Program Report: Community Service Award – Charles Lyons

President Brady Surles introduced our Durham Police Chief, C. J. Davis, elegantly attired in “civies” for the occasion, to introduce this year’s overwhelming choice for the Community Service Award: Mr. Charles Lyons.  Mr. Lyons is Resident Safety Coordinator for the Durham Housing authority, where he has worked for some 29 years. He has for decades made extraordinary contributions to the life of at-risk young people in Durham, through programs such as Partners Against Crime, night-time basketball, Men of Vision and others.

Mr. Lyons began by giving honor to God and thanks for to Chief Davis for her nomination and to Durham Rotary for our selection — and to Selma, his lovely wife of 47 years.

“I am a firm believer, it’s not about you, it’s about those you serve” he began.  Mr. Lyons expressed his belief that at-risk kids should be involved as early as possible in activities, and in environments, that will help them to become productive citizens: “From Proverbs 27:17: ‘As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another’…Coaching, mentoring, the importance of building relationships, friendships, teamwork, life skills, sociability, caring, love, bring families together, showing commitment — all can stop gang wars, turf squabbles,…Save the children!”

Mr. Lyons went on to describe he own history in Chapel Hill and Durham. He values his own pre-school and would like to see universal pre-school for all kids now. His first idol is Ms. Lucille Caldwell, at the Hargraves Community Center, which he went to after school at Northside Elementary. Ms. Caldwell helped to raise thousands of kids.

Mr. Lyons went on to list a number of jobs while he was at school: shoe-shine, cut wood for a local church, shoveled coal to heat the community center. There was no money for college, so, after a spell at the Breckenridge Job Corps Center in Morganfield Kentucky, Mr. Lyons returned to NC and joined the USAF, where he served with distinction and retired as a Senior NCO after 20 years.

In 1988 Mr. L worked as fulltime teacher assistant, coached basketball recommended by Coach Willie Bradshaw, a Durham legend.  He then because Program Director for the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club in 1989 and later became Executive Director.

Joshua Dorsette, who succeeded Mr. Lyons as Executive Director, also gave testimony to his contributions to the youth of the Durham community.

“If everyone in this room could spend some time with one troubled youth, be serious, give them a hug, show them you care…Reach one, Teach one!!” Mr. L has lived as he speaks, successfully coaching “untouchable” kids on tough communities: “I have lost 38-9 kids over the years, gone too soon. Saw a father put a Crip scarf in the coffin of one. Made him take it out. The kid being buried was one of my all-time favorites, who went the wrong way, but had a heart of gold…”

Mr. L went on to list several people saved by one of the programs with which he has been associated, including Brian Johnson, onetime president of Tuskegee University, and Razor Shines of the Montreal Expos.

In introducing the program, Chair of the Selection Committee, Dieter Mauch covered the selection process and mentioned several previous winners.

Mr. L reminisced about some of these previous winners of the Community Service Award with whom he has worked: Ray Frederick (Bouncing Bulldogs), Dr. Walker, NCCU coach, Dr. Joe Moylan, Mr. McDonald (TROSA).  Mr. L currently serves on several boards: men of Vision, Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, Thomas Mentoring Leadership Academy, Durham Nativity School, Union Baptist Church Samaritan Men. These groups have taken Durham’s young people on trips to many destinations, from Quantico to plantations in N & S. Carolina.

“…help a child, hug a child, love a child, stop the pipelines to our prisons! Much love to you all…”

Mr. Lyons ended his talk to a standing ovation.


MLK Day of Service Meal Packing Event

Hello, fellow Rotarians:

Last week you received an email regarding our upcoming annual day of service when we will package 100,000 meals on the MLK Day Holiday – this year it falls on Monday, January 21, 2019.  Here is the link to sign up:

We are also conducting a food drive, beginning immediately: In addition to packing meals, we will be collecting non-perishable food items to re-stock the food pantries at Durham Tech and North Carolina Central University after the holidays.  We are asking our local Rotary clubs to consider collecting non-perishables at each club meeting for the next 6 weeks leading up to the event.  Please ask members to bring donations to your club meeting; or, if they are volunteering on January 21, bring donations to the event.

The most-needed items are as follows:

Protein: cans or pouches of tuna, salmon, or chicken; peanut butter (jelly or jam too!
Shelf-stable microwaveable or canned meals such as chili, beef stew, ravioli, etc.
Rice (boxes or microwaveable pouches)
Pasta, noodles, and jarred or canned pasta sauces; boxed macaroni and cheese mixes; ramen noodles
Dried or canned beans
Canned vegetables
Canned or dried fruit
Cereal, granola bars

Thanks as always for your generosity and support!

Carver Weaver

Paul Harris Fellow Award – Dallas Stallings

After Dallas Stallings presented a Paul Harris Fellowship award to Dr. Cathleen Colon-Emric, Club Foundation Chair Andy Esser presented Dallas with his Paul Harris Plus Six pin. Besides being the Area Foundation Chair Dallas also preceded Andy as Chair of our Club and took the program to new levels. Congratulations Dallas.

Paul Harris Fellow Award – Cathleen S Colon-Emeric

Area Foundation Chairman Dallas Stallings presented a Paul Harris Fellow to Doctor Cathleen Colon-Emric, the daughter of Rotarian Harvey Sellner and his wife Calla. Here is the presentation that Dallas delivered.

She was born into a family where the values of Rotary’s mottos, “Service Above Self” and “Doing Good In the World” were always articulated in life style and practice even though at that time there was no Rotarian in the family.  From an early age she began to pattern her own life  around these same values, a life style that has followed her from childhood to professional life.

She was first introduced to Rotary by volunteering for four years with her junior scout troop serving pancakes at the annual Rotary Community holiday pancake breakfast.  “Service Above Self.”  As a Girl Scout she continued to take the idea of service seriously by working with younger Scouts, teaching them camping skills and then taking them camping to practice the skills they had practiced  — and no matter the kind of weather present on those camping trips.  As a Senior Scout she became the leader of a younger troop of girls, instilling in them the same love of scouting that she had.  Using her love of singing and organizational skills, she often led fellow scouts in camp fire sing-a-longs, eventually leading to a Council-wide song fest for 1200 Girl Scouts….”Doing Good in the World.”  And as a parent scouting was never far from her mind as she changed from green of Girl Scouts to the Kahaki of Boy Scouts as she and her husband worked along side their two sons on their trail to the Eagle Scout Award.

In High School she was selected as program director for an international Girl Scout/Girl Guide Wider Opportunity which led to her receiving  Girl Scouting’s highest award   — The Gold Award.  Again, “Doing Good in the World.”

Upon graduating as Valedictorian, she headed to Cornell where she continued her life of service and where she selected as her dorm a community of students where volunteering in the community was emphasized.  Following Cornell our recipient  became a Big Sister in Baltimore while in graduate school at John Hopkins Medical School and today here in Durham she continues to live the values of service in her professional work, still putting “Service Above Self.”

Today she is a professor of medicine and Division Chair of Geriatrics, specializing in geriatrics,  at Duke Medical Center and VA Hospitals where she places emphasis in the areas of male osteoporosis and hip fractures.  Still “Doing Good in the World.”

Today on behalf of The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and her parents I am pleased to Award a Paul Harris Fellowship to Dr. Cathleen Colon-Emeric and I invite her to come forward with her parents Harvey and Calla

Poinsettia Time Again

Please support our Poinsettia project!

Last year we created the Lois R. Cranford Learning Legacy Fund to honor Lois who cared passionately about our community and was a dedicated and active Rotarian. Lois was involved in many of our projects but she championed the poinsettia project. The poinsettia project serves 2 purposes, to support the “Lois” Fund and to thank the first responders in our community with these poinsettias. We will be delivering the poinsettias to the Durham Police Department as well as to the Fire Department. We also will work with a local nonprofit to help share the spirit of the holiday season with those less fortunate.

A donation of $20 will purchase 2 poinsettias. You can write a check, make a cash donation or make a donation via credit card after the meeting. Checks should indicate in the memo line that this is for the Poinsettia Project. Thank you for making this a special holiday for special people in our community.

Submitted by Kim Shaw

Program Report: The New Class of Innovation Fellows

Club member, Ari Medoff, introduced the three newest Rotary Innovation Fellows to the club, briefly explained the background behind the Innovation Fellows program and pointing out that with the support of a fund, the Rotary Innovations Fellows can now apply for a $2,000 grant to support the efforts of their ventures. He then turned the podium over to each of them to explain their ventures and report progress of them.

Camryn Smith is Executive Director of Communities in Partnership. She said that it started out about six to seven years ago as an effort to create a safe space in their neighborhood in Old East Durham.  It has grown to be a holistic effort at community development for Afro-American People and other Communities as well. She explained that it focuses on areas of Racial Equity, Leadership Development, Health Care and Wellness and is also involved with the purchase of housing stock that can provide affordable housing for those working and living in Durham’s gentrifying neighborhoods. She has been at this for about seven years and cites Self Help Credit Union, Duke Healthcare, the Durham Merchant’s Association and others who have been great help to her. She said that they have developed a Food Co-op and are partnering with Durham Tech for new business ideas. Website:

Cecilia Polanci opened with the fact that she just turned 26 and that her father came to the U.S. from El Salvador when he was 26. She said that she has been three years in Durham and has a food truck called “So Good Pupusas, A Taste of El Salvador.” While she has ambitions to expand to another food truck or a storefront, she is also focused on helping others. She is an ally of undocumented people and created a non-profit scholarship program called P4E, that is helping 5 students. She is a graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill and was able to attend due to scholarship assistance. She is dreaming big about possibilities for others and is particularly in need of help on how to grow endowments in order to make that happen. Website:

Tobias Rose is the Principle/Owner of Kompleks Creative, a venture that he started from his dorm room at NC Central University. Now located downtown on Black Wall Street at 106 Parrish Street, their focus on helping people “do what they like” through branding, web site design and other creative work with a focus now on clients in Durham. As they refocused on the local market, they noticed that there was a pronounced lack of Venture Capital Help for Black-owned businesses. That led them to found Black Wall Street Homecoming, a three-day series of entertainment, speakers, workshops and networking opportunities. Over five years the event has grown and attracted some of the top publications and experts on Entrepreneurship, including a recent appearance by the editorial staff of “Fast Company.” They are continuing to look at new initiatives as they grow. Website:

Submitted by Doug Butler