Durham Rotary History

Rotary Club of Durham    Annual Committee Reports for 2018-2019 Year     June 24, 2019


Communications Committee Report, Tammie Sellman, Chair

The Communications Committee had a time of transition throughout the past year. After creating very large shoes to fill, Jay Zenner stepped away from the role of Webmaster and into that of support for Tammie Sellman as she became the new Communications Committee Chairperson. Facebook postings have increased and become more frequent as weekly meetings, events, and highlights are documented. The committee would love to highlight specific life changing events for Durham Rotarians on the Facebook page so we encourage our members to share photographs and stories.


The website continues to be a hub for all things Durham Rotary Club. It encompasses our weekly program overviews, new members, Paul Harris Society members, and events and happenings for the Club. The Communications Committee STRONGLY encourages anyone that has a noteworthy event to share on either Facebook or the website to please do a brief write-up and send it along with a photo to tammie.sellman@uss.salvationarmy.org. We love to share all of the amazing things that we do to demonstrate our commitment to Service Above Self. In order to tell our story, we need your assistance to share, share, share. 


The bulletin continues to be a tangible resource for our Club.  Each week, Executive Secretary Sharon Lassiter, working with the Bulletin editor works diligently to include all of the pertinent information about upcoming events and projects, list of officers and directors and committee chairs, upcoming programs, Rotary’s areas of service, a calendar, and the required two week notification of pending new members.   This is sent out to our members every weekend to prepare for the upcoming Monday meeting. Copies are placed at each table for quick reference during meetings. The bulletin is archived on the website in an effort to document our history. We thank Sharon for her work on the bulletin.

Fellowship Committee Report,  Co-Chairs:  Elisabeth Wiener, Sara Stephens
Rotary After Hours Events:   
January 16th “Welcome to 2019” at the JB Duke.  Danielle Kaspar kindly arranged for the JB Duke to host us and provide complimentary hors d’oeuvres with attendance of 75.
May 14th with great appetizers on the rooftop deck at the Unscripted organized by Lisa Callaghan with attendance of 35
Scholarship Dinner: 
The plans are:  Secure a restaurant that can do a dinner for no more than $45 pp including wine and tip.  Charge $75 pp to net $30 pp for scholarship fund.  Best to be able to take over whole restaurant.  This year, we held the dinner at Gocciolina on a Sunday evening and had 50 attendees, netting $1500 for the fund.
Monday, August 20th, 2018 Hope Valley Country Club $25 per person with attendance of 75.
We enjoyed a buffet picnic style dinner in the Main Dining Room of HVCC.  The event had been planned for the main lawn, but the club was concerned for rain and moved the event inside.  Yard games and swimming were also available.  Feedback from some members (who did not attend) included not liking having the event at a country club due to perceived exclusivity.  Also, some felt this was too expensive given that it replaced the Monday meeting.
Sunday, June 2nd  2019 Picnic at Eno River State Park  
In an effort to make a more inclusive event, we planned the picnic for Eno River State Park with catering by Picnic.  Price was $12 per adult, $6 11 years and younger.  Hiking was to follow the picnic.  Due to low sign ups, we cancelled the event.  Going forward, I think we should survey the membership to find out if the date was the issue, they didn’t want to be outside or they’re not interested in a picnic.  The pricing was very affordable.  I’m not convinced this is the right family social event for our club.
Cuisine Crawl:
  The Cuisine Crawl will be held Sunday, September 15th.  Yvette West has agreed to begin the evening at their home at 104 City Hall Plaza.  Meg Solera organizes this event.

Program Committee Report,   Steed Rollins, Chair.  Danielle Kaspar, Co-Chair
We held three committee meetings to plan the programs for the 2018-2019 Rotary Year: September 27, February 12 and June 18.  Durham Rotary Club held 39 meetings during the 2018-2019 Rotary year with six meetings being held off-site. A few of our featured speakers included:  District Rotary Governor Donna Peffley;  NC Attorney General Josh Stein:  Author, Renee Hodges; US Army Paratrooper Jacques Michienzi;  Durham Sheriff Clarence Birkhead;  Elaine O’Neal, Interim Dean NCCU;
Dr. Pascal Mubenga, Superintendent Durham Public Schools;  Holiday Musical Presentation by DPS students.

Youth Committee Report,  Co-Chairs David Reese, Rachael Galanter

2019 Books on Break

2019 marked the Rotary Club of Durham’s 6th annual Books on Break at YE Smith Elementary. Working in partnership with Book Harvest, which supplies the books, we help each student at YE Smith choose 10 free books so they have books to read over the summer. Having books at home can combat summer learning loss and help students arrive back at school in the fall ready to learn. We’re also helping to instill a love of reading for pleasure.

Rotary volunteers set up a pop-up bookstore in the school’s media center. Students come in class by class, and we serve as personal shoppers to help them choose their 10 books. Over three days, 352 students chose 10 books each. That’s 3,520 books for this year, and more than 24,000 over 6 years.

It takes a village to run this program. This year, 31 Rotarians and 14 friends and family volunteered 122 hours. Todd Taylor had the string backpacks designed, and the Club donated the funds to pay for them. This year, the backpacks were less than budgeted, and the Club was therefore able to donate $281 to purchase Spanish/bilingual books.    Michel Tharp, aka the BookMaster, continued to be a linchpin in making this a success. He sorted and organized the books and was there for every shift. Jenny Levine, Amanda Kuruc, and Mimi O’Brien organized the event and served as day captains.
Rotary Youth Exchange
Our Youth Exchange Student for the 2019-20 school year, Chi-Wei Lin (Joelle) arrives in Durham from Taiwan on August 16th and will be staying with Newman and Ann-Louise Aguilar for the first week .  The student will then transition to the home of Laura Benedict and John Morris.  She will be attending the Durham School of the Arts with an emphasis in music. Newman and Ann-Louise will be her third host family.  

Reading Rangers
Our Reading Rangers program at Y.E. Smith Elementary has impacted students for the last 7 years.  The school continues to welcome the support of Rotary Club members.  During the 2018-2019 school year Rotary Club members supported the literacy needs of various students in grades 1-3.  Thank you to all of the Rotarians who have helped young people at Y.E. Smith Elementary School become better readers.

RYLA  — Rotary Youth Leadership Academy
We sponsored eight students to the annual RYLA weekend in April.

Club Grants Committee Report,  Mimi O’Brien, Chair
Brady Surles implemented the Grants Committee in fall 2018. The Committee’s purposes are to manage the funds allocated by the Board for District and Global.  Grants and to vet and prioritize requests for grant funds.
Members are Mimi O’Brien (chair as of April 2019), David Durack, Ann Evans, Dallas Stalling, Brady Surles (chair, fall 2018-April 2019), and Arles Taylor.
During the fall, the Committee’s primary focus was on Global Grants. We recommended funding totaling $4,000 for four projects: the Thalessemia project,India ($2,000), Arusha Water project, Tanzania ($1,000), and the Gautemala Literacy project ($1,000).
In the spring, our focus was on encouraging applications for the District Grant process. Because additional funding is to be available for the 2019-20 grant cycle, we wanted to submit 5 projects. One of the projects was also our club’s priority for the Durham 150 Robust Democracy and Social Equity grant program, sponsored by the 3 Durham-based Rotary Clubs and the E-club.  We put out a call for project concepts and received 20 concepts. The Grants Committee reviewed and prioritized the projects.  Four of the projects were submitted for the Durham 150 grant program, and we identified the top priority to go forward: Launch 360 –entrepreneurship mentoring (Wiener).
Club’s participation in the Durham 150 project:
We identified and prioritized four additional projects to be submitted for District Grants. The Board approved matching funds of $2,000 for each project if a DG is awarded. At this writing, the proposals are still pending.
a. Durham Central Park Playground Improvement (Evans)
b. Girls Education in Sudan (Evans)
c. Books on Break at YE Smith (O’Brien
d. Durham Habitat for Humanity (Hall)


Membership Committee Report,  Shannon Leskin, Chair


Durham 150 Committee Report,  Carver Weaver, Chair
                In 2019, Durham marked its 150th anniversary. Discover Durham (formerly the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau) in partnership with the City of Durham, Durham County, the Museum of Durham History, and numerous businesses, non-profits, and other organizations, are using this opportunity to build awareness about Durham’s evolution from a sleepy railroad depot to a thriving tobacco town to   an internationally recognized center of technology, medicine, and innovation and aspiring model of social equity.
            Community leaders led by Mayor Steve Schewel and former Mayor Bill Bell spearheaded a fundraising campaign with a goal of $825,000 to sponsor events and encourage all members of the community to be part of the Sesquicentennial Celebration. The anniversary year is built around four themes: History and Education; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Social Equity and Robust Democracy; and Arts & Leisure. After consideration by its members and consultation with other Durham Rotary Clubs, it was decided that Rotary Clubs of Durham would sponsor Social Equity and Robust Democracy at the $15,000 level.  As part of the sponsorship package, the City of Durham solicited requests for grant proposals in each category. Grants had to be consistent with and expand upon the respective category themes and could not exceed $2,000. Facilitated by Mimi O’Brien, Newman Aguiar, Joyce McKinney and the Collaborative Grants Committee members, liaisons of Durham clubs met and each club selected a grant to request from the City. Each was fully funded as follows: Downtown, Launch Durham 360; Southwest, Community Dialogues with former International Rotary Peace Scholar Linda Low; Sunrise, Scholar Academy for Latinx United for Diversity; and E-Club, Racial Equity, Diversity, Systems, Environments, and Sustainability. Members of all Durham Rotary Clubs will be actively involved in the implementation and administration of the activities involved in each project.  This funding allowed each club to pursue or enhance a major community service opportunity in addition to the priority one grants traditionally undertaken. The Durham 150-funded grants were also submitted for Area 7 District Grant Funding, which will offset a portion of the sponsorship fee.
            Finally, the Downtown Club is supporting two additional initiatives. Innovation Fellow Marlon Torres, Executive Director of North Carolina Arts in Action, approached the Durham 150 committee with an idea for a grant proposal that was more appropriate for funding in the Arts & Leisure category than Social Equity and Robust Democracy. Committee Chair Carver Weaver assisted Marlon in completing and submitting his proposal, which was subsequently funded. On June 8, a group of performers used this grant to present Celebrating Dance in Durham, a theatrical production featuring 60 dancers ages 9 – 15 from the NC Arts in Action LEAP (Learning Excellence and Perseverance) Team and professional choreographers. The performance, hosted by the Durham Arts Council, was free of charge and open to the public.
            Also, the Downtown Club is currently in the planning stages to host two Atwater-Ellis events, a series of civic conversations around topics to help all community residents shape Durham’s next 150 years. Organizer and Rotarian Emily Egge is proposing to bring members of all Durham Rotary Clubs together to foster respectful debate as well and bond and bridge social capital, to continue building and strengthening our culture of including all voices in crafting challenges faced across socioeconomic, racial, gender, and political lines.
            While Durham 150 formally kicked off last December at the annual Holiday Parade, with Durham’s former and living Mayors participating in a special float, a community wide celebration was held at American Tobacco on April 13, near the date of Durham’s formal incorporation. Members of Durham Rotary Clubs served as volunteer docents and Wayfinders during the celebration.
            A city-wide anthem has been introduced, written and choreographed by Durham native and renowned rap/hip-hop artist J. Gunn. Discover Durham is planning a city-wide sing-along event which will be taped and disseminated primarily through social media, a la “We Are the World.” Rotarians will be invited to participate in the implementation and filming of this event.
            After a season of festivities and self-reflection, a community-wide celebratory closing event will be held at the DPAC in early November. Members of the Durham Rotary Clubs will be invited to serve in some capacity at this event, though details are still pending.  We continue to identify additional opportunities for Rotarian involvement.


As Durham Rotary is approaching it’s Centennial anniversary, a project is underway led by historian and club member Allen Cronenberg to gather documentation on the club’s long history. As these documents are uncovered we will upload them to the website. Most of the documents will be scanned as Adobe ftp files.  A list of these documents will be kept on this page with links to the documents. Enjoy.

1. Down Through the Years – Durham Rotary Club 1915 – 1955

Click the picture or here for a full length ptf version of this book.






2. More Down Through the Years – Durham Rotary Club 1955 – 1990

Click the picture or here for the full pdf version of this book.