Park City Rotarians to welcome the world |

Park City Rotarians to welcome the world

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

Park City Rotary and Sunrise Rotary will welcome 500 international guests at Utah Olympic Park this Monday. Photo: Sarah Ause/Park Record.

Rotary Club members these days have very little excuse for not making meeting while traveling. Where ever they are, there’s probably a Rotarian meeting happening around the corner.

Since the first club began in 1905 in Chicago, the organization has welcomed chapters in 200 countries.

So when Park City Rotary member and past president Meeche White visited Thailand in January, as is the custom (and club bylaws) she attended two weekly meetings.

"There were five Rotary Clubs in Pattaya, and the meeting I attended there was more of an English-speaking club, because there are a lot of ex-patriots who live in Pattaya," recalls White, who has belonged to the club for nearly a decade. "The meeting I attended in Chang Mai was very serious they were definitely there to do business."

But there was more to it: through a U.S. Department of State Grant and help from her hometown club and the Thailand Rotary Clubs, White, who is the executive director of the National Ability Center, distributed 200 wheel chairs and oversaw a three-week International Sports Initiative. The program taught coaches and those with disabilities how to play sports like basketball.

She credits Rotary for making the trip and the initiative possible.

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Monday night, the Park City Sunrise Rotary and Park City Rotary will get an even broader sense of their fellow members who meet in Australia, South Africa and beyond.

Through the efforts of both clubs, Park City will entertain 500 of the more than 20,000 international Rotarians expected to attend the International Rotary Convention Salt Lake. The event will be hosted by Utah’s 40 Rotary Clubs at the Salt Palace Convention Center from June 17 through June 20.

The Park City soiree at the Utah Olympic Park will feature a catered dinner and an aerial show featuring the park’s Flying Aces. All told, the event will host 600, including local chapter members. The Park City Rotary Clubs have raised $40,000 for the event locally, abiding a time-honored tradition that Rotarians who are invited for a meal need not pay.

"This Monday night feature is one of the most popular features of the convention and traditionally, it started with Rotarians bringing members to their homes for dinner and then as these conventions grew, the dinners became larger," explained Park City Sunrise Rotary President Tom Sly.

Sly, who has spearheaded efforts to attract sponsorship from Zions Bank and business sponsorships for 50 tables, anticipates the international exposure will be a boon to resorts.

"Many of us take the Utah Olympic Park for granted we drive by it every day but we have unbelievable facilities," he said. "This will be a chance for our local resorts and our town to show international guests how unique and special we are. It’s a major event and is going to be a memorable meeting."

The Rotary International’s annual convention has been compared to a mini-United Nations conference and is held in a different city around the world each year so members can have a chance to attend one in their home region. The 2006 convention was hosted jointly by Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden.

A year and a half ago, Salt Lake City swapped conference dates with New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Louisiana town. Utah had been scheduled to host the event in 2011, the centennial of the beginning of Salt Lake City’s Rotary Club.

According to Sly, the number of guests expected at the convention next week exceeds the sizable attendance at the annual Outdoor Retailer Show and will be the largest contingent of international guests to come to Utah since the 2002 Olympics.

"It’s a very big deal that this convention is coming to Salt Lake," chimes Park City Rotary President Jim Lea. "This will be the first time since 1911, when the first Rotary was founded in Salt Lake."

Members coming to the convention may hail from various climates, but they share a mission of "service above self," and a weekly responsibility to their local chapters that represent a cross-section of the community’s business and professional men and women. They also share a participation in worldwide humanitarian effort that has raised more than $600 million to immunize children in 122 countries around the world against polio.

"Rotary Club is really involved in helping organizations that wouldn’t otherwise get assistance," said Lea. "I joined in 1985 and probably the major reason was because it was a service organization to give back and get involved and to be a greater part of the community."

Rotary Club timeline

1905: Rotary Club begins in Chicago. Founder Paul P. Harris, an attorney, aspires to "recapture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth." The name "Rotary" refers to the practice of rotating meetings among members’ offices.

1911: Salt Lake City forms its first Rotary Club.

1920: Rotary reports clubs have formed on six continents.

1945: Forty-nine Rotarians serve on 29 delegations at the United Nations Charter Conference.

1980: The Park City Rotary Club is founded by Ted Warr, who becomes the club’s first president. He holds meetings at the Yarrow hotel. (Warr continues to be a member of Rotary).

1985: Rotary makes a commitment to immunize all of the world’s children against polio. Rotary reports it has since contributed more than $600 million to polio eradication activities in 122 countries.

1987Linda Singer Berrett becomes the first woman to join Park City Rotary. The Citizen of the Year Award is named after Berrett. Rotary International’s Web site claims 145,000 women have since joined Rotary Clubs worldwide.

1999: Park City Sunrise Rotary is founded by Allen Stockbridge in June. He becomes the club’s first president. The club meets Thursday mornings at the Jeremy Ranch Club.

2007: There are 1.2 million Rotarians that belong to 32,0000 Rotary Clubs in 200 countries, and 40 Rotary Clubs in Utah alone. Park City Rotary now meets at Grub Steak for lunch each Tuesday.

Timeline compiled from and members of the Park City Rotary and Sunrise Rotary Clubs.