History In San Diego


There are many stories of a few people changing history. America’s Founding Fathers. Abraham Lincoln. Martin Luther King.

In 1911 a small handful of people changed San Diego’s history by starting a Rotary Club here. Inspired by the “Service Above Self” activities of Chicago Attorney Paul Harris, builder Ernie Shields met with ten other community leaders to start Rotary of San Diego, the 33rd Rotary club ever created. Today this little club has:

  • Grown to over 500 members
  • Directly or indirectly launched over 60 clubs, including most Rotary Clubs south of Los Angeles plus several in Mexico

In addition to our family tree, in 1917 Rotary welcomed the Boy Scouts to San Diego. The Scouts were followed by Kiwanis in 1920 and the Lions in 1921. And Rotary was there to help them all get settled into the neighborhood.

Over the years we’ve given back to the communities we live in countless ways, including:

  • Aiding orphans, needy families, and the physically challenged
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters
  • Building homes for the homeless
  • Building schools and hospitals in Tijuana
  • Career counseling
  • Donating tens of thousands of dictionaries to third graders
  • Feeding the hungry
  • Hanging holiday lights for seniors
  • Job assistance
  • Sponsoring visiting international students
  • Supporting little league baseball
  • Vocational guidance

Our members continue to be leaders in every imaginable profession, including medicine, law, real estate, municipal leadership, education, marketing, and engineering. They are the movers and shakers in every city, town and village, as well as running almost every community-oriented organization, professional society, and business association in the region.

And they deliver what’s needed to make life worth living. Look at our members and you’ll find people helping children born prematurely, providing clean water to parched lands, improving highways, developing harbors, expanding transportation facilities, creating hospitals, building colleges, and initiating civic installations.

Because wherever there’s history being made, the members of Rotary District 5340 are the people who are going to be the people who are making it.