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.
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.
Capital Rotary president Philip Flynn recognizes at-large director and service chair Neda Beal for continuing Rotary Foundation donations that support world understanding and peace programs. Beal is now a Paul Harris Fellow Plus-Five giver (signifying an initial $1,000 donation with five additional gifts at the same amount). In 2016 Beal was named the club’s Rotarian of the Year for her guidance of local community service, literacy and volunteer projects.
University of South Carolina professor Dr. David Shields brought a tasty message as Capital Rotary’s June 5 guest speaker. Shields (flanked in photo by Rotarians Chris Myers at left and Ann Elliott) tries to revive the best-tasting produce and grains from Southern history and bring them back to the dinner table. He said these essential ingredients of delicious and distinctive foods have become nearly extinct, giving way to crops that are more economical to grow, ship and prepare but not as mouth-watering. A revival of Lowcountry farming and interest from chefs has created a demand for heirloom grains and vegetables. Shields has published more than 80 articles and a dozen books based on research into the antebellum South’s crops, meals and the cooks who prepared them. He also chairs the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation board and the Slow Food: Ark of Taste for the South project, called “a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction.” A native of Maryland, Dr. Shields received his undergraduate degree from William and Mary and his PhD from the University of Chicago. He was appointed a Carolina Distinguished Professor in 2014.
Patricia F. Dempster (at center in photo) was welcomed into Capital Rotary’s ranks on May 15 by sponsor Ione Cockrell and club president Philip Flynn. A Columbia native, Dempster is an insurance and financial services advisor who grew up in St. Andrews’ Whitehall area, graduated from Irmo High School and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Limestone College in Gaffney. For 12 years she held various positions in Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina and its subsidiaries, working in claims processing, records management and systems support/programing. Since 2011 she’s been a financial planner for individuals, professionals and small business owners. Dempster is a designated Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow and a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of the Midlands. She is a sponsor for Cancer of Many Colors, a Lexington-based non-profit that helps local cancer survivors with daily living expenses and emergency needs.
Capital Rotary member Mike Montgomery (left in photo) is congratulated by club president Philip Flynn for continuing contributions to The Rotary Foundation in support of international programs that promote peace, human development and world understanding. Montgomery now has earned Paul Harris Fellow plus-eight honors (signifying an initial $1,000 donation with eight additional gifts in the same amount). Montgomery was an 11-year Spring Valley Rotarian before joining the Capital club in 2015. The University of South Carolina graduate has been a private practice lawyer since 1985 and formerly served on Richland District Two’s school board and on Richland County Council.
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.
Providing clean water, sanitation and education is the “first phase of hope” for a better life in impoverished communities in Ghana and South Sudan, according to Walter Hughes, a member of the Rotary Club of Rocky Mount, VA. Hughes (at left in photo with local Rotarian Bud Foy), was guest speaker for Capital Rotary’s March 6 meeting. Over the past 10 years, Hughes and teams of Rotary and non-Rotary volunteers have undertaken building projects spearheaded by Rotary International. They’ve sunk wells to provide clean water for over 300,000 people in Africa – helping to eradicate Guinea Worm disease – and installed microflush toilets in place of pit latrines that smell bad and pollute water and soil. In partnership with 170 Rotary clubs in the US, Canada and overseas – plus governments and other non-profit funders – Hughes’ efforts have raised more than $3.2 million for humanitarian projects. He’s been active in Rotary-funded school building including three elementary schools, a preschool and a junior high. One of the elementary schools now under construction is funded in part by Rotary District 7770 and four clubs in South Carolina, including Capital Rotary as lead club.
At a mid-year assembly Feb. 6 to review Capital Rotary’s accomplishments to date in the 2018-2019 Rotary year, president Philip Flynn shared highlights that included:
- Making $1,500 in charitable contributions to Rotary districts hit by natural disasters, including those affected by Hurricane Florence locally, by Hurricane Michael in Georgia/Florida and by the California wildfires.
- Donating 741 dictionaries to third-graders in 16 Richland District One elementary schools.
- Creation of a new Codified Policy for the club that’s a “standard operating procedure” resource for future leaders and committees.
- Collecting 58 units of blood at the annual Red Cross Blood Drive, each donation helping to save the lives of up to three people.
- Assisting five local college students with scholarships – current enrollees at the College of Charleston, Claflin University, the University of South Carolina, North Carolina State and Anderson University.
- Adopting a local family and providing gifts for the holiday season as part of the 2018 Midlands Families Helping Families Christmas program.
- Continuing community service projects with weekly Meals on Wheels delivery and annual volunteering at Harvest Hope Food Bank.
- Supporting The Rotary Foundation with $242 per capita member giving that ranks among the top 10 clubs in District 7770.
- Serving as lead club for a Global Grant Project, partnering with the Rotary Club of Sunyani East in Ghana, Africa to construct the Nkrankrom Elementary School. Our club donated $2,500, District 7770 raised more, and with a Rotary Foundation match, Sunyani East was awarded about $94,000 to build the school.
- Publicizing our activities with 39 club website and social media posts; reaching over 2,700 people through social media; 1,643 website users; 38 postings on District 7770’s website and newsletters; 53 press releases posted by local media; and six monthly club activity recaps e-mailed to members.
Capital Rotary member Mike Montgomery (left in photo) is congratulated by club president Philip Flynn for continuing contributions to The Rotary Foundation in support of international programs that promote peace, human development and world understanding. Montgomery has earned Paul Harris Fellow plus-seven honors (signifying an initial $1,000 donation with seven additional gifts in the same amount). Montgomery was an 11-year Spring Valley Rotarian before joining the Capital club in 2015. The University of South Carolina graduate has been a private practice lawyer since 1985 and formerly served on Richland District Two’s school board and on Richland County Council.