Our 1.2 million-member organization started with the vision of one man—Paul P. Harris. The Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905 as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member.
The Rotary Club of Paarl was founded in 1940 and consists of community-minded members (male and female) who meet every Tuesday at 13:00 to listen to interesting guest speakers. We hold two fund-raising events every year: a wine auction and a cycle race (the last Winelands Cycle Race drew more than 1800 cyclists to the area). The proceeds are donated to deserving charities and projects.
The club was instrumental in the founding of the Drakenstein Hospice, the NorSA youth centre and the Path to Prosperity educare centre (with the aid of a global grant). Another global grant was obtained for the founding of the Girls’ Talk project, with a medical doctor visiting needy local schools in a campaign to prevent pregnancy and promote female rights. Currently the club is involved in the upgrading of the Kerith Retreat for mental health. We also support the Paarl Valley Friends, an organisation which provides wheelchairs to needy disable people. We also support a number of other charitable organisations and present a free variety concert for senior citizens every year. We have founded five Interact clubs at local high schools  and an Early Act club at a local primary school where youths learn to serve the community. For details and pictures, visit www.paarlrotary.co.za.


Rotarians have not only been present for major events in history—we’ve been a part of them. From the beginning, three key traits have remained strong throughout Rotary:
We’re truly international. Only 16 years after being founded, Rotary had clubs on six continents. Today we’re working together from around the globe both digitally and in-person to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems.
We persevere in tough times. During WWII, Rotary clubs in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Japan were forced to disband. Despite the risks, many continued to meet informally and following the war’s end, Rotary members joined together to rebuild their clubs and their countries.
Our commitment to service is ongoing. We began our fight against polio in 1979 with a project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. By 2012, only three countries remain polio-endemic—down from 125 in 1988.


Rotarians are your neighbors, your community leaders and some of the world’s greatest history-makers: 
  • Warren G. Harding, U.S. president
  • Jean Sibelius, Finnish composer
  • Dr. Charles H. Mayo, co-founder of Mayo Clinic
  • Guglielmo Marconi, Italian inventor of the wireless radio and Nobel laureate
  • Thomas Mann, German novelist and Nobel laureate
  • Friedrich Bergius, German chemist and Nobel laureate
  • Admiral Richard E. Byrd, American explorer
  • Jan Masaryk, foreign minister of Czechoslovakia
  • H.E. Soleiman Frangieh, president of Lebanon
  • Dianne Feinstein, U.S. senator
  • Manny Pacquaio, Filipino world-champion boxer and congressman
  • Richard Lugar, U.S. senator
  • Frank Borman, American astronaut
  • Edgar A. Guest, American poet and journalist
  • Sir Harry Lauder, Scottish entertainer
  • Franz Lehar, Austrian composer
  • Lennart Nilsson, Swedish photographer
  • James Cash Penney, founder of JC Penney Co.
  • Carlos Romulo, UN General Assembly president
  • Sigmund Sternberg, English businessman and philanthropist
Ready to make history with us? Get involved.