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.
Capital Rotary members got a “bulls and bears” look at the economy and stock/bond market when Nicole Dill (in photo with Rotarian Stephen West) was the club’s guest speaker Nov. 14. Dill, a Chapin resident, works with JP Morgan Asset Management and has 20 years of experience in financial services. In her briefing she said (1) the US economy has not had problem inflation for 30 years, a trend that will continue; (2) another recession is expected in the future, likely 2021or 2022; (3) 1,300 “baby boomers” will be retiring each day for the next decade, helping to fuel labor force needs that could keep the nation at or near full employment; (4) the Federal Reserve Board is predicted to raise interest rates in December 2018 and March 2019, and perhaps in June 2019, but probably not in September 2019; (5) the US has a consumer-driver economy, with 70% of our growth due to consumption: people buying things; (6) recent mid-term elections helped restore a more balanced government divide between Democrats and Republicans, which has been the nation’s norm 61% of the time; and (7) investors need to rebalance their accounts yearly because of national and international economic change.
Columbia Housing Authority’s goal has not changed since its 1934 founding – it works to provide affordable homes for city and Richland County residents. That mission was explained by executive director Gilbert Walker, guest speaker for Capital Rotary’s Oct. 3 meeting. Walker (at right in photo with Rotarian Chris Ray) said 7,000 families – about 28,000 people – make up the authority’s current tenants list. Housing costs range from $50 to about $1,500 monthly, depending on financial ability. Walker said authority income includes federal funding, tenant rents and returns from investments. Columbia Housing Authority is the nation’s third-oldest organization of its type, the biggest in South Carolina and the largest local provider of seniors housing. Redevelopment of the 1940s-era Gonzales Gardens site – vacant since Gardens demolition last year – is expected to begin this November. Walker said the project will create an impressive “gateway for the city and Richland County.” Redevelopment proposals include single family houses, midrises for seniors, garage townhomes, mixed-income rentals and a community center/museum. Despite its success and ambitious plans, Walker said the authority sees unmet needs – a waiting list of 15,000 people seeking homes.
Four Capital Rotarians have been recognized for their donations to The Rotary Foundation in support of international programs promoting peace and world understanding. They are (from left in photo) Alex Serkes, a Paul Harris Fellow (donation of $1,000); Daniel Winders, a benefactor (pledging a $1,000 donation from his estate); Daniel Moses, also a benefactor; Frank Rutkowski, a Paul Harris Fellow plus-three giver (signifying an initial $1,000 donation with three additional gifts in the same amount); and Philip Flynn, club president. Capital Rotary members made nearly $13,000 in charitable contributions to the Foundation in the past year.
South Carolina treasurer Curtis Loftis briefed Capital Rotary members on his role as the state’s “private banker” when he served as 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.
Outgoing Capital Rotary Club president Blake DuBose presents the 2018 Rotarian of the Year plaque to public relations chair Pete Pillow (left) in recognition of his dedicated service and loyal devotion to the ideals of Rotary. Pillow, a retired journalist and public information officer, joined Capital Rotary in 2006. He’s been a Rotarian since 1980 and is a past president of clubs in Beaufort and East Spartanburg. He’s also a past president of the SC Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association and a College of Charleston graduate.
Capital Rotary members got the “straight poop” about Riverbanks Zoo’s composting success from guest speaker John Davis on May 16. Davis (left, in photo with Rotarian Bud Foy) said the “bottom line” is that animal manure can be a profit-maker instead of a wasted byproduct. He holds a degree in wildlife biology from Kansas State University and has run the composting program since 2009 as Director of Animal Care and Welfare at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. The zoo must contend with about 1,200 pounds of excrement daily, mostly from its elephant, giraffe and zebra populations. After collection, the manure decomposes and cures in a special storage area while being monitored for temperature and moisture. When it reaches the stage where it’s ready to be called “natural soil amendment,” the compost can be distributed at Riverbanks Garden and sold. It’s available for gift shop purchase or by the pick-up truckload during spring and fall bulk sales. Some of the sale proceeds go to the zoo’s conservation fund that supports projects to save wildlife and wildlife habitat all over the world. Each year Riverbanks converts 13,418 cubic feet of dung into money-making compost.
Gubernatorial candidate James Smith (in photo with Rotarian Gloria Saeed) says South Carolina needs “smart government” to move forward responsibly and promises to deliver that if he’s elected. Smith, currently a state representative, is running in June’s Democratic primary and was Capital Rotary’s April 18 guest speaker. He addressed three main topics: (1) need for a state energy policy that “drives efficiency” on the part of utilities and promotes solar power – where South Carolina is “15 years behind other states” making progress; (2) supporting and improving public education, which he called a governor’s “number one job” because “education equals jobs” for our work force; and (3) reapportionment of Congressional and state legislative districts after the 2020 census, which Smith said offers a chance to remedy “30 years of gerrymandering” that’s led to partisan politics where “party is more important than government of, by and for the people.” Smith, a Columbia native with undergraduate and law degrees from the University of South Carolina, was first elected to the SC House in 1996.