Freeing families from fears of domestic violence is the mission of Sistercare, a non-profit agency serving Richland, Lexington, Fairfield, Newberry and Kershaw counties, according to Cherisse Branch, guest speaker for Capital Rotary’s Aug. 21 meeting. Branch (shown with club president Abby Naas at right and member Mike Montgomery) noted that South Carolina ranks 6th nationally in domestic violence homicides and that 15 million children across the country live in homes affected by violence. Sistercare’s services include (1) individual and group counseling; (2) community support groups; (3) career development; (4) teen outreach and youth development; (5) community education and training about domestic violence; (6) advocacy in court; (7) emergency shelter for victims and transitional housing; and (8) a 24-hour crisis hotline. Branch said that in the past year, 354 adults and 196 children were served in shelters, 3,713 crisis line calls were received and 8,384 individuals took part in community-based programs. Branch is a native of Brooklyn, NY, and a 1998 graduate of Benedict College.
University of South Carolina senior Grace Cooney (shown with Mark Bokesch of Capital Rotary Club) has been awarded a Rotary International Global Grant scholarship to pursue a Master’s of Science Degree in Migration, Culture and Global Health from Queen Mary University in London next year. Cooney’s career goal is to become a physician practicing internationally, working with underserved and vulnerable populations abroad. The Greenville native’s scholarship application was sponsored by Capital Rotary, with Bokesch serving as advisor. Global Grants 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. The minimum Global Grant scholarship award is $30,000 to fund coursework or research for one to four academic years.
Over the past 20 years, technology has spawned widespread changes in real estate buying, selling and closings, according to lawyer and broker Gary Pickren, guest speaker at Capital Rotary’s Aug. 14 meeting. Pickren (in photo with Rotarian Gloria Saeed) detailed changing roles for agents and attorneys in today’s electronic-driven marketplace. Agents – once seen as advisors, counselors and advocates for their clients – now chiefly provide emotional support and keep a transaction’s progress on schedule. In the future, Pickren sees agent compensation moving to a sliding scale instead of percentage commissions, or becoming an ala carte system based on flat fees plus extra “menu options.” He said real estate attorneys’ offices today function more professionally because of consumer protection laws, while lending a marketing and social experience touch for closing transactions. Technology will continue making inroads, leading to more online documents and electronic closings. In short, Pickren said, “it’s not your grandfather’s law firm anymore.” Pickren grew up in Spartanburg and graduated from Wofford College. Since 1995 he has performed real estate closings, taught agents and advocated for all South Carolinians in changing the state’s real estate laws.
Sophia Bertrand (right), new leader of the University of South Carolina’s Rotaract Club, is welcomed to a Capital Rotary meeting by president Abby Naas (left) and Neda Beal, liaison to the USC group. Bertrand, a senior studying experimental psychology with minors in Spanish and neuroscience, plans a career in occupational therapy. She’s involved Mind and Brain Institute research and takes part in the Capstone Scholars Program, Capstone Connectors Mentoring Program and Peace Corps Prep Program, plus Off Off Broadway Amateur Theater. She’s a Freshman Seminar Class peer leader and is active in church groups. Rotaract clubs are open to adults ages 18-30 interested in community service, in developing leadership and professional skills, and who enjoy networking and social activities. USC Rotaract was formed in 2010-2011 under the sponsorship of Spring Valley Rotary; Capital Rotary assumed sponsorship in the past year.
Navigating the Dept. of Veterans Affairs paperwork maze is daunting, but it can pay off for those willing to stake a claim for benefits due as a result of military service. That’s according to Cristy Bradley of Elgin, Capital Rotary’s Aug. 7 guest speaker, who is a paralegal accredited as a claims agent by the federal agency to assist vets in need. Bradley (shown in photo with Rotarian and Navy veteran Bob Davis) said only 90 days of service are needed to qualify for VA benefits that range from compensation to guaranteed home loans and from medical treatment to life insurance and burial assistance. She noted that vets judged to be 30% or more disabled may be entitled to additional compensation for a spouse, dependent parents, unmarried children or a child incapable of self-support. She said about half of VA disability claims involved posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Vets seeking benefits must have (1) a diagnosis of PTSD; (2) symptoms must be tied to a traumatic event, or “stressor,” that occurred during service; and (3) there must be documented medical evidence from a medical professional that the in-service stressor is what caused the individual’s PTSD.
The Rotary Club of Chapin Sunrise awarded two $2500 college scholarships to Laney Hayes and Katie Waites who will be attending the Honors College at USC and Clemson University respectively. Both incredible young women haveoutstanding academic records, athletic abilities, community service involvement and hold down part time jobs. Laney volunteers many hours in our community and will be majoring in Biomedical Engineering. Katie is also very active in the community and at her church, Chapin Methodist. She will be focusing on Health Science while at school this fall. Club member, Houston Fitzpatrick, and his team enjoyed interviewing a slate of very qualified candidates. Congratulations Laney and Katie!
Staff member Kaytee Watson (in blue shirt, center of picture) led Capital Rotary club members on a July 31 tour of LRADAC’s Colonial Drive campus. The agency – formerly known as the Lexington/Richland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council – has provided alcohol and drug abuse prevention, intervention and treatment in the Midlands for 40 years. Services include drug screening, individual/group counseling, behavioral therapy and life skills training. In the 2019 fiscal year, LRADAC admitted almost 8,500 clients; 50% successfully completed treatment and 95% reported satisfaction with services. Nearly 2,500 clients were served in community-based programs. Watson said LRADAC takes a proactive approach to fighting addiction and drug abuse in local schools, businesses and neighborhoods. Capital Rotary’s “fifth Wednesday” tour was part of the club’s community outreach, substituting field trips to local sites in place of a regular club meeting.
Stephen West takes part in Capital Rotary’s summer blood drive held July 24 in downtown Columbia. The drive collected 42 units of blood from 38 donors, including six first-time donors. Red Cross officials said the effort potentially saved 126 lives, and its success is especially welcome because of high blood demand and lagging donations in the summer. Over the past dozen years Capital Rotary’s annual drive has collected 624 units of blood, helping to save the lives of more than 1,800 people.
Assistant District Governor Eric Davis explained how Rotary International’s 2019-2020 theme – “Rotary Connects the World”– will be put into action when he spoke to Capital Rotarians on July 17. Davis (in photo with club president Abby Naas) said adapting to a new generation of potential members might include more flexible meeting schedules, more family-friendly activities, more networking opportunities and continued emphasis on service projects. A local “Discovery Rotary Day” aims to increase community awareness and raise the organization’s profile, while an August summit offers training in membership growth. Community service projects include a “Together We Read” literacy program for elementary students, plus fund-raising to benefit “Key Changes Therapy” for childhood behavior problems. Local clubs are sponsoring an Interact Club at St. Peter’s Catholic School, developing leadership skills and service activities for young people. Davis said District 7770 will continue to raise money for the CART (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust) Fund supporting medical research grants and for World Polio Day – an international campaign to eradicate the crippling disease. District Rotarians also plan to pack 1 million meals for Rise Against Hunger, an international relief organization coordinating the packaging and distribution of food and other life-changing aid to people in developing nations.
Blount Sheppard, Assistant District Governor for 7770 was on hand for the Installation of Babbie Jaco, President of Sunrise Rotary, Chapin and the Board of Directors. Blount brought us salutations from Mark Maloney, National President and Johnny Moore, “Our” new District Governor. He challenged us to more contributions to the CART Fund, sharing for Publicity, participation in a new and revised District Conference and to work to encourage literacy. President Jaco, shared her goals for a stronger and more engaged club. Our table were full with breakfast, flags, programs and even cakes.
Picture1, Blount Shepard
Picture2, Blount Shepard and Babbie Jaco
Picture3, Greg White, Phil Purser, Virginia Greene, Tom Wilkinson, Jeff Berger, Michael Cramer, John Stickney, Babbie Jaco, Ben Sloan and Blount Shepard.