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.
At Capital Rotary’s June 26 club assembly, outgoing president Philip Flynn reviewed the record of accomplishments for the 2018-2019 Rotary year, including:
- A fund-raising gala that resulted in nearly $20,000 for the CART (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust) fund.
- An annual Red Cross Blood Drive that collected 58 units of blood.
- A literacy project that donated 741 dictionaries to third-graders in 16 Richland District One elementary schools.
- Serving two families in need – one in the Christmas season and another this spring (displaced by public housing gas leaks).
- A morning of volunteer community service at Harvest Hope Food Bank and weekly delivery for Meals On Wheels.
- A Rotary Global Grant Project to build a new elementary school in Ghana.
- An increase in college scholarship awards from four to six.
- Becoming host club for the student Rotaract Club at the University of South Carolina.
- Spontaneous fundraisers for Pawmetto Lifeline and for the local Ronald McDonald House.
- District 7770 recognitions for ranking fourth among clubs in CART fundraising and in the top five in Rotary Foundation giving; receiving a Club Leadership Citation; and being named a Club of the Year award winner.
- Publicizing club activities with 78 website and social media posts; reaching almost 5,300 people through social media; 4,432 website visitors; 75 news items on District 7770’s website and in newsletters; 107 press releases posted in local media; and six monthly club activity recaps e-mailed to members.
Columbia’s Capital Rotary received high honors from District 7770 on June 19 for charitable giving and overall achievement of goals. In Photo A, assistant district governor Eric Davis (right) presents a citation to Tony Thompson, chairman of the club’s CART (Coins for Alzheimer’s Trust) Fund campaign. Capital Rotary ranked 4th out of 79 clubs for per capita CART giving. The CART initiative began in South Carolina over 20 years ago. Monies contributed support cutting edge, high-impact research aimed at preventing or finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. In Photo B, club president Philip Flynn (left) receives a Club Leadership Citation patch from Davis, emblematic of Capital Rotary’s successful participation in local and district community service projects and for contributions to Rotary International’s worldwide humanitarian outreach programs during the 2018-2019 program year. This past April, Capital Rotary was named “Club of the Year” among those similar in size in District 7770.
Capital Rotarians toured Columbia’s Ronald McDonald House on May 29, getting a firsthand look at how it provides a comforting atmosphere for families and children in times of medical crisis. The 16-bedroom facility on Colonial Drive has all the comforts of “a home away from home” including a well-stocked food pantry and toy room, a kitchen and dining room, relaxed living areas and washer/dryer units. The staff and volunteers work to ease emotional and financial stress caused by health issues, thus allowing families to focus on supporting their child when it matters most. The Ronald McDonald House serves families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, with an 87% average occupancy rate. The May 29 tour was hosted by operations director Liz Atkinson, executive director Beth Lowrie and marketing/development manager Meghan McMenamy. As part of its Fifth Wednesday program, Capital Rotary occasionally substitutes field trips to local sites in place of a regular club meeting.
Building loving and supportive environments for families and young people is the role undertaken by Thornwell Home for Children since its founding as a Presbyterian ministry in 1875, according to Joy Messner, Capital Rotary’s guest speaker on May 8. Messner (at left in photo with Rotarian Ann Elliott) is mission advancement officer for the nonprofit organization that provides innovative and effective solutions for those in need. From its campus in Clinton, Thornwell operates in 20 South Carolina, Georgia and Florida locations. It offers family-style residential care, foster care and building families programs including parenting workshops and intensive in-home counseling. Messner said strengthening families is important given the number of youngsters suffering child abuse and neglect or living in poverty, homelessness and food-insecure households. South Carolina need more than 1,800 more foster homes statewide and has over 57,000 grandparent households with primary responsibility for their grandchildren. Messner is a former church youth director and lay ministry leader who joined Thornwell two years ago after doing volunteer management, donor relations and fundraising for a non-profit children’s ministry in Camden, NJ.
Goodwill Industries in South Carolina’s upstate and midlands is successful in putting people to work, true to the organization’s 1902 founding philosophy that it gives a “hand up” instead of a “handout” to potential members of the labor force. Mike Daniels (shown in photo with Rotarian Felicia Maloney) was Capital Rotary’s April 10 guest speaker, reporting that one out of every 200 workers in the nation has been helped by Goodwill services. Operating in 16 counties in the Palmetto State, Goodwill receives over 1.2 million “gently used” items at its donation centers. These are then sold – the tune of 3.5 million purchases in 35 Goodwill stores – with 93 cents of each dollar received going to programs that include training and certification, job assistance for veterans and persons with disabilities, and job placement. Daniels said Goodwill last year helped 12,152 people find jobs – and their first-year earnings could generate a potential economic impact of more than $149 million in the state. Daniels has over 27 years of experience in labor market and workforce development in state government and in the private sector. He’s now managing two grants for Goodwill’s Senior Community Service Employment Program aimed at refreshing job skills for more than 320 citizens aged 55 and above.
Capital Rotary Club members on March 20 heard how Columbia’s Ronald McDonald House works to comfort families that have to be away from home while dealing with a child’s medical crisis. The compassionate story came from guest speakers Liz Atkinson (left in photo) and Beth Lowrie (at right in photo), who serve as the charity’s operations manager and executive director, respectively. They said the 16,000-square-foot, 16-bedroom Ronald McDonald House provides a comfortable environment where families can rest, enjoy home-cooked meals, relax in spacious living areas, use laundry facilities and most importantly, experience a network of support among other families facing similar worries and fears. The stability of this “home away from home” not only relieves emotional and financial stress, but also allows families to focus on being there for their child when it matters most. The local Ronald McDonald house is one of 368 similar facilities located in 48 countries. Columbia’s house opened 35 years ago; its occupancy rate averages 87 per cent. Atkinson and Lowrie said there is a constant need for volunteers and fund-raising to support the charity’s programs. The Ronald McDonald House is open to serve families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
Members of the University of South Carolina’s Rotaract Club got hands-on community service experience Feb. 13 when they joined other volunteers from Capital Rotary at Harvest Hope Food Bank for an hour of packing groceries for distribution to the hungry. Taking part were (from left in photo) Kara Owens, sophomore in marketing; Tina Sorensen, freshman in nursing; Alex Stevens, sophomore in biomedical engineering; Gioia Chakravorti, sophomore in international business/supply chain and operations management; and Rotaract president Joel Welch, a senior in accounting/finance. Also present but not pictured were Angie Church, freshman in international business/accounting and Mandy Spiegel, freshman in international business/finance. 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.
In their Jan. 23 meeting Capital Rotarians were urged to help educate, inspire and encourage South Carolinians to participate in the nation’s 2020 census. Guest speaker Doris Greene (at left in photo with club member Daniel Moses) said the decennial population count data is used to determine federal funds for the state and in legislative and school redistricting. The 2010 numbers resulted in federal monies averaging $1,499 per year for each South Carolina resident for 10 years. Census Day is coming April 1, 2020, with results due by Dec. 31 of that year. Greene said the goal is “to count everybody residing in South Carolina whether they are a citizen or not.” She said “complete count committees” are being formed for community outreach to boost participation. The state’s 2010 response averaged 75 per cent, with every county reporting higher numbers. The 2020 census will offer and encourage people to respond via the internet so that the count can be accurate, secure and convenient. Greene is serving as a census leader for the third time. The Columbia native has been a CA Johnson High School teacher, a Midlands Tech faculty member, an adjunct professor at Benedict College and worked at the SC Department of Education. She is a magna cum laude Benedict College graduate with a master’s degree in adult education from the University of South Carolina and has been on the Habitat for Humanity International board.
The United States trails its peer developed countries in life expectancy and other health outcomes, despite spending more on healthcare. Some of this difference is due to genetics and behavior, but social factors are contributors, too, according to Dr. Sarah Gehlert, Dean of the University of South Carolina’s College of Social Work and Capital Rotary’s Dec. 5 guest speaker. Dr. Gehlert (at left in photo with Rotarian Katherine Anderson) said research shows genetics and behavior help determine about 70% of a person’s health risks and outcomes. The “social factors of health” – things like lifestyle and social stressors – can have an effect up to 15%. Dr. Gehlert said social factors helping men live longer include being married, participating in religious activities and being affiliated with clubs or similar organizations. For women, longevity social factors include being married, frequent social contact and taking part in religious activities. Dr. Gehlert in November received the Insley-Evans Public Health Social Worker of the Year award for her leadership, advocacy and commitment in focusing on social environmental influences on health. The award was presented in San Diego by the American Public Health Association.