Crawling through Viet Cong tunnels during his Vietnam War service was always an exercise in potential danger, according to C.W. Bowman, Capital Rotary guest speaker for June 27 (at left in photo with club member Chris Myers). Bowman – a draftee shipped overseas in January 1967 – was a point man, demolition-man and tunnel rat who cleared and destroyed underground complexes that could conceal hospitals, training areas, storage facilities, headquarters and barracks. Bowman said the dirty duty’s hazards included not only booby traps and enemy troops, but also snakes, spiders, scorpions and ants. Typically, he faced these dangers armed only with a flashlight and a .45 caliber pistol, plus a healthy dose of caution. Bowman served two tours in Vietnam and earned a Combat Infantry Badge, Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal, among other awards. He later was a drill sergeant at Ft. Jackson. A native of Bordentown, NJ, Bowman has lived in South Carolina since 1973.
Blockchain – the technology behind Bitcoin – has potential uses far beyond digital currencies. That’s what Capital Rotarians heard from May 30 guest speaker Dr. Dirk Brown, shown with club member Walker Williams (left in photo). Brown is faculty director of the University of South Carolina’s McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise. He has extensive experience in digital media and electronic technologies, operations and marketing. Brown said that currently, most people use a trusted middleman such as a bank to make a transaction. But blockchain allows consumers and suppliers to connect directly, removing the need for third party validation. Using cryptography to keep exchanges secure, blockchain provides a giant spreadsheet or “digital ledger” of transactions that everyone on the network can see. This network is essentially a chain of computers that must all approve an exchange before it can be verified and recorded. Brown said blockchain technology can work for almost every type of transaction involving value, including money, goods and property. Its potential uses are almost limitless, and blockchain could also help reduce fraud because every transaction would be recorded and distributed on a public ledger. It’s also virtually impossible to hack. “We now have a secure way to make value exchanges with strangers without a central authority,” Brown explained. “The future is here for blockchain and cryptocurrency, but most of us are just now realizing it.” Brown has a bachelor of science from Queens University in Canada, with post-graduate degrees from San Jose State and Cornell University, where he earned a doctorate in materials science.
Donors to the Rotary Foundation are supporting positive change for communities around the world, according to Deborah Burt, a Bluffton Rotarian since 2007 and Capital Rotary’s guest speaker on April 25. Burt (at right in photo with Felicia Maloney) is Paul Harris Society chair for District 7770 in eastern South Carolina. Society members donate at least $1,000 yearly to the Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable fund for world understanding and peace programs. Burt said the Paul Harris Society – named in honor of the Chicago attorney who founded Rotary in 1905 – was established in 1999 and has about 20,000 participants worldwide. There are 315 Society supporters in District 7770, including seven in Capital Rotary. Burt said the Columbia area club also has 56 Paul Harris Fellows – giving at least $100 annually to the Foundation – plus 40 Benefactors – those who’ve arranged for $1,000 donations from their estates – and four Bequest Society members giving $10,000 or more via estate planning. Over the years Capital Rotarians have contributed a total of $315,667 to the Rotary Foundation. Burt noted the Foundation’s cost effectiveness means about 91% of the money goes for programs rather than administration.
Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club has earned district recognition for its communications efforts in 2017-2018. Pete Pillow (in photo with president Blake DuBose at left and District 7770 Gov. Gary Bradham at right) received a “Service Above Self Award” as Public Image Chair, while the club was a “Public Image Media Award” winner for medium-sized clubs. District 7770 is comprised of 80 clubs and about 5,000 Rotarians in 25 eastern counties of the state. Pillow posts photos and news on the club’s website and Facebook pages, prepares a monthly e-newsletter and issues press releases to local and district media. He is a retired journalist and public information officer who joined Capital Rotary in 2006. In the past 2½ years the club has distributed 170 news releases, had 12,000 website visitors and reached 11,000 people through social media.
Today’s students today have a greater capacity for learning and applying what they know to real world issues than ever before, according to Lexington/Richland District Five school superintendent Dr. Stephen W. Hefner. But public education’s challenges include solving a persistent teacher shortage and helping families with social/emotional issues that cause stress, anxiety and depression. Hefner (seen speaking to Capital Rotarians as club member Bryan Goodyear looks on) led Richland District Two for 16 years before joining District Five in 2011. During his career he’s seen school responsibilities expand in (1) serving needs of special education students; (2) fielding, equipping and coaching over 150 athletic teams; (3) offering full-day and four-year-old kindergarten; (4) building and maintaining facilities; (5) providing nursing services for a daily average of more than 600 students; (6) meeting breakfast, lunch and afterschool nutritional needs; (7) communicating with a diverse population where English is a second language for nearly 800 students; (8) technology becoming essential for teaching, learning and assessment; (9) ensuring safety with school resource officers and 360 practice drills scheduled yearly; and (10) dealing with a “generational change” in employee and family attitudes that focus primarily on lifestyle.
Columbia’s Capital Rotary has recognized three members for contributions to The Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable arm that funds programs for world understanding and peace. Honorees include (from left) Mike Montgomery, a Paul Harris Fellow plus-six donor, representing an initial $1,000 donation, plus six additional gifts of $1,000 each; Hal Peacock, a plus-two Fellow with an initial $1,000 donation followed by two more for $1,000 each; club president Blake DuBose; and Tommy Gibbons, a plus-three Fellow with an initial $1,000 donation followed by three at $1,000 each.
Capital Rotary Club members adopted two local families for the holiday season in partnership with the 2017 Midlands Families Helping Families Christmas program, a Palmetto Project and WIS-TV initiative. Each family had a single mother and six children. Youngsters ranged in age from two to 17 years old. The Christmas wish lists included clothing, toys, personal care items, small household appliances, groceries and furniture. The club’s goal was to raise a total of $1,000 in order to purchase each family’s gifts. The club offered to match donations made by members. Presents were purchased, gift-wrapped and delivered to a warehouse for distribution. Capital Rotarians who led their club’s participation included Neda Beal, Carol Caulk, Felicia Maloney, E.J. Newby (at left in photo with Sandy, a Families Helping Families volunteer) and Qing Wang.
Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club has made donations for two humanitarian causes – one to eradicate polio, the other to provide disaster relief in the U.S. and overseas.
The club raised $882 that will be matched with District Designated Funds to become a donation of $1,764 for the worldwide campaign to eradicate polio. Ending polio has been a mission of Rotary International since 1985. Rotarians have contributed more than $1.7 billion and countless volunteer hours to immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.
Capital Rotary’s contribution – and the resulting match from District 7770 in eastern South Carolina – was made to celebrate World Polio Day/Week. World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Dr. Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis.
The local club’s disaster relief donation totaled $8,000 earmarked for rebuilding lives and communities following hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, plus the September earthquakes in Mexico. “We are coordinating through Rotary for the best way to distribute our funds to make a difference,” said Capital president Blake DuBose.
“Our board voted for this donation because we remember when Columbia was impacted by a 1,000-year flood in 2015 and an outpouring of support came from all parts of the country,” DuBose added. “The greater Columbia area was the beneficiary of an incredible amount of giving then, so we’re doing what we can in the same spirit now.”
Capital Rotary members Carol Caulk and John Guignard have tips for Arden Elementary School third-graders on how to use the new paperback dictionaries they received as part of the club’s participation in The Dictionary Project. The project – begun by a non-profit organization in Charleston in 1995 – aims to help students become good writers, active readers, creative thinkers and resourceful learner. Capital Rotary donated dictionaries to some 850 students in 12 Richland County District One schools for 2017. Over the past 13 years, the club has distributed personal dictionaries to more than 13,000 students in the Columbia area. A number of Rotary clubs in South Carolina and throughout the country are Dictionary Project sponsors. One of Rotary International’s major goals is improving basic education and literacy for adults and young people.
Matthew Pollard (center), a member of Capital Rotary’s programs committee, welcomes South Carolina Education Lottery chief operating officer Tony Cooper (left) and assistant controller Brian Ford to the club’s Sept. 6 meeting. Cooper told Rotarians the lottery is not gambling but rather “public gaming for the public good” because proceeds fund higher education scholarships, K-12 school programs, and community resources including libraries and ETV. Since the lottery started selling tickets in January 2002 it has resulted in education appropriations of more than $4.6 billion to counties all across the state. Cooper has overseen day-to-day lottery operations since start-up. Previously he was executive director of the District of Columbia Lottery & Charitable Games Board and was president of the Powerball Game Group.