by Marie Lachat
Fellowship, while sounding a bit formal or even old-fashioned, might better be referred to as friendliness, kindliness or affability. It is a key and basic tenet of Rotary International and the Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill.
It creates a foundation that allows, even encourages, having a good time while working on “Service to Others,” the Rotary motto. Some Rotarians say that through fellowship, it is the Rotarian who is best served while helping others, because we have fun and enjoy being with each other as we fund-raise, cleanup neighborhood spots in need, serve food and drink at the Chili Challenge, pack goods to be sent to the Hope Children’s Home in Guyana and delve into immediate, emergency issues such as Shelter Box support for international disaster aid.
To specifically build relationships among our club members, the Chestnut Hill Rotary has monthly social hours, socials at members’ homes, district and international conventions and district meetings. Our weekly meetings promote fellowship through members’ classification talks and through speakers who are often invited by members. We also plan social gatherings for members, families and friends such as sports events and theater visits.
Several local restaurants have hosted our monthly social hours, and we’ve had them in members’ homes. These gatherings provide opportunities to meet others, expand our goodwill, and encourage others to join Rotary or at least join in on Rotary projects and events. This goodwill follows through with all that Rotary does: fundraising, events, community clean-ups and support for other community and international organizations.
An official Rotary Fellowship Program began informally in 1928, when Rotarians with a shared interest in the international language Esperanto joined together. In 1947, a group of Rotarian boating enthusiasts began flying the Rotary flag from their crafts, calling themselves the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians. which now holds the distinction of being the oldest continuing fellowship. The scope of fellowships has changed significantly over the years, but their purpose remains the same: to unite Rotarians in friendship and provide opportunities to enjoy favorite recreational or professional activities.
Many fellowships also use their special interests to serve others. For example, the Fellowship of Canoeing Rotarians has organized cleanups of polluted rivers; members of the International Computer Users Fellowship of Rotarians conduct training sessions for Rotarians and others in their community; and members of the International Fellowship of Rotarian Scuba Divers join local Rotary clubs to undertake service projects on each of their diving trips.
Each fellowship operates independently of Rotary International, with its own rules, dues requirements, and administrative structure. Membership is open to all Rotarians, Rotarian spouses and Rotaractors (Rotary for younger members).
Chestnut Hill does not have a specific Rotary Fellowship Program at this time.
The Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill meets every Wednesday morning at 7:15 a.m. for breakfast, with a meeting following at 7:30. The meetings are held at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave., and are open to the public.
Marie Lachat, in addition to being an active Rotarian and Chestnut Hill resident, is a former community manager for the Chestnut Hill Community Association. For Rotary Club membership information, write to Chestnut Hill Rotary, P.O. Box 4332, Philadelphia, PA 19118, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.