Author Randolph G. Russell told Capital Rotary members March 13 that ignorance about our nation’s history is “profound and widespread” throughout the American public. Russell (at left in photo with Rotarian Matthew Pollard) was guest speaker at the club’s weekly breakfast meeting. His book “American History in No Time” takes a quick look at the “essential fundamentals” of our heritage and could help repair what Russell called a “fading connection” with the past. He believes knowing US history is important for these reasons: (1) it’s part of our national identification as Americans; (2) it’s a way to counter those who try to “fill the void of ignorance” with misinformation; (3) it affects the quality of government by enabling us to make better choices at election time; and (4) it’s a fascinating story that can enrich everyone’s life. Unlike weighty school texts, Russell said his book is an overview of key events, people, places and principles divided into chapters that can be read in a matter of minutes. He described it as the quickest way to get up to speed with history’s essentials – what everyone should learn and not forget. Russell holds degrees from the University of Miami and the University of Florida. He’s worked in financial management for companies in Florida and Georgia. Also an accomplished musician, Russell concluded his presentation with a saxophone rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club is backing University of South Carolina junior Alexis Vetack’s application for a Global Grant Scholarship award to earn a master’s degree in public policy. Vetack (in photo), a member of the USC Honors College Class of 2020, is a Charlotte, NC native. Her major – Public Health and Social Justice in Developing Countries – combines the fields of public health, social justice and public policy on a premed track. She hopes to become a Centers for Disease Control physician specializing in infectious disease. Vetack is president of USC’s Phi Delta Epsilon medical fraternity and volunteers at the Good Samaritan Clinic serving Latino patients in the local community. She also works with Carolina Survivor Clinic, a local nonprofit providing holistic healthcare to refugees who have survived torture. Vetack has received an Honors College Exploration Scholars Grant of $4,500 for research as an undergraduate assistant at the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Lab. Global Grant scholarships support graduate-level study in one of Rotary International’s six areas of focus: peace, disease prevention, water and sanitation, maternal/child health, education, and economic/community development.
Providing clean water, sanitation and education is the “first phase of hope” for a better life in impoverished communities in Ghana and South Sudan, according to Walter Hughes, a member of the Rotary Club of Rocky Mount, VA. Hughes (at left in photo with local Rotarian Bud Foy), was guest speaker for Capital Rotary’s March 6 meeting. Over the past 10 years, Hughes and teams of Rotary and non-Rotary volunteers have undertaken building projects spearheaded by Rotary International. They’ve sunk wells to provide clean water for over 300,000 people in Africa – helping to eradicate Guinea Worm disease – and installed microflush toilets in place of pit latrines that smell bad and pollute water and soil. In partnership with 170 Rotary clubs in the US, Canada and overseas – plus governments and other non-profit funders – Hughes’ efforts have raised more than $3.2 million for humanitarian projects. He’s been active in Rotary-funded school building including three elementary schools, a preschool and a junior high. One of the elementary schools now under construction is funded in part by Rotary District 7770 and four clubs in South Carolina, including Capital Rotary as lead club.
Image consultant Brian Maynor told Capital Rotarians that a person’s attitude, behavior and appearance are powerful, underutilized tools for success. Maynor – the club’s guest speaker on Feb. 27 – built a reputation over the past decade as a lifestyle coach, helping clients transform their image, boost their confidence and feel empowered to look and feel their best. While most people think “image” is largely based on physical appearance, Maynor said attitude and behavior influence 90% of personal success. Attitude affects mental and physical health, engagement in both work and life, communication skills and effectiveness, morale and productivity. Behavior encompasses not only actions, but also factors such as verbal and non-verbal communication, eye contact, gestures, movement, posture and habits. “Habits are a big part of our behavior,” Maynor said, “so we need to pay attention so we can address them.” He described common “bad behavior” examples that include (1) inappropriate verbiage or lingo, (2) lack of punctuality, (3) excessive cell phones usage, (4) interrupting or talking over others, (5) being disengaged and (6) not abiding by dress codes, either formal or informal.
David Ballard works for the state’s Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office as a professional land surveyor examining county boundaries, but the passage of time can complicate that job. Ballard (shown at left in photo with Rotarian Mike Montgomery) was Capital Rotary’s Feb. 20 guest speaker. He explained how the South Carolina Geodetic Survey determines county lines even when many of the border landmarks of the past – like trees, roads and bridges – no longer exist or have been altered by history. Researchers may use colonial records, old maps, plats, land transfers and deeds to help determine boundaries. Fixing exact and proper borders can affect property taxes, fire departments, EMS and police services, schools, enforcement of property rights and election of public officials. It can also involve time and expense, Ballard said, noting that it took 20 years for the states of North and South Carolina to research and agree on the 337-mile border between them.
Members of the University of South Carolina’s Rotaract Club got hands-on community service experience Feb. 13 when they joined other volunteers from Capital Rotary at Harvest Hope Food Bank for an hour of packing groceries for distribution to the hungry. Taking part were (from left in photo) Kara Owens, sophomore in marketing; Tina Sorensen, freshman in nursing; Alex Stevens, sophomore in biomedical engineering; Gioia Chakravorti, sophomore in international business/supply chain and operations management; and Rotaract president Joel Welch, a senior in accounting/finance. Also present but not pictured were Angie Church, freshman in international business/accounting and Mandy Spiegel, freshman in international business/finance. Rotaract clubs are open to adults ages 18-30 interested in community service, in developing leadership and professional skills, and who enjoy networking and social activities.
Foregoing their regular breakfast meeting, Capital Rotary Club members spent an hour of community service volunteer time Feb. 13 at Harvest Hope Food Bank’s Shop Road headquarters in Columbia. They bagged and stocked five bins with approximately 3,000 pounds of edibles destined for the Emergency Food Pantry. Harvest Hope, begun in 1981, works to meet the needs of hungry people in 20 counties in the Midlands, Pee Dee and Greater Greenville regions of South Carolina. Capital Rotarians traditionally volunteer at the facility at least once a year as a group.
New Capital Rotary member Le Frye (center in photo) is welcomed to the club by president Philip Flynn and sponsor Lee Ann Rice after induction ceremonies Feb. 6. Frye, a Saluda native, has spent her life in the Midlands and graduated in 2002 from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communications, public relations. She is the managing partner at Starboard Communications, an advertising and public relations firm that specializes in political affairs. Frye has over 15 years of planning, managing and executing various aspects of successful political and advocacy campaigns in the Palmetto State.
At a mid-year assembly Feb. 6 to review Capital Rotary’s accomplishments to date in the 2018-2019 Rotary year, president Philip Flynn shared highlights that included:
- Making $1,500 in charitable contributions to Rotary districts hit by natural disasters, including those affected by Hurricane Florence locally, by Hurricane Michael in Georgia/Florida and by the California wildfires.
- Donating 741 dictionaries to third-graders in 16 Richland District One elementary schools.
- Creation of a new Codified Policy for the club that’s a “standard operating procedure” resource for future leaders and committees.
- Collecting 58 units of blood at the annual Red Cross Blood Drive, each donation helping to save the lives of up to three people.
- Assisting five local college students with scholarships – current enrollees at the College of Charleston, Claflin University, the University of South Carolina, North Carolina State and Anderson University.
- Adopting a local family and providing gifts for the holiday season as part of the 2018 Midlands Families Helping Families Christmas program.
- Continuing community service projects with weekly Meals on Wheels delivery and annual volunteering at Harvest Hope Food Bank.
- Supporting The Rotary Foundation with $242 per capita member giving that ranks among the top 10 clubs in District 7770.
- Serving as lead club for a Global Grant Project, partnering with the Rotary Club of Sunyani East in Ghana, Africa to construct the Nkrankrom Elementary School. Our club donated $2,500, District 7770 raised more, and with a Rotary Foundation match, Sunyani East was awarded about $94,000 to build the school.
- Publicizing our activities with 39 club website and social media posts; reaching over 2,700 people through social media; 1,643 website users; 38 postings on District 7770’s website and newsletters; 53 press releases posted by local media; and six monthly club activity recaps e-mailed to members.
Capital Rotary members Jay von Kolnitz (right in photo) and Jack Williamson (center) were recognized by club president Philip Flynn (left) on Feb. 6 for their latest donations to The Rotary Foundation in support of international programs promoting peace and world understanding. Von Kolnitz is a Paul Harris Fellow plus-four giver (signifying an initial $1,000 donation with four additional gifts in the same amount). He is a 30-year Rotary member and was a longtime sergeant-at-arms for the club. Williamson is a Paul Harris Fellow plus-one contributor (signifying an initial $1,000 donation with an additional gift in the same amount). He joined the Capital club in 2008 and currently serves as sergeant-at-arms.