Celebrating 100 Years of Service Above Self

William James once said, “The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” Look to the Rotary Club of Louisville, and you’ll find proof behind the principle.

Founded in 1912, the Rotary Club of Louisville – part of Rotary International, a service club consisting of 1.2 million business, professional and community leaders – has achieved a century of excellence in community service, as of this year. To celebrate its 100th anniversary as an organization, the Rotary Club of Louisville will host a Centennial Celebration at the Ice House, 217 E. Main St., on July 21 from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The event will feature hors d’oeuvres, performances by the Rick Bartlett Jazz band and Rockin’ Soul Revival, as well as roof-top dancing. Tickets are $60, with proceeds benefiting the Louisville Rotary Promise Scholarship, a first-of-its-kind program that will give hundreds of eligible high school graduates an opportunity to earn grant money to help pay for college tuition.

“The goal will be four million dollars,” said incoming Rotary President Stuart Alexander. “The four million (dollars) will be used to create an endowment for kids who graduate from the lowest performing high schools in the county. Right now we’re going to start with Western High School.”

This fall, incoming freshmen at Western will be promised a full scholarship to Jefferson Community and Technical College (JCTC), so long as they graduate from high school with a 2.5 GPA or higher, report a high school attendance record of at least 90 percent and have no major disciplinary infractions. The scholarship will cover two years worth of tuition cost plus book fees.

Western was selected as the first Rotary Promise school, in part, because of its existing Early College partnership with JCTC, where students complete college level coursework in high school and earn college credit.

At a press conference on June 21, The Rotary Club presented a check to JCTC President Tony Newberry for $250,000, which brought funds raised for the scholarship program to a total of $1 million. Once the Rotary Club reaches its goal of $4 million, it will add three other Jefferson County schools to the initiative.

The organization has been raising money for the Rotary Promise Scholarship since late 2010. Each dollar raised by members will be matched privately by a Rotarian, then matched again by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

“We intend to not only donate to the scholarship fund, but also run a rotary connection,” Alexander said. “This will be an endowment that carries on longer than any of us are going to be around.”

The Rotary Promise scholarship exemplifies the Rotary Club’s commitment to service above self. Its involvement in both local and international campaigns, including End Polio Now, has created a lasting impact throughout the world, and proven just how important this club has been to our community for the last 100 years.

“The importance (of the Rotary Club) is three-fold,” Alexander said. “(No. 1), the fellowship and great meetings and speakers. … (No. 2) would be the availability of service projects through our club, and (No. 3) would be the international connection and to be a part of something that is much greater than ourselves.”

For more information on the Louisville Rotary Club or to purchase tickets to the Centennial Celebration, visit louisvillerotary.org or call 502.589.1800. The Rick Bartlett Jazz band will perform from 7 to 9:30 at the Centennial Celebration. Rockin’ Soul Survival will then take the stage from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Contact writer Ashley Anderson at aanderson@voice-tribune.com, 502.498.2051.