Program Report: Centennial Community Service

DonStanger at wrap-upWebCentennial Co-Chairs Don Stanger and Brady Surles shared the podium to provide a wrap-up before the end of the year of the Community Service aspect of the centennial milestone. Our chief fundraisers, Susan Ross and Andy Esser also shared the results of those efforts.

There were a lot of numbers and they were all good. We’ve blown past the fund raising goal and we’re now at $265,812. Ditto for the 100 Acts of Service where we are over 2000 and headed for 3000. All in all, it was an excellent summary of a year’s worth of activities with details and pictures. The PowerPoint that accompanied it is well worth clicking through to see a lot of smiling faces of Rotarians and some of the beneficiaries of the 100 Acts.  The links to the two pdfs are here and here.

All that detail presents a challenge to this reporter to pick the right things to summarize the summary. Should I note the breakdown of the uses of the funds? I could easily dwell on the Habitat House and the Habitat Family that were guests of the club at the meeting? Maybe highlight the active participation of so many Rotarians on a beautiful fall weekend at Centerfest? Or maybe the partnership that brought about the construction of toilets in Pune India.?

Rather than do try to do that, let’s step back and reflect a moment on what the original objectives were before the signs of “centennial fatigue” begin to show around the edges.

The first objective was to celebrate and reflect on the first hundred years. We’ve done that remarkably well. We’ve honored long time members, past presidents, and our history. Still to come is a written history of the last 25 years and a wrap-up celebration at the marvelous 21C Hotel.

The second objective was to prime the pump for the next 100 years and beyond.  We’ve had some extremely generous financial contributions from major donors to provide a solid underpinning for future activities and everyone in the club at the beginning of the Centennial Year has made some contribution.

BradyCentennialWrapupJust as important, the Centennial did something I really haven’t seen like this in all my years in Rotary. This was the effort to recruit and even badger everyone to participate in what Rotary is known for, Service Above Self. Some of the biggest beneficiaries of this were the many non-profits led by members including Habitat, Urban Ministries, EDCI, the Rescue Mission, the Carolina Theatre, the Senior Center, the Arts Council and others. There were so many things going on in Education that they had to be pulled together in one large committee to keep a handle on them. Partnerships became a big idea especially in the International Committee where other clubs locally and around the world and Sister Cities came together to tackle bigger goals.  All the people involved in organizing and supporting these efforts from Don and Brady all the way down to the humble communications committee contributed hundreds of hours that weren’t recorded as official Acts of Service.

One sign that we have been successful in creating the momentum needed to keep growing in service are the trends in membership, attendance and participation. Even such mundane things as the pot in the weekly raffle seem to be going in the right direction.

One thing that can never be completely documented are all the stories that this service generates that enrich us through getting to know our fellow Rotarians, people in need, our community, and ourselves.  Listening to Tom Kern recruiting for this year’s bell ringing, I can remembered vividly how wonderful the coffee tasted after spending an hour standing in front of WalMart one frigid December morning and how I was struck by the generosity of people that obviously didn’t have much and often parents teaching theirs kids to give.

BaradaHabitatFamilyWebSeeing Placide Barada and the new Habitat family recalled a moment on an earlier Habitat House working with Andy Barada and being struck by this dimension in a person I had known as a neighbor and Rotarian but not as a carpenter.

Another vivid memory I have is the shy smile of recognition from the beautiful 1st grader I saw in the hall at YE Smith that I had tutored the year before using flash cards and tissue to wipe her nose. Every time I drove over to YE Smith last year, I felt a little ashamed that I had spent more time in East Durham in three years of Reading Rangers than I had the previous 20 plus years put together and still called myself a citizen of Durham. I learned that it’s not scary and is part of the wonderful texture of Durham that I was barely aware of.

Yep, the motto is Service above Self, which sounds very noble. But it could easily be Give a Little Service, Grow a Little Self.

Ringing Bells for Salvation Army

Rotary-Bell-Ringers-12-12-15webRotarians filled 90 time slots, resulting in 90 Acts of Service!

Many thanks to all who helped with this great service project and to Tom Kerns for organizing it.

In the picture new member Emily Oliver and Past President Susan Ross take their turns ringing the bells.


Centerfest Successful!

The 41st Annual Centerfest Arts Festival on September 19 – 20 was a huge success in its fourth year back in the heart of Downtown Durham. We had perfect festival weather and record attendance! A total of 34,765 people enjoyed great art and lively performances in downtown Durham throughout the 2-day weekend!  (last year was 26,377).

Thank You to the Rotary Club of Durham for playing a BIG role in creating a wonderful 2015 CenterFest Arts Festival!  On behalf of the Durham Arts Council Board and Staff, we are truly grateful to the 41 Durham Rotarians and three spouses plus 8 members from other Durham Rotary Clubs who covered really important cash positions at the festival Gates and Coke Booths.  Thank you for your enthusiasm, dedication and friendly welcome to all who came to CenterFest! 

The festival this year showcased 144 visual artists from 16 states, 70 performing artists and groups on six stages, over 40 community nonprofit, civic and government groups, great festival food, a Beer Garden with entertainment into Saturday evening, a fun Kids Zone, and many new festival activities.

There are also a lot of great shots on Instagram at #centerfest

Little Libraries Built

We’ve seen at a several meetings the Little Library that was built by the JOE Houde and Todd Taylor and painted by our resident artist Carolyn Aaronson.  As part of the 9/11 community service day Durham Rotary teamed up to recruit almost two dozen volunteers to build and paint nine more of the “share one, leave one” little lending libraries that will be located around town.

The event was organized by Rotarians Forrest Perry of the YMCA, JOE Houde and Todd Taylor of Duke Corporate Education.

Houde is working with the East Durham Children’s Initiative and the Little Free Library national organization to find good sites in Durham.  Partners such as Book Harvest and the Durham Public Library along with independent donation drives such as the one held by the YMCA and Duke Corporate Education will provide books to stock the boxes.

About two dozen volunteers helped assemble and paint the new Little Libraries at “the Cage” at the American Tobacco Campus.  “We had several children really get into the painting” Houde said. “Several of the boxes are signed with little handprints.”

The Little Free Libraries provide locations where all varieties of books can be contributed, taken, returned and swapped out.  Little Libraries is a movement that has built and placed over 30,000 of these structures around the world.  The website of the organization is and it’s goal is to build literacy friendly neighborhoods.

“These facilities will dovetail nicely into our overall literacy efforts in the community,” said Todd Taylor, founder of the club’s popular “Reading Ranger” literacy and tutoring program at YE Smith Elementary School that encourages reading in the school year.  As a way to promote year-round reading through the summer months, the Durham Rotary Club partners with Book Harvest and other organizations to equip schoolchildren with summer book supplies.

“If the kids are that hungry for books, we will certainly try to feed that desire for new material,” Taylor said.

Rotary “Sponsors” Centerfest, Sept 19-20

KayCenerfestwebPast president Kay Gresham shared details about our Centerfest invollvement.

Our Rotary Club is a major Sponsor of Centerfest, the big Arts Festival of
the Durham Arts Council, Sat and Sun, Sept 19 – 20, with 26,000 in attendance.
This is a great opportunity to get our Rotary message to the public,
and DAC is counting on lots of Rotarians to make it successful.

Rotary-Centerfest-email-banner web
As a Palladium Sponsor, here is what is involved:

— Our Club will be listed in the Program Guide as an official sponsor -with our logo.
— We can wear our Rotary Aprons as volunteers
— Our Club will have Rotary banners at two of the entrance gates
— Our Club’s name will be on the volunteer t-shirts as a sponsor
— Saturday will be designated “Rotary Day at Centerfest”
— Rotary will have a “Sponsor’s Tent–Rotary Booth) (20′ x 20′) for all Rotary Clubs
— Our Club made a financial donation for the festival as part of the
100 Acts of Service, plus we need to provide in-kind support as Volunteers
for the Entrance Gates and the Sales Booths (cokes and t-shirts).

Sign up for two hour shifts on
or sign up with Kay Gresham and Sherry DeVries before or after our meetings.

Fill the Bus Strives for Goal

Strategically located between two big suppliers of back to school supplies, Office Depot and Sam’s Club, Rotarians from the Durham Clubs collected lots of them Saturday in a big step towards reaching this years goal of $120,000 of supplies for Crayons2Calculators.

The interview of District Governor Newman Aguiar being filmed in one of the pictures can be found at the WNCN website here. Short but sweet!

If you missed the event, click through to the C2C website to make a donation.