Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club is gearing up for the annual summer blood drive to be held Wednesday, July 25, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Scheduled donations and walk-ins are welcome at the donation site – first floor conference room, CB Richard Ellis Building, 1333 Main St. in downtown Columbia. The goal is 75 pints of blood, according to Red Cross staff member Libby Wright (at center in photo with president Philip Flynn and drive chairman Paul Gillam at left). Wright said the club over the past nine years has collected 516 units of blood, helping to save the lives of more than 1,500 patients. Because of high demand and lagging blood donations in summertime, Wright said the Red Cross is making an “emergency appeal” now for participation by prospective donors.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s Project Lifesaver team aims to “bring loved ones home” safely when electronic tracking is needed to find at-risk wanderers – clients with Alzheimer’s, autism, Downs Syndrome or traumatic brain injury. Deputy Amanda Jordan (shown at left in photo with Rotarian Daniel Moses) briefed Capital Rotary on June 13, noting that 44 local clients and their families are enrolled in the program founded in Virginia nearly 20 years ago. Project Lifesaver began in Richland County in 2006 with only eight deputies and three clients. Today 80 deputies are trained, certified specialists in locating missing persons via electronic searching – a process that usually takes less than 30 minutes as compared to a normal physical search lasting up to nine hours and sometimes involving hundreds of officers and volunteers. Jordan said Project Lifesaver is cost effective for law enforcement and provides better protection for lost individuals. Richland County does not charge its residents or their at-risk loved ones for receiving a transmitter and joining the program. Jordan, a University of South Carolina graduate, has served with the Sheriff’s Department for 14 years. She coordinates Project Lifesaver for the State of South Carolina, where 18 counties have signed on. There are 1,300 participating agencies across the US, Canada and Australia. To date more than 3,400 client rescues have been reported.
Rotary clubs worldwide are the heart and soul of an unprecedented effort to eradicate polio, an effort leading to a 99% drop in cases of the once-widespread disease. Capital Rotary club members were reminded of that fact in a video shown at their May 9 breakfast meeting. Rotary began an anti-polio campaign in 1979 with a project to vaccinate children in the Philippines. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative launched in 1988 is driven by Rotary International and four other core partners – the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The partners’ work has been called “the single most successful public health initiative in history.” Rotary’s focus is advocacy, fundraising, volunteer recruitment and awareness building. In this way, Rotarians and the 101-year-old Rotary Foundation have helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children against polio in 122 countries.
Advocacy for, preservation of and education about the capital city’s unique houses and gardens has been the mission of Historic Columbia since the non-profit organization’s founding in 1961. A milestone will be celebrated in May with the 200th anniversary of construction of the Hampton-Preston Mansion, according to Robin Waites, Historic Columbia’s executive director since 2004. Waites (shown at right in photo with Rotarian Allyson Way Hank) was Capital Rotary’s April 11 guest speaker. She said the historic property’s May reopening follows more than a year’s worth of mansion repairs and restoration of its gardens and grounds. Also featured is a holistic reevaluation and restructuring of the site’s historical interpretation. Waites noted that from the 1820s to the 1870s, the estate grew to be Columbia’s grandest residence under the Hampton and Preston families and the many men, women and children enslaved there. In addition to the mansion, Historic Columbia provides house and garden tours at four other sites downtown, offsite bus and walking tours, and education programs for youth and adults. Waites was the SC State Museum’s chief curator of art before joining Historic Columbia’s staff.
Dominion Energy’s proposed $14.6 billion merger with South Carolina’s SCANA Corp. is a remedy for “the largest utility failure in modern history” – that is, the $9 billion loss of the abandoned V.C. Summer nuclear power plant. That’s according to Dominion executive Dan Weekley, who told Capital Rotarians March 14 that the Virginia-based company seeks this “friendly acquisition” because it believes the Palmetto State is “on the verge of explosive growth” needing energy reliability. Weekley said merger benefits include (1) a $1.3 billion cash payment to customers – a value of $1,000 for average residential users; (2) additional reductions of up to 7 percent from current electric and gas rates; and (3) a $1.7 billion write-off of existing debt related to the failed nuclear project. Weekley noted that Dominion already has a business presence in the state, citing recent construction of an 1,100-acre, 270,000-panel solar farm in Jasper County. He said Dominion – the sixth-largest producer of solar power in the country – is about 10 times SCANA’s size, with projects equally divided between electricity and natural gas. Weekly joined the company in 2000. He’s a graduate of Marshall University and earned a master’s in business administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
At a mid-year assembly to review Capital Rotary’s accomplishments to date in the 2017-2018 Rotary year, president Blake DuBose thanked members for achieving highlights that included:
- Attaining a current membership level of 61 Rotarians; plans are under way to create a new online proposed member application form plus an online explanation of membership responsibilities.
- Donating 936 free dictionaries to third-graders in 14 Richland County District One schools.
- Collecting 65 units of blood at the annual Red Cross Blood Drive, each donation helping to save the lives of up to three people.
- Making a $1,000 donation for Harvest Hope Food Bank’s “Back Pack” and “Kids Café” programs to feed hungry children.
- Supporting domestic and overseas relief efforts with a total of $8,000 in donations for natural disaster victims in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
- Taking part in the World Polio Week international campaign to eradicate polio. The club raised $882, matched by Rotary District 7770 for a total donation of $1,764
- Assisting three local college students with scholarships that will total $5,000 per year each.
- Sponsoring two families through the Families Helping Families organization. Members contributed $625, then matched by the club, for a total donation of $1,250 used to purchase Christmas wish-list items such as clothing, toys, personal items, food and furniture.
- Continuing community service projects with weekly Meals on Wheels delivery and annual volunteering at Harvest Hope Food Bank.
- Supporting The Rotary Foundation with 55 Paul Harris Fellows ($1,000 donation), 40 Benefactors ($1,000 donation via will), four Bequest Society members ($10,000 donation upon death), six Major Donors (donation greater than $10,000) and eight Paul Harris Society members ($1,000 donation yearly).
- Exceeding the club goal ($1,680) for PolioPlus contributions (total $2,38 to date).
- Publicizing our activities with 45 club website and social media posts; reaching 6,181 people through social media; 2,262 website visitors; 40 postings on District 7770’s website and newsletters; 59 press releases posted by local media; and seven monthly club activity recaps e-mailed to members.
Commercial banker Austin McVay (second from left in photo) and healthcare professional Jon Belsher (second from right) have been inducted into Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club. McVay – shown with sponsor Denise Holland – is a Greenville native with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Clemson University. He is a commercial relationship manager with TD Bank and previously worked at Verizon Wireless and ScanSource in Greenville and for GE Energy in Atlanta. Belsher – shown with sponsor Tommy Gibbons – is president and chief operating officer of UCI Medical Affiliates, Inc. A native of Palo Alto, CA, he was educated at Amherst College, the University of Arizona and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He has worked for the Mayo Clinic and Scott & White Healthcare and spent 13 years in the Air National Guard. He’s a former Big Brother and Special Olympics clinical director.
Social media and the Internet make it easier to spread “fake news” today, but there are several key factors for judging the reliability of what we hear and see reported locally and nationally, according to John Monk, a writer for The State newspaper since 1997. Monk was Capital Rotary’s Nov. 15 guest speaker, sharing what he’s learned after some 40 years as a journalist in South Carolina. To judge a story’s merits, Monk suggested readers or listeners should: (1) see if the story comes from a major news organization that carefully checks facts before publication; (2) consider the personal reputation and reliability of the reporter; and (3) remember that news is a “continuing conversation” that “hopefully is not the final word.” He told Rotarians that “there is a good deal of evidence that propaganda spreads through fake news.” Monk is a Maryland native, attended Davidson College and spent five years as Washington correspondent for The Charlotte Observer.
Lee Ann Rice (center) is welcomed as Capital Rotary’s newest member by sponsor Katherine Anderson and club president Blake DuBose. Rice, a Greenville native, is the S.C. Human Affairs Commission’s general counsel. She formerly practiced law in Myrtle Beach, where she was a Chicora Rotary member, a Paul Harris Fellow, and was 2011 Rookie Rotarian of the Year. Rice is the mock trial team coach for Brookland Cayce High School and is a Women In Philanthropy member through United Way. She’s also a candidate for the state government’s Certified Public Manager program, Class of 2019. She attended Furman University and the University of South Carolina’s School of Law.
Callie McLean (left) and Emma Goldrick, student leaders of the University of South Carolina’s Rotaract Club, are welcomed by president Blake DuBose to a recent Capital Rotary meeting. McLean, a junior public health major, is from Charleston. She is Rotaract vice president and has participated in a host of activities including Relay for Life, the Carolina Judicial Council and AED, a pre-health honors society that undertook a medical mission trip to Nicaragua last spring. Goldrick, a junior majoring in marketing and management, is from Hilton Head Island. She is Rotaract secretary, participated in Relay for Life, is current president of CHAARG (Changing Health Actions and Attitudes to Recreate Girls) and is a peer consultant at USC’s Student Success Center. 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.