News & Notices

News from the club and its members and notices.

Program Report: Laura Benson – The Durham Partnership for Children

LauraBensonProgramwebLaura Benson, Executive Director of the Durham Partnership for Children was introduced by Past President Don Stanger. Ms. Benson, who is also an ordained Methodist minister, quipped that giving the microphone to a minister might make an audience a little leery.  She quickly put us at ease, not delivering a sermon, but meticulously laying out the reasons why the first 2000 days of a child’s life are so crucial to its intellectual, emotional, social and even economic future.  She then described the ways in which a multitude of programs in Durham are addressing those needs. [Read more…]

Rotary After Hours: Pompieri Pizza

Rotary After Hours journeyed back downtown to Seth Gross’ Pompieri Pizza on the corner of Mangum and City Hall Pizza  for the June Rotary After Hours. The beer was cold and the Pizza was great.

AdrianJaySethRAHRestaurateur Seth Gross welcomes Rotary After Hours Co-Chair Adrian Brown while Jay Zenner waits for his personalized pizza, the “BC Pie” with portobello mushrooms, goat cheese, roasted garlic, caramelized onion, rosemary, and olive oil. Delicious.

Adrian’s favorite and one of the best selling according to the staff is the the “Drunken Horse” which has a beer crust dough, spicy Italian house-made sausage (no horse meet,) rich red sauce, house mozzarella and olive oil.  Tom Krakauer shared his Margherita (marinara , house mozzarella, basil an olive oil) with Lois DeLoatch. Ducking the camera was co-chair Seth Jernigan who gobbled up the “White Florian” with ricotta, Pecorino, house mozzarella, fresh garlic and lemon oil.  SamBCRAH

Waiting for pizza bones (leftover crusts) are BC Dash, Sam Nichols and his wife Becky. They went hungry…there are few leftovers in this place. Thank you Vandana for the pics and for bringing your parents to liven up the crowd.

For more information and Pompieri Pizza’s full menu go to

Goodbye Marina!


Exchange Student Marina Souza from Brazil would up her stay in Durham as a guest of the Durham Rotary by presenting a banner to Vice President Todd Taylor from her home club. Marina wore a blazer with pins and insignia that are souvenirs from her adventures during her stay. During her stay Marina was a student at the Durham School for the Arts and participated in many extra-curricular activities.

Major Donor Award: Bob Yowell

Bob and Barbara YowellFoundation Chair Dallas Stallings presented  a very special award to Bob Yowell.  Bob was recognized as a Rotary Foundation Major Donor.  Major Donor status signifies that Bob has reached the $10,000. level of support for The Rotary Foundation.  He was awarded a pin for that level of giving and a crystal paperweight inscribed with his name.  Bob’s wife, Barbara, was also recognized by our club with  flowers to note the day and the special award.

There appears to be a gleam of approval in the eyes of the portrait on the wall behind Bob and Barbara. The portrait is of a man who lived in what we now call the Holy Land over two thousand years ago and who taught us about helping our neighbors and Service above Self, the virtue exemplified by this great Rotary couple.  The award was made at the Club’s “offsite” meeting at the Durham Rescue Mission.

Program Report: Ernie Mills – The Durham Rescue Mission

ErnieMillsJune2014Founded in 1974 by club member Ernie Mills and his wife Gail, the Durham Rescue Mission is Durham’s oldest and largest long-term shelter for homeless men, women and children.  Ernie was introduced by his Rotarian son Ernie, Jr., who gave a little background to his parents’ calling to provide safe shelter to the homeless.  No one invited them to Durham; no one provided financing or space.  After five years working with homeless in Winston-Salem, Ernie and Gail—now with a year old son and a daughter on the way—were led to come to Durham to open a shelter.  The home they purchased would be, they thought, large enough to house 12 needy men.  Little did they know that in the future their shelter would give sanctuary and a new future for nearly 300 men.   Growing demand has led to the development of an ambitious program of expansion.

As a prelude to Ernie’s presentation, a residential choral group sang a beautiful rendition of a Southern gospel: “If you had known me before I knew Him, you’d understand my love.”  The first line of this song “Just an old rejected relic on the auction block, they decided to throw me away” speaks of the despair men and women generally feel before their reception into the healing philosophy, vision and community of the Durham Rescue Mission.

Ernie points out that the residents of the shelter are not there because they don’t have homes.  Most did at some point.  Rather, up to 75% seek help because of addictions and the subsequent losses that followed.  Another compelling statistic is that 54% lack a high school diploma or its equivalent and, thus, find it depressingly difficult to obtain meaningful work.  Additionally, some have been recently released from prison.

Newcomers agree to a year-long program.  Among the immediate goals is to free residents from addictive substances.  One of the tools is biblical based counseling.  Life in the Mission is structured—four hours a day in class, four hours in work activity, leisure time left over.

Residents lacking high school diplomas study to pass the GED and perhaps prepare for college work, especially at Durham Tech and NCCU.  To promote the Mission’s educational program, GlaxoSmithKline provides funding for scholarships.  Partnership with Durham Tech brings teachers to work with residents to prepare them for passing the GED.  A $20,000 grant enabled the Mission to purchase computers for the GED that is now administered only online.  Durham Tech also teaches a hands-on course on culinary arts, using the Mission’s kitchen as the classroom.  Considering the growing sophistication of the dining scene in the Triangle, this skill should prove to be highly marketable.

There is a work component as well—developing or enhancing skills, gaining self-confidence, and demonstrating a serious work ethic that would convince prospective employers to hire them.

Those who have successfully navigated the program will need to find meaningful employment in order to complete their reintegration into society.  A major goal is to turn a homeless person into a taxpayer and homeowner, thus saving the public about $10,000 a year for someone on the streets.  A history of addiction and a prison record are major hurdles to landing a job.  Thrift stores operated by the Mission provide a partial solution, employing about 70 residents thus enabling them to build up a solid resumé.  “Temps to the Rescue” is another way to establish a work record.  Businesses that need temporary help can hire—with a high degree of confidence—a Mission-recommended person.

Graduates of the program become “Victory Fellows” and can continue at the Mission, living in dormitories and serving as “encouragers” or mentors to the first year residents.

As a non-profit, Durham Rescue Mission has never received public funding.  It relies entirely on cash contributions or contributions—such as clothing, furniture and other articles—that can be sold in the three area thrift stores.  As Ernie is fond of saying “If your clothes are not becoming to you, they should be coming to us!”

Submitted by Allen Cronenberg 

New Member: County Commissioner Fred Foster

FredFosterNewmanIncoming District Governor and Past President Newman Aguiar introduced new member and County Commissioner Fred Foster.

Mr. Foster is currently the President of the Old Farm Neighborhood Association and has been very active with the Durham County Democratic party where he has served in a variety of leadership roles including past Precinct 23 Chair and Past Region 4 chair for NC Veterans for John Kerry. He has also served as President of the NAACP.

He has been affiliated with numerous organizations, including Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods, and the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. He has served as Chairman of the Durham Voter Coalition and was Past Chair of the Race Relations Committee for the People’s Alliance.

He has served on various boards including The Durham Literacy Council, JRuth and Operation BreakThrough.

He has been a change agent and community organizer for issues involving housing, neighborhood improvement, crime reduction and jobs to name a few.

Fred has a bachelors in Business Administration from NC State. He served in the US Air Force and retired from the United States Army Reserve after 22 years of service. His also retired from the NC Division of Motor Vehicles after over 28 years of service.

He has been married to Mildred Harris Foster for over 27 years and has 4 children.

Please welcome Fred Foster to the Club.