Capital Rotarians were briefed on life in China when former club member Qing Wang was May 23rd’s weekly guest speaker. Wang – now a member of Five Points Rotary – is a Chinese citizen living and working in the US. She prefaced her remarks by noting that although she still has friends and family living in China, it’s been four years since her last visit. In that time, she said, there has been rapid economic development along with changes in what she called the key elements of daily living – food, housing, transportation/commuting, shopping and education. She also noted that China’s population of 1.4 billion is not evenly distributed throughout the country, but heavily concentrated on its east coast and in approximately 15 megacities cities, each with a population in excess of 10 million. Wang is a bridge engineer with the SC Department of Transportation. She has a structural engineering doctorate from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and earned undergraduate degrees from China’s Beijing City University and Yanshan University.
Today’s students today have a greater capacity for learning and applying what they know to real world issues than ever before, according to Lexington/Richland District Five school superintendent Dr. Stephen W. Hefner. But public education’s challenges include solving a persistent teacher shortage and helping families with social/emotional issues that cause stress, anxiety and depression. Hefner (seen speaking to Capital Rotarians as club member Bryan Goodyear looks on) led Richland District Two for 16 years before joining District Five in 2011. During his career he’s seen school responsibilities expand in (1) serving needs of special education students; (2) fielding, equipping and coaching over 150 athletic teams; (3) offering full-day and four-year-old kindergarten; (4) building and maintaining facilities; (5) providing nursing services for a daily average of more than 600 students; (6) meeting breakfast, lunch and afterschool nutritional needs; (7) communicating with a diverse population where English is a second language for nearly 800 students; (8) technology becoming essential for teaching, learning and assessment; (9) ensuring safety with school resource officers and 360 practice drills scheduled yearly; and (10) dealing with a “generational change” in employee and family attitudes that focus primarily on lifestyle.
As Congaree Riverkeeper for the last six years, Bill Stangler works in the Midlands to protect the environmental quality of three different rivers and their tributaries because “water is a common good,” as he explained at Capital Rotary’s Feb. 14 meeting. Stangler (pictured with Rotarian Ann Elliott) is a former outdoors guide who studied ecology and river science at the University of South Carolina. He now monitors water, wildlife habitat and recreation conditions on the Congaree, Lower Saluda and Lower Broad Rivers – including 90 miles of river, 2,000 miles of streams and five different counties in the watershed. Stangler said preserving “our rights to our rivers” involves (1) outreach and education about issues facing rivers; (2) advocacy work and voluntary cleanups, plus water quality sampling; and (3) suing to enforce environmental laws when regulatory agencies fail to do the job. Congaree Riverkeeper is a non-profit organization, one of six in South Carolina affiliated with the Waterkeeper Alliance, a global movement of on-the-water advocates who patrol and protect rivers and coasts all over the world. One of Rotary International’s areas of focus is support for local solutions to bring clean water, sanitation and hygiene to more people every day.
Columbia’s Capital Rotary has recognized three members for contributions to The Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable arm that funds programs for world understanding and peace. Honorees include (from left) Mike Montgomery, a Paul Harris Fellow plus-six donor, representing an initial $1,000 donation, plus six additional gifts of $1,000 each; Hal Peacock, a plus-two Fellow with an initial $1,000 donation followed by two more for $1,000 each; club president Blake DuBose; and Tommy Gibbons, a plus-three Fellow with an initial $1,000 donation followed by three at $1,000 each.
The Boeing Company is proud to build the “airplane of the future” – its 787 Dreamliner – in South Carolina, and looks forward to continuing a rewarding partnership here for years to come. Tommy Preston Jr., Director of National Strategy and Engagement and Government Operations at Boeing South Carolina, was Capital Rotary’s Jan. 10 guest speaker. Preston is a native South Carolinian, a USC graduate, and formerly practiced law at Nexsen Pruet, LLC in Columbia. He said Boeing’s aerospace campus in Charleston was made possible by commitment to workforce training, by the state’s non-union labor environment and by government flexibility in working together to solve any problems. Boeing supports an estimated 9,000 direct and indirect Palmetto State jobs, works with 300 suppliers across the state, and invested about $2 billion in the Dreamliner final assembly and delivery facility. The company also partners with local schools, the technical college system and the University of South Carolina to expand job opportunities and to advance aerospace products and services. (Boeing Company photo)
Commercial banker Austin McVay (second from left in photo) and healthcare professional Jon Belsher (second from right) have been inducted into Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club. McVay – shown with sponsor Denise Holland – is a Greenville native with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Clemson University. He is a commercial relationship manager with TD Bank and previously worked at Verizon Wireless and ScanSource in Greenville and for GE Energy in Atlanta. Belsher – shown with sponsor Tommy Gibbons – is president and chief operating officer of UCI Medical Affiliates, Inc. A native of Palo Alto, CA, he was educated at Amherst College, the University of Arizona and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He has worked for the Mayo Clinic and Scott & White Healthcare and spent 13 years in the Air National Guard. He’s a former Big Brother and Special Olympics clinical director.
Capital Rotary president Blake DuBose receives banners from clubs in Nairobi and Ireland from Catherine Glen, a former Rotary Global Grant Scholar studying in the field of peace and conflict prevention. Glen recently received a master’s degree from Queen’s University in Belfast. She’s currently a visiting research associate at the university’s Center for Evidence and Social Innovation. 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. Glen is a 2011 University of South Carolina graduate and has worked with young people within high-needs communities in the US, Japan, Northern Ireland and Kenya.
Westwood High School principal Dr. Cheryl Guy told Capital Rotarians that she achieved a 30-year dream when she appeared as a contestant on the game show “Jeopardy” earlier this year. Guy, the club’s guest speaker Dec. 20, started her “Jeopardy” quest in 1986. A successful audition in Charleston – her fourth try over the years – resulted in a trip to Culver City, CA for videotaping in September 2016. Her “Jeopardy” episode aired in January 2017. She was the top winner that day with a prize of $20,600, but lost to another contestant in a subsequent appearance. Her total winnings were $22,600. Guy noted that the daily syndicated “Jeopardy” is TV’s top quiz show, attracting 23 million viewers a week and winning a record 33 daytime Emmy Awards. Since its premier in September 1984, the program has been hosted by Alex Trebek (in photo with Dr. Guy). Guy, a 1984 University of South Carolina graduate, worked at Camden High and at Spring Valley High before moving to Westwood when it opened in 2012. (Photo courtesy Jeopardy)
Capital Rotary Club members adopted two local families for the holiday season in partnership with the 2017 Midlands Families Helping Families Christmas program, a Palmetto Project and WIS-TV initiative. Each family had a single mother and six children. Youngsters ranged in age from two to 17 years old. The Christmas wish lists included clothing, toys, personal care items, small household appliances, groceries and furniture. The club’s goal was to raise a total of $1,000 in order to purchase each family’s gifts. The club offered to match donations made by members. Presents were purchased, gift-wrapped and delivered to a warehouse for distribution. Capital Rotarians who led their club’s participation included Neda Beal, Carol Caulk, Felicia Maloney, E.J. Newby (at left in photo with Sandy, a Families Helping Families volunteer) and Qing Wang.
The University of South Carolina’s School of Medicine works to serve the Palmetto State through exceptional education, research breakthroughs and world-class health care. That’s the message executive dean Dr. Les Hall brought to Capital Rotarians as their Dec. 13 guest speaker. Dr. Hall also serves as CEO of the Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group, which became active in April 2016. That group combined medical school faculty and local Palmetto Health System physicians to become the largest and most comprehensive set of health care providers in central South Carolina. Dr. Hall came to USC in 2015 from the University of Missouri. His academic work has focused on professional education, especially in the areas of quality improvement, patient safety and teamwork.