The founding Rotary club in Yakima, YAKIMA ROTARY CLUB is more often referred to as “DOWNTOWN ROTARY”, most likely because from the very beginning the club was populated with the city’s downtown business and community leaders. With over 320 members on average, the club is the largest Rotary Club in its District made up of 30 clubs, it is the 31st largest club in the WORLD! Only two other clubs in Washington State are larger- Seattle and Tacoma.
Visiting guests to the weekly meetings, held every Thursday at Noon, are quite often stunned at how large a club it is for a city the size of Yakima.
The club is operated by an executive director who answers to the Club President and Board of nine elected from the regular membership for 3 year terms. Current Club officers List
There are forty-one committees that handle the various internal and external activities. The primary focus of club external activities is SERVICE ABOVE SELF, and is funded through the Rotary Charities arm of the Club’s annual budget. The Yakima Rotary Club funds several community service projects each year and offers annual scholarships for both continuing Academic and Vocational education.
Along with supporting local business, Volunteerism is an important part of Yakima Rotary membership. But a large club does not remain a vital, relevant organization like Yakima Rotary without a very deep sense of connection and camaraderie. It is something that All Rotarians experience no matter where they travel. Rotarians always say yes.
Yakima Rotary Club, Southwest Rotary and Sunrise Rotary are all clubs in the Rotary International DISTRICT 5060 which runs from Prosser, WA north to Clearwater, BC. There are 59 clubs in this international District. There is a yearly conference hosted by the club of the current District Governor. In 2014 the Conference was in Yakima when Darrell Blue of the Yakima Rotary Club was District Governor, and in 2016 it will be in Yakima again, when Greg Luring , of Yakima Rotary Club , will be the District Governor. The Districts in Rotary manage international activities such as the Youth Exchange program, the Leadership development programs and service projects. To learn more about the specific projects for District 5060 please visit - www.rotary5060.org
The Yakima Rotary Club was chartered in December 1919. It was sponsored by the Seattle Rotary Club,, which itself was ROTARY #5, meaning the fifth club formed.
#1 Chicago, #2 San Francisco, #3 oakland, #4 Los Angeles, #5 Seattle. Clubs were required to have 25 members , in 25 distinct occupation classifications. There was one attorney, one banker, one undertaker, one Fruit Seller, and one fruit processor, a General MD, and one surgeon and so on.
Meetings were held on Thursdays, at the Commercial Hotel. The very first community service project was to have proper street signs put up so that people would not get lost in the city. (?) and not long after that Yakima Rotary committed to raise $4000 over 2 years to fund Boy Scout work. An area of focus for early fund raising was to help handicapped individuals, especially children. Rotary worked closely with (then) Childrens Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle.
In the 1970s the need for a facility to aid people with hearing and speech difficulties came to the attention of Yakima Rotary. Over $100,000 was given to set up Yakima Valley Hearing & Speech Center, and the club is still involved with this local agency.
By the 1940’s the Yakima Rotary club boasted over 100 members, had its first District Governor and first District Conference.
In the 1950’s the club moved its meetings from the Commercial Hotel to the new Chinook Hotel, and hosted another District Conference, and spearheaded a community-wide drive for $450,000 for pools and playgrounds.
The 60s saw Yakima Rotary break the 200 member mark, and the club sponsored the formation of another club- Southwest Rotary in Yakima.
The 1970’s brought the first World Community Service project to Yakima Rotary. Partnering with a Rotary club in Loja, Ecuador, Yakima Rotary committed to collect, sort, pack and ship up to 10,000 pairs of eyeglasses to Ecuador.
The Centennial celebration for 100 years of Yakima Rotary Club occurring in 2019 is already being planned. Expect . Big. Things.