are now an integral part of Rotary’s membership and are accepted in leadership roles.

In Westfield the club’s finances have swelled over the years as a result of its fundraising projects and through the generosity of its members, families and friends who contribute to Rotary and/or remember the club in their wills. In 1967 the club began holding an annual fundraising endeavor, the Pancake Breakfast which became a tradition in Westfield. Each year college scholarships are awarded to local students and grants are presented to a roster of non-profit community organizations to help further their missions.

An example of the local club’s international service is its collaboration with the Westfield Area YMCA on the Thailand Save-a-Children program. The objective it is through education and other services to prevent sexploitation of children in Southeast Asia.

In the community in conjunction with the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program Rotary maintains the appearance of Route 28 (North Avenue) that runs through the middle of the town.

Today, international membership in Rotary is 1,223,413; there are 34,301 clubs in 200 countries. In Westfield club membership runs between 40 and 50 annually. The club funds a High School Interact Club administered along international principles as well as a grammar school equivalent, known as EarlyAct. In 2011 scholarships totaling $92,000 were awarded on the basis of achievement, need and community service. More than $20,000 was awarded to community social service and healthcare agencies.