The International Service Committees include the Group Study Exchange program or GSE, the World Community Service Committee, the Million Meals Project Committee, and the Rotary Foundation.

Foundation – Polio: We Are This Close

DallasStallingsPolioAt the Rotary International Convention thirty years ago, 1985, RI adopted a new challenge that seem unrealistic at the time.  Rotarians were challenged to begin a journey to eradicate Polio from the face of the earth.  Polio was a much dreaded disease at the time, leaving many people in our world, especially children, permanently crippled or worse. The theme slogan, END POLIO NOW,  has been a constant part of Rotary life ever sense.  Rotarians accepted this challenge in 1985 and today, thirty years later, we can actually see the end of Polio in sight.  According to recent reports from RI, there are only 36 active cases of Polio in the world today and they are in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

For years, now, as we have neared this goal of a Polio free world, we have been reminded by popular stars, politicians, ordinary people and a host of others that “We are this close…” to meeting our goal.  While this seems like a small goal in the remainder to a thirty year crusade, it really is not quite so simple.  Even if all current cases of Polio in these two areas were to be conquered, such areas must remain Polio Free for three years in a row to earn a clear certificate.

World Polio Day this year, then, has much for us to celebrate.  We will celebrate being “this close…” to eradicating a medical enemy that has crippled hundreds of thousands.  But we will also want to celebrate the lives of many volunteers who unfortunately lost their lives during this multi-year crusade.  They were murdered by people who sought to side-track this mighty effort.

To celebrate this year, join Durham Rotary Club in a walk around Duke’s East Campus on October 24.  Our club has invited clubs from other parts of the world with whom we have partnered in many RI projects to join us on this walk.   Wear your End Polio Now pin as a reminder to others.  Purchase and give a pin to a friend and encourage her/him to also wear it. And consider making a gift.  “We are this close…”, but we are not there yet.  We still need your financial involvement.

Hope to see you on the walk on October 24 at East Campus.

Dallas Stallings – Foundation Chair

Paul Harris Fellow Awards to Don Stanger and Newman Aguiar

Foundation Chair Dallas Stallings presented Paul Harris Fellow awards to Past President Don Stanger and Past President and current District Governor Newman Aguiar. For Don it was his PHF Plus 3. For Newman it was PHF Plus 7. Congratulation to these two exceptional Rotarians.

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Special Presentation of a Paul Harris Fellow Award

Sara Marks, Lisa Gwyther and Nancy Marks

Sara Marks, Lisa Gwyther and Nancy Marks

Nancy and Sara Marks present a Paul Harris Fellow Award to someone who has been special in their lives and the life of the Durham community.

Come back with me for a moment to October, 1981.  Picture if you will a small conference room in Duke Medical Center.  Present with me are Sara, my daughter, Dr. Sandy Marks, my brother in-law (a retired dental missionary), and a young neurologist from South Africa.  We were there for a consult concerning my husband, Ham Marks – a very physically healthy, handsome, and amenable fellow who seemed to have some memory problems that none of our long-time physicians in Wilmington could diagnose.  Ham was a Past District Governor with 47 years of perfect attendance, and had attended 21 International Conventions, usually serving as a Sargent at Arms or Delegate to the Legislative sessions.  He was extraordinarily active in his church and community, had designed and with the help of a carpenter built our very comfortable log cabin home on Masonboro Sound, and loved building and fixing things in his workshop.

The young neurologist quietly said to us,

“Mr. Marks exhibits Alzheimer‘s-like symptoms – a terminal memory problem.  We don’t know what causes it, or how to treat it, or how long it will last – but it will only get worse.  He will require 24-hour-a-day care for the rest of his life, and must not operate any machinery of any type.”

Now, at that time, I could still process new information fairly well – but not in this situation.  The man could tear down and rebuild a motor in record time.  In dismay, I asked, “Is there anything we can read?  Is there anyone we can speak with?”

The doctor gave me contact information for a young social worker with the Department of Aging at Duke Medical Center.  In 1980, Lisa Gwyther had started a program called, “The Duke Family Support Program for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders” – a program she still directs.

For the next 14 years, Lisa was always as close as the telephone.  Through:

  • 4 years of day care (a brand new program in Wilmington)
  • 1 ½ years of special unit care in Durham, because there were none in Wilmington.

And when Ham literally forgot how to walk, back to Wilmington for

  • 8 ½ years of skilled nursing home care.

For questions about behavior modification, possible use of medications, suggestions for professional caregivers, or just an understanding ear willing to listen, Lisa Gwyther was always there.  Multiply our experience by hundreds and hundreds of North Carolina Alzheimer’s families;

– plus several trips to Wilmington and other communities to help train staff at day care centers and nursing homes in appropriate ways to deal with dementia patients;

– while writing unending articles for local, state, and national publications, plus a number of books on the topic;

– and for 25 consecutive years here in Durham, planning and running one of the best attended and most successful two-day conferences in the country for both family and professional caregivers.

So, for over 35 years of serving as an exemplary example of Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self,” to Alzheimer’s families everywhere, Sara and I are so very pleased to present Lisa Gwyther as the Durham Rotary Club’s newest Paul Harris Fellow!

Editor’s note: For more information about the program that Lisa Gwyther has developed at Duke click this link



Foundation News: Paul Harris Fellows and a Bequest

rotary 8 10 15 007RossMarkswebFoundation Chair Dallas Stallings awarded at Paul Harris Plus 3 pin to Dave Ross and a Paul Harris Plus 4 pin to Nancy Marks. Congratulations to Dave and Nancy.

Bob Yowell also announced the receipt of a bequest to the Foundation from the estate of Dr. Edward S. Williams who was president of the club in 1992-1993 who died last November at the age of 85.

rotary 8 10 15 006YowelweblBob also read a letter from Past District Governor Charlie Hatch thanking Bob, Slade Crumpton and Bob’s team for playing in the golf tournament in June and helping raise $19,000 for the Boys and Girls Home at Lake Waccamaw. This is an annual event for Rotarians and Bob extended the invitation for others to join and play.

Paul Harris Award: Ernie Roessler

ErnieRoesllerPHFWebKen Lundstrom awards Ernie Roessler his Paul Harris Plus 1 award with congratulations.

Exchange Student Returns Home

Exchange4webRotary Exchange Student Enrico Pappalardo has charmed many Rotarians but especially Janene Tompkins and Shannon Leskin  and President Vandana shown here after Enrico addressed the club to thank them for hosting him. Taking a cue from BC Dash, Enrico’s jacket was festooned with souvenir pins from his visit.Exchange1Web