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.
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.
Capital Rotary member Mike Montgomery (left in photo) is congratulated by club president Philip Flynn for continuing contributions to The Rotary Foundation in support of international programs that promote peace, human development and world understanding. Montgomery has earned Paul Harris Fellow plus-seven honors (signifying an initial $1,000 donation with seven additional gifts in the same amount). Montgomery was an 11-year Spring Valley Rotarian before joining the Capital club in 2015. The University of South Carolina graduate has been a private practice lawyer since 1985 and formerly served on Richland District Two’s school board and on Richland County Council.
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.
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.
Four Capital Rotarians have been recognized for their donations to The Rotary Foundation in support of international programs promoting peace and world understanding. They are (from left in photo) Alex Serkes, a Paul Harris Fellow (donation of $1,000); Daniel Winders, a benefactor (pledging a $1,000 donation from his estate); Daniel Moses, also a benefactor; Frank Rutkowski, a Paul Harris Fellow plus-three giver (signifying an initial $1,000 donation with three additional gifts in the same amount); and Philip Flynn, club president. Capital Rotary members made nearly $13,000 in charitable contributions to the Foundation in the past year.
In July, District Governor David Tirard visited the Capital Rotary club to lead way into an exciting new Rotary year. During his comments, DG Tirard relayed Rotary International’s 2018-19 motto, “Be the Inspiration”, but emphasized that you don’t have to be a leader to be an inspiration and that everyone can leave their footprints in the sands of time to make a lasting change.
Tirard is originally from Plymouth, England where he had a 34 year banking career. He moved to the United States in 2002. Past District Governor Sandee Brooks invited Tirard to a Rotary meeting in 2003 and he has been a Rotarian since. He now lives in Hilton Head, SC where he enjoys chasing a little white ball around golf courses and has accomplished a single handicap.
Rotary clubs worldwide are the heart and soul of an unprecedented effort to eradicate polio, an effort leading to a 99% drop in cases of the once-widespread disease. Capital Rotary club members were reminded of that fact in a video shown at their May 9 breakfast meeting. Rotary began an anti-polio campaign in 1979 with a project to vaccinate children in the Philippines. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative launched in 1988 is driven by Rotary International and four other core partners – the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The partners’ work has been called “the single most successful public health initiative in history.” Rotary’s focus is advocacy, fundraising, volunteer recruitment and awareness building. In this way, Rotarians and the 101-year-old Rotary Foundation have helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children against polio in 122 countries.
Donors to the Rotary Foundation are supporting positive change for communities around the world, according to Deborah Burt, a Bluffton Rotarian since 2007 and Capital Rotary’s guest speaker on April 25. Burt (at right in photo with Felicia Maloney) is Paul Harris Society chair for District 7770 in eastern South Carolina. Society members donate at least $1,000 yearly to the Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable fund for world understanding and peace programs. Burt said the Paul Harris Society – named in honor of the Chicago attorney who founded Rotary in 1905 – was established in 1999 and has about 20,000 participants worldwide. There are 315 Society supporters in District 7770, including seven in Capital Rotary. Burt said the Columbia area club also has 56 Paul Harris Fellows – giving at least $100 annually to the Foundation – plus 40 Benefactors – those who’ve arranged for $1,000 donations from their estates – and four Bequest Society members giving $10,000 or more via estate planning. Over the years Capital Rotarians have contributed a total of $315,667 to the Rotary Foundation. Burt noted the Foundation’s cost effectiveness means about 91% of the money goes for programs rather than administration.
At the annual club assembly to review Capital Rotary’s accomplishments for 2016-2017, president Tommy Gibbons thanked members for achieving highlights that included:
- Earning a Leadership Citation badge for participation in local/district community service projects plus contributions for international humanitarian outreach.
- Donating dictionaries to third-grade students in 12 Richland County District One schools. Over the past 12 years, the club has distributed personal dictionaries to12,150 youngsters.
- Collecting 61 pints at the annual Red Cross Blood Drive, each donation helping to save the lives of up to three people.
- Raising $2,100 at a Lake Murray charity fishing tournament and over $18,000 in holiday wreath sales to benefit college scholarships; club stipends currently go to four students.
- Contributing almost $40,000 in charitable funds to The Rotary Foundation, to Polio Plus efforts to eliminate the crippling disease worldwide, and for the CART (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust) Fund to prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease.
- Supporting The Rotary Foundation with 54 Paul Harris Fellows ($1,000 donation), 46 Benefactors ($1,000 donation via will), four Bequest Society members ($10,000 donation upon death), four Major Donors (donation greater than $10,000) and eight Paul Harris Society members ($1,000 donation yearly) in our ranks.
- Providing $1,000 for flood assistance in Louisiana as well as $585 from individual members.
- Helping a local family with Christmas gifts and working with the Saint Bernard Project to repair the family’s house after flooding.
- Adding six new members and getting them involved and engaged early in club activities.
- Continuing community service projects with Meals on Wheels and Harvest Hope Food Bank
- Publicizing club activities with 60 website and social media posts; reaching 8,609 people through social media; 3,002 website visitors; 30 press releases to local media; and mention of our club in 14 district e-newsletters.