Ringing the Bells

Ringing the bells for the Salvation Army is always a great way to get into the Christmas spirit but here are a couple of Rotarians that took it to another level.  That’s Vince Simonetti on the tuba and Meg Solera vocalizing during their shift on Wednesday. Maybe next year we can add a tambourine and a few of our great voices like George Deaton and Shelly Green and have a concert!

Rotary Minutes: Deirdre Haj

OK Deirdre, you were discovered in high school by Ed Sherin, went through SUNY Purchase with Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames, Ron Eldard, Parker Posey, and Edie Falco, had roles in Dallas and Star Trek and worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, but what everybody really wants to know is how many degrees of separation are there between you and Kevin Bacon.

Lest anybody who wasn’t there think that Deirdre was just dropping names from her acting career in New York and Hollywood, her Rotary Minute actually revealed something much deeper. Besides her encounter with Mother Teresa as a teenage goodwill ambassador traveling with a chamber choir to Egypt and India, she shared her admiration for Dallas star Larry Hagman after hooking him up with a kid waiting for a liver transplant like Hagman had himself. She also described wanting to become a nun after a long recovery from a childhood accident in a Catholic hospital, something her Jewish parents didn’t seem to appreciate. It also gave her an appreciation for the great health insurance provided by her father’s employer, IBM.  Then, during the first Gulf war, she spent time as a political aide in Israel and struggled with reconciling her faith with that country’s policies.

It was in Hollywood though that she met her husband Joe at the Classical Theatre Lab doing Shakespeare. She shared that Joe, who is the Producing Artistic Director of the Playmakers Repertory Company over at UNC, is a first generation American and Catholic Palestinian. She described her daughter Samantha as a gorgeous, smart 12 year old who looks like she is 15 and whose mixed heritage which could uniquely qualify her to bring peace to the Middle East if it doesn’t blow up before she reaches voting age.

Of course, we know Deirdre as the dynamic Executive Director of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. She got into documentaries producing one on smoking in Hollywood films. Under her guidance Full Frame has not only become an important international film festival but is important to Durham’s economy and cultural scene as well as to the kids that participate in its annual camp for budding documentarians.

Deirdre did not encourage me to put her notes on the website but did volunteer to provide a list of her ten favorite movies. Can’t wait. In the meantime here’s a link to the Frank Stasio interview that she mentioned that would help explain how her meeting with Mother Teresa would affect her career. The link also has a pretty cool picture of her in her Star Trek role. http://wunc.org/tsot/archive/sot0308abc10.mp3/view

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Program Report: Bringing Latinos to the Table – Dr. Luke Smith

Let’s set up more seats at the table.  There’s plenty of room.  And a lot of human upside.

Dr. Luke Smith set aside his psychiatrist’s notebook Monday and made a persuasive public call for more inclusion across the community for a Latino population that is growing locally at the statistical equivalent of fast forward.

Dr. Smith acts as executive director and medical director of El Futuro, Inc., a Durham-based non-profit helping Spanish-speaking people and their families by providing behavioral health treatment for a population traditionally underserved in this important area of development.  He spoke to a near full house during our first luncheon since Thanksgiving.

“They really bring strength to the table,”  Dr. Smith said, noting low rates of organized community participation that can and should be be improved.  “It’s important for our prosperity that we welcome them to the table.  There is room at the table.  There is an open seat at the table. And when we bring them, we are not just going to be placating them.”

Among the numbers presented by Smith alongside photos of the people behind the numbers:

  • Latinos make up nearly 9 percent of the state’s population, a continuing growth trend that began more than two decades ago with job opportunities in the textile and poultry industries in a state the issued drivers licenses until 9/11.
  • Latinos are “underserved;” they comprise just under 4 percent of people served by the state mental health system, due to a wide range of factors including cost, fear of identification, fear of driving, insufficient “health literacy” and fear of perceived discrimination by providers.
  • Latinos are expected to make up 25,000 of 45,000 expected growth in individual residents in Durham County between 2010 and 2020.

Dr. Smith said El Futuro continues to yield clinical and functional successes among the people whom it has aided since a group of volunteer health professionals opened the doors in 2004.  Most are poor women and children, many who have experienced direct or indirect trauma.  Eighty percent of patients over a recent 3-month period demonstrated clinical improvements and nearly as many had functional improvements.  Ninety-nine percent reported feeling helped and respected.  They’d recommend it to a friend.

Dr. Smith himself trained in child and adult psychiatry at UNC when he moved to the RTP region in 2000 from Arkansas.  He described his engagement with the Latino community here as a “full immersion experience” that left him fluent in Spanish and fond of the cuisine.

In short, El Futuro works.  It’s moving the needle.  It’s helping to broaden the civic table a seat at a time.  And for El Futuro’s efforts, our club and our community are grateful.


Submitted By Mark Lazenby

Program Report: Bringing Your “A” Game – Peter Anlyan

Peter Anlyan knows about teamwork: after all, he has served as General Manager at the Durham Bulls and the American Tobacco Campus as well as Capitol Broadcasting. In a room full of leaders, Peter wanted to discuss “Bringing your A Game” and started us all off with a quote from a great woman, Margaret Thatcher: “Being in power is like being a lady: if you have to tell them you are, you aren’t.”

Though we may have all paid our dues or studied best practices, Peter stated that leadership could only occur when a person recognizes they are human. Then the path to being a good leader can begin.

He went on to present several observations from studies: that leaders overestimate the positives in an organization, for one, and how different a leader’s perception of work and productivity and morale may differ from those “on the front lines.”

I am certain that many of us recognized ourselves in this presentation, either for good or ill. Anlyan went on to discuss how mission statements need to be personalized for every individual on a team, and beyond this, one must know how they plan to engage others to complete the mission as well as why they do it to start with.

This also includes examining our own barriers to our success, and he went through many that drew silence from the crowd: being sarcastic as a defense mechanism or not admitting to what we do not know, were two. In conclusion, he wrapped up stating that teams work well when they are in “free flowing” dialogue, and that those most committed to their organizations are also aligned with their own values.

It made stating the four way test after this presentation even more resonant than usual!

Submitted by Deirdre Haj

Foundation News

Paul Harris Fellow – Ruth Dzau – Plus 2

Foundation chair Dallas Stallings presented Rotarian Ruth Dzau with a pin for attaining Plus 2 status as a Paul Harris Fellow. This means that she has met the $1000 threshold for fellowship three times. Rotarian Ruth has not only contributed generously to the Foundation coffers but also her time especially during her three year term on the Board.

In a note to President Don, Rotarian Ruth shared the following sentiments about the Foundation and Paul Harris Fellowships:

“The Durham Rotary members are truly committed to Durham in making this city a great place to live and to work. The contributions of money, time and energy to numerous significant Rotary projects over the years have had a positive impact on Durham in many ways. At the same time there is the realization that we are also members of a global community that has needs as well. The Rotary Foundation, especially through Paul Harris Fellow support, is key in partnering successful global and local endeavors. Philanthropy is so critical in making our world a better place. I look forward to the day when all my fellow Durham Rotarians will proudly wear a Paul Harris pin.”

Sustaining Membership

Sustaining members are those that contribute at least $100 to the Rotary Foundation annually. Foundation Chair Dallas reports that with the new invoicing procedure that includes a $50 contribution to the Foundation has meant that we have 28 new first time contributors to the Foundation. This is also part of a campaign to become a 100% Paul Harris club by the time of our Centennial.

Matching Program.

Foundation Chair Dallas asked past Chair Andy Barada to announce a matching program for Paul Harris Fellowship. This has been possible in the past through gifts to the club from contributors such as the late Bill Burns. For the rest of the year $500 gifts will be matched. This is a terrific opportunity to attain Paul Harris Fellowship status for a modest investment. Andy, Dallas and the rest of the club leadership encourage all members to take advantages of this opportunity.

Rotary Minutes: George Deaton – Lasting Impressions

For some reason George Deaton’s Rotary Minute reminded me of the movie Forrest Gump. It wasn’t because George was born in the Virginia mountains and described himself as a hillbilly, or, as he joked, an Appalachian American. In fact, it wasn’t because George reminded me of the character Forrest Gump at all. Forrest, you may recall was not too intelligent while George studied physics at Virginia Tech. And it wasn’t because the love of his life eluded Forrest all of his life while George met the love of his life on an internship during his college days and has stayed married for through 53 years, 6 children and 13 grandchildren.

The parallel that I found fascinating was that like Forrest, George had a knack of being present and involved in some truly historical events that spanned the same time frame as Forrest’s story including manned space flight, the birth of the internet, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

One of George’s passions that put him in the position to be a close witness to some of this history was his love of music and opera. Anyone who has heard George sing will not be surprised that this passion was an element in the courtship of his wife all those years ago and remains a passion that he now uses to help raise money for various organizations as one of the founders and members of Three Triangle Tenors.

George’s complete presentation can be read here and a recording of the Triangle Tenors performing O Sole Mio is here on YouTube.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Rotary Minutes are brief summaries of biographical presentations made by Durham Rotary Club members. This practice was initiated by President Don to deepen our commitment to Rotary and each other with peeks into our backgrounds. They have also turned out to be very entertaining.