Commercial banker Austin McVay (second from left in photo) and healthcare professional Jon Belsher (second from right) have been inducted into Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club. McVay – shown with sponsor Denise Holland – is a Greenville native with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Clemson University. He is a commercial relationship manager with TD Bank and previously worked at Verizon Wireless and ScanSource in Greenville and for GE Energy in Atlanta. Belsher – shown with sponsor Tommy Gibbons – is president and chief operating officer of UCI Medical Affiliates, Inc. A native of Palo Alto, CA, he was educated at Amherst College, the University of Arizona and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He has worked for the Mayo Clinic and Scott & White Healthcare and spent 13 years in the Air National Guard. He’s a former Big Brother and Special Olympics clinical director.
Capital Rotary president Blake DuBose receives banners from clubs in Nairobi and Ireland from Catherine Glen, a former Rotary Global Grant Scholar studying in the field of peace and conflict prevention. Glen recently received a master’s degree from Queen’s University in Belfast. She’s currently a visiting research associate at the university’s Center for Evidence and Social Innovation. 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. Glen is a 2011 University of South Carolina graduate and has worked with young people within high-needs communities in the US, Japan, Northern Ireland and Kenya.
Capital Rotary Club members adopted two local families for the holiday season in partnership with the 2017 Midlands Families Helping Families Christmas program, a Palmetto Project and WIS-TV initiative. Each family had a single mother and six children. Youngsters ranged in age from two to 17 years old. The Christmas wish lists included clothing, toys, personal care items, small household appliances, groceries and furniture. The club’s goal was to raise a total of $1,000 in order to purchase each family’s gifts. The club offered to match donations made by members. Presents were purchased, gift-wrapped and delivered to a warehouse for distribution. Capital Rotarians who led their club’s participation included Neda Beal, Carol Caulk, Felicia Maloney, E.J. Newby (at left in photo with Sandy, a Families Helping Families volunteer) and Qing Wang.
The University of South Carolina’s School of Medicine works to serve the Palmetto State through exceptional education, research breakthroughs and world-class health care. That’s the message executive dean Dr. Les Hall brought to Capital Rotarians as their Dec. 13 guest speaker. Dr. Hall also serves as CEO of the Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group, which became active in April 2016. That group combined medical school faculty and local Palmetto Health System physicians to become the largest and most comprehensive set of health care providers in central South Carolina. Dr. Hall came to USC in 2015 from the University of Missouri. His academic work has focused on professional education, especially in the areas of quality improvement, patient safety and teamwork.
Social media and the Internet make it easier to spread “fake news” today, but there are several key factors for judging the reliability of what we hear and see reported locally and nationally, according to John Monk, a writer for The State newspaper since 1997. Monk was Capital Rotary’s Nov. 15 guest speaker, sharing what he’s learned after some 40 years as a journalist in South Carolina. To judge a story’s merits, Monk suggested readers or listeners should: (1) see if the story comes from a major news organization that carefully checks facts before publication; (2) consider the personal reputation and reliability of the reporter; and (3) remember that news is a “continuing conversation” that “hopefully is not the final word.” He told Rotarians that “there is a good deal of evidence that propaganda spreads through fake news.” Monk is a Maryland native, attended Davidson College and spent five years as Washington correspondent for The Charlotte Observer.
South Carolina’s recovery from the economic recession that began in December 2007 has outpaced U.S. growth in some measures since that time, but future forecasts depend on continued consumer confidence and on the politics of issues such as healthcare, fair trade, tax reform and rebuilding infrastructure. That’s according to the University of South Carolina’s Dr. Bob Hartwig (shown with Capital Rotary Club member Chris Myers). Hartwig – clinical associate professor of finance and co-director of USC’s Center for Risk and Uncertainty Management – was Capital Rotary’s Nov. 8 guest speaker. He said that 70 percent of the nation’s economy is tied to consumer spending. Recent polls show public and business confidence in, and optimism about, improving economic conditions. Hartwig earned his doctorate from the University of Illinois in 1993 and speaks frequently on all issues related to insurance markets.
Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club has made donations for two humanitarian causes – one to eradicate polio, the other to provide disaster relief in the U.S. and overseas.
The club raised $882 that will be matched with District Designated Funds to become a donation of $1,764 for the worldwide campaign to eradicate polio. Ending polio has been a mission of Rotary International since 1985. Rotarians have contributed more than $1.7 billion and countless volunteer hours to immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.
Capital Rotary’s contribution – and the resulting match from District 7770 in eastern South Carolina – was made to celebrate World Polio Day/Week. World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Dr. Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis.
The local club’s disaster relief donation totaled $8,000 earmarked for rebuilding lives and communities following hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, plus the September earthquakes in Mexico. “We are coordinating through Rotary for the best way to distribute our funds to make a difference,” said Capital president Blake DuBose.
“Our board voted for this donation because we remember when Columbia was impacted by a 1,000-year flood in 2015 and an outpouring of support came from all parts of the country,” DuBose added. “The greater Columbia area was the beneficiary of an incredible amount of giving then, so we’re doing what we can in the same spirit now.”
Community engagement and educational programs help the SC Philharmonic keep classical music alive, fun and relevant in the Midlands, according to music director Morihiko Nakahara, Capital Rotary’s guest speaker for Nov. 1. Nakahara (shown demonstrating a conductor’s baton signals to the orchestra) has promoted interactive and outreach efforts since joining the Philharmonic in 2008. Some of the most successful include (1) “Conduct the Phil” – an open podium where spectators take their turn leading groups of string players at public events; (2) concerts, youth orchestras and in-school programs to spark students’ passion for music; and (3) a “healing harmonies” project that sends Philharmonic musicians to area healthcare facilities to assist in “soothing the soul while the body mends.” Nakahara says outreach is necessary to “break down the barrier between musicians and the community at large” so the Philharmonic can continue to perform and promote high-quality symphonic music.
Adding quality members is the key to success for Rotary clubs, and Columbia’s Capital Rotary must continue to apply that formula, according to past president David Boucher. Boucher, now serving as membership director, focused on the importance of growth at the Oct. 11 meeting. Boucher said international membership numbers were fairly flat for the past five years while Capital Rotary added to its ranks, especially among female members. The club’s attrition rate over the last three years – 8.6% – compares favorably with that of Rotary District 7770 at 14.4%. Boucher believes Capital Rotary’s growth assets include (1) outstanding existing membership, (2) quality speakers each week, (3) a convenient meeting time at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesdays, (4) accessible downtown parking, (5) a good meeting venue at the Palmetto Club, (6) improved social media and public relations and (7) a membership “growth culture.” But noting that “complacency is Rotary’s number one enemy,” Boucher warned that “attrition is real” and the need for “growing clubs with quality Rotarians” must be met to ensure future opportunities for service.
As the largest health care system in South Carolina’s midlands, Palmetto Health is focused on improving the physical, emotional and spiritual health of all individuals and communities it serves. That’s according to John Singerling, Palmetto Health president and Capital Rotary’s guest speaker on Oct. 4. Singerling (shown with Rotarians Chris Ray at left and Blake DuBose at right) said the locally owned, not-for-profit system is committed to (1) improving access to health care, (2) making care more affordable, (3) ensuring safety and quality of care, (4) enhancing each patient’s experience, and (5) seeing that no one in need is left behind. Health care challenges include changing demographics, expanding technology, politics, price structures and escalating drug costs. Singerling said many recognize that today’s health care system is dysfunctional and not sustainable. Improvement needs to be built on accessibility – some kind of insurance coverage for all people – and on setting – delivering care in the appropriate local setting at the appropriate time. Singerling has been with Palmetto Health since 1996 and became its president in 2010. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University and a master’s degree in health administration from the University of South Carolina.