University of South Carolina senior Grace Cooney (shown with Mark Bokesch of Capital Rotary Club) has been awarded a Rotary International Global Grant scholarship to pursue a Master’s of Science Degree in Migration, Culture and Global Health from Queen Mary University in London next year. Cooney’s career goal is to become a physician practicing internationally, working with underserved and vulnerable populations abroad. The Greenville native’s scholarship application was sponsored by Capital Rotary, with Bokesch serving as advisor. Global Grants support graduate-level study in one of six areas of focus: peace, disease prevention, water and sanitation, maternal/child health, education and economic/community development. The minimum Global Grant scholarship award is $30,000 to fund coursework or research for one to four academic years.
Assistant District Governor Eric Davis explained how Rotary International’s 2019-2020 theme – “Rotary Connects the World” – will be put into action when he spoke to Capital Rotarians on July 17. Davis (in photo with club president Abby Naas) said adapting to a new generation of potential members might include more flexible meeting schedules, more family-friendly activities, more networking opportunities and continued emphasis on service projects. A local “Discovery Rotary Day” aims to increase community awareness and raise the organization’s profile, while an August summit offers training in membership growth. Community service projects include a “Together We Read” literacy program for elementary students, plus fund-raising to benefit “Key Changes Therapy” for childhood behavior problems. Local clubs are sponsoring an Interact Club at St. Peter’s Catholic School, developing leadership skills and service activities for young people. Davis said District 7770 will continue to raise money for the CART (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust) Fund supporting medical research grants and for World Polio Day – an international campaign to eradicate the crippling disease. District Rotarians also plan to pack 1 million meals for Rise Against Hunger, an international relief organization coordinating the packaging and distribution of food and other life-changing aid to people in developing nations.
University of South Carolina professor Dr. David Shields brought a tasty message as Capital Rotary’s June 5 guest speaker. Shields (flanked in photo by Rotarians Chris Myers at left and Ann Elliott) tries to revive the best-tasting produce and grains from Southern history and bring them back to the dinner table. He said these essential ingredients of delicious and distinctive foods have become nearly extinct, giving way to crops that are more economical to grow, ship and prepare but not as mouth-watering. A revival of Lowcountry farming and interest from chefs has created a demand for heirloom grains and vegetables. Shields has published more than 80 articles and a dozen books based on research into the antebellum South’s crops, meals and the cooks who prepared them. He also chairs the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation board and the Slow Food: Ark of Taste for the South project, called “a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction.” A native of Maryland, Dr. Shields received his undergraduate degree from William and Mary and his PhD from the University of Chicago. He was appointed a Carolina Distinguished Professor in 2014.
Capital Rotary president Philip Flynn (center in photo) congratulates Jimmy Gibbs (left) and Bud Foy for earning Paul Harris Fellow Plus-Four honors recognizing their continued contributions to The Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable arm that supports programs for world understanding and peace. Gibbs and Foy have each made an initial $1,000 donation to the fund, followed by four additional gifts of $1,000. Gibbs, an insurance broker, is a past president and past assistant district governor who joined Capital Rotary in September 1995. Foy, a retired dentist, joined the club in March 2015 and was a member of the Rotary Club of Monterey, CA for 24 years before relocating to South Carolina.
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.
Columbia’s Capital Rotary has been named “Club of the Year” in District 7770, which is comprised of 80 clubs and about 5,000 Rotarians in 25 eastern counties of the state. Proudly displaying the new “Club of the Year” banner on Aug. 3 are (from left to right in photo) sergeant-at-arms Jack Williamson, president Philip Flynn, Assistant District Gov. Eric Davis and Blake DuBose, immediate past president. Chartered over 30 years ago, Capital Rotary presently has about 60 members and holds weekly breakfast meetings at the Palmetto Club downtown. Club service activities include (1) awarding continuing four-year college scholarships to local high school graduates; (2) donating paperback dictionaries to third-graders in Richland County District One elementary schools; (3) taking part in the Meals on Wheels program to deliver hot dinners to home-bound clients in Richland County; (4) volunteering at Harvest Hope Food Bank’s Columbia site; (5) sponsoring a Red Cross blood drive each summer; and (6) providing holiday gifts for a local family as part of the Midlands Families Helping Families Christmas program. Club members also financially support district and Rotary International projects that promote peace, human development and world understanding.
Capital Rotary Club member Tony Thompson (right in photo) is congratulated by president Philip Flynn after receiving a District 7770 Leadership Award for fundraising to support the CART (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust) Fund. Thompson organized a gala celebration last August that resulted in donations of more than $15,000 – all monies earmarked for cutting edge, high-impact research aimed at preventing or finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The CART initiative began in South Carolina over 20 years ago and has since been adopted by Rotary clubs throughout the United States. The district award lauded Thompson’s “dedication to impactful actions and meaningful service to the Columbia community.” He has been a member of Capital Rotary since September 2001.
Providing clean water, sanitation and education is the “first phase of hope” for a better life in impoverished communities in Ghana and South Sudan, according to Walter Hughes, a member of the Rotary Club of Rocky Mount, VA. Hughes (at left in photo with local Rotarian Bud Foy), was guest speaker for Capital Rotary’s March 6 meeting. Over the past 10 years, Hughes and teams of Rotary and non-Rotary volunteers have undertaken building projects spearheaded by Rotary International. They’ve sunk wells to provide clean water for over 300,000 people in Africa – helping to eradicate Guinea Worm disease – and installed microflush toilets in place of pit latrines that smell bad and pollute water and soil. In partnership with 170 Rotary clubs in the US, Canada and overseas – plus governments and other non-profit funders – Hughes’ efforts have raised more than $3.2 million for humanitarian projects. He’s been active in Rotary-funded school building including three elementary schools, a preschool and a junior high. One of the elementary schools now under construction is funded in part by Rotary District 7770 and four clubs in South Carolina, including Capital Rotary as lead club.
In their Jan. 23 meeting Capital Rotarians were urged to help educate, inspire and encourage South Carolinians to participate in the nation’s 2020 census. Guest speaker Doris Greene (at left in photo with club member Daniel Moses) said the decennial population count data is used to determine federal funds for the state and in legislative and school redistricting. The 2010 numbers resulted in federal monies averaging $1,499 per year for each South Carolina resident for 10 years. Census Day is coming April 1, 2020, with results due by Dec. 31 of that year. Greene said the goal is “to count everybody residing in South Carolina whether they are a citizen or not.” She said “complete count committees” are being formed for community outreach to boost participation. The state’s 2010 response averaged 75 per cent, with every county reporting higher numbers. The 2020 census will offer and encourage people to respond via the internet so that the count can be accurate, secure and convenient. Greene is serving as a census leader for the third time. The Columbia native has been a CA Johnson High School teacher, a Midlands Tech faculty member, an adjunct professor at Benedict College and worked at the SC Department of Education. She is a magna cum laude Benedict College graduate with a master’s degree in adult education from the University of South Carolina and has been on the Habitat for Humanity International board.
End Polio Now – the global polio eradication initiative supported by Rotary International – continues to make steady progress against the dreaded disease. That message was delivered by Dr. Jimmie Williamson (at right in photo with Rotarian Melissa Lindler), guest speaker for Capital Rotary’s Dec. 19 meeting. Dr. Williamson, a longtime Rotarian and former District 7770 Governor for clubs in eastern South Carolina, was part of a polio immunization team operating out of northern India earlier in 2018. He said last year there were wild polio cases in only three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Since 1988 there’s been a worldwide reduction in polio cases of 99.9%. But Williamson said immunization efforts are hampered now by cultural fears in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Rotary International helps provide funding, advocacy and mobilization for End Polio Now’s partnership that also includes the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, UNICEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.