A 63-page bill in the SC Senate would mean more changes in the state’s public schools rather than true education reform, according to Pam Mills, guest speaker at Capital Rotary’s Feb. 12 meeting. Mills (in photo with Rotarians Bob Davis at left and Mike Montgomery) assists the SC Association of School Administrators with legislative matters. She outlined several recommendations for the much-debated measure: (1) a shift from focusing on accountability and assessment toward “letting teachers teach the way they know how, with love and enthusiasm, rather than just meeting pacing deadlines”; (2) restore a sense of status and respect for the teaching profession, plus strengthen the home-school connection for more parental support and better classroom discipline; (3) facilities improvements to ensure that all schools are safe environments conducive for learning; and (4) offer expanded industry certification and college-credit programs so that students would graduate “with more than a diploma.” Mills, an alumnus of Columbia College, previously was the late Sen. Strom Thurmond’s press secretary, served as admissions director at the Governor’s School for the Arts and retired from the Greenville County School District.
Keeping Richland County’s older citizens healthy, independent and safe has been the goal of Senior Resources for the past 42 years, says Beth Struble, interim director of development for the non-profit that began in 1967. Struble (shown with Rotarian Perry Lancaster) was Capital Rotary’s Jan. 8 guest speaker, detailing the agency’s work in supplying food, helping at home and promoting active living. Capital’s members – as volunteers – are most familiar with the Meal On Wheels program delivering hot food daily to the homebound. But Senior Resources also provides clients with bags of fresh produce monthly and has a senior care pantry for non-perishables, household goods and personal hygiene items. Home help includes personal care, transportation to doctor visits and other medical-related trips, and Pet Pals – monthly dog and cat food delivery for seniors’ four-legged companions. Active living services are (1) four wellness centers for physical fitness; (2) “foster grandparents” who mentor and tutor at-risk students, primarily in elementary school; and (3) senior companion volunteers assisting with light housekeeping and meal preparation. Struble said all these programs enable clients to remain at home as long as possible, delaying or preventing institutional care needs.
In folklore, vampires are undead creatures feeding on blood from the living. In reality, our homes are well-stocked with energy vampires – electronic devices that drain power even where they’re not in use and that can suck up to 10% of your monthly bill, according to Mary Pat Baldauf (in photo). She’s the City of Columbia’s sustainability facilitator and was Capital Rotary’s Oct. 23 guest speaker. Energy vampires are easy to spot because they (1) use an external power supply; (2) may include a remote control; (3) have a continuous display or LED status light; (4) may contain a battery charger; and (5) can feature a soft-touch key pad. Common examples include cable/satellite boxes; DVR, VCR, DVD players; mobile phone devices; video game consoles; and standby coffee makers. Baldauf said “slaying” energy vampires might be as simple as pulling the plug, especially for devices not used very often. Other remedies are (1) making use of energy-saving features — such as sleep mode — commonly built into electronics; (2) plugging into smart power strips that automatically cut the current when devices are not in use.; and (3) replacing old or broken products with ones that are more energy efficient and have a lower than average standby consumption rate. Baldauf noted that none of these strategies will eliminate power bills altogether, but a few small steps over time will save money. A University of South Carolina graduate, Baldauf engages residents, businesses and city employees in environmental and climate protection initiatives.
The University of South Carolina’s Educational Foundation and Development Foundation provide key, non-profit support for the state’s flagship institution, according to Jason Caskey, a 1990 accounting graduate who oversees fund operations. Caskey (center in photo with Rotarian Matthew Pollard at right and assistant Hunter Lambert on left) was Capital Rotary’s Sept. 18 guest speaker. He said the two foundations’ assets total approximately $800 million. The Educational Foundation’s primary purpose is to accept donor gifts in the form of cash, real estate, life insurance and other valuables. It has assets of $565 million, including investments worth $478 million whose earnings are applied to scholarships, faculty/staff salary supplements, development staff support, the USC Children’s Center and foundation operations. The Development Foundation’s goal is to handle the purchase of real estate – some for operations, some held for possible future use and some to be put up for sale. Its total assets are approximately $225 million. Caskey received the 2008 Distinguished Young Alumnus award from USC’s Moore School of Business. He was a financial services practice leader and managing shareholder for Elliott Davis in Columbia before becoming the foundations’ president and CEO.
Sophia Bertrand (right), new leader of the University of South Carolina’s Rotaract Club, is welcomed to a Capital Rotary meeting by president Abby Naas (left) and Neda Beal, liaison to the USC group. Bertrand, a senior studying experimental psychology with minors in Spanish and neuroscience, plans a career in occupational therapy. She’s involved Mind and Brain Institute research and takes part in the Capstone Scholars Program, Capstone Connectors Mentoring Program and Peace Corps Prep Program, plus Off Off Broadway Amateur Theater. She’s a Freshman Seminar Class peer leader and is active in church groups. 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 in the past year.
Sponsor Neda Beal fixes a Rotary pin on Sean Powers’ lapel, symbolizing the recent University of South Carolina Honors College graduate’s induction into Capital Rotary club. Powers earned his BA in Business Administration in May, majoring in operations and supply chain, marketing. He’s CEO and president of Pinkish Flamingo Incorporated, a start-up apparel company, and president of The Local Company, LLC, which will be opening a coffee shop called Local Coffee and Tap. Powers was founder, CEO and president of EClubSC, a 40-person educational programs and events management team. He also had supply chain analyst internships with Boeing and BMW. He’s been a member of the Growth Summit, the Columbia Worlds Affairs Council, the Dean’s Council at USC, and was service chair and scholarship chair for Alpha Kappa Psi professional fraternity.
Dr. Harris Pastides – retiring soon as the University of South Carolina’s 28th president – told Capital Rotary on June 12 that he has enjoyed “a career well-lived” in higher education. Dr. Pastides (at left in photo with Rotarian Tommy Phelps) reviewed USC’s record of high achievement and unprecedented growth including (1) its Honor College ranked No. 1 among similar institutions in the nation; (2) continual top national academic rankings for 56 current programs in undergraduate and graduate international business, public health, engineering, nursing and others; (3) record levels of research funding; and (4) surpassing a $1 billion capital campaign goal. Dr. Pastides noted his signing of 117,662 USC diplomas over the past 10 years and forming personal relationships with so many students – “just by being yourself” – are among his most satisfying accomplishments. His retirement goals include travel, more time for friends and family, continued community service and engaging with young people to encourage them to vote. A native of Astoria, NY, Dr. Pastides has led USC’s flagship system of eight institutions in 20 geographic locations since 2008 and served on numerous committees for academic and nonprofit organizations.
Longtime Rotarian Gene Oliver (left in photo) has been recognized by Capital Rotary for 55 years of membership in the service club. President Philip Flynn also honored Oliver as a major donor to the Rotary Foundation in support of international programs promoting peace and world understanding. Major donors are those whose cumulative contributions total $10,000 or more. Oliver – a retired college administrator nearing his 93rd birthday – joined the Capital club in September 2009.
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.