Rotarians across the region celebrate $ 2 million in charitable giving


Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta and his wife Rashi met with Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg on Saturday afternoon at the Francis Marion Hotel. Also pictured are former Rotary International Vice President Anne Matthews of Columbia and current local Rotary District President Paul R. Walter of Hilton Head Island. Photo provided.

By Andy Brack | South Carolina’s generosity was in the spotlight Saturday night as some 50 major Rotarians celebrated at a gala at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston – the very place their predecessors helped build 97 years ago.

To congratulate them, the world’s most prominent Rotarian, Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta of West Bengal, India. Mehta, an accountant by profession, traveled to the holy city to thank Rotarians in the eastern half of the state for raising over $ 2 million in new donations of $ 10,000 or more in the past 18 months to help Rotary International’s philanthropic projects around the world. Among its main efforts are global projects to eradicate polio and provide safe drinking water to third world countries.


“There are some super generous people in your area,” Mehta said in an exclusive interview. “They do amazing things in the world. Like bringing water to people who don’t have it, bringing homes to homeless people, bringing food to the hungry. They bring health to the needy. All of this is done in your backyard through an organization called Rotary. “

Rotary International, founded in 1905 in Chicago, is one of the largest nonprofit community service organizations in the world with 1.4 million members in 35,000 clubs. Sixteen years after five Chicago business leaders organized the first club, 22 Charleston businessmen formed the organization’s 624th club and the first in the Lowcountry. Called the Rotary Club of Charleston, one of his first major projects was to sell $ 50,000 of stock (worth about $ 800,000 in purchasing power today) at the Francis Marion Hotel. to help it get started. The complex, which hosted club meetings for years, is now owned by local Rotarian Steve Dopp.

Since 1917, Rotarians around the world have contributed more than $ 4 billion to sustainable projects, the organization said. Mehta explained how he got involved in helping more than 2,500 children in India undergo life-saving heart surgeries over the past 15 years.

“It’s a story that touches your heart,” he said, recalling how parents making $ 100 a month can’t afford surgeries that cost more than they earn in 20 years. “It’s so expensive. And they can’t stand the thought that their child might die. Next is Rotary. The magic wand does the operation. And change lives.

Anne L. Matthews of Columbia, who was Rotary International’s first female vice president, said she had known Mehta for over 20 years.

“There is no one – no one – who embodies ‘service above oneself’ more than Shekhar Mehta,” she said. “He has just done so much in India that it is very deserving and he has earned the title of President of Rotary International.

In recognition of the more than $ 2 million raised by the local Rotary District, which has more than 80 clubs and 3,400 members, long-time Rotarian Governor Henry McMaster proclaimed November 6 “Foundation Day”. Rotary ”in South Carolina. He encouraged residents to recognize Rotarians “for their contributions that improve the lives of people around the world.”

Disclosure: Brack is a past president of the Rotary Club of Charleston. He also edited the club’s story, “Service Above Self”.

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