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.
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.
Foregoing their regular breakfast meeting, Capital Rotary Club members spent an hour of community service volunteer time Feb. 13 at Harvest Hope Food Bank’s Shop Road headquarters in Columbia. They bagged and stocked five bins with approximately 3,000 pounds of edibles destined for the Emergency Food Pantry. Harvest Hope, begun in 1981, works to meet the needs of hungry people in 20 counties in the Midlands, Pee Dee and Greater Greenville regions of South Carolina. Capital Rotarians traditionally volunteer at the facility at least once a year as a group.
Since its beginning in 1854 Columbia’s YMCA has aimed to be a community servant in the Midlands, helping families and individuals “grow in mind, body and spirit,” says Bill Price, the organization’s CEO since 2016. Price (shown at right in photo with Rotarian Jack Williamson) was Capital Rotary’s Jan. 9 guest speaker. He said the Y now operates in six locations – downtown, Ballentine, Irmo, Lake Carolina, Red Bank and Orangeburg – and expects to break ground later this year for a new full-service facility in Kershaw County’s Lugoff-Elgin area. YMCA programs range from swimming lessons to afterschool learning activities, from youth and adult sports to support for cancer survivors. The Y’s mission – to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all – remains unchanged, Price said, along with its core values of caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and faith. Price, a Wofford College graduate with a BA in government, was a longtime YMCA volunteer and board member before assuming the CEO’s post.
Capital Rotary Club adopted a local family and provided gifts for the holiday season (shown in photo) as part of the 2018 Midlands Families Helping Families Christmas program, a Palmetto Project and WIS-TV initiative. Club members had the option of purchasing gifts or making a monetary donation. The adopted family included two adults and five children. One hundred percent of the club membership participated, according to Rotarian Catherine Mabry, who oversaw the project. The family also received a $100 Food Lion gift card. For 25 years, the Families Helping Families program has provided gifts, clothing, food and other essentials to thousands of Midlands neighbors in need, ensuring that all may share in the joy of the Christmas season.
Capital Rotary Club members John Guignard (standing left rear) and Rowland Alston (standing right rear) helped deliver new paperback dictionaries to this Arden Elementary School third-grade class as part of the club’s participation in The Dictionary Project. The project – begun by a non-profit organization in Charleston in 1995 – aims to help young people become good writers, active readers, creative thinkers and resourceful learners. Capital Rotary donated dictionaries to some 900 students in 12 Richland County District One schools for 2018. Over the past 14 years, the club has distributed personal dictionaries to 14,000 students in the Columbia area. A number of other Rotary clubs in South Carolina and throughout the country are Dictionary Project sponsors. One of Rotary International’s major goals is improving basic education and literacy for adults and young people.
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.
Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club held its annual summer blood drive on Wednesday, July 25. Scheduled donations and walk-ins were welcome, and the drive resulted in 66 pints of blood collected. Red Cross staff member Libby Wright (at center in photo with president Philip Flynn and drive chairman Paul Gillam at left) said the club over the past 10 years has collected 582 units of blood, helping to save the lives of more than 1,700 people. Because of high demand and lagging blood donations in summertime, Wright said the Capital club’s effort helps to answer the “emergency appeal” for prospective donors.
Paul Gillam (left in photo), a member of Capital Rotary’s scholarship selection committee, welcomes College of Charleston graduate Victoria Bailey to the June 13 weekly meeting. Bailey, recipient of a four-year scholarship from the club, graduated from Dreher High in 2015 and majored in biology/molecular biology. She plans to attend medical school and is eyeing a career as a surgeon, anesthesiologist or obstetrics/gynecology practitioner. Capital Rotary has been supporting higher-education opportunities for local high school students for more than 20 years. The club’s scholarships are based on a combination of academic performance, extracurricular activities and economic need.