Program Report: Nick Malinowski – Kidznotes

I’m always impressed by the hidden talents of my fellow Rotarians, and listening to Nick Malinowski’s a capella rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Gonna Come” as he introduced Monday’s program was no exception – it left me with goosebumps. Particularly after he explained that the song was a favorite of one of his former music students, Vanessa Williams (not THAT Vanessa Williams, but a rock star in her own right).

Nick was introduced by Rotarian Lucia Powe, a co-founder and Board Member Emeritus of Kidznotes and one of it’s most passionate supporters.

Nick had recently left a position as Music Director at KIPP Delta Public Schools in Helena, AR, where he grew a K-12 music program from a single eight-voice choir to a three-choir program serving over 120 students including dance and music theater programs, a marching band, and an elementary school string ensemble. Nick had moved into the non-profit sector, serving as Community Programs Manager of the Seattle Opera, when his former students called to tell him Vanessa had died. Through the magical technology of Facetime and Skype, Nick helped arrange Vanessa’s favorite song so it could be included in her memorial service.

“Music is the greatest tool we have for creation of beauty and changing lives – not just music, but making music together,” Nick declares. He and his wife, Julia, returned to Durham from Seattle in January of 2016 so Nick could take the position of Program Director for Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit providing hands-on apprenticeship opportunities for students in Durham Public Schools. He took over the reins as Executive Director of Kidznotes in 2017 and has since worked tirelessly to “change lives through ever-expanding participation in youth orchestras, bands, and choirs.”

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New Member: Katina Rogers

Please welcome and introduce yourselves to new member Katina Rogers who was sponsored by Elisabeth Wiener and inducted by Membership Chair Shannon Leskin.  Here is some background provided by Ms. Rogers.

I had gotten my first taste of Rotary Club in Omaha Nebraska, where I grew up. My father was a master tailor and when a group of high ranking officers from the Strategic Air Command military base brought in a tattered flag one day, he quickly repaired it for free and gave it back to them beaming with pride. I learned from him and my mother that service towards others is a ‘must’. This pride for his new country was great and repairing the flag was considered an honor. He was taken to Rotary Club and honored for his patriotism and love of country.

Because language skills were lacking as a Greek immigrant, I went along with him to help translate and explain.  I was 14.  What impressed me even at this young age about Rotary Club was that this seemed like a very civic-minded group of Omaha’s leaders who were doing good things in the community.

Fast forward to today. My husband (Joseph Gordon Rogers) and I have moved to the Triangle. My husband is a cardiologist and currently CMO of Duke Health Systems. We moved in  2014 with high school-aged children and moved initially to Chapel Hill.  After our youngest graduated from high school, we moved to Durham to be closer to my husband’s work.

It was the best thing we could have done.

Durham has been a fantastic fit – our last 7 years have been full of tremendous friendships that we can now share in establishments and businesses in this city,  We have enjoyed watching the transformative changes come about in the Bull City and are so glad to be part of it.

I was hospital administrator in St Louis for Washington University Medical Center prior to coming here. Since moving to NC, I have started a home renovation company (AXIOS Holdings) and also a handcrafted purse and accessory line.

I  am most excited to get involved in Rotary, roll up my sleeves and, with guidance, be on the road to doing good deeds and giving back to a community that has so completely embraced us. I look forward to my time ahead in Rotary.

Christmas Program 2018


Our Christmas tradition for many years has been to have performances from musical groups from the Durham Public School System and this year was no exception. In recent years we have also had the pleasure of being serenaded by a chorus of Rotarians led by Vince Simonetti.

The school programs over the years usually have two separate groups. Sometimes, as happened last year, the performers in both groups are older students whose performances are more polished. This year the string group was The Orchestra Ensembles from Lucas Middle School and Northern High School directed by Ms. Maria Valencia. This was the more polished of the groups but we were also entertained by a chorus of younger students singing Christmas Carols called the Musical Manatees which is the 3rd-5th grade Elementary Chorus from Club Blvd Humanities Elementary School under the direction of Ms.Laura Siegel..  In these younger groups their enthusiasm makes up for any lack of polish. Your photographer was not close enough to get a picture of the one child that is REALLY into it and brings wide smiles.

Both groups deserved the standing ovations they got at the end of their performances.

This year, like several others, had the DPS Superintendent has been in attendance and we were honored to have Rotarian and Superintendent Pascal Mubenga address the group at the end of the performance. Dr. Mubenga, made a plea to visit the schools of the district and see the good work that is going on.  His point is well taken. The scoring systems that rank schools can totally miss that good work of education that is going on. Anyone that is or has been a Reading Ranger can vouch for this.

Also, becoming a tradition is Program Chair Steed Rollins introducing Mary Casey, who is the Director of  K-12 Arts Education in the system and works closely with Steed and Sharon to put on the program. Thank you Dr. Mubenga, Ms. Casey and the Durham Public School students for another great program.



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.