Retirement can come too early for many people who want and are able to remain active. PROBUS clubs are organizations for men and women who have retired from their profession or business and want to maintain a social network with others who have similar interests. Each PROBUS club is sponsored by a Rotary club and meets at least once a month for fellowship and to hear guest speakers. Today, there are over 300,000 members in approximately 4,000 PROBUS clubs worldwide.
The involvement of a Rotary sponsoring club with a PROBUS club varies. Rotary clubs typically approach retired or semi-retired candidates in their community and organize the formation of a club. Once established, the club becomes an autonomous organization and its members take over leadership. Potential PROBUS members are not required to be past members of Rotary. Fewer than 10% of PROBUS members are former Rotarians.
Since 1985, the Rotary International Board has encouraged Rotary clubs to initiate projects that address the needs of a growing senior (over age 60) population. At its March, 1994 meeting, the Board reaffirmed its commitment by urging Rotarians to organize and support PROBUS clubs as a commended community service activity.
PROBUS clubs were first formed, as an acronym for Pro(fessional) and Bus(iness), in the early 1920's in Saskatchewan, CANADA, and in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A., the latter devoted to helping people with mental retardation, physical disabilities, and autism. Because they were not restricted to retired Professional and Business leaders, and had a different objective, they are (were) not associated with our present mainstream of PROBUS clubs worldwide.
The name was fused into a different type of club in England, and the first non-sectarian PROBUS club specifically for active retirees was formed in 1966 by the Rotary Club of Caterham, England to allow retired professionals to continue to meet together for fellowship. The previous year, the Rotary Club of Welwyn Garden City, England, formed the "Campus Club" that had the same purpose. The two soon merged and flourished under the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Bromsgrove, Birmingham, England.
In 1974, PROBUS expanded into New Zealand and by 1976 the idea had spread to Australia. The first PROBUS club for seniors in North America was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Galt in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada in 1987. Although PROBUS membership has its greatest concentrations in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, clubs today exist in all parts of the world, including the U.S., Belgium, India, South Africa and several other countries in Africa and Asia.
Except for the PROBUS service clubs mainly in Connecticut, U.S.A., PROBUS Clubs worldwide are not service organizations and are non-sectarian and non-political, although members are largely active volunteers in many community organizations. Clubs are formed to provide social events and schedule speakers to keep members up to date with community issues and happenings. Many members have formed smaller interest groups for hobbies such as sports, entertainment, bridge playing, fishing, travel, computers, etc.
While numerous individual members regularly offer assistance with area community service projects, (if one should check the individual service activities of members in any given club, the average member would probably carry out far more volunteer service than those in most service clubs),... PROBUS Clubs pride themselves on their independence and freedom from the responsibilities of a service club. The structure of the clubs is simple, and members are not required to attend a minimum number of meetings.
PROBUS clubs have no central governing body but PROBUS Centers have been established internationally by country to disseminate information and assist clubs. Offices are staffed largely by volunteers and operating costs are met by member contributions.
A worldwide web page (www.PROBUS.org), containing essential information on PROBUS, includes worldwide chat groups, a new bed and breakfast program for travel, and information about forming a PROBUS Club.