Program Report: TROSA – Kevin McDonald

phototrosaweb“When the history books are written about Durham, and they’re looking for greatness,” President Stanger said about Monday’s featured guest, “this man will certainly be there.”

Kevin McDonald will certainly leave a legacy of helping thousands of people work their way out of lives wrecked by substance abuse. But he made clear Monday that he’s not anywhere close to being done with that work.

McDonald founded Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA) in 1994. Prior to coming to Durham, he had spent time in Los Angeles trying to rehabilitate former gang members. “People thought this was a tough town,” McDonald said. “Hell, they don’t know what tough is.”

McDonald let a moving video do most of his talking, with stories of pain that turned into triumph, as people found new lives via TROSA’s innovative two-year residential program. They get counseling to overcome their addiction as well as job skills supporting the myriad businesses TROSA runs to support itself. (It’s a good bet that many of us have had TROSA help us with a move, or at least bought a Christmas tree from them.) “If you don’t have a work ethic,” McDonald observed in the video, in his trademark tough-love gruff, “you’re going to fall on your butt again.”

One of the TROSA graduates in the video, whose addiction drove her to homelessness, said, “Life can come from underneath a bridge in a box to where I am now.” The video got a standing ovation, as some of our club members still dabbed at tears.

Running short on time, McDonald rattled off a few numbers from last year, illustrating the point that the work is far from over: 400,000 meals served, 5,000 volunteer hours logged, 8,000 Christmas trees sold, 5,000 moves made, two new dorms built with 148 new beds, and 85 people got their GED. The best stat: TROSA just celebrated its 1,200th graduate, yet another life restored.

Submitted by Matt Dees

Singing Valentine Fund Raiser

Valentine Singers WebThe Singing Valentines fund raiser is a joint effort of Durham Rotary and Heart of Carolina Barbershop Chorus. A quartet from Heart of Carolina came to Rotary on Monday to demonstrate what a Singing Valentine is like. A portion of every singing valentine sold goes to Rotary to help with its scholarship programs. These will sell out fast, so please make your reservation soon! If you your sweetheart isn’t around, then why not consider sending a singing valentine to your favorite nonprofit to show your love for their cause?

Order online at or by phone 919-730-3342.

Click this link for more information about the options available. 2013SingingValentinesPoster

Submitted by Shelly Green

Rotary Foundation Mid-Year Report

PHF medal webThe Durham Rotary Club members have been very active with their gifts to The Rotary Foundation this year. Since the beginning of the current club year on July 1, 2013, our club has contributed $21,000. plus to The Foundation. Approximately $14,000. of that amount resulted from the two-for-one challenge offered in late October. The remainder includes a few gifts to Polio Plus . We gained some 35 Paul Harris Fellow awards of which 15 were first-time member contributions. The remainder of the awards were divided between members who qualified for +1,+2,+3,+4 and +5 Paul Harris Fellow status.
Since the first gift given to The Rotary Foundation by our club, The Durham Rotary Club has contributed a total of $426,170.00 to The Foundation. There have been a total 296 Paul Harris or multiple Paul Harris awards given through our club. We currently have 148 members who are current donors toThe Foundation, including 4 major donors. Additionally, there have been 36 persons who are not Rotarians who have made contributions to The Foundation through our club.
We continue to stress the importance of our members becoming Foundation Sustainers. Sustainers are those members who make a total contribution of $100. to The Foundation each year. As we approach the 100th anniversary of The Durham Rotary Club our goal is to have 100% Sustainers. Thank you to all who continue to participate in this worthy opportunity.
 Submitted by Dallas Stallings and The Foundation Committee

Program Report: The Science of Ethics and Honesty – Dan Ariely, Ph.D

arielyWebTalk about a great job.

Studying why people cheat and how they justify it in different places and cultures.  Explaining it in New York Times bestsellers.  Revealing still more in a regular column in The Wall Street Journal.  Even being able to wear bright orange sneakers while captivating, engaging and entertaining  yet another full house of club members during our weekly lunch on Jan. 28.

Dr. Dan Ariely, professor of behavior economics at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, shared  insights about human nature and human mis-behavior across all groups, nationalities, places.

Nobody was spared.  And it turns out most people are much the same everywhere.

“We lie a lot,” Ariely said soon after his introduction by club member Melissa Mills.  “You can tell a lot of things in favor of lying.”

The good news is that Dr. Ariely’s findings show that most people everywhere want to be considered nice and honest people.  People want to view themselves in that frame of life.  In the course of daily affairs, however, they tend to rationalize small misbehaviors to balance lies or cheating with their natural notions of honesty.

“People want to be good but don’t want to do it in the moment,” Ariely said.

He described different tests and methodologies that researchers use to tempt subjects in tests and  measure dishonesty.  Studies in the U.S., U.K., Italy, Israel and even Canada defy conventional notions by some that lies and cheating occur on a large-scale through careful evaluation of cost, risk and benefit. “There are some big cheaters out there,” he explained, “but just a few.”

By contrast, he said, the accumulation of most of the cheating “is a ton of little apples that are rotting just a little.”

Among factors that encourage honesty and better behavior: Being in touch with one’s moral and ideal self as cheating situations arise and committing in advance of situations that present cheating possibilities not afterwards.  Cheat-free outcomes are also more likely when people exposed to temptation are in closer proximity to money, not farther from it through non-cash transactions.

Ariely said that being closer to potential victims, not faceless people in cyberspace, also works against mis-behavior.

President Don closed the meeting by noting that a regular reading of The Four Way Test might be a solution.  With that, our membership recited the four points.  And Ariely moved to the hallway, sneakers aglow, to autograph copies of his books.


Submitted by Mark Lazenby

Howard Clements and Leaders of Tomorrow

HowardClement2webWe haven’t seen much of Howard Clements, a long time Rotarian and City Councilman recently, so it was great to see him and his wife Annie at the meeting on January 14th. Howard came to support of a bunch of very sharp high school students who found an appreciative audience of Rotarians who came early at the request of Immediate Past President Arthur Rogers. The students presented a “case study” of Facebook as part of the Leaders of Tomorrow Program sponsored by the National Black MBA Association. It was great to see Howard and as the pictures illustrate, he seems to be glad to be with us too.HowardClementweb

Program Report: NCCU Buisness School – Dean Keith Pigues

PiguesWebOkay, the big crowd wasn’t really there for Todd Taylor’s Rotary Minute, at least most of them. Many were there for a presentation before the meeting of a “business case” developed by several very sharp high school students that are part of the Leaders of Tomorrow program of the National Black MBA Association, a favorite organization of long time Rotarian and City Councilman Howard Clement and his wife Annie.  Most of the guests also stayed for the program provided by Dean Keith Pigues of the NCCUBusinessSchool.

One of the students sat down at my table and politely inquired what each of us did.  After meeting a lawyer, an electronics guru and a physician, there was clear surprise in her eyes when I announced that I was a plumbing associate at Home Depot. Like Todd, I’ve had many career lives, but, as my wise pappy used to say, “Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.” I mention this because the view you get of business at the bottom of the chain of command is quite a bit different than that shared by management or seen by MBA candidates doing case studies.  In fact, I often joke with customers wondering in frustration why Home Depot carries parts for one faucet but not the one they bought that it was a mystery to me but undoubtedly the decision of some MBA at their headquarters in Atlanta noodling on a spreadsheet.

With that perspective, it was very refreshing to hear Dean Pigues present a vision of where he is taking NCCU to make the school and its graduates more relevant in the real world. Listen up Home Depot, you may want to send some recruiters to NCCU. [Read more…]