Human trafficking is a growing multi-billion-dollar crime worldwide. Victims include children, the homeless or people from difficult family situations, undocumented immigrants and the disabled. Capital Rotarians heard details from Jan. 16 guest speakers Sherri Lydon (left in photo) and Elliott Daniels (right in photo). Lydon is US Attorney for the District of South Carolina, while Daniels is an Assistant US Attorney. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery – using force, fraud or coercion to exploit victims. They can be manipulated physically or psychologically and pressed into domestic service, commercial sex trafficking or forced labor. Victims may be exploited by employers, family members, caregivers or intimate partners, friends or acquaintances. In 2018 South Carolina had 127 human trafficking hotline reports, mostly for commercial sex or forced labor. Incidents were most numerous in Richland, Horry, Greenville and Charleston counties. Daniels said more citizen awareness combats human trafficking. He urged support for non-profit organizations that help and shelter victims, plus offering them job opportunities. To keep children safe from being lured into trafficking via the internet, he said parents need to “know who your kids are talking to online” and set social media boundaries. Lydon is a Clemson and University of South Carolina Law School graduate who was appointed the state’s US Attorney in May 2018. Daniels has undergraduate and law degrees from George Washington University and studied international law at Oxford University.
Blake Dubose (left in photo), immediate past president of Capital Rotary, receives a plaque from current president Philip Flynn in recognition of service to the Columbia-area club. During DuBose’s 2017-18 tenure, Capital Rotary received a “Public Image Award” and a leadership citation from Rotary District 7770, among other honors. Professionally, DuBose is president of DuBose Web Group, a website design and development firm founded in 2007. He is a graduate of Newbery College.
South Carolina treasurer Curtis Loftis briefed Capital Rotary members on his role as the state’s “private banker” when he was the club’s guest speaker Aug. 1. Loftis said his office manages, invests and maintains custody of tens of billions of dollars in public funds. As “the taxpayer’s friend,” Loftis said he is committed to transparency and accountability in improving cash flow and eliminating fraud, waste and abuse. He touted the success of the Unclaimed Property Program that has returned more than $137 million in unclaimed funds to state residents. Loftis also praised growth in South Carolina’s Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan, where he has overseen an increase in the number of enrollees to 145,000 accounts and total assets of $3.34 billion. A 1981 University of South Carolina graduate, Loftis is a member of Cayce-West Columbia Rotary and serves on a number of state and national boards and commissions.
The City of Columbia’s Office of Business Opportunities director has joined Capital Rotary. Melissa L. Lindler (shown at center in photo with sponsor Gloria Saeed and club president Philip Flynn) took her city post after more than 20 years of experience in government and non-profit work. Most recently she was district planning and outreach director for Congressmen Jim Clyburn. Previously she was a staff member at the SC Department of Education and at South Carolina State University. She received her BA in political science and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Carolina, and earned graduate certification in public management from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. Lindler’s volunteer activities include board service for the International African American Museum, the Southeastern Institute for Women in Politics, the Columbia Chapter of the Society, Inc., Jack and Jill of America Foundation, Inc. and the Total Care for the Homeless Coalition.
New Capital Rotary member Catherine Mabry (center in photo) is welcomed to the club’s ranks by president Philip Flynn and sponsor Chris Myers. Mabry, who handles community outreach for Shives Funeral Home, received a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Alabama. She previously worked in retail positions and in physician services at Baptist Medical Center and Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC. A member of and current elder for Eastminster Presbyterian Church, she is married to commercial realtor Hank Mabry, a former Rotarian, and the couple has two adult children.
Rotary clubs in South Carolina’s Midlands will hold a gala fund-raiser in Columbia Friday evening, Aug. 17 to benefit the CART (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust) Fund. Tickets are now available, along with sponsorship opportunities and item donations for life and silent auctions.
The black tie optional event will be held at the historic event venue at 1208 Washington St. from 7 to 11 p.m. Advance tickets are $100 per person or $175 per couple. Tickets at the door will be $125 per person or $200 per couple. Admission includes live music, heavy hors d’oeurves, open bar and free valet parking.
Sponsorships range from $250 to $5,000 and include a pre-event champagne reception, event tickets, advertising listings and additional promotional considerations. More information about tickets and sponsor information is available at www.cartgala.org.
Gala organizers hope to raise $40,000 for the CART Fund. One hundred percent (100%) of CART donated funds go to grants 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. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and South Carolina ranks number 1 in deaths from the disease.
Capital Rotarian Abby Naas was in costume and armed with a light saber for “Star Wars Night” at the Columbia Fireflies baseball game on Friday, May 4. She was among a host of District 7770 club members enjoying a Rotary Night celebration, too, at Spirit Communications Park. The evening of baseball, hot dogs and good sportsmanship combines fellowship and fund-raising, with additional proceeds going to the Rotary Foundation. The hosting Fireflies are a minor league affiliate of the New York Mets. Naas joined the Fireflies staff in January 2015 as marketing and public relations vice president.
Capital Rotary president Blake DuBose congratulates Andy Markl (left), the club’s most recent addition to the ranks of Paul Harris Fellows, signifying a $1,000 contribution to the Rotary Foundation. Paul Harris Fellows receive a special pin, a certificate and a medal to honor their donation. Foundation gifts help fund international programs promoting world understanding and peace. Markl is a Lexington native who operates The Graphics Source, a firm specializing in print, marketing and advertising materials. He joined Capital Rotary in April 2017.
An “understanding gap” affects the problem of homelessness among people 17-24 years of age in the Midlands, according to Stacey Atkinson and Jacquan Riley, guest speakers at Capital Rotary’s April 4 meeting. The pair (shown in photo with Rotarians Perry Lancaster at left and Tony Thompson at right) said there were 130 homeless youth in the area last year. Atkinson, a retired juvenile justice official, said the situation is a housing, economic and education issue but more public awareness could create a “community of care” to seek solutions. “We need leaders willing to serve as mentors and life coaches for these young people,” Atkinson said. “We need leaders who can offer opportunities for these young people to show what they have to offer.” She also noted there’s a need for scholarships to help youth enroll in technical college trades and certificate programs leading to quick, stable employment. Atkinson is graduate of Leadership South Carolina and has been a licensed SC Master Level Social Worker since 1989.
Dominion Energy’s proposed $14.6 billion merger with South Carolina’s SCANA Corp. is a remedy for “the largest utility failure in modern history” – that is, the $9 billion loss of the abandoned V.C. Summer nuclear power plant. That’s according to Dominion executive Dan Weekley, who told Capital Rotarians March 14 that the Virginia-based company seeks this “friendly acquisition” because it believes the Palmetto State is “on the verge of explosive growth” needing energy reliability. Weekley said merger benefits include (1) a $1.3 billion cash payment to customers – a value of $1,000 for average residential users; (2) additional reductions of up to 7 percent from current electric and gas rates; and (3) a $1.7 billion write-off of existing debt related to the failed nuclear project. Weekley noted that Dominion already has a business presence in the state, citing recent construction of an 1,100-acre, 270,000-panel solar farm in Jasper County. He said Dominion – the sixth-largest producer of solar power in the country – is about 10 times SCANA’s size, with projects equally divided between electricity and natural gas. Weekly joined the company in 2000. He’s a graduate of Marshall University and earned a master’s in business administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.