How Rotary Club of Elgin serves the community

Rotary Club of Elgin continues commitment to its mission

In 1922, Elgin, Illinois, was a town of 27,431 and site of the famous Elgin Watch Factory. On May 22 of that year, at a lavish banquet, the Rotary Club of Elgin was granted its charter as the 1,181st Rotary International Club.

Only 17 years earlier, the very first Rotary Club organized in Chicago. Rotary was for outstanding business and professional men of good character who wanted to serve their communities and follow the Rotary motto of "Service Above Self." Rotary expanded its membership to include women in the U.S. in 1987.

Once they received their charter, Elgin club members quickly went to work helping to establish a Boy Scout camp and YWCA camp. In 1924, the club began its formal recognition of Elgin High School and Elgin Academy students' academic excellence.

That recognition ceremony grew over the years into an annual luncheon event that honored high achieving student scholars from all local high schools with hundreds of friends and relatives in attendance. The tradition continued for 95 years.

It was recently replaced by Community Service Scholarships honoring high school seniors who are active in community service leadership and projects.

For many decades, the club has provided college scholarships to students at Elgin Community College and other institutions of higher learning. Club members have also sponsored many exchange students. They established the state's first Early Act Club in addition to several Interact Clubs in area high schools. The club provides scholarships for high school students to attend Rotary Youth Leadership Awards which is a very popular leadership academy.

In the 1940s, the Elgin Rotary Club of Elgin helped establish new Rotary Clubs in St. Charles and Batavia. Since then, the club has played an important role in the establishment of many other Rotary Clubs in nearby communities.

The club raises about $50,000 annually for worthy causes. Funds for the club's Charitable Projects Foundation of Elgin come from its members and the community. The club has held many popular events, such as the Rotary 5000 raffle, to raise funds.

From inception, the Rotary Club of Elgin members have supported many of Elgin's nonprofit charitable organizations as well as public buildings and monuments in Elgin, such as the Trygve Rovelstad statue of early pioneers at the Fox River Bike Trail and the brick-paved Rotary pathway on Walton Island.

The club makes significant contributions to Rotary International. Rotary International is dedicated to the elimination of disease, particularly polio, providing clean water and sanitation, saving the lives of women and children, providing education, and growing local economies.

The club's commitment to "Service Above Self" continues as members remain active in the long-standing tradition of helping local human service organizations.

In the past few months, members sponsored a "Warm Closet" with the Salvation Army at Kenyon Woods Middle School. They supported the Salvation Army's Home Goods pantry, Food for Greater Elgin, Fox Valley Christian Action and YMCA youth programs.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the club donated $1,000 to the Food for Greater Elgin food pantry and $500 to the Salvation Army for the purchase of cleaning and other supplies for seniors. The club also is partnering with Senior Service Associates and The Salvation Army to purchase and deliver needed home supplies and food to seniors who cannot or should not leave their homes during the stay-at-home order. Volunteers from the Rotary Club of Elgin, the Elgin Breakfast Rotary Club, and the Kiwanis Club of Elgin delivered the food and home supplies twice in April.

The club welcomes individuals interested in joining leaders, exchanging ideas and taking action, all while having fun.

Lunch meetings will eventually resume at noon at the Holiday Inn Northwest, 495 Airport Road, Elgin. While the stay-at-home order is in effect, Zoom meetings are at noon Mondays. If you'd like to join the club, contact for a link.

Visit and

In April, the Rotary Club of Elgin partnered with the Elgin Kiwanis and Elgin Breakfast Rotary Club in buying and delivering food and home supplies to needy seniors in the Elgin area. Courtesy of Rotary Club of Elgin
In December, volunteers with the Rotary Club of Elgin manned the Red Kettle during The Salvation Army's annual fundraising campaign. Courtesy of Rotary Club of Elgin
The Rotary Club of Elgin hosts lunch meetings featuring special guest speakers. During the stay-at-home order, the club is hosting the weekly meetings on Zoom. Courtesy of Rotary Club of Elgin
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