Capital Rotary members – unable to hold their weekly breakfast meetings at the Palmetto Club for the past seven weeks – held their first remote meeting via Zoom (as shown in photo) at 7:30 a.m. on May 6. President Abby Naas said the digital decision was made because “it has been too long since we have seen each other,” and a time frame for resuming onsite meetings is not known at this point. Nearly half the club joined the Zoom session, where donations of $1,100 each were announced to Harvest Hope Food Bank and to Senior Resources to assist in coronavirus relief efforts. Rotarians also discussed how they’ve been able to work remotely during the pandemic and to help business clients applying for government loans and financial assistance. Naas said the club plans to hold future Zoom meetings every other week and may even induct new members using the app. She also shared contacts that might assist in getting hand sanitizer, disposable face masks and face shields for those needing personal protection equipment.
At a Feb. 26 club assembly reviewing 2019-2020 accomplishments to date, Capital Rotary president Abby Naas Flynn shared these highlights:
- Collected 42 units of blood from 38 donors, including six first-timers, in the yearly summer blood drive.
- Continued sponsoring the University of South Carolina’s Rotaract Club; introduced a mentorship program involving students and Rotarians.
- Donated free paperback dictionaries to third-graders in Richland District One schools; enlisted Rotaract to provide dictionaries to Richland District Two’s third grades.
- Worked with youngsters in the new EarlyAct club established at St. Peter’s Catholic School.
- Continued assisting local college students with four-year, $5,000 annual scholarship awards.
- Adopted a Columbia-area family and provided holiday gifts in the 2019 Midlands Families Helping Families Christmas program.
- Initial planning for a Little Free Library to be set up at W.A. Perry Middle School in Richland District One.
- Began a Discover Rotary program to help attract new members.
- Continued weekly participation in the Meals on Wheels food delivery program.
- Planned April 2020 participation in Rise Against Hunger, a project to pack and distribute food to people in developing nations.
- Continued support for The Rotary Foundation (funds world understanding and peace programs) and the CART program (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust).
- Publicized club activities with 31 website and social media posts; reached 2,000 people through social media; had 1,357 website visitors; had 30 postings on District 7770’s website and newsletters; 81 press releases/photos posted by local media; and seven monthly recaps e-mailed to members.
Capital Rotary members visited the University of South Carolina football field on Jan. 29, but they weren’t there to see Gamecocks on the gridiron. Instead, nearly 30 Rotarians (shown in group photo) got a behind the scenes look at current amenities and details about coming improvements at Williams-Brice Stadium. Zach Smeltzer of Gamecock Sports Properties led the way, starting upstairs in the press box, then moving down to premium seating areas and Champions Club suites, a Hall of Captains (portraits of team leaders through the years) and the postgame press conference room for coaches, players and media. Smeltzer said renovations now under way will mean a better gameday experience for fans plus extra revenue. The $22.5 million project includes: (1) The 2001 Club, a wedge-shaped section of open-air, suite-like seating in a corner over the tunnel where the team takes the field and a club area beneath; (2) The South Club – an enclosed area underneath the south end zone seats; (3) The East Club – a new deck, more outdoor suites and an indoor club area; and (4) The West Club – a concourse club area near the top of the west lower deck. Project design and planning took more than a year, according to the contractor.
Capital Rotary Club members adopted a Columbia-area family and provided gifts for the holiday season (shown in photo) as part of the 2019 Midlands Families Helping Families Christmas program, a Palmetto Project and WIS-TV initiative. Rotarians had the option of purchasing gifts or making a monetary donation. For 27 years, Families Helping Families has helped ease the holiday burden for thousands, ensuring that more neighbors may share in the joys of Christmas. The program had a goal of serving 3,500 families and senior citizens this year. Recipients are referred by local social service organizations and schools.
District 7770 Gov. Johnny Moore (right in photo) has honored Columbia’s Capital Rotary for 2018-2019 donations to The Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable fund for programs promoting peace and world understanding. Moore presented three recognition banners to immediate past president Philip Flynn. These included (1) ranking in the Top Three Highest in Per Capital Annual Giving in the district; (2) achieving Every Rotarian, Every Year status – a minimum Annual Fund contribution of $100 per capita; and (3) becoming a 100% Foundation Giving Club with 100% participation by members plus $100 average per capita contributions. Capital Rotary also was named a Three-Star Club for showing year-after-year Foundation support. Moore – a member of Chapin Sunrise Rotary – is a former assistant area governor and membership chairman for District 7770 that comprises nearly 4,000 Rotarians in clubs across the 25 eastern counties of South Carolina.
Columbia’s East Point Academy merges cultures, inspires minds and expands horizons for students by teaching them Mandarin Chinese, the world’s most spoken language. In the process, East Point earned an “A” ranking as the state’s 2nd best public charter school, according to Mark Bounds (at left in photo with Rotarian Matthew Pollard). Bounds was Capital Rotary’s Sept. 4 guest speaker, tracing the school’s growth to 740 students since its 2011 founding. East Point practices language immersion – meaning that Mandarin Chinese is used extensively in academic classes schoolwide. Mandarin is spoken by over a million people and is the second-fastest growing language globally. South Carolina has an important China connection – Bounds said the country ranks 1st among the state’s export markets while Chinese companies employ over 3,500 of our residents. East Point has classes from 4th grade kindergarten to 8th grade middle school and hopes to add high school instruction. It offers extracurricular activities ranging from clubs to performing arts and sports. As the first school of its kind in the Carolinas, East Point has inspired two more Chinese language immersion institutions. “Together, our students, teachers, staff and parents make East Point Academy a great place to learn and grow,” Bounds said. Before becoming East Point’s head of school, Bounds worked for Lexington-Richland School District Five and for the SC State Department of Education. He served 20 years in the military prior to his education career.
Navigating the Dept. of Veterans Affairs paperwork maze is daunting, but it can pay off for those willing to stake a claim for benefits due as a result of military service. That’s according to Cristy Bradley of Elgin, Capital Rotary’s Aug. 7 guest speaker, who is a paralegal accredited as a claims agent by the federal agency to assist vets in need. Bradley (shown in photo with Rotarian and Navy veteran Bob Davis) said only 90 days of service are needed to qualify for VA benefits that range from compensation to guaranteed home loans and from medical treatment to life insurance and burial assistance. She noted that vets judged to be 30% or more disabled may be entitled to additional compensation for a spouse, dependent parents, unmarried children or a child incapable of self-support. She said about half of VA disability claims involved posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Vets seeking benefits must have (1) a diagnosis of PTSD; (2) symptoms must be tied to a traumatic event, or “stressor,” that occurred during service; and (3) there must be documented medical evidence from a medical professional that the in-service stressor is what caused the individual’s PTSD.
Capital Rotary saluted its outgoing president and swore-in 2019-2020 officers and directors at a club assembly June 26. In Photo A, incoming president Abby Naas recognizes Philip Flynn’s 2018-2019 service with a past president’s gavel and plaque. In Photo B, the incoming club leaders are (seated, from left) director and community service chair Catherine Mabry; president Abby Naas; director Ione Cockrell; director and Rotaract liaison Neda Beal; (standing, from left) treasurer Bryan Goodyear; director and sergeant-at-arms Andy Markl; secretary Austin McVay; president-elect Ben Carlton; past president and Rotary Foundation/International chair Philip Flynn; (not pictured) membership chair Lee Ann Rice and director Paul Gillam.
Scholarship recipients Reagan Smith (left in photo) and Kate Chalfant (right) are welcomed to Capital Rotary’s June 12 meeting by Darren Foy, chair of the club’s scholarship committee. Smith, a recent Dreher High graduate, is bound for The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City to major in chemical engineering. Chalfant is a rising junior at the University of South Carolina, majoring in public relations with a minor in theatre. Capital Rotary has been supporting the educational aspirations of local high school graduates for more than 20 years. Its $20,000 scholarships ($5,000 per year, renewable for four years) are based on a combination of academic performance, extracurricular activity and economic need.
University of South Carolina accounting/finance graduate Joel Welch (center), 2018-19 president of the college’s Rotaract Club, was saluted for his service on May 22, receiving a past president’s pin from Capital Rotarian Neda Beal (left) and District 7770 assistant governor Eric Davis. 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. USC Rotaract was formed in 2010-2011 under the sponsorship of Spring Valley Rotary. Capital Rotary assumed sponsorship earlier this year, with Beal serving as liaison to the college club.