State treasurer Curtis Loftis touched on the highlights of his role as South Carolina’s “private banker” when he addressed Capital Rotary members Feb. 5. Loftis (shown in photo) is responsible for managing, investing and retaining custody of nearly $50 billion in public funds. He said state government is “doing well” financially, but he remains vigilant to “see that we are good stewards of your money.” For instance, Loftis praised the SC Department of Transportation for “doing more work at less cost than ever before.” But he warned that some nonprofit entities tied to corporate (instead of local) interests are getting public funds for services that state agencies and employees could provide more economically. He said some $450 million is awarded to nonprofits, but in some cases “we don’t know what good they do for how much.” Loftis was first elected treasurer in 2010. A 1981 graduate of the University of South Carolina, he is a member of the Cayce-West Columbia Rotary Club. Loftis has held leadership positions in numerous state, regional and national fiscal authorities and associations.
The EarlyAct Club at St. Peter’s Catholic School in Columbia had an active holiday season and is planning projects in January and February, too. For details, see this recent posting on the Rotary District 7770 website. The club was established by Rotary clubs in the Columbia area earlier this school year. EarlyAct is a service organization for elementary students ages 5 to 13. It develops character and leadership skills closely linked to the ideals of Rotary International.
EarlyAct Club members at St. Peter’s Catholic School have presented a check for $112 to Bernie Riedel (red t-shirt in back row), past governor for Rotary District 7770 and current End Polio Now chair. The youngsters held a Purple Pinkie Fundraiser (each donation gets one of your fingers painted purple) in support of Rotary International’s campaign to eradicate polio worldwide. Their contribution will be matched two-fold by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation – a campaign partner – so that an additional 3,000 children in third-world countries can receive polio vaccinations. End Polio Now has helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries. Columbia-area Rotarians sponsor St, Peter’s EarlyAct Club as a service organization for students ages 5 to 13. It helps youth develop character and leadership skills linked to the ideals of Rotary International.
Rotary clubs in the Columbia area have launched an EarlyAct Club at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic School. EarlyAct is a service organization for elementary students ages 5 to 13. It develops character and leadership skills closely linked to the ideals of Rotary International. Capital Rotary member EJ Newby (left in photo) helped to distribute EarlyAct pins at St. Peter’s recent kickoff meeting. Each EarlyActor also received a membership card explaining the Four-Way Test used by Rotarians worldwide as a moral code for the things we think, say or do in personal and business relationships. Students will undertake various service projects during the school year and will be donating their spare change to support the CART (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust) Fund. This initiative began in South Carolina over 20 years ago and has since been adopted by Rotary clubs throughout the United States. All of its donations go toward grants for research aimed at preventing or finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
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.