Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club has added two new members – an exercise trainer and a local school district director. Shown after their induction are (from left) Barbara Gelberd with sponsor Ann Elliott and (from right) Sandy Brossard with sponsor Ione Cockrell. Gelberd is a former healthcare executive, consultant and project manager who now owns The Movement Studio, a Five Points gym and physical fitness center. She’s licensed to teach the Gyrotonic exercise method that incorporates movement principles from yoga, dance, gymnastics, swimming and t’ai chi. A cum laude Furman University graduate, Gelberd has master’s degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Her past community activities include volunteering with Family and Children’s Services, United Way of the Midlands, South Carolina Contemporary Dance Company and the Project Management Institute’s Midlands Chapter. Brossard is Richland School District One’s Chief of Teaching and Learning, with an educational specialist degree from the University of South Carolina and a doctorate from Capella University. She previously worked in both the Berkeley County and Charleston County school districts, was an associate superintendent in Lexington School District Four, a Southern Regional Education Board consultant and president/CEO of Educational Services and Policies, Inc. A Paul Harris Fellow, she’s also been a member of Lake Murray-Irmo Rotary.
Goodwill is more than a thrift store – it’s an organization dedicated to helping people find work and a place of belonging in their lives. That’s the message guest speaker Gerry Partridge (in photo) had for Capital Rotary members Feb. 18. Partridge, development director for Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina, said thrift store sales of donated items fund the agency’s jobs mission. There were nearly 1.3 million donations of “gently used merchandise” in 2018-2019, converted into 3.4 million purchases at 36 stores. In 16 Upstate and Midlands counties, Goodwill helped more than 23,000 people seeking employment and placed over 13,000 in jobs. During their first year of work, these newly-placed employees were projected to earn $172 million in wages. Partridge also noted that Goodwill helps the environment by recycling items like computers and printers, keeping 390,000 pounds of potential electronic waste from going into local landfills. He said the organization is guided by volunteer board members who see that over 93 cents of every dollar spent goes to programs and services. “Every day we can help someone is a good day at Goodwill,” Partridge concluded.
A 63-page bill in the SC Senate would mean more changes in the state’s public schools rather than true education reform, according to Pam Mills, guest speaker at Capital Rotary’s Feb. 12 meeting. Mills (in photo with Rotarians Bob Davis at left and Mike Montgomery) assists the SC Association of School Administrators with legislative matters. She outlined several recommendations for the much-debated measure: (1) a shift from focusing on accountability and assessment toward “letting teachers teach the way they know how, with love and enthusiasm, rather than just meeting pacing deadlines”; (2) restore a sense of status and respect for the teaching profession, plus strengthen the home-school connection for more parental support and better classroom discipline; (3) facilities improvements to ensure that all schools are safe environments conducive for learning; and (4) offer expanded industry certification and college-credit programs so that students would graduate “with more than a diploma.” Mills, an alumnus of Columbia College, previously was the late Sen. Strom Thurmond’s press secretary, served as Governor’s School for the Arts admissions director, and retired from the Greenville County School District.
State treasurer Curtis Loftis touched on the highlights of his role as South Carolina’s “private banker” when he addressed Capital Rotary members Feb. 5. Loftis (shown in photo) is responsible for managing, investing and retaining custody of nearly $50 billion in public funds. He said state government is “doing well” financially, but he remains vigilant to “see that we are good stewards of your money.” For instance, Loftis praised the SC Department of Transportation for “doing more work at less cost than ever before.” But he warned that some nonprofit entities tied to corporate (instead of local) interests are getting public funds for services that state agencies and employees could provide more economically. He said some $450 million is awarded to nonprofits, but in some cases “we don’t know what good they do for how much.” Loftis was first elected treasurer in 2010. A 1981 graduate of the University of South Carolina, he is a member of the Cayce-West Columbia Rotary Club. Loftis has held leadership positions in numerous state, regional and national fiscal authorities and associations.
Capital Rotary members visited the University of South Carolina football field on Jan. 29, but they weren’t there to see Gamecocks on the gridiron. Instead, nearly 30 Rotarians (shown in group photo) got a behind the scenes look at current amenities and details about coming improvements at Williams-Brice Stadium. Zach Smeltzer of Gamecock Sports Properties led the way, starting upstairs in the press box, then moving down to premium seating areas and Champions Club suites, a Hall of Captains (portraits of team leaders through the years) and the postgame press conference room for coaches, players and media. Smeltzer said renovations now under way will mean a better gameday experience for fans plus extra revenue. The $22.5 million project includes: (1) The 2001 Club, a wedge-shaped section of open-air, suite-like seating in a corner over the tunnel where the team takes the field and a club area beneath; (2) The South Club – an enclosed area underneath the south end zone seats; (3) The East Club – a new deck, more outdoor suites and an indoor club area; and (4) The West Club – a concourse club area near the top of the west lower deck. Project design and planning took more than a year, according to the contractor.
The president and executive director of the S.C. Commission on Higher Education is Capital Rotary’s newest member. Rusty Monhollon (at left in photo with sponsor Bryan Goodyear) moved from Missouri to the Palmetto State in 2019. He previously served as assistant commissioner for academic affairs in Missouri’s Department of Higher Education. A native of Topeka, Monhollon taught U.S. history at Washburn University there and at the University of Kansas. He also taught at the University of Missouri-Columbia, at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Friends University in Wichita and Hood College in Frederick, MD. He was a summa cum laude Washburn graduate and earned his master’s degree and doctorate at the University of Kansas. In addition to service on a number of academic boards, committees, commissions and organizations, Monhollon has been a Scout leader, a Habitat for Humanity volunteer and a member Missouri’s Columbia South Rotary Club. He was a welder/machinist before attending college.
Past District 7770 governor Gary Bradham told Capital Rotarians on Jan. 22 how recent projects spearheaded by the international service club improved life in Ghana’s impoverished communities. Bradham (in photo with Capital president Abby Naas) also celebrated the local club’s $1,000 contribution toward construction of a new elementary school. In addition to schools, Bradham said district projects included deep wells for clean water and installation of microflush toilets in place of pit latrines that smell bad and pollute water and soil. Over half of Ghana’s population lives in rural areas, and only 10% have access to basic sanitation. Two-thirds can obtain safe drinking water only after making a 30-minute round trip. Bradham said Rotary’s public works employed 300 people and totaled $1.6 million in donated and matching funds. Last year Capital Rotary was a contributor and lead club for building a new Nkrankrom Elementary School in the African nation. Bradham is a retired Air Force officer who’s been a Myrtle Beach Rotary member since 2005. He’s held numerous local and District 7770 leadership positions since that time.
After being badly injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2005, Steven Diaz (in photo) was left with scars including post-traumatic stress, partial blindness, traumatic brain injury and a seizure disorder. The former Marine told Capital Rotarians on Jan. 15 that the battle to survive led him to become a founding member of Hidden Wounds, a volunteer organization aiding others with emotional and psychological challenges. Diaz said Hidden Wounds works to provide immediate and emergency psychological treatment for active-duty, veteran and retired military service members regardless of discharge status. In many cases, he said, Hidden Wounds is a safety net until the Department of Veterans Affairs is able to deliver long-term treatment through government-funded programs. Diaz believes that sharing his story promotes better understanding of post-war ailments affecting many veterans and their family members, thus helping to “ease and heal the hidden wounds of the people we love.”
Keeping Richland County’s older citizens healthy, independent and safe has been the goal of Senior Resources for the past 42 years, says Beth Struble, interim director of development for the non-profit that began in 1967. Struble (shown with Rotarian Perry Lancaster) was Capital Rotary’s Jan. 8 guest speaker, detailing the agency’s work in supplying food, helping at home and promoting active living. Capital’s members – as volunteers – are most familiar with the Meal On Wheels program delivering hot food daily to the homebound. But Senior Resources also provides clients with bags of fresh produce monthly and has a senior care pantry for non-perishables, household goods and personal hygiene items. Home help includes personal care, transportation to doctor visits and other medical-related trips, and Pet Pals – monthly dog and cat food delivery for seniors’ four-legged companions. Active living services are (1) four wellness centers for physical fitness; (2) “foster grandparents” who mentor and tutor at-risk students, primarily in elementary school; and (3) senior companion volunteers assisting with light housekeeping and meal preparation. Struble said all these programs enable clients to remain at home as long as possible, delaying or preventing institutional care needs.
Capital Rotary Club members adopted a Columbia-area family and provided gifts for the holiday season (shown in photo) as part of the 2019 Midlands Families Helping Families Christmas program, a Palmetto Project and WIS-TV initiative. Rotarians had the option of purchasing gifts or making a monetary donation. For 27 years, Families Helping Families has helped ease the holiday burden for thousands, ensuring that more neighbors may share in the joys of Christmas. The program had a goal of serving 3,500 families and senior citizens this year. Recipients are referred by local social service organizations and schools.