Eric Davis (right in photo), an assistant governor for Rotary District 7770 in eastern South Carolina, congratulates Columbia Capital Rotary president Philip Flynn for the club’s achieving Two-STAR status. This signifies annual Rotary Foundation contributions of at least $200 per club member. The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation promoting world understanding and peace through international humanitarian, educational and cultural exchange programs. It’s supported solely by voluntary donations from Rotarians and friends who share the vision of a better world. Capital Rotary’s per capita giving averages $277; the club topped its donation goal by more than 28 per cent.
Since completing acquisition of beleaguered SCANA Corp. in January 2019, Dominion Energy is focused on growing the economy in South Carolina. That’s the message Capital Rotary heard April 3 from guest speaker Kristen Beckham (shown at right in photo with Rotarian Gloria Saeed). Beckham, an external affairs manager for Dominion, said the Virginia-based utility has been “on the road” for economic development seminars across the Palmetto State. Beckham leads the regional Community Investment Board for Dominion’s Charitable Foundation, where plans are to increase corporate and charitable giving by $1 million per year for at least five years. She said Dominion is committed to keeping a headquarters campus presence in Cayce, plus maintaining compensation levels for employees of SCANA and its subsidiaries until at least July 2020. Long-term rate relief means monthly electric bills for the typical residential electric customer are now 15% lower, Beckham said, while noting that Dominion gives priority to recruiting and retaining military veterans in its workforce. A graduate of and board member for Leadership South Carolina, Beckham also chairs the Junior League of Columbia’s public affairs committee, is sponsorship chair of the United Way of the Midlands and serves on the Alumni Association of the College of Charleston’s board.
Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club is backing University of South Carolina junior Alexis Vetack’s application for a Global Grant Scholarship award to earn a master’s degree in public policy. Vetack (in photo), a member of the USC Honors College Class of 2020, is a Charlotte, NC native. Her major – Public Health and Social Justice in Developing Countries – combines the fields of public health, social justice and public policy on a premed track. She hopes to become a Centers for Disease Control physician specializing in infectious disease. Vetack is president of USC’s Phi Delta Epsilon medical fraternity and volunteers at the Good Samaritan Clinic serving Latino patients in the local community. She also works with Carolina Survivor Clinic, a local nonprofit providing holistic healthcare to refugees who have survived torture. Vetack has received an Honors College Exploration Scholars Grant of $4,500 for research as an undergraduate assistant at the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Lab. Global Grant scholarships support graduate-level study in one of Rotary International’s six areas of focus: peace, disease prevention, water and sanitation, maternal/child health, education, and economic/community development.
New Capital Rotary member Le Frye (center in photo) is welcomed to the club by president Philip Flynn and sponsor Lee Ann Rice after induction ceremonies Feb. 6. Frye, a Saluda native, has spent her life in the Midlands and graduated in 2002 from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communications, public relations. She is the managing partner at Starboard Communications, an advertising and public relations firm that specializes in political affairs. Frye has over 15 years of planning, managing and executing various aspects of successful political and advocacy campaigns in the Palmetto State.
Since its beginning in 1854 Columbia’s YMCA has aimed to be a community servant in the Midlands, helping families and individuals “grow in mind, body and spirit,” says Bill Price, the organization’s CEO since 2016. Price (shown at right in photo with Rotarian Jack Williamson) was Capital Rotary’s Jan. 9 guest speaker. He said the Y now operates in six locations – downtown, Ballentine, Irmo, Lake Carolina, Red Bank and Orangeburg – and expects to break ground later this year for a new full-service facility in Kershaw County’s Lugoff-Elgin area. YMCA programs range from swimming lessons to afterschool learning activities, from youth and adult sports to support for cancer survivors. The Y’s mission – to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all – remains unchanged, Price said, along with its core values of caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and faith. Price, a Wofford College graduate with a BA in government, was a longtime YMCA volunteer and board member before assuming the CEO’s post.
The University of South Carolina collaborates with school districts to keep new teachers on the job – hoping to resolve a staffing crisis in public education. So says Dr. Jon Pedersen, dean of USC’s College of Education and Capital Rotary’s Nov. 28 guest speaker. Dr. Pedersen (at right in photo with Rotarian Trey Boone) touted the Carolina Teacher Induction Program, known as CarolinaTIP. It’s a three-year “bridge of support” for recent graduates moving from college student to successful schoolteacher. CarolinaTIP includes group workshops and experienced educators acting as the new teacher’s confidant, coach and mentor to promote “practical application of teaching theory in the classroom,” Dr. Pedersen said. The goal is better student learning, increased teacher efficacy and teacher retention. Dr. Pedersen said the rising tide of teachers quitting the profession causes not only staffing vacancies but also costs districts $23 million yearly for additional recruiting, hiring and training. A 25% boost in retaining teachers would equal $11 million in savings. CarolinaTIP’s outcomes are impressive: (1) 100% of participating teachers in 2017 came back to work for the 2018-19 school year; (2) they reported job stress went down and job satisfaction went up; and (3) 100% said the program had positive impact in their classrooms and on their decision to continue teaching. Dr. Pederson said USC’s College of Education is the state’s largest teacher preparation school and CarolinaTIP, the only program of its kind, demonstrates the university’s commitment to graduates’ success.
Capital Rotarians heard the story of a unique boutique that helps cancer survivors feel whole again from the business founders – Sherry Norris (standing in photo) and Kim Neel (seated) – guest speakers at the club’s Oct. 10 meeting. The pair opened Alala LLC in 2006 to serve women who’ve had all types of reproductive cancers. The company specializes mainly in mastectomy prosthetics and bras, as well as compression pumps for cancer survivors. Alala also offers compression garments and wig refurbishing, shampooing, conditioning, setting and styling. In addition to their retail operation, Norris and Neel started a nonprofit organization in 2008 – the Alala Cancer Society – that helps provide women with donated mastectomy bras and wigs that would otherwise be unaffordable. The enterprising pair met while working with the local Girl Scouts and remain active community and church volunteers. Norris received business administration training at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University, while Neel earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, NC.
The Alzheimer’s Association-South Carolina Chapter’s vision for the future is a world without the dreaded disease of dementia. Taylor Wilson (shown with Rotarian Tony Thompson), chapter director of communications and advocacy, was Capital Rotary’s guest speaker on Sept. 12. She detailed the statewide group’s work to educate, support and advance critical research for treating, preventing and, ultimately, curing Alzheimer’s. The chapter also promotes the needs and rights of patients and caregivers. Wilson said 89,000 South Carolinians have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; there are 309,000 caregivers in the state. South Carolina’s death rate from Alzheimer’s is the nation’s highest and went up by 180% in the past year. Wilson lauded Rotary for its support of CART – the Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust – a project started in 1996 to provide funds for cutting edge research to cure Alzheimer’s disease. Wilson joined the Alzheimer’s Association staff three years ago and has spent the last 10 years working with non-profits around the Midlands area. She is a 2007 graduate of the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business.
Blake Dubose (left in photo), immediate past president of Capital Rotary, receives a plaque from current president Philip Flynn in recognition of service to the Columbia-area club. During DuBose’s 2017-18 tenure, Capital Rotary received a “Public Image Award” and a leadership citation from Rotary District 7770, among other honors. Professionally, DuBose is president of DuBose Web Group, a website design and development firm founded in 2007. He is a graduate of Newbery College.
The City of Columbia’s Office of Business Opportunities director has joined Capital Rotary. Melissa L. Lindler (shown at center in photo with sponsor Gloria Saeed and club president Philip Flynn) took her city post after more than 20 years of experience in government and non-profit work. Most recently she was district planning and outreach director for Congressmen Jim Clyburn. Previously she was a staff member at the SC Department of Education and at South Carolina State University. She received her BA in political science and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Carolina, and earned graduate certification in public management from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. Lindler’s volunteer activities include board service for the International African American Museum, the Southeastern Institute for Women in Politics, the Columbia Chapter of the Society, Inc., Jack and Jill of America Foundation, Inc. and the Total Care for the Homeless Coalition.