Community Service

The Community Service committees include the East Durham Children's Initiative, the Poinsettia Fundraiser, The Scholarship Committee and the Salvation Army Bell Ringing Committee.

More Attention for the Reading Rangers

JayEditorialCommunications guru Mark Lazenby has worked with Vice President and Chief Reading Ranger Todd Taylor and Ranger Jay Zenner to get placement of a guest column by Jay in the Herald-Sun through Herald-Sun editor Bob Ashley.  Over the years, Bob has been part of club programs and supported many of our efforts to publicize our efforts. This particular effort was targeted at expanding the volunteer base of the Reading Rangers by showing that even a reluctant Ranger often can do something  for a kid and feel great about becoming part of “the village” needed to prepare our children for a good life and good citizenship.

This kind of placement is about as good as it gets in a general circulation newspaper but we can increase it’s impact through social media. The link below is to the column on the Herald-Sun’s excellent website. You can help by sharing it in your own social media accounts including, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc. Let’s “go viral” with the message that if a grouchy old guy that can read can help a kid, than you can too.

Where is Matt Dees?

MattDeesReadingRangerWe miss our friend Matt Dees, especially those of us on the Communications Committee who appreciated his service in the rotation of reporters covering the weekly programs and his challenge to us to be better writers.  As most of you may know, Matt is on a leave of absence because of the press of duties on his real job with Durham Magazine and its sister publications. But Matt is still an active Reading Ranger as this blog post on the Durham Magazine blog attests.  Below is the full text of his post but see it on the magazine site itself by clicking on this link ( and commenting like many of his fellow Reading Rangers and others have done.

When you are finished with that share the link on your Facebook pages and let’s make this Reading Ranger viral.  Matt, what’s with the tee-shirt?

Join the Reading Rangers

The picture above is me with my pal, Alex, a third-grader at Y.E. Smith Elementary School. It was taken on the next-to-last day of school, hence his big smile and thumbs up. 

I’ve been meeting with Alex once a week for most of this school year, doing my best to help him sharpen his reading skills. I worked with a host of other third-graders last year as part of the Reading Rangers program, organized by the Durham Rotary Club. Dozens of Rangers stop into the school at least once a week, and others head over to Neal Middle School to help out there.

Y.E. Smith has a lot going for it these days, starting with its amazing principal, Letisha Judd, who was featured in our 2013 Women’s Issue. But there are still plenty of students who could use extra help with reading, not to mention another positive adult influence.

It’s cliche, but this really is one of those deals where you may get more out of it than the child does. I treasure my Wednesday afternoons with Alex. He’s a good kid, lots of fun and quick with a joke. And he’s made steady progress all along the way. 

The Reading Rangers program has been a success thus far. But Rotary organizers would like to grow it at Y.E. Smith and Neal and eventually expand to other schools. And they need your help.

You DO NOT need to be a member of Rotary to be a Reading Ranger. Contact Todd Taylor at or 919-680-5030 to find out how you can get involved next school year, or even over the summer. I can tell you from experience, you’ll be glad you did. 

Books on Break Caps Reading Rangers Second Year

Books on Break thank you 2 In early May 2014, the Durham Rotary Club partnered with Book Harvest and Y.E. Smith Elementary School to offer “Books on Break.”

Every student selected 10 books each to take home right before summer break. More than 50 volunteers distributed 4,070 books to 407 pre-K-5th graders over three days. The students were ecstatic and the volunteers really enjoyed serving as “personal shoppers” to help students select their books. It was a lot of fun! Books on Break is designed to help combat summer learning loss, help students arrive back at school in the fall ready to learn, and help develop a love of reading.

Books on Break capped the second year of a volunteer tutoring program created by The Durham Rotary Club to promote student literacy at Y.E. Smith Elementary School year with good results and plans for growth.Books on Break Debra

“We’ve been at it nearly 24 months, and we think we’re in a good position,” Todd E. Taylor, vice president of Durham Rotary and founder of  “The Rotary Reading Rangers” project, said.  The club is partnering with the East Durham Children’s Initiative to pair individual, trained volunteer tutors with select K-5 students at Y.E. Smith.

Books on Break Wendy Jacobs“Ultimately, we’ll expand into other schools,” Taylor said.

This year, the rangers had nearly 40 tutors who volunteered more than 525 hours of one-on-one support to more than 30 students.  School Principal Letisha Judd said some students have shown measurable reading progress of up to a full school year.

The Rangers program is open to all interested people – with or without Rotary affiliation – who are willing to be trained and are willing to volunteer a minimum of 1 hour per week at the school.

The Rangers are backed by other Rotary clubs in Durham and across the Triangle region and District 7710, home to 46 clubs.  Rotary has contributed more than $24,000 to Durham literacy and scholarship programs, collected over 54,000 books to give to local children, and provided nearly $100,000 in school supplies and donations to area programs.Books on Break Vol

Books on Break, a cornerstone program of Book Harvest, made its Y.E. Smith debut May 6 with the help of volunteers from Durham Rotary.  Overall, about 60 volunteers served as personal shoppers for more than 400 students who filled summer book bags provided by Rotary with 10 books each.

To learn more visit

Submitted by Mimi O’Brian and Mark Lazenby

Books on Break Thank you 1

Books on Break – Special Award to Mimi O’Brian

ROTARY512 017OBrianReading Rangers Commander Todd Taylor presented a living, growing award to fellow Rotarian Mimi O’Brian for helping organize and working every single shift of the Books on Break project at Y.E Smith.  The did it with pizzazz, were Dr. Suess Cat in the Hat hats, distributing 10 books for each YE Smith Student and book bag with the Rotary Wheel.  This is a very special Service Above Self Award for a special Rotarian.

Feeding Durham

Feeding Durham

Hunger remains a serious problem in Durham.  You can help feed one individual and together we can feed our community.

Feeding Durham:  Cans 4 Our Community is a Rotary led community food drive.  Durham area Rotary clubs are partnering with Durham County Department of Social Services, Duke University, North Carolina Central University and Durham Technical Community College to support the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and food pantries in Durham.

The Feeding Durham:  Cans 4 Our Community campaign will run from December 12, 2013, to January 20, 2014.

During the campaign, purchase an extra can or two of needed food items (see below) when you visit a participating Kroger grocery store to shop for your family and drop off the items in the containers provided at the store.  You can also drop off needed items at any of the partner locations.  For a printable list of most needed items, click here.

To celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, donated food items can be dropped off at Durham Technical Community College on January 20, 2014.  Additionally, students from Duke University, North Carolina Central University, Durham Technical Community College and Rotarians will be packaging 100,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now!  Every year, Stop Hunger Now provides millions of nutritious meals and other life-saving aid to children and families all over the world. Stop Hunger Now collaborates with existing development efforts in vulnerable communities internationally to provide meals to places such as schools, orphanages, nurseries and medical clinics.

Sign up for the Stop Hunger Now! meals packing event at Durham Tech, Monday January 20, at

The Problem:

Many individuals in Durham struggle each day to provide enough food for themselves and their families.  In recent months, the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina and local food pantries are seeing unprecedented increases in demand for food. The Durham Branch of the Food Bank has experienced a 29% growth in distribution over the last four years.  Additionally, recent computer problems at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services left many Durham families unable to access the food stamps they depend on, so supplies at local food pantries and soup kitchens were left depleted.  They need our help to restock their supplies, so that individuals and families at risk of hunger can continue to be served.

According to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, “over 96,000 individuals are at risk of hunger in the area served by the Durham Branch of the Food Bank.  Nearly 30 percent of the people served by the Food Bank’s network are children, and another 8 percent are elderly. 30 percent of the families served are the “working poor,” people who work hard and still have to choose between eating and other basic necessities such as medicine and housing.”

To learn more about the need in Durham County, click here.

The Food Bank Solution:

Established in 1980, the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina is a nonprofit organization that has provided food for people at risk of hunger in 34 counties in central and eastern North Carolina for over 30 years. The Food Bank serves a network of more than 800 partner agencies such as soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and programs for children and adults through distribution centers in Durham, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, the Sandhills (Southern Pines) and Wilmington. In fiscal year 2012-2013, the Food Bank distributed nearly 52 million pounds of food and non-food essentials through these agencies.


  • The Feeding Durham:  Cans 4 Our Community campaign will accept monetary donations and canned goods from December 12, 2013 to January 20, 2014.
  • On January 20, 2014, Rotarians will be located outside Durham Technical Community College, 1637 E Lawson St, Durham, NC 27703, and donors are asked to bring canned goods to help support the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina and local food pantries.  Volunteers from the four Durham Rotary clubs will be available to collect supplies as they arrive.
  • In addition, donors may also drop off supplies during normal business hours at any of the collection locations (see, Partners) listed below.
  • Financial donations can also be made to the Food Bank from their website at  Financial contributions will be used to purchase additional food.  For every dollar donated, the Food Bank can provide $10 worth of food or five meals.
  • Individuals are encouraged to drop off canned goods, and businesses and organizations are encouraged to host their own drives.

At local Kroger Supermarkets:

  • Purchase pre-packaged boxes with items most requested by the Food Bank.  (The boxes are available in all stores and cost $10.95 each for anyone wishing to have a quick way to donate.)
  • Coins can be donated in coin donation boxes at store registers
  • Use the drop-off bins to easily donate non-perishable items

Most needed items include:

  • Canned Meals: Stews, Soups, Tuna, Ravioli, Lasagna, etc. (Pop-top cans a plus!)
  • Peanut Butter, Canned Vegetables
  • Grains: Cereal, Rice, Pasta and Dried Beans
  • Fruits: Fruit cups, Dried Fruit, Applesauce, 100% Juice and Juice Boxes
  • Rice, Pasta and Dried Beans
  • Kid-Friendly Items: Granola Bars, Popcorn, Graham or Animal Crackers, Fat-free/Sugar-free Pudding Cups
  • Baby Products: Diapers, Wipes, Formula, Infant Cereal
  • Hygiene Items: Toothpaste, Feminine Products, Shaving Items, Hand Sanitizer, Soap, etc.
  • Paper Products: Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, etc.

(Please – No loose glass and plastic jars of baby food as they will have to be discarded due to health regulations)



Durham Technical Community College Campus Harvest Food Pantry – 1637 Lawson Street, Durham, NC 27703

Durham Rescue Mission – 507 E Knox St, Durham, NC 27701

Urban Ministries of Durham – 410 Liberty St, Durham, NC 27701

Durham County

  • Human Services Campus  – Main Lobby – 414 E. Main Street, Durham, NC 27701
  • County Administration Building – Lobby  – 200 East Main Street, Durham, NC 27701
  • Durham County Center – (Cooperative Extension) – 721 Foster St., Durham, NC 27701

Durham County Library

  1. Main Library – 300 N. Roxboro Street, 
Durham, NC 27701
  2. East Regional Library – 211 Lick Creek Lane
, Durham, NC 27703
  3. North Regional Library – 221 Milton Road
, Durham, NC 27712
  4. South Regional Library – 4505 S. Alston Road, 
Durham, NC 27713
  5. Southwest Regional Library – 3605 Shannon Road
, Durham, NC 27707

Kroger Supermarkets

  1. 3457 Hillsborough Road, Durham, NC 27705

Boy Scouts of America – Occoneechee Council


For more information:  Call or email Joyce McKinney – Assistant Governor, Durham area Rotary Clubs; Phone: 919-308-2176; E-mail

Click here to download the campaign flyer.


About Rotary International

Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. There are 1.2 million Rotary members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary clubs have been serving communities worldwide for more than a century.

Southwest Durham Rotary Club – Meets Thursdays at Hope Valley Country Club – 12:30 PM

Durham Rotary Club – Meets Mondays at the Durham Convention Center – 12:30 PM

North Durham Rotary Club – Meets Tuesdays at Parizade Cafe – 12:30 PM

Durham Sunrise Rotary Club – Meets Thursdays at the Millennium Hotel – 7:00 AM

About Durham County Department of Social Services

The Durham County Department of Social Services invests in the safety and stability of families, elderly, and disabled adults.  The agency also invests in meeting basic economic needs, provides access to health care and nutrition to improve health status and helps people to find jobs, develop strong work habits and create a career path.

About Duke University

The mission of Duke University is to provide a superior liberal education to undergraduate students, attending not only to their intellectual growth but also to their development as adults committed to high ethical standards and full participation as leaders in their communities; to prepare future members of the learned professions for lives of skilled and ethical service by providing excellent graduate and professional education; to advance the frontiers of knowledge and contribute boldly to the international community of scholarship; to promote an intellectual environment built on a commitment to free and open inquiry; to help those who suffer, cure disease, and promote health, through sophisticated medical research and thoughtful patient care; to provide wide ranging educational opportunities, on and beyond our campuses, for traditional students, active professionals and life-long learners using the power of information technologies; and to promote a deep appreciation for the range of human difference and potential, a sense of the obligations and rewards of citizenship, and a commitment to learning, freedom and truth.

About North Carolina Central University

The mission of North Carolina Central University is to prepare students academically and professionally to become leaders prepared to advance the consciousness of social responsibility in a diverse, global society. The university will serve its traditional clientele of African-American students; it will also expand its commitment to meet the educational needs of a student body that is diverse in race and other socioeconomic qualities

About Durham Technical Community College

Durham Technical Community College’s mission is to enrich students’ lives and the broader community through teaching, learning, and service.

About Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina

The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina is a nonprofit organization that has provided food for people at risk of hunger in 34 counties in central and eastern North Carolina for more than 30 years.  In fiscal year 2012-2013, the Food Bank distributed nearly 52 million pounds of food and non-food essentials through a network of more than 800 partner agencies.

Emily K Scholarship Winner – Geraldo Cruz Garza

EmilyKBrownScholarshipwebGerardo Cruz Garza is holding the plaque Durham Rotary created for the Emily K Center to present to him and acknowledge his achievement at their year end celebration. Geraldo just graduated from Cedar Ridge High School.  He attended the Emily K Center’s Scholars to College program for four years, and will be matriculating at Guillford College.  He plans to double major in French and Spanish as well as complete pre-med courses to further his goals of becoming a physician.  He received the Brown Family Scholarship, which honors the memory of Fred (a former Durham Rotarian) and his wife Shirley, who believed in supporting the educational advancement of deserving economically challenged students in our community.

Geraldo is pictured with former District Judge Craig Brown representing the Brown Family and Meg Solera, Durham Rotary Vice President.