In 1924, the Rotary Club of Los Gatos was founded as part of the Rotary—now called Rotary International—which was the world's first service organization. Since then, in spite of changing times, Rotarian clubs continue to be a powerful force as members wanting to help their communities find the time to make it happen.
"Our motto is 'Service Above Self' and has been that way since the very beginning," says Tom Boyce, the current president of the Rotary Club of Los Gatos. "We have 1.2 million members all over the world and over 30,000 clubs. What you see here is a microcosm of a very large movement."
However, Boyce adds that he thinks many Los Gatans aren't aware of the scope of the accomplishments of their local club.
"In our service to the community, we probably do somewhere [between] $120,000 to $150,000 worth of philanthropy every year," Boyce says.
The top priorities of the club are youth programs and scholarships. Boyce says the club is the largest donor of scholarships to (LGHS) students. It also sponsors the Boy Scouts' Troop 501 and provides grants to numerous local school programs and activities throughout the town.
In addition, Boyce says the Rotary Club of Los Gatos and the Los Gatos Morning Rotary Club, together, will donate $25,000 this year for an interactive study room at the new .
The club, which currently has about 120 members, also provides grants to organizations helping adults, including those who are homeless in Los Gatos.
"We've been sponsoring help for the Los Gatos homeless for close to 10 years with the help of ," Boyce says.
The club's largest annual fundraiser for its projects is the , a popular 10K event between Los Gatos and Saratoga that was most recently held on April 17. Another successful fundraiser this year was a crab feast that, Boyce says, raised more than $30,000. Fundraising proceeds go to the club's charity foundation.
Each year, the club also picks and supports an international project. The most recent one provided medical equipment for a neo-natal unit in a Philippine hospital, along with training of the medical staff.
"You can do something that reaches out to the whole world or you can do it right in your own backyard—and we try to do both," Boyce says.
About 20 years ago, Rotary International began a campaign to eradicate polio, which at the time killed approximately 100,000 people each year worldwide. The club's members each donated $1,000 to the campaign, initially raising $100,000. Boyce says the members have been donating to the cause ever since.
"So far, this year, there have been 23 cases of polio worldwide," Boyce says. "There's been almost $1 billion raised through Rotary and the World Health Organization (WHO), and now the Bill Gates Foundation has gotten behind it, toward doing this eradication."
Boyce has been a member of the club since 1986. As an international consultant, he used to travel frequently throughout the world, but attended weekly Rotary 'make-up' meetings regardless of his location.
"If you're out of town, you're expected to find another Rotary club among the 30,000 and go to their weekly meeting." Boyce explains. "I was 'making-up' in Zambia so often that we actually did a couple projects together," Boyce says. "There's probably 60 clubs in Zambia. It is quite remarkable."
Boyce's one-year term as the club's president ends on July 1, 2011, but he plans to remain an active member and says he would like to do more projects involving Africa.
"Right now, we're [finishing] a project where I had worked in King William's Town, South Africa," Boyce says. "With Intel as a partner, we're bringing 75 laptop computers into a rural high school, with Internet connections, so the teachers can actually begin to teach using computers in the classroom.