From the Beginning Through the Twenties
The Rotary Club of Sacramento was organized August 20, 1913, and chartered February 1, 1914, making it the 97th club in the world of Rotary International and one of the oldest service groups in the Sacramento region. Thirty-four members attended the initial meeting, and today its membership totals approximately 300, making it one of the 20 largest clubs in the world. The Rotary Club of Sacramento has maintained throughout its history and continues to maintain an uncompromising focus on community service and an impressive commitment to camaraderie among its members.
During its first few years, the Rotary Club of Sacramento emphasized many opportunities for social interaction, attendance at meetings, and increasing membership. The Club quickly expanded its activities to increased civic efforts for social change and more support of community causes. In 1922, the Club also made a commitment to the cause of orthopedically impaired children, a strong focus that continues today. In the beginning, the Club funded the cost of orthopedic and hospital equipment to assist 60 young people who needed surgery in order to attend public schools. Now, the club sponsors the annual Golf 4 Kids tournament in order to provide significant funding for the purchase of equipment and teaching aids for programs for physically and health impaired students in Sacramento public schools.
From the Thirties Through the Eighties
Throughout the lean years of the Great Depression and the turbulent time of World War II, the Rotary Club of Sacramento continued its commitment to its membership and maintained its support of children’s charities, and the affluent 1950’s were met with renewed action on the part of the Club. It received national recognition for starting the Sacramento Toy Lending Library and enlarged its Charity Committee, sponsoring student scholarships to attend the Model United Nations Conference and helping the Sacramento Police and Fire Department Widows and Orphans Fund. As the decade concluded, the Club continued to expand its charitable reach with support for the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento and scholarships for students to study abroad.
The Rotary Club of Sacramento’s then established tradition of meetings, socials with one another and neighboring clubs, and charitable giving to established causes and new ones, like the Sacramento Zoo, Salvation Army, Sacramento YMCA and Sacramento County Bicycle Trail along the American River continued through the 1960’s. And, in June of 1966, the Club reached the milestone of electing its first non‐white member, opening the door to men of all racial backgrounds.
The 1970’s brought continued support for school‐based sports and music programs, funds for foreign hospitals, the Sacramento Symphony, and Crocker Art Museum and for launching the Sacramento History Museum . As the Club progressed into the 1980’s, the Club had dedicated itself to meeting the recreational, cultural, health, educational, and humanitarian needs of the city for so many years that it was impossible to imagine Sacramento without the Rotary Club of Sacramento. And, in 1987, the Club reached another milestone and accepted its first woman member!
From the Nineties to the Present
Throughout the past 25 plus years, the Club’s support of established and emerging organizations and issues has continued, with contributions to a multitude of area non‐profit organizations primarily serving children, including the Bids for Kids annual dinner and auction which was started in 1984 and replaced in 2014 with the Sacramento Century Challenge bike ride and festival.
Since its beginning, the Club has also involved itself in the workings of Rotary International by, among other things, supporting international programs, the major one of which has been Polio Plus which is Rotary’s commitment to eradicating polio worldwide by immunizing everyone who has access to a medical facility of any kind. Through the efforts of Rotary and its national and international health organization partners, more than two billion children worldwide have been immunized since 1985, and the Rotary Club of Sacramento has contributed well over $150,000 to this cause.
Portions of this article were reprinted by permission of the author, Kimberly Embree, and River Oak Center for Children from an article that first appeared in the Summer 1995 issue of River Oak’s Hand in Hand donor/volunteer newsletter.