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 Aug. 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.
Columbia’s Capital Rotary has been named “Club of the Year” in District 7770, which is comprised of 80 clubs and about 5,000 Rotarians in 25 eastern counties of the state. Proudly displaying the new “Club of the Year” banner on Aug. 3 are (from left to right in photo) sergeant-at-arms Jack Williamson, president Philip Flynn, Assistant District Gov. Eric Davis and Blake DuBose, immediate past president. Chartered over 30 years ago, Capital Rotary presently has about 60 members and holds weekly breakfast meetings at the Palmetto Club downtown. Club service activities include (1) awarding continuing four-year college scholarships to local high school graduates; (2) donating paperback dictionaries to third-graders in Richland County District One elementary schools; (3) taking part in the Meals on Wheels program to deliver hot dinners to home-bound clients in Richland County; (4) volunteering at Harvest Hope Food Bank’s Columbia site; (5) sponsoring a Red Cross blood drive each summer; and (6) providing holiday gifts for a local family as part of the Midlands Families Helping Families Christmas program. Club members also financially support district and Rotary International projects that promote peace, human development and world understanding.
Capital Rotary Club member Tony Thompson (right in photo) is congratulated by president Philip Flynn after receiving a District 7770 Leadership Award for fundraising to support the CART (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust) Fund. Thompson organized a gala celebration last August that resulted in donations of more than $15,000 – all monies earmarked for cutting edge, high-impact research aimed at preventing or finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The CART initiative began in South Carolina over 20 years ago and has since been adopted by Rotary clubs throughout the United States. The district award lauded Thompson’s “dedication to impactful actions and meaningful service to the Columbia community.” He has been a member of Capital Rotary since September 2001.
Florence West Rotary had another successful spaghetti supper fundraiser making it 15 years in a row! All Florence West Rotarians put in dedicated time during the all-day event and had a great time cooking noodles, making salads, warming sauce and enjoying a lively assembly line! Florence West Rotarians served 800 plates to the area community. Also, the club was able to donate plates to an area shelter. The club will raise over $10,000 through sponsorships and tickets sold. All proceeds will be given back to local community groups.
(Far left) Rotary Club of Beaufort President Dr. Robert F. Allen stands with representatives of three local organizations that were presented grants at the Club’s March 20thluncheon meeting. (From left to right) Representing Honor Flight Savannah and receiving a $500 donation are board members Owen Hand and Jim Weiskopf. Representing Beaufort’s Free Medical Clinic and receiving a $500 grant are Clinic volunteer physicians Dr. John Gray and Dr. Toni Bush. Representing the Spanish Moss Trail and receiving a $1,000 grant is founder and volunteer executive director Dean Moss. All three organizations had previously made presentations at one of the Club’s weekly meetings.
Photo credit: Rotary Club of Beaufort Photo by Jeff Johnson
The Class of 2020’s Grace Cooney is the second University of South Carolina student asking Capital Rotary Club to endorse her application for a Global Grant Scholarship. Cooney (shown in photo) is a Greenville native majoring in public health. The award would enable her to pursue a Master’s of Science Degree in Migration, Culture and Global Health from Queen Mary University in London. She says this would expand her understanding of health to address not only the physical ailment, but also religious affiliation, native culture and socioeconomic status affecting patients. She hopes to become a physician practicing internationally, working with underserved and vulnerable populations abroad. Cooney has been a Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity officer, an anatomy lab teaching assistant and a volunteer at Carolina Survivor Clinic. In a four-year summer internship in Greenville, she experienced hands-on training, interactive workshops and professional engagement seminars. Recipient of a Stamps Carolina Scholarship – the university’s highest academic scholarship award – Cooney was one of three students granted enrichment funds for out-of-classroom experiences for excelling in leadership and service. Rotary International’s Global Grant scholarships support graduate-level study in one of six areas of focus: peace, disease prevention, water and sanitation, maternal/child health, education and economic/community development.
Capital Rotary Club members on March 20 heard how Columbia’s Ronald McDonald House works to comfort families that have to be away from home while dealing with a child’s medical crisis. The compassionate story came from guest speakers Liz Atkinson (left in photo) and Beth Lowrie (at right in photo), who serve as the charity’s operations manager and executive director, respectively. They said the 16,000-square-foot, 16-bedroom Ronald McDonald House provides a comfortable environment where families can rest, enjoy home-cooked meals, relax in spacious living areas, use laundry facilities and most importantly, experience a network of support among other families facing similar worries and fears. The stability of this “home away from home” not only relieves emotional and financial stress, but also allows families to focus on being there for their child when it matters most. The local Ronald McDonald house is one of 368 similar facilities located in 48 countries. Columbia’s house opened 35 years ago; its occupancy rate averages 87 per cent. Atkinson and Lowrie said there is a constant need for volunteers and fund-raising to support the charity’s programs. The Ronald McDonald House is open to serve families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.