Posted by Jim Fitzgerald
Though he had traveled the world for five years, Paul Harris had never heard of Marshall Texas when he started his first Rotary club in Chicago with four of his business associates, on a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” basis.  The early motto, “He Profits Most Who Serves Best”, reflected the mission statement of Rotary, wherein business (Club Service) was paramount, community needs (Community Service), was second, and Vocational Service was a catchall for all other services.
Vocational Service become the essential, and defining third element of a Rotary Club, as members were expected to have high ethical standards and develop strong bonds with one another, then using their combined resources and means to benefit first themselves and then others. It also covered a wide range of interests other than ethics and profit, specifically youth needs and betterment programs, and many years passed before youth services were accorded a direct area of service place in the programs of Rotary International.
International Service became the fourth Area of service in 1911 when the first club outside of the United States was formed.  These four Avenues of Service remained the central core of Rotary clubs for many generations, but another kind of service began to develop at the club level, especially in the rural clubs. 
When the the five hundred and twenty fifth Rotary club was established in Marshall, Texas, in 1919, no one would have thought it would play a prominent part in the development of this new area of service.
In many ways at first, the new Marshall club appeared to be just a rural clone of the original big-city Chicago club, but it was quick to introduce a new element into Rotary, youth needs.
To be sure, The Rotary Club of Marshall Texas was first and foremost a business-oriented club and vitally interested and involved in the civic affairs of Marshall and the prosperity of its members.
During the first year of its inception, the club started a movement and successfully completed the installing of street lighting from the train depot to the downtown area.  It lobbied the city and county commissioners to build and maintain high quality better streets in the city and roads of  the county.  It lobbied the gas and electrical utilities to provide reliable service to the businesses and public and lobbied the businesses to pass on the benefits they derived from them to their customers.
But it also decided that encouraging and assisting young people was to be a prominent part of its duty as well.  A “Father and Son “banquet was held February 26, 1920 in conjunction with a “Father and Son” movement being observed by Rotary clubs that week.  But, the Marshall club did not think that giving kids a pat on the back the was really helping them.
Sensing a need to go farther than that, the club launched a program for boys work described in “The Marshall Messenger”, June 15th, 1920, as one of “the Biggest Meetings In History”.  
“A definite program for boy’s work was inaugurated at the meeting of the Rotary club last night when a set of resolutions drawn up by the boys committee and presented by chairman August Carter was adopted. Leading features of the program were the keeping in school of boys who should be in school, securing work for boys who should be at work, and assisting needy boys, in securing an education.”
The club also lobbied hard in support of the public schools as indicated in an announcement June 11, 1920.  A good education was what boys and girls needed and deserved.  The headline read, “Rotarians Plan Big Year’s Work Among The Boys”.  Incoming President Frank Davis announced that the Rotary Club’s Advisory Board committee had successfully completed the process of raising an additional $25,000 for the coming year, which would allow it to hire more teachers and ensure the continued operation of the Marshall schools, until a bond election could be held to set the system on a more permanent basis.
Immediately following the announcement about the school funding, Dr. Humphries, president of the College of Marshall, offered a scholarship to be known as the “Rotarian Scholarship” to a graduate that the club thought was unable to attend school and would benefit from the grant of $80 to pay a year’s tuition.  Thus, began an unbroken string of Rotary youth-related programs, and projects, from that day forward. 
Five years after the club was admitted into the International Association of Rotary clubs, Marshall was asked to come to the International Convention and present a program on this novel idea of helping children and young adults.  Decades later, Youth Service was officially added to the Rotary International Avenues of services and became the fifth, final, but not least, avenue of service that we will be featuring August 24th, 2019, when the Rotary Club of Marshall Texas will be “Celebrating A Century of Changing Lives in Marshall - and Beyond”.