In 1905, when Rotary began, it was not based on the idea of Service Above Self. The two main aims of the Chicago club were “the promotion of the business interests of its members” and “good fellowship and other desiderata ordinarily incident to Social Clubs.” For Paul Harris, that wasn’t enough. He wanted a club that would get involved in civic affairs and benefit the community. A pro-spective member, Chicago attorney Donald Carter, had been “struck by the selfish character of the organization.” The two conspired to introduce a Third Object of Rotary: “the advancement of the best interests of Chicago.” 
Paul Harris concluded that the best way to introduce community service would be to find a worthy cause and then induce members to work for it. The club began by buying a horse for a farmer whose animal had died. Members also provided a newsboy with a suit of warm clothes. All along, Harris was planning bigger things, creating a committee to find civic projects for Rotary to participate in. The first issue was the lack of public restrooms downtown. There was only one choice at the time – a saloon. Once there, it was said, men could be tempted to take a drink or two and it was out of the question for women to enter such an establishment, so Harris and his committee persuaded the Chicago City Council to fund public facilities to the tune of $20,000 (almost $500,000 today) in tax-payer money. And Chicago Rotarians got so much satisfaction out of seeing their work get results that “Service Above Self” be-came an operating principle, although it didn’t become one of our official mottoes until 1950. The rest, we might say, is history!