Rotarians in eastern South Carolina are invited to take part in a new $1 million campaign supporting the Rotary Foundation – the international service club’s charitable endowment that underwrites programs for world understanding and peace. Members of Capital Rotary got details at their Oct. 7 Zoom meeting from guest speaker Ione Cockrell (in photo), a past president now part of a 21-person team seeking major donations throughout District 7770. Cockrell said the campaign’s aim is new contributions of at least $10,000 per donor, either as a current major gift or as a bequest through estate planning. All donations will be used in Foundation areas of focus including basic education and literacy, peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, economic and community development, and supporting the environment. Campaign leaders come from all geographic areas in the district; each has committed personally to a major gift or bequest. The district comprises about 5,000 Rotarians in 80 clubs across half the state. Cockrell said the campaign concludes with a Million-Dollar Dinner planned for May 2021 in Charleston, featuring Rotary International president Holger Knaack of Germany. Cockrell is a certified financial planner who joined Capital Rotary in 1993.
Service clubs like Rotary face challenging times because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, but need to strengthen their membership, put ideas into action and improve local communities – all reflected in 2020-2021’s international theme, “Rotary Opens Opportunities.” That’s the message Capital Rotarians heard from assistant governor Eric Davis (in photo) at July 15’s Zoom meeting. Davis noted that the pandemic has curtailed in-person gatherings and scrapped numerous club and district projects. He said that virtual meetings – even remote “happy hours” or small group online socials – can help Rotarians stay in touch. “We need to be flexible and innovative in keeping every member engaged,” Davis said. “Reaching out one-to-one is the way to strengthen our bond.” Despite the pandemic’s effect, clubs can still take part in district committees, apply for grants to fund global projects or sponsor applicants for international scholarships. It’s also possible to virtually sample other club and district meetings. Davis, a member of Vista Night Rotary, has a year left to serve as Area 2 assistant governor in District 7770. Area 2 encompasses six Midlands clubs, plus the University of South Carolina’s Interact group for young adults and an EarlyAct club for youngsters at St. Peter’s Catholic School in Columbia.
South Carolina’s electric cooperatives are working together to help boost economic development in the Palmetto State. That’s what Capital Rotarians heard from Jamie Frost at their Zoom meeting May 20. Frost is senior vice president of community preparedness for the SC Power Team, a nonprofit set up in 1988. It serves 20 co-ops across two-thirds of the state seeking more industry and commerce, especially in rural areas. The Power Team offers project management, retention and expansion of existing businesses, utility rate incentives, funds to help prepare industrial sites and infrastructure, an annual economic development review, training and strategic planning. Over the past six years, co-op and Power Team efforts were key for attraction and expansion of companies investing more than $6.4 billion and creating 30,000 jobs in the state. Frost joined the team in 2017 after working for a consulting engineers’ firm. He’s a graduate of the University of South Carolina, completed the Leadership South Carolina program, Class of 2019, and is a City of Columbia Planning Commission member.
Capital Rotary members got a lesson on “Generation Y” millennials from March 4 guest speaker Matt Vaadi, who heads ERG, a Columbia-based human resources and payroll services company. Vaadi (at right in photo with Rotarian Darren Foy) defined millennials as those 20 to 39 years old, born from 1980-1999. At 86.9 million, they’re today’s largest demographic and 54% of the workforce. They contribute $1.3 trillion to the economy and are 61% college-educated. But on average they change jobs every two years, costing some $30.5 billion in turnover/retraining. Vaadi said millennials are often described as entitled, but should be more accurately seen as achievement-oriented, socially conscious, team players, continuous learners, digitally dependent and optimistic. Their most valued employment benefits are training and development opportunities (22%), flexible working hours (10%), cash bonuses (14%), free private healthcare (8%) and retirement funding (6%). Vaadi said the keys to retaining millennial workers are job flexibility, recognition of their efforts and a feeling of “work family.” He said Generation Y likes to focus on the “why” of doing a job rather than the “how” or “what” the job entails.
Goodwill is more than a thrift store – it’s an organization dedicated to helping people find work and a place of belonging in their lives. That’s the message guest speaker Gerry Partridge (in photo) had for Capital Rotary members Feb. 18. Partridge, development director for Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina, said thrift store sales of donated items fund the agency’s jobs mission. There were nearly 1.3 million donations of “gently used merchandise” in 2018-2019, converted into 3.4 million purchases at 36 stores. In 16 Upstate and Midlands counties, Goodwill helped more than 23,000 people seeking employment and placed over 13,000 in jobs. During their first year of work, these newly-placed employees were projected to earn $172 million in wages. Partridge also noted that Goodwill helps the environment by recycling items like computers and printers, keeping 390,000 pounds of potential electronic waste from going into local landfills. He said the organization is guided by volunteer board members who see that over 93 cents of every dollar spent goes to programs and services. “Every day we can help someone is a good day at Goodwill,” Partridge concluded.
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.”
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.
Entrepreneurs looking to start or build a business can find help (and a cup of coffee) at weekly meetings in Columbia and four other communities across South Carolina. That’s the idea behind 1 Million Cups – a Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation initiative to strengthen education and entrepreneurship. Columbia’s 1 Million Cups sessions take place at 9 a.m. each Wednesday in the Richland County Library’s main branch and are part of a network of 190 such events nationally. Capital Rotary members were briefed on the program Oct. 2 by Sergio Aparicio and Tim Bradford (shown at right and at left in photo with Rotarian Abby Naas), local 1 Million Cups organizers. They said 1 Million Cups is not a sales or investor pitch, but a chance for entrepreneurs to explain what they do and what kinds of challenges they’ve faced. Each hour-long session includes networking, coaching, mentoring and encouragement. Aparicio works in the city’s Economic Development Office and is currently pursuing International Economic Development Council certification. Bradford has over 25 years of business management, consulting and marketing experience. He’s president of The Bradford Group of Companies, LLC with offices locally and in Pittsburgh. South Carolina’s other 1 Million Cups groups meet in Anderson, Charleston, Greenville and Spartanburg.
University of South Carolina senior Grace Cooney (shown with Mark Bokesch of Capital Rotary Club) has been awarded a Rotary International Global Grant scholarship to pursue a Master’s of Science Degree in Migration, Culture and Global Health from Queen Mary University in London next year. Cooney’s career goal is to become a physician practicing internationally, working with underserved and vulnerable populations abroad. The Greenville native’s scholarship application was sponsored by Capital Rotary, with Bokesch serving as advisor. Global Grants 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. The minimum Global Grant scholarship award is $30,000 to fund coursework or research for one to four academic years.
Assistant District Governor Eric Davis explained how Rotary International’s 2019-2020 theme – “Rotary Connects the World” – will be put into action when he spoke to Capital Rotarians on July 17. Davis (in photo with club president Abby Naas) said adapting to a new generation of potential members might include more flexible meeting schedules, more family-friendly activities, more networking opportunities and continued emphasis on service projects. A local “Discovery Rotary Day” aims to increase community awareness and raise the organization’s profile, while an August summit offers training in membership growth. Community service projects include a “Together We Read” literacy program for elementary students, plus fund-raising to benefit “Key Changes Therapy” for childhood behavior problems. Local clubs are sponsoring an Interact Club at St. Peter’s Catholic School, developing leadership skills and service activities for young people. Davis said District 7770 will continue to raise money for the CART (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust) Fund supporting medical research grants and for World Polio Day – an international campaign to eradicate the crippling disease. District Rotarians also plan to pack 1 million meals for Rise Against Hunger, an international relief organization coordinating the packaging and distribution of food and other life-changing aid to people in developing nations.