Rotary Minute: Chris Combs

ChrisCombsMinutreAfter offering an invocation during the 100 birthday celebration of the Durham Rotary’s first meeting that prayed that “we’d be good stewards of the legacy and continue on with a genuine desire to serve others while remembering that you’re the source of that desire” Chris Combs delivered his Rotary Minute. In his own words:

Please have a seat and continue eating.  Guy Solie and Melissa Mills told me that part of doing the Rotary Minute is designed to answer the question, “Why are you here, and what inspires you about Rotary?”

I thought about that question and it took me to the memories of attending the funerals of my grandparents over the last 15 years.  What’s vivid to me are the memories of the hundreds of people who came into the churches and into the funeral homes to pay their respects.

I caught a glimpse into the impact that they had had on their neighbors in the towns of Carr Creek, KY and Roanoke, VA.

I heard from the students that they had taught who went on to earn the first college degree that their families had ever seen.  I listened to the basketball players my grandfather coached who didn’t know their own dads, so they looked to him for direction and guidance.  Service above self.

I was reminded of how, shortly after they were married, both of my grandfathers left their brides to put themselves in harm’s way so they could fight the Nazis and the fear that Morton Combs felt as he rode across the English Channel towards Normandy during the great invasion on D-Day + 1.  Service above self.

I heard about how, after the war, during times of peace my mother’s father, Sam McNeil, consistently carved out time to stay involved in the community despite just launching his small business.  Service above self.

I rode down the street named after him in Roanoke for his civic efforts in founding Blue Ridge Public Television to advance education, the years he spent on the school board in Roanoke, and his years as a Rotarian.  I listened to his friends recall his efforts towards founding a chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the 1960s.

I’m proud to be in this club to honor what they stood for throughout their lives so I’m glad that I got to share this with you today on the day that we’re honoring what was started here in Durham 100 years ago.

Rotary Scholar Runs for Water

151110_sung2Hai-Ryung Sung is a 2013-15 alum of the Rotary Peace Center at Duke University/University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a Rotary Scholar whose studies are funded by a global grant. She is pursuing a doctorate in environmental sciences and engineering at the University of North Carolina, and hopes to use her degree to improve health through better water, sanitation, and hygiene practices. Below is a post she contributed to the Rotary Blog:

Rotary Scholar Runs for Clean Water

A team of walkers carry a ladder rigged up with water jugs to simulate the burden that women and children in some parts of the world must bear to fetch water.

Access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation should be a right for all people. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many people still suffer and die from waterborne diseases they contract because of an inadequate supply of water, lack of sanitation, or poor hygiene. In many developing countries, women and children are forced to carry heavy bottles of water for many miles.

As a Rotary Scholar, I had the pleasure of taking part in the GlobalRun4Water recently in North Carolina, USA, raising awareness and money for water- and sanitation-related projects. My scholarship was funded by a global grant sponsored by Districts 3640 (Korea) and 7710 (North Carolina), my host district, which also organized the run. Scott Rossi, a member of the Cary-Kildaire Rotary Club, came up with the idea for the event, and has earned the affectionate nickname, the “Water Guy of District 7710.” 

Each year, the event has grown. During the first three years, Rotary members raised more than $40,000 through sponsorships and community support. Funds have been used to support water projects in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Lebanon, Bolivia, Uganda, and Guatemala. This year, almost 300 runners turned out on a rainy day for the 5k race. Others chose to carry heavy bottles along a one-mile course to experience a taste of what women and children in other parts of the world have to go through daily to fetch water.

My doctoral studies touch upon the field of water, sanitation, and hygiene. As a member of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, I started a project involving Rotary clubs in the United States, Korea, and Cambodia to improve maternal and child health through better water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. The initiative also seeks to change hygiene habits of villagers and improve the delivery of health care.

I hope this effort reduces the morbidity and mortality rate among mothers and children in rural areas of Cambodia. I am thankful for the opportunity my scholarship has given me to take actions like these to improve the quality of life in these villages.

Banner Exchange

Visiting Rotarian from India

Mr. Rajagopal Mudambir from the Rotary Club of Pimpri, India (D-3131) addressed the club and exchanged banners. Pimpri is a suburb of Pune. the location of the joint project, let by the Rotary Club of Pimpri, with our Club, the Durham UK Club and the Club of Bhubaneshwar Heritage,Odisha, India, which built over two hundred toilets to improve sanitary conditions and the health of the local populace.  This project was one of many mentioned in the write-up on October 25 announcing November as Rotary Foundation Month.

Leadership in Pune Toilet Project

Leadership in Pune Toilet Project



Rotary Foundation

Larry Crane Plus 2Less than a month after being inducted into the Paul Harris Society, Larry Crane received his Paul Harris Plus 2 pin from Foundation Chairman Dallas Stallings.

Congratulations Larry.

Program Report: Veterans Tribute – Patrick Nevins

PatrckNevinsOn a chilled, rain-drenched day more like winter than mid-autumn, Rotarians warmed things up during a special Veterans Day program to honor vets past and present.

Delivering the main presentation at Monday lunch was Patrick Nevins, a Chapel Hill native and Duke graduate who was commissioned in 2007 as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps and deployed twice to Afghanistan.

Recently out of the military, now living in Durham and working on a Master’s Degree at Duke, Nevins told a packed house how military service in active combat led him to begin forming a support service entity for vets back home in need of help.

He said the entity, still in its nascent organizational stages, will help partner organizations address and work to mitigate suicide among vets who get back home and experience emotional challenges, often on their own.

When the close friendships and bonds formed in combat together no longer exist, Nevins said, things can get emotionally tough. “Its much harder,” he said, when facing civilian life again without such strong bonds.

Nevins said his own journey through military service was driven by knowledge that his comfortable existence as a Duke student did not preclude him from also stepping in and serving his country.  As a college-educated unit leader not seasoned by combat like the soldiers under his command, Nevins said that sometimes the best leadership is recognizing when not to stand in the way or impede unit function.

The tribute began, as in past years, with inspired choral renditions for each branch of U.S. military service.  Delivering the chorus was a select (and well-known) group of our Rotary colleagues who are not challenged by music or singing.

Brady Surles followed with a reading of “In Flanders Fields,” and delivering an invocation thanking all veterans for serving to advance our freedoms and wishing them well.

Following the presentations, club members were reminded that continued volunteer service opportunities are available as the club wraps up its Centennial “100 Acts of Service Above Self” campaign.  So far, more than half of the club membership has executed roughly 1,400 service acts in 2015, Surles reported after presentation.

The goal is 2000 acts – which also includes individual volunteer service acts not carried out under the auspices or Rotary and its partners.  Surles asked members to report such acts as the club shoots for a grand year-end total of 2,000 acts.

Submitted By Mark Lazenby

Veterans Day Observance

Singers on Vets Day
As part of our Veterans Day Observance the Rotary Singers led the members and guests in the anthems of each service.

Later, the veterans in attendance sat for a picture with speaker Patrick Nevins.


Standing are Larry Crane, Bill Stokes, our speaker Patrick Nevins, Todd Taylor and Rick Jorgensen. Seated are Ken Lundstrom, Bob Yowell, Seth Warner and Brantley DeLoatch.