The Rotary Club of Chicago was formed in 1905, and the world’s first service club began. Rotary’s popularity spread, and in 1939, the Rotary Club of Aiken was chartered. Over the years, our club has taken very seriously the challenge of a service organization as we have provided help throughout our community and the world.

The Rotary Club of Aiken consists of 170 business men and women and, this past year, I was honored to serve as its president. I had the privilege of watching our club rise to the challenge of Rotary International’s annual theme, “Peace through Service.”

That service took many forms, from group projects like manning Salvation Army Christmas kettles to individual activities such as reading or mentoring children. This volunteer service is immeasurable, but much of the effort of our 170 members is measureable; more than $88,000 was given to help our neighbors locally, nationally and internationally.

Approximately half of that total provided college scholarships to area high school students, supported the donation of dictionaries to every Aiken County third-grader, contributed toward Habitat home construction, assisted 11 area nonprofit organizations, and aided the city’s summer reading program. Our neighbors across the country will benefit from our support for Alzheimer’s disease research and treatment, 86 villages in Afghanistan will have pure water, Guatemala has a school for rehabilitation, and the whole world will, one day, see the eradication of polio, not just in our lifetimes, but perhaps in the next few years.

I want to thank all of this year’s Rotary Club of Aiken members for placing service above self, and for choosing to serve both our community and our world neighbors. I also want to send best wishes to Joe Shields, our 2013-2014 president, as he takes on Rotary’s call to action with this year’s theme of “Engage Rotary Change Lives.”

Peggy Ford

Former Rotary Club President