Capital Rotary members put in a solid hour of community service Feb. 21 when they volunteered at Harvest Hope Food Bank’s Shop Road headquarters in Columbia. Rotarians sorted and stocked 1,363 pounds of bakery items; bagged 611 pounds of snacks and 1,714 pounds of produce; and bagged and stocked 443 pounds of dairy goods – all 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. Food Bank executive director Denise Holland is a Capital Rotary member. In photo, club members on work detail are (from left) Ione Cockrell, Trey Boone, Frank Rutkowski, Ben Carlton and Ann Elliott.
As Congaree Riverkeeper for the last six years, Bill Stangler works in the Midlands to protect the environmental quality of three different rivers and their tributaries because “water is a common good,” as he explained at Capital Rotary’s Feb. 14 meeting. Stangler (pictured with Rotarian Ann Elliott) is a former outdoors guide who studied ecology and river science at the University of South Carolina. He now monitors water, wildlife habitat and recreation conditions on the Congaree, Lower Saluda and Lower Broad Rivers – including 90 miles of river, 2,000 miles of streams and five different counties in the watershed. Stangler said preserving “our rights to our rivers” involves (1) outreach and education about issues facing rivers; (2) advocacy work and voluntary cleanups, plus water quality sampling; and (3) suing to enforce environmental laws when regulatory agencies fail to do the job. Congaree Riverkeeper is a non-profit organization, one of six in South Carolina affiliated with the Waterkeeper Alliance, a global movement of on-the-water advocates who patrol and protect rivers and coasts all over the world. One of Rotary International’s areas of focus is support for local solutions to bring clean water, sanitation and hygiene to more people every day.
On January 8th, District Governor Gary Bradham was the first Rotary Reader at the Children’s Center for our new Rotary Readers Program. We presented the first book in the Caldecott Award winning collection we purchased to Center Director Jody Levitt. Governor Gary charmed the children with his enthusiastic reading and interpretation of the illustrations. He was a hit with the children!
At a mid-year assembly to review Capital Rotary’s accomplishments to date in the 2017-2018 Rotary year, president Blake DuBose thanked members for achieving highlights that included:
- Attaining a current membership level of 61 Rotarians; plans are under way to create a new online proposed member application form plus an online explanation of membership responsibilities.
- Donating 936 free dictionaries to third-graders in 14 Richland County District One schools.
- Collecting 65 units of blood at the annual Red Cross Blood Drive, each donation helping to save the lives of up to three people.
- Making a $1,000 donation for Harvest Hope Food Bank’s “Back Pack” and “Kids Café” programs to feed hungry children.
- Supporting domestic and overseas relief efforts with a total of $8,000 in donations for natural disaster victims in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
- Taking part in the World Polio Week international campaign to eradicate polio. The club raised $882, matched by Rotary District 7770 for a total donation of $1,764
- Assisting three local college students with scholarships that will total $5,000 per year each.
- Sponsoring two families through the Families Helping Families organization. Members contributed $625, then matched by the club, for a total donation of $1,250 used to purchase Christmas wish-list items such as clothing, toys, personal items, food and furniture.
- Continuing community service projects with weekly Meals on Wheels delivery and annual volunteering at Harvest Hope Food Bank.
- Supporting The Rotary Foundation with 55 Paul Harris Fellows ($1,000 donation), 40 Benefactors ($1,000 donation via will), four Bequest Society members ($10,000 donation upon death), six Major Donors (donation greater than $10,000) and eight Paul Harris Society members ($1,000 donation yearly).
- Exceeding the club goal ($1,680) for PolioPlus contributions (total $2,38 to date).
- Publicizing our activities with 45 club website and social media posts; reaching 6,181 people through social media; 2,262 website visitors; 40 postings on District 7770’s website and newsletters; 59 press releases posted by local media; and seven monthly club activity recaps e-mailed to members.
Does you club exchange club trading banners? The Summerville Evening Rotary Club does and when members travel or when Rotarians from around the world visit our club, we trade banners. It is a great way to share club information with other clubs and other districts. Here is Keith Alder (L) from Roswell Pecos Valley New Mexico club exchanging banners with club President Thomas Taylor (R). Roswell Pecos Valley is home to the UFO Museum and Area 57 where aliens crashed their UFO and were taken into custody by the federal government, never to be seen again. Mr. Alder thought some members of his club could be linked to those aliens but has not been able to confirm it. Any case, we love getting banners from around the world and hearing their stories. #SECRotary
Addressing South Carolina’s information technology “talent gap” is the mission of IT-ology, a Columbia-based nonprofit working to attract, retain and educate citizens about the IT profession. Capital Rotarians were briefed on those efforts during a Fifth Wednesday meeting with IT-ology staffers (from left in photo Lauren Wells, Kristy McLean and Bonnie Kelly). The Palmetto State has (1) a limited pool of trained, experienced potential IT employees; (2) an insufficient number of students in IT classes; (3) women and minorities underrepresented in the profession; (4) a high demand for more cybersecurity professionals; (5) a need for a statewide culture that encourages innovators and entrepreneurs; and (6) a need for workers with more “soft skills” like communication, collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking and negotiation. IT-ology says the key to answering these needs includes more pre-K-12th grade programs, expanded technical college outreach, teacher professional development and IT career development seminars. Capital Rotary’s Fifth Wednesday program substitutes local field trips to sites like IT-ology in place of a regular club meeting.
Homeschooling is a good option for parents seeking one-to-one, individualized learning opportunities for their children. That’s what Capital Rotarians heard when Beth Martin – high school director for the South Carolina Association of Independent Homeschools – spoke at the club’s Jan. 24 meeting. Martin is a former public middle school teacher who homeschooled her own three children. She said the state association – a nonprofit founded in 1990 – works to ensure accountability for some 22,000 to 33,000 homeschoolers across South Carolina. That includes assistance with curriculum, counseling and class schedules; meeting test requirements; maintaining transcripts and issuing diplomas; providing for special needs students; and college/career planning. Martin said homeschooling can offer young people a superior education – aligned to their own specific needs, learning styles, personalities and interests – at less cost than a private or public school setting. (SC Assn of Independent Home Schools photo)
January / February Message
We have closed the door on the first half of this Rotary year… and what I wonderful first half it has been. According to RI President Ian Riseley, we began a year “that will change all of our lives, in ways great and small, and will probably change the lives of countless others who we may not even know.” His theme … Rotary: Making a Difference in 2017-18!
As we move out of Vocational Month and into Peace and Conflict Prevention / Resolution Month, you should revisit your plan and program to ensure you continue Making a Difference this Rotary Year. It’s time to Gear UP and Get Excited About Rotary as we continue our Rotary “flight path” and end this Rotary year as we began, by Making a Difference both individually and collectively as a District, as we defined who we are.
What is Rotary? I believe as President Ian does, that Rotary is defined by what we do, through impactful action and meaningful service. Who is Rotary? Rotary is you and me, working together by taking actions to serve others. Rotary is “People of Action” … doing good in the world, through service-above-self.
I would like to thank each of you personally, who “rang the bell” over the holiday season; adopted families or foster families within your communities; fed the hungry and provided clothing to those who needed it during the cold weather of winter. Also by giving to your charities of choice, including our own Rotary Foundation, to Make a difference in someone else live; working to provide clean water and accepting the challenge to participate in our Polio Day and week challenge. The children of the world are counting on us and you delivered! Our District members were terrific! Leading the way in Zone 33 in Making a Difference in 2017!
Collectively as a District team, we made a difference by working together to improve literacy in our communities. Some of our clubs began Freedom Reader programs and worked in conjunction with the local library system to “wet the whistle” of our youth; set up Free libraries in neighborhoods where the children have fewer resources to help them improve reading skills; developed First Reader programs within the Children Centers and volunteered in mass to share the written stories with the youngest in our communities; partnered with other clubs and medical organizations to give the “Gift of Life”. The Clubs and Club Members truly performed the “heavy lifting” required to be a successful Rotary … by serving those who needed help the most. Our District was number one in Zone 33 in Annual Fund Giving to the Rotary Foundation and number one in Paul Harris Society Members (there is still room for others!). Giving to the Foundation is what allows all of these wonderful programs of Rotary to continue throughout the year. Providing services to others in our communities and expanding the programs globally … Making a Difference around the world! There are some clubs which have chosen to hold their donations until the end of the Rotary year. I would suggest that they review their goals and release some of the funds now (those founds in your checking or savings accounts) probably aren’t earning the interest to really make a difference; not like the difference that can be made by releasing the funds donated or raised by your members, to continue strong programs throughout the entire Rotary year. Check with your Club’s Treasurers to see if your club has released funds to the Foundation as you may desire them to be released. I am so proud of our Rotarians and District in their active participation in these important programs!
As I have said numerous times, the good news about Rotary is that Rotary offers so many ways one can give back and Make a Difference! We can all find the programs or avenues that mean the most to each of us … thank you for expanding your involvement in the first half of the year; but please don’t stop now.
The District accomplished so many things collectively, that we could never have accomplished on our own…as we made a difference this first half of our Rotary year. I saw so many good programs being executed in the communities within our District, as I completed my club visits in mid-December. I also met so many young exchange students during my travels. What a fantastic opportunity for these students and they are an inspiration to all of us whose lives they touched. For those focused on Eradicating Polio, we helped drop the cases of Polio to only 22by the end of 2017, by providing and administering two vaccine drops on the tongues of the children around the world. A far cry from the 350,000 cases a year which many of our members faced when the Polio Program began in 1985. We lead Zone 33 in financial support to continue the “End Polio Now” program and funding the final campaign. Our District’s Rotarians are awesome!
Membership in the District as a whole continued to increase over the start of this Rotary year. While our growth rate is not as high as we believe is needed to keep pace with attrition, we are moving in the right direction. As you know, the District’s leadership team approved “special grant funds” for each club to hold Rotary Information Events to attract new member prospects. Unfortunately, only one club has taken advantage of these “free funds”. Please consider this program as you start the second half of your Rotary program for 2017-18. I am convinced that it may be as simple as asking someone to join. However, Clubs need to engage our current members to keep Clubs vibrant for generations to come! Finally, if we begin by attracting good prospects on the front end, who want to be involved and are committed to service above self, you will see a “win / win” for growth in the second half of the year.
Rotary needs EACH and EVERY ONE of us, as the vision and strategic plans change! We will need to attract new diverse members, mature members, and young professionals to add the diversity in the club to keep pace. We need our experienced, knowledgeable members to act as mentors, sharing their Rotary stories through friendships. We learn and build from our past, providing continuity & training to our new members and leaders.
Please continue to tell your Rotary stories to everyone who will listen, as it is through the stories that allow potential members to understand not only “what Rotary is” but more importantly, “who Rotary is”. Rotary is a membership association focused on serving others. Rotary offers solutions to others who are in desperate need. Rotary: making a difference not only in the lives of those we serve, but also in our own lives!
Finally, I ask each member to Gear UP for Rotary … be part of the fun and actions within your District. Please attend the District Conference at the Myrtle Beach Marriott, March 9-11, 2018. I promise you a very exciting, informative, and fun-filled conference. We planned this conference around the wisdom of deceased PRID Lambo Schwartz from the Myrtle Beach Club, who stated that a conference should have a little bit of Rotary and “a whole lot of FUN! Book your conference registration on the District Database Calendar now. You must reserve your hotel room, if needed, separately with the MB Marriott. By contract the guaranteed room block ends Feb 15th. So, to avoid having to stay somewhere away from the actual conference site or standing by for a room cancellation, reserve your room needs now and before Feb 15, 2018. Susan and I hope to see many of the fabulous Rotarians we meet on our official club visits. Please don’t let us down!
Columbia’s Capital Rotary has recognized three members for contributions to The Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable arm that funds programs for world understanding and peace. Honorees include (from left) Mike Montgomery, a Paul Harris Fellow plus-six donor, representing an initial $1,000 donation, plus six additional gifts of $1,000 each; Hal Peacock, a plus-two Fellow with an initial $1,000 donation followed by two more for $1,000 each; club president Blake DuBose; and Tommy Gibbons, a plus-three Fellow with an initial $1,000 donation followed by three at $1,000 each.