The Class of 2020’s Grace Cooney is the second University of South Carolina student asking Capital Rotary Club to endorse her application for a Global Grant Scholarship. Cooney (shown in photo) is a Greenville native majoring in public health. The award would enable her to pursue a Master’s of Science Degree in Migration, Culture and Global Health from Queen Mary University in London. She says this would expand her understanding of health to address not only the physical ailment, but also religious affiliation, native culture and socioeconomic status affecting patients. She hopes to become a physician practicing internationally, working with underserved and vulnerable populations abroad. Cooney has been a Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity officer, an anatomy lab teaching assistant and a volunteer at Carolina Survivor Clinic. In a four-year summer internship in Greenville, she experienced hands-on training, interactive workshops and professional engagement seminars. Recipient of a Stamps Carolina Scholarship – the university’s highest academic scholarship award – Cooney was one of three students granted enrichment funds for out-of-classroom experiences for excelling in leadership and service. Rotary International’s Global Grant scholarships 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.
Capital Rotary Club members on March 20 heard how Columbia’s Ronald McDonald House works to comfort families that have to be away from home while dealing with a child’s medical crisis. The compassionate story came from guest speakers Liz Atkinson (left in photo) and Beth Lowrie (at right in photo), who serve as the charity’s operations manager and executive director, respectively. They said the 16,000-square-foot, 16-bedroom Ronald McDonald House provides a comfortable environment where families can rest, enjoy home-cooked meals, relax in spacious living areas, use laundry facilities and most importantly, experience a network of support among other families facing similar worries and fears. The stability of this “home away from home” not only relieves emotional and financial stress, but also allows families to focus on being there for their child when it matters most. The local Ronald McDonald house is one of 368 similar facilities located in 48 countries. Columbia’s house opened 35 years ago; its occupancy rate averages 87 per cent. Atkinson and Lowrie said there is a constant need for volunteers and fund-raising to support the charity’s programs. The Ronald McDonald House is open to serve families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
Author Randolph G. Russell told Capital Rotary members March 13 that ignorance about our nation’s history is “profound and widespread” throughout the American public. Russell (at left in photo with Rotarian Matthew Pollard) was guest speaker at the club’s weekly breakfast meeting. His book “American History in No Time” takes a quick look at the “essential fundamentals” of our heritage and could help repair what Russell called a “fading connection” with the past. He believes knowing US history is important for these reasons: (1) it’s part of our national identification as Americans; (2) it’s a way to counter those who try to “fill the void of ignorance” with misinformation; (3) it affects the quality of government by enabling us to make better choices at election time; and (4) it’s a fascinating story that can enrich everyone’s life. Unlike weighty school texts, Russell said his book is an overview of key events, people, places and principles divided into chapters that can be read in a matter of minutes. He described it as the quickest way to get up to speed with history’s essentials – what everyone should learn and not forget. Russell holds degrees from the University of Miami and the University of Florida. He’s worked in financial management for companies in Florida and Georgia. Also an accomplished musician, Russell concluded his presentation with a saxophone rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
Image consultant Brian Maynor told Capital Rotarians that a person’s attitude, behavior and appearance are powerful, underutilized tools for success. Maynor – the club’s guest speaker on Feb. 27 – built a reputation over the past decade as a lifestyle coach, helping clients transform their image, boost their confidence and feel empowered to look and feel their best. While most people think “image” is largely based on physical appearance, Maynor said attitude and behavior influence 90% of personal success. Attitude affects mental and physical health, engagement in both work and life, communication skills and effectiveness, morale and productivity. Behavior encompasses not only actions, but also factors such as verbal and non-verbal communication, eye contact, gestures, movement, posture and habits. “Habits are a big part of our behavior,” Maynor said, “so we need to pay attention so we can address them.” He described common “bad behavior” examples that include (1) inappropriate verbiage or lingo, (2) lack of punctuality, (3) excessive cell phones usage, (4) interrupting or talking over others, (5) being disengaged and (6) not abiding by dress codes, either formal or informal.
David Ballard works for the state’s Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office as a professional land surveyor examining county boundaries, but the passage of time can complicate that job. Ballard (shown at left in photo with Rotarian Mike Montgomery) was Capital Rotary’s Feb. 20 guest speaker. He explained how the South Carolina Geodetic Survey determines county lines even when many of the border landmarks of the past – like trees, roads and bridges – no longer exist or have been altered by history. Researchers may use colonial records, old maps, plats, land transfers and deeds to help determine boundaries. Fixing exact and proper borders can affect property taxes, fire departments, EMS and police services, schools, enforcement of property rights and election of public officials. It can also involve time and expense, Ballard said, noting that it took 20 years for the states of North and South Carolina to research and agree on the 337-mile border between them.
Members of the University of South Carolina’s Rotaract Club got hands-on community service experience Feb. 13 when they joined other volunteers from Capital Rotary at Harvest Hope Food Bank for an hour of packing groceries for distribution to the hungry. Taking part were (from left in photo) Kara Owens, sophomore in marketing; Tina Sorensen, freshman in nursing; Alex Stevens, sophomore in biomedical engineering; Gioia Chakravorti, sophomore in international business/supply chain and operations management; and Rotaract president Joel Welch, a senior in accounting/finance. Also present but not pictured were Angie Church, freshman in international business/accounting and Mandy Spiegel, freshman in international business/finance. 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.
At a mid-year assembly Feb. 6 to review Capital Rotary’s accomplishments to date in the 2018-2019 Rotary year, president Philip Flynn shared highlights that included:
- Making $1,500 in charitable contributions to Rotary districts hit by natural disasters, including those affected by Hurricane Florence locally, by Hurricane Michael in Georgia/Florida and by the California wildfires.
- Donating 741 dictionaries to third-graders in 16 Richland District One elementary schools.
- Creation of a new Codified Policy for the club that’s a “standard operating procedure” resource for future leaders and committees.
- Collecting 58 units of blood at the annual Red Cross Blood Drive, each donation helping to save the lives of up to three people.
- Assisting five local college students with scholarships – current enrollees at the College of Charleston, Claflin University, the University of South Carolina, North Carolina State and Anderson University.
- Adopting a local family and providing gifts for the holiday season as part of the 2018 Midlands Families Helping Families Christmas program.
- Continuing community service projects with weekly Meals on Wheels delivery and annual volunteering at Harvest Hope Food Bank.
- Supporting The Rotary Foundation with $242 per capita member giving that ranks among the top 10 clubs in District 7770.
- Serving as lead club for a Global Grant Project, partnering with the Rotary Club of Sunyani East in Ghana, Africa to construct the Nkrankrom Elementary School. Our club donated $2,500, District 7770 raised more, and with a Rotary Foundation match, Sunyani East was awarded about $94,000 to build the school.
- Publicizing our activities with 39 club website and social media posts; reaching over 2,700 people through social media; 1,643 website users; 38 postings on District 7770’s website and newsletters; 53 press releases posted by local media; and six monthly club activity recaps e-mailed to members.
Capital Rotary members got a firsthand look Jan. 30 at Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation’s expanded facility in Lexington County. The $125 million investment adds 36,000 square feet of manufacturing space to the company’s West Columbia campus located off 12 Street Extension near the Amazon distribution center. Nephron is a leading maker of respiratory and other sterile medications for hospitals, retail pharmacies, mail order pharmacies, home care companies and long-term care facilities. Nephron announced plans to move to the Midlands in 2011 and relocated its headquarters from Orlando, FL. Capital Rotary first visited the campus in October 2014. The club tours various points of interest throughout the community as part of its Fifth Wednesday program that substitutes field trips in place of a regular weekly breakfast meeting.
Human trafficking is a growing multi-billion-dollar crime worldwide. Victims include children, the homeless or people from difficult family situations, undocumented immigrants and the disabled. Capital Rotarians heard details from Jan. 16 guest speakers Sherri Lydon (left in photo) and Elliott Daniels (right in photo). Lydon is US Attorney for the District of South Carolina, while Daniels is an Assistant US Attorney. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery – using force, fraud or coercion to exploit victims. They can be manipulated physically or psychologically and pressed into domestic service, commercial sex trafficking or forced labor. Victims may be exploited by employers, family members, caregivers or intimate partners, friends or acquaintances. In 2018 South Carolina had 127 human trafficking hotline reports, mostly for commercial sex or forced labor. Incidents were most numerous in Richland, Horry, Greenville and Charleston counties. Daniels said more citizen awareness combats human trafficking. He urged support for non-profit organizations that help and shelter victims, plus offering them job opportunities. To keep children safe from being lured into trafficking via the internet, he said parents need to “know who your kids are talking to online” and set social media boundaries. Lydon is a Clemson and University of South Carolina Law School graduate who was appointed the state’s US Attorney in May 2018. Daniels has undergraduate and law degrees from George Washington University and studied international law at Oxford University.
The United States trails its peer developed countries in life expectancy and other health outcomes, despite spending more on healthcare. Some of this difference is due to genetics and behavior, but social factors are contributors, too, according to Dr. Sarah Gehlert, Dean of the University of South Carolina’s College of Social Work and Capital Rotary’s Dec. 5 guest speaker. Dr. Gehlert (at left in photo with Rotarian Katherine Anderson) said research shows genetics and behavior help determine about 70% of a person’s health risks and outcomes. The “social factors of health” – things like lifestyle and social stressors – can have an effect up to 15%. Dr. Gehlert said social factors helping men live longer include being married, participating in religious activities and being affiliated with clubs or similar organizations. For women, longevity social factors include being married, frequent social contact and taking part in religious activities. Dr. Gehlert in November received the Insley-Evans Public Health Social Worker of the Year award for her leadership, advocacy and commitment in focusing on social environmental influences on health. The award was presented in San Diego by the American Public Health Association.