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.
Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference in a person’s heart health, according to Stephanie Portnall and Cierra Ketchel of the American Heart Association, guest speakers at Capital Rotary’s May 1 meeting. Portnall (at right in photo) and Ketchel were welcomed by Rotarian Harry Carter. Although heart disease or strokes cause a third of all deaths, 7 out of 10 Americans don’t consider themselves at-risk and almost half put no effort into improving heart health. Lifestyle changes to boost longevity include (1) getting at least 30 minutes of daily exercise; (2) losing weight; (3) controlling cholesterol and reducing blood sugar to combat plaque growth in arteries; (4) managing blood pressure; (5) eating more fruits and vegetables; and (6) quitting smoking – which is the number one modifiable cause of death. Portnall and Ketchel also demonstrated hands-only CPR using chest compressions that can double or triple survival chances for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims. A University of South Carolina graduate, Portnall has worked for a year with the Heart Association. Ketchel is an agency intern and a rising senior in USC’s Arnold School of Public and Health.
Capital Rotary president Philip Flynn congratulates Dr. Tommy Gibbons (at right in photo) for earning Paul Harris Fellow Plus-Four honors through continued contributions to The Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable arm that supports programs for world understanding and peace. Gibbons has made an initial $1,000 donation to the fund, followed by four additional gifts of $1,000 each. A native of Clarendon County’s Turbeville community, Gibbons is a past president of Capital Rotary and holds degrees from the College of Charleston, the Medical University of South Carolina and the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
Author Randolph G. Russell told Capital Rotary members March 13 that ignorance about our nation’s history is “profound and widespread” throughout the American public. Russell (at left in photo with Rotarian Matthew Pollard) was guest speaker at the club’s weekly breakfast meeting. His book “American History in No Time” takes a quick look at the “essential fundamentals” of our heritage and could help repair what Russell called a “fading connection” with the past. He believes knowing US history is important for these reasons: (1) it’s part of our national identification as Americans; (2) it’s a way to counter those who try to “fill the void of ignorance” with misinformation; (3) it affects the quality of government by enabling us to make better choices at election time; and (4) it’s a fascinating story that can enrich everyone’s life. Unlike weighty school texts, Russell said his book is an overview of key events, people, places and principles divided into chapters that can be read in a matter of minutes. He described it as the quickest way to get up to speed with history’s essentials – what everyone should learn and not forget. Russell holds degrees from the University of Miami and the University of Florida. He’s worked in financial management for companies in Florida and Georgia. Also an accomplished musician, Russell concluded his presentation with a saxophone rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
Foregoing their regular breakfast meeting, Capital Rotary Club members spent an hour of community service volunteer time Feb. 13 at Harvest Hope Food Bank’s Shop Road headquarters in Columbia. They bagged and stocked five bins with approximately 3,000 pounds of edibles destined for the Emergency Food Pantry. Harvest Hope, begun in 1981, works to meet the needs of hungry people in 20 counties in the Midlands, Pee Dee and Greater Greenville regions of South Carolina. Capital Rotarians traditionally volunteer at the facility at least once a year as a group.
Human trafficking is a growing multi-billion-dollar crime worldwide. Victims include children, the homeless or people from difficult family situations, undocumented immigrants and the disabled. Capital Rotarians heard details from Jan. 16 guest speakers Sherri Lydon (left in photo) and Elliott Daniels (right in photo). Lydon is US Attorney for the District of South Carolina, while Daniels is an Assistant US Attorney. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery – using force, fraud or coercion to exploit victims. They can be manipulated physically or psychologically and pressed into domestic service, commercial sex trafficking or forced labor. Victims may be exploited by employers, family members, caregivers or intimate partners, friends or acquaintances. In 2018 South Carolina had 127 human trafficking hotline reports, mostly for commercial sex or forced labor. Incidents were most numerous in Richland, Horry, Greenville and Charleston counties. Daniels said more citizen awareness combats human trafficking. He urged support for non-profit organizations that help and shelter victims, plus offering them job opportunities. To keep children safe from being lured into trafficking via the internet, he said parents need to “know who your kids are talking to online” and set social media boundaries. Lydon is a Clemson and University of South Carolina Law School graduate who was appointed the state’s US Attorney in May 2018. Daniels has undergraduate and law degrees from George Washington University and studied international law at Oxford University.
District 7770 Assistant Gov. Eric Davis (right in photo) has honored Columbia’s Capital Rotary for 2017-2018 donations to The Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable arm for programs promoting peace and world understanding. The honors include (from left in photo) current president Philip Flynn holding a certificate for contributions to End Polio Now, the global partnership that has contributed more than $1.6 billion toward polio eradication since 1988; immediate past president Blake DuBose holding a 100% Foundation Giving banner for clubs that average 100% participation with an average of $100 in per capita giving; and past president Tommy Gibbons holding an Every Rotarian, Every Year banner for clubs that achieve a minimum Annual Fund contribution of $100 per capita during the Rotary year. Rotary District 7770 includes 80 clubs and about 5,000 Rotarians in 25 eastern counties of South Carolina.
South Carolina United FC is the Palmetto State’s largest youth soccer club and aims to make a positive impact on the lives of the 4,400 children and young adults active in its programs. That’s what Capital Rotary members heard when Ron Tryon (shown with Rotarian Felicia Maloney) was their Oct. 17 guest speaker. Tryon – a former attorney – has been CEO of the soccer non-profit since January 2014. His goal is to offer quality youth recreational soccer in all neighborhoods and to any child regardless of race, religion or socio-economic background. South Carolina United FC attracts players from 250 schools in 17 counties and last year had 43 of its “alumni” players bound for competition at the college level. Three of the club’s former players are now in the professional ranks. South Carolina United FC’s cultural exchange program with a “sister state” in Germany has involved over 600 student-athletes and coaches since 2003. Its two annual tournaments attract some 200,000 players, coaches and parents, resulting in a $7.6 million economic impact in the Columbia area. Tryon also detailed progress on the club’s new 24-acre, five-field soccer training complex located near the intersection of I-20 and Monticello Road.
When Columbia hosts the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Regionals next March, that could bring 20,000-25,000 visitors to town and generate a potential $9 million economic impact. Scott Powers, executive director of Experience Columbia SC Sports, is working alongside the University of South Carolina to make that experience welcoming, user-friendly and enjoyable for players, coaches, media and fans. Powers (shown at left with Rotarian Alex Serkes) was Capital Rotary’s Sept. 19 guest speaker. He said the event – to be held March 22-24, 2019 at Colonial Life Arena – is the first time Columbia has been an NCAA Regionals host since 1970. The eight college teams slated to compete in first and second round games won’t be announced until March 17. How well the tournament draws will be influenced by which teams will be playing, where they’ll be traveling from, each team’s fan base and their fans’ willingness to travel. Powers is encouraging the Midlands to get involved by offering community events, fun things to do while in town and food/drink specials. “All eyes will be on Columbia to determine whether we will be selected to host again,” he said. Powers has been Experience Columbia SC Sports director since 2004. He’s a USC graduate, a Leadership Columbia gradate and a founding member of the South Carolina Sports Alliance.