2019 Year End Celebration

A goodly crowd of Rotarians gathered at the Bull Park for the end-of-year late-afternoon meeting. Meatballs (three types), plus hummus and pita bread and a salad provided an ample repast.

There being no talk, the program consisted of a series of presentations: awards and expressions of appreciation. President Brady Searles began with a series of announcements.

First, Elisabeth Wiener was mentioned again as the Rotary Rookie of the year and then plaudits went to exceptional Sergeant at Arms Caleb Baker, who managed that function almost single handedly all year.

And last but not least, there were exceptionally unruly cheers and whoops for much-loved Executive Secretary Sharon Lassiter.

Team of the Year

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Presentation: Eric Guckian, President & CEO – United Way of the Greater Triangle


Rotarian, Emily Page, introduced Eric Guckian, President & CEO of the United Way of the Greater Triangle. She said that he has been in the position for 2 years. Originally from Rhode Island and the first in his family to earn a college degree, Eric graduated from Colgate University with a B.A. in English and earned an M.A. in Education from Harvard.  

 Having begun his career as a science teacher and a Teach for America Corps member in the South Bronx, Eric has played a wide range of leadership roles since his move to North Carolina 20 years ago. Prior to his position with United Way, Eric was Vice President of Alliances for Leadership in Education Equity and was earlier a Senior Advisor on Education in the NC Governor’s office. 

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Presentation: Honorable Michael O’Foghludha

Introduced by Nancy Gordon, Superior Court judge and fellow Rotarian Mike O’Foghludha spoke on the topic of pretrial detention and bail.  This is a topic that has generated considerable discussion nationally and figured prominently in the election for district attorney in Durham last year.  In her introduction, Nancy noted that Mike is an undergraduate alumnus of Duke and a law graduate of UNC.  She also pointed out his law practice and service as a defense lawyer prior to his election to the Superior Court in 2010 was valuable experience.  She noted that Mike is highly respected in the community for his temperament, kindness and compassion. 

 Contrary to popular opinion, Mike pointed out that the crime rate has been falling since the 1980s. defendants have been spending more time in pretrial detention and receiving longer sentences.  This is not only costly but, according to studies, has not been effective in reducing recidivism.  In the U.S. something like $14 billion is spent annually on detention and incarceration.  Durham spends $126 per day per detainee or prisoner.  [Read more…]

Presentation: Durham Arts Council

If you missed last Monday’s Meeting, you missed more than a pretty good beef brisket. You missed some strong Ngoma drum work by two Congolese musicians garbed up to drive an opening ceremony fit
for a king. You also missed the best part of all – watching the assembled membership of Durham Rotary bust a move when lead drummer, Pline Mounzeo, invited everyone to join in dance, chant, and fun.
And much fun it was.

Hosting the off-site event was The Durham Arts Council Downtown. Executive Director, Sherry DeVries, updated Club Members on the tremendous progress the Council has made since it opened its doors in 1954 — to the tune last year alone of $10 Million Dollars in estimated economic activity.

Club Managers also updated Members on progress toward fundraising goals and, staying on perpetual
message, pitched for more money. Our thanks to all for a fun and productive Meeting!

Submitted By: Mark Lazenby


Books on Break

Pictured from L to R: Amanda Kuruc, Mimi O’ Brien, Jenny Levine

Once again this year, Books on Break was a tremendous success. As Rotarian volunteers circulated the space that was set up as a book “store”, they could hear enthusiastic children saying things like, “Shhh, I’m trying to read!” and “I can’t wait to get home and read my new books.” 31 Rotarians and friends put in 122 volunteer hours to make the event successful. The theme of “Reading Connects the World” was depicted on the backpack that each child was given courtesy of Durham Rotary Club. 3,520 abooks were distributed at Y.E. Smith Elementary School. Thank you to our fearless leaders for their dedication and support.