Past District 7770 governor Gary Bradham told Capital Rotarians on Jan. 22 how recent projects spearheaded by the international service club improved life in Ghana’s impoverished communities. Bradham (in photo with Capital president Abby Naas) also celebrated the local club’s $1,000 contribution toward construction of a new elementary school. In addition to schools, Bradham said district projects included deep wells for clean water and installation of microflush toilets in place of pit latrines that smell bad and pollute water and soil. Over half of Ghana’s population lives in rural areas, and only 10% have access to basic sanitation. Two-thirds can obtain safe drinking water only after making a 30-minute round trip. Bradham said Rotary’s public works employed 300 people and totaled $1.6 million in donated and matching funds. Last year Capital Rotary was a contributor and lead club for building a new Nkrankrom Elementary School in the African nation. Bradham is a retired Air Force officer who’s been a Myrtle Beach Rotary member since 2005. He’s held numerous local and District 7770 leadership positions since that time.
After being badly injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2005, Steven Diaz (in photo) was left with scars including post-traumatic stress, partial blindness, traumatic brain injury and a seizure disorder. The former Marine told Capital Rotarians on Jan. 15 that the battle to survive led him to become a founding member of Hidden Wounds, a volunteer organization aiding others with emotional and psychological challenges. Diaz said Hidden Wounds works to provide immediate and emergency psychological treatment for active-duty, veteran and retired military service members regardless of discharge status. In many cases, he said, Hidden Wounds is a safety net until the Department of Veterans Affairs is able to deliver long-term treatment through government-funded programs. Diaz believes that sharing his story promotes better understanding of post-war ailments affecting many veterans and their family members, thus helping to “ease and heal the hidden wounds of the people we love.”
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.
The EarlyAct Club at St. Peter’s Catholic School in Columbia had an active holiday season and is planning projects in January and February, too. For details, see this recent posting on the Rotary District 7770 website. The club was established by Rotary clubs in the Columbia area earlier this school year. EarlyAct is a service organization for elementary students ages 5 to 13. It develops character and leadership skills closely linked to the ideals of Rotary International.
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.
Local clubs are the “heartbeat” of Rotary International, but need training to grow stronger and more effectively serve their communities. That’s the message Capital Rotarians heard Nov. 20 from guest speaker Tom Ledbetter (shown with Capital member Neda Beal), head of District 7770’s Rotary Leadership Institute programs. The institute is a learning experience consisting of separate sessions in three parts: (1) exploring Rotary’s roots, engaging members and creating service projects; (2) strategic planning, team building and attracting members; and (3) public relations, effective leadership strategies and club communications. Developing leaders is key for service clubs to get and retain younger members. Ledbetter said District 7770’s Rotarians average 58 years old. “Aging out” impacts a club’s ability to conduct events and projects that advance the goal of “service above self.” Noting that “it’s not your father’s Rotary anymore,” Ledbetter said persons ages 25-45 must be engaged in worthwhile activities before they’re willing to make a commitment. He believes Leadership Institute training would benefit every new Rotarian in his or her first two years of membership. Ledbetter is a charter member and past president of the West Metro-West Columbia club and is associate vice provost with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Educational Support at Midlands Technical College.
Joey Von Nessen (right in photo with Rotarian Stephen West), a research economist at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, shared the state’s 2019 market overview as Capital Rotary’s guest speaker Nov. 13. He said this year has been an economic roller coaster due to tariff and trade disputes, slowing global markets, fluctuating interest rates and waning of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 stimulus. Auto tariffs affect the Palmetto State via increased costs in the short run and potential changes in global production strategies in the long run. After peaking in 2015, our employment growth began to fall and is at 2% so far this year. But Von Nessen noted that every county has had employment gains at or above the state average since 2018. Labor costs, lumber costs and higher interest rates have negatively impacted the state’s construction industry, but the latter two are more positive recently. Although South Carolina is well-positioned for 2019, Von Nessen said the bottom line is that a “decaf” economy (lacking stimulus) combined with higher uncertainty worldwide means slower growth. Von Nessen serves on the advisory committee of the SC Board of Economic Advisors and is responsible for preparation and presentation of USC’s annual statewide economic forecast. He’s regularly invited to brief the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond on the state’s market conditions.
Capital Rotary members toured the City of Columbia’s Busby Street Community Center on Oct. 30 as part of the club’s 5th Wednesday program that features local field trips instead of a regular breakfast meeting. The complex off Farrow Road opened in November 2018 as a local engagement and resource center for the Burton Heights/Standish Acres neighborhood. It has two buildings – a nearly 7,000-quare-foot community center run by City Parks & Recreation and a 1,400 square-foot City Police substation. The center includes bathrooms, multi-purpose offices, a kitchen, a conference room and a large presentation space with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment. Outside there’s a fitness walking trail and children’s playground. Tour participants included (left to right in photo) Katherine Anderson, Gloria Saeed, Felicia Maloney, Officer Ron Felder, recreation coordinator Jalesa McKelvey, Christina Myers, Ione Cockrell, City Parks & Recreation director Randy Davis, Ann Elliott, Bob Davis and Rowland Alston.
EarlyAct Club members at St. Peter’s Catholic School have presented a check for $112 to Bernie Riedel (red t-shirt in back row), past governor for Rotary District 7770 and current End Polio Now chair. The youngsters held a Purple Pinkie Fundraiser (each donation gets one of your fingers painted purple) in support of Rotary International’s campaign to eradicate polio worldwide. Their contribution will be matched two-fold by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation – a campaign partner – so that an additional 3,000 children in third-world countries can receive polio vaccinations. End Polio Now has helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries. Columbia-area Rotarians sponsor St, Peter’s EarlyAct Club as a service organization for students ages 5 to 13. It helps youth develop character and leadership skills linked to the ideals of Rotary International.
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.