John Sherrer, Historic Columbia’s director of cultural resources, recounted how the capital city’s history has been chronicled in a new book – Remembering Columbia – when he addressed Capital Rotary members on May 15. Sherrer (at left in photo with Rotarians Jay von Kolnitz and Tommy Phelps) said the city was physically transformed during the years from 1860 to the 1960s. Research into those changes was accomplished by combing through old newspaper stories, fire insurance maps, city directories, photographs, postcards and other sources. He noted that the Palmetto Club, where Capital Rotary meets weekly, was granted a construction permit in July 1960. It is located behind the state’s Supreme Court building – a former US Post Office neo-classical structure dating from 1917 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Sherrer has degrees from both Clemson and the University of South Carolina. In addition to his work for Historic Columbia, Sherrer has experience at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, the National Trust’s Drayton Hall Plantation, Old York Historical Society in York, ME and Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH.
Building loving and supportive environments for families and young people is the role undertaken by Thornwell Home for Children since its founding as a Presbyterian ministry in 1875, according to Joy Messner, Capital Rotary’s guest speaker on May 8. Messner (at left in photo with Rotarian Ann Elliott) is mission advancement officer for the nonprofit organization that provides innovative and effective solutions for those in need. From its campus in Clinton, Thornwell operates in 20 South Carolina, Georgia and Florida locations. It offers family-style residential care, foster care and building families programs including parenting workshops and intensive in-home counseling. Messner said strengthening families is important given the number of youngsters suffering child abuse and neglect or living in poverty, homelessness and food-insecure households. South Carolina need more than 1,800 more foster homes statewide and has over 57,000 grandparent households with primary responsibility for their grandchildren. Messner is a former church youth director and lay ministry leader who joined Thornwell two years ago after doing volunteer management, donor relations and fundraising for a non-profit children’s ministry in Camden, NJ.
Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference in a person’s heart health, according to Stephanie Portnall and Cierra Ketchel of the American Heart Association, guest speakers at Capital Rotary’s May 1 meeting. Portnall (at right in photo) and Ketchel were welcomed by Rotarian Harry Carter. Although heart disease or strokes cause a third of all deaths, 7 out of 10 Americans don’t consider themselves at-risk and almost half put no effort into improving heart health. Lifestyle changes to boost longevity include (1) getting at least 30 minutes of daily exercise; (2) losing weight; (3) controlling cholesterol and reducing blood sugar to combat plaque growth in arteries; (4) managing blood pressure; (5) eating more fruits and vegetables; and (6) quitting smoking – which is the number one modifiable cause of death. Portnall and Ketchel also demonstrated hands-only CPR using chest compressions that can double or triple survival chances for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims. A University of South Carolina graduate, Portnall has worked for a year with the Heart Association. Ketchel is an agency intern and a rising senior in USC’s Arnold School of Public and Health.
Eric Davis (right in photo), an assistant governor for Rotary District 7770 in eastern South Carolina, congratulates Columbia Capital Rotary president Philip Flynn for the club’s achieving Two-STAR status. This signifies annual Rotary Foundation contributions of at least $200 per club member. The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation promoting world understanding and peace through international humanitarian, educational and cultural exchange programs. It’s supported solely by voluntary donations from Rotarians and friends who share the vision of a better world. Capital Rotary’s per capita giving averages $277; the club topped its donation goal by more than 28 per cent.
Capital Rotary member Mike Montgomery (left in photo) is congratulated by club president Philip Flynn for continuing contributions to The Rotary Foundation in support of international programs that promote peace, human development and world understanding. Montgomery now has earned Paul Harris Fellow plus-eight honors (signifying an initial $1,000 donation with eight additional gifts in the same amount). Montgomery was an 11-year Spring Valley Rotarian before joining the Capital club in 2015. The University of South Carolina graduate has been a private practice lawyer since 1985 and formerly served on Richland District Two’s school board and on Richland County Council.
Columbia is planning for a future that is innovative and progressive, but also aims to maintain quality of life. That’s the message guest speaker Krista Hampton brought to Capital Rotary on April 24. Hampton (shown with club president Philip Flynn) is the city’s planning and development director. She previously created, launched and led efforts to streamline construction review and permitting. Her current priority is rewriting Columbia’s outdated zoning and land development ordinances that go back to 1977. Goals include (1) making codes more flexible so that future development doesn’t negatively impact existing neighborhoods; (2) promoting walkability and sustainability with more green spaces and green buildings; and (3) dealing with the impact that micro-mobility (such as bike sharing, standup scooters and/or hoverboards, drones and robot cars) might have on future traffic and parking needs. Hampton has over 20 years of local government experience and was the city’s historic preservation planner. She has a BA in American Studies from Miami University, an MA in Public History from the University of South Carolina, and is a graduate of the Urban Land Institute’s South Carolina Sustainable Leadership Institute and Leadership South Carolina.
For safety’s sake, it’s important to know the signs of sex trafficking and for parents – especially – to ensure that children take charge of their own security. That’s what investigator Chandra Cleveland-Jennings told the Capital Rotary Club at its April 17 breakfast meeting. Cleveland-Jennings (shown in photo with Rotarian Frank Rutkowski) heads Columbia Private Investigations & Consultants. She’s also an ambassador for Shared Hope International, helping to improve sex trafficking laws and to train community, business and law enforcement personnel on combatting this type of crime. She noted that Richland and Lexington counties rank first and third, respectively, for sex trafficking in the state. Victims are lured into commercial sexual exploitation by traffickers using force, fraud or coercion. The trauma can be so great that many of those exploited don’t see themselves as victims or won’t ask for help. Cleveland-Jennings began her law enforcement career at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and was the first female to be named “Deputy of the Year” in South Carolina. She’s a graduate of Benedict College and of the SC Criminal Justice Academy.
Goodwill Industries in South Carolina’s upstate and midlands is successful in putting people to work, true to the organization’s 1902 founding philosophy that it gives a “hand up” instead of a “handout” to potential members of the labor force. Mike Daniels (shown in photo with Rotarian Felicia Maloney) was Capital Rotary’s April 10 guest speaker, reporting that one out of every 200 workers in the nation has been helped by Goodwill services. Operating in 16 counties in the Palmetto State, Goodwill receives over 1.2 million “gently used” items at its donation centers. These are then sold – the tune of 3.5 million purchases in 35 Goodwill stores – with 93 cents of each dollar received going to programs that include training and certification, job assistance for veterans and persons with disabilities, and job placement. Daniels said Goodwill last year helped 12,152 people find jobs – and their first-year earnings could generate a potential economic impact of more than $149 million in the state. Daniels has over 27 years of experience in labor market and workforce development in state government and in the private sector. He’s now managing two grants for Goodwill’s Senior Community Service Employment Program aimed at refreshing job skills for more than 320 citizens aged 55 and above.
Capital Rotary president Philip Flynn congratulates Dr. Tommy Gibbons (at right in photo) for earning Paul Harris Fellow Plus-Four honors through continued contributions to The Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable arm that supports programs for world understanding and peace. Gibbons has made an initial $1,000 donation to the fund, followed by four additional gifts of $1,000 each. A native of Clarendon County’s Turbeville community, Gibbons is a past president of Capital Rotary and holds degrees from the College of Charleston, the Medical University of South Carolina and the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
Since completing acquisition of beleaguered SCANA Corp. in January 2019, Dominion Energy is focused on growing the economy in South Carolina. That’s the message Capital Rotary heard April 3 from guest speaker Kristen Beckham (shown at right in photo with Rotarian Gloria Saeed). Beckham, an external affairs manager for Dominion, said the Virginia-based utility has been “on the road” for economic development seminars across the Palmetto State. Beckham leads the regional Community Investment Board for Dominion’s Charitable Foundation, where plans are to increase corporate and charitable giving by $1 million per year for at least five years. She said Dominion is committed to keeping a headquarters campus presence in Cayce, plus maintaining compensation levels for employees of SCANA and its subsidiaries until at least July 2020. Long-term rate relief means monthly electric bills for the typical residential electric customer are now 15% lower, Beckham said, while noting that Dominion gives priority to recruiting and retaining military veterans in its workforce. A graduate of and board member for Leadership South Carolina, Beckham also chairs the Junior League of Columbia’s public affairs committee, is sponsorship chair of the United Way of the Midlands and serves on the Alumni Association of the College of Charleston’s board.