News & Notices

News from the club and its members and notices.

Rotary Minute: Carolyn Aaronson

CarolynAwebThe general reaction at the table were I was sitting as I took a few notes on Carolyn Aaronson’s Rotary Minute was to wish me good luck on writing it up. The same thing was running through my head until right at the end when Carolyn pulled up a breadbox sized container and opened it to reveal the thousand tiny cranes she had created. The legend goes that whoever creates a thousand origami cranes will have their wish come true, but as Carolyn pointed out, there are no promises about when.

Carolyn pledged that after the meeting she would be at the doorway so everybody could have one of the cranes in the hopes that it would make their wishes come true. This tells us all that we need to know about Carolyn.

First, she creates beautiful things. Besides the cranes she showed us examples of her fabric art and the flower drawings that she is now creating.

Second, she is a warm and generous person. Her contributions of time and money to various rotary projects are well known, the latest being raising a substantial sum for club projects from the sale of valentines that she created.

Third, Carolyn marches to the beat of a drum and bugle corps heavily influenced by reggae, or, said another way, Carolyn is not your typical Rotarian. On the contrary, Carolyn is an example of the type of member that will keep Rotary from being a moribund institution.

CraneWeb

I got my crane and my wish is that Carolyn stays an active member of the club at least as long as I’m in it.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Rotary Minute: Connie Campanaro

photoconniewebConnie Campanaro fulfilled a lifelong dream with a trip to Italy, where she visited her grandmother’s village.

Unfortunately, she showed up on a holiday when virtually nothing was open. Fortunately, one of the restaurants was hosting a Rotary event. Though she spoke no Italian, she was able to convey that she was a Rotarian and was welcomed with open arms. Not only were she and her family fed well, this Italian Rotary Club helped her hunt down her ancestral home. “I realized, in that moment, that this really is a worldwide organization of brothers and sisters,” Connie said Monday.

It’s a positive reminder that, as Connie prepares to leave Durham after 14 years here – she’s headed back to Buffalo, N.Y. to become the executive director of the Western New York Grantmakers Association – she’ll always have a home wherever Rotarians are gathered. Connie values home, as she spent her formative years bouncing between California and upstate New York. She was married at 16, a mother at 17. “I had the stability I so craved,” she says.

But she and her husband split, and Connie had to figure out how to provide for her two children. She became the first person to attend college and then got into the business side of the arts world, making connections with everyone from “the Bolshoi ballet to L.L. Cool J.” In 1999 she came to Durham to run the flailing Carolina Theatre. “I’m a sucker for an impossible challenge,” she said. She helped the theater back on firm financial footing before stepping down a few years ago. She’s remained active in Durham, and was joined here by her mother and daughter. But her mom has passed, and her daughter is living in Dallas.

Now, it’s time for Connie to move on. “It’s hard to say goodbye,” Connie concluded. “But it’s even harder to mean it.”

Submitted by Matt Dees

Singing Valentine Fund Raiser

Valentine Singers WebThe Singing Valentines fund raiser is a joint effort of Durham Rotary and Heart of Carolina Barbershop Chorus. A quartet from Heart of Carolina came to Rotary on Monday to demonstrate what a Singing Valentine is like. A portion of every singing valentine sold goes to Rotary to help with its scholarship programs. These will sell out fast, so please make your reservation soon! If you your sweetheart isn’t around, then why not consider sending a singing valentine to your favorite nonprofit to show your love for their cause?

Order online at http://www.hoccmusic.org/singing-valentines or by phone 919-730-3342.

Click this link for more information about the options available. 2013SingingValentinesPoster

Submitted by Shelly Green

Howard Clements and Leaders of Tomorrow

HowardClement2webWe haven’t seen much of Howard Clements, a long time Rotarian and City Councilman recently, so it was great to see him and his wife Annie at the meeting on January 14th. Howard came to support of a bunch of very sharp high school students who found an appreciative audience of Rotarians who came early at the request of Immediate Past President Arthur Rogers. The students presented a “case study” of Facebook as part of the Leaders of Tomorrow Program sponsored by the National Black MBA Association. It was great to see Howard and as the pictures illustrate, he seems to be glad to be with us too.HowardClementweb

Rotary Minutes: Todd Taylor

ToddMinutewebThe staff at the Durham Convention Center had to roll out extra tables and many of us who came early gave up our seats to the overflow crowd that gathered to hear Todd Taylor’s Rotary minutes. They were not disappointed.  Most of the regular attendees of the meeting know Todd for showing up in western headgear (most of which came from Australia) as the organizer, cheerleader and chief spokesman for our Club’s efforts to light a fire under the collective butts of teachers, parents and kids to reduce and eliminate illiteracy in our school system.  Todd’s Reading Rangers (of which I proudly claim membership) is already in two of the Durham Schools with the most need for help from the community.

Todd described himself as a cat now in the third of his 9 lives. This claim is based on his three major careers but he cataloged a number of things that were so unique that they could have been conjured up by someone with the flair to stage the tragic death of an imaginary girlfriend to motivate a football team to the brink of a national championship and himself to the brink of the Heisman Trophy.

Consider these experiences and how often you are likely to run into someone who has had any of them much less all of them.

–          Have a mother who was one of the first 90 women in the US Marines.

–          Of all the billions of people who have lived, to be one of the 100,000 or so who have ever stood at the South Pole or the lip of southern most active volcano in the world in Antarctica.

–          Be officially credited with saving 28 lives as a search and rescue helicopter pilot.

–           Fly for the Royal Australian Air Force in an American Navy uniform.

–          Retire for the first time at 38.

–          Become a Mr. Mom. Todd stayed at home with his son, Jason while his wife Jan went off to work.

Consider also that Todd can pronounce r’s even with parents from Boston, graduated “Laudy How Come” as a physics major from Appalachian State University, managed cell phones towers, was a top recruiter for the Navy here in North Carolina, remembers Eastern Airlines as inspirational, flew repaired planes to prove they were safe and might have had a totally different life if he had been able to hit a curve ball.

Since I now work as a part time plumbing associate at Home Depot, my one and only retail job, I totally get a quote Todd shared from a fellow worker during his only retail job, “They say only two things make one hate humanity – combat and retail.”  Amen brother.

Todd’s current job managing Duke Corporate Education’s facilities sounds tame by comparison to the rest of his resume, but he still shows his tendency to temp fate with an off beat sense of humor that he shares regularly. Todd’s full presentation is here.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Rotary Minutes: Meg Solera

MegMinuteWebOne of the first tables to fill up before every meeting is in the center of the room where Meg seems to reign as a queen bee. When the seats fill up many other members stop by to say hello. One of the reasons for this I’m sure is that Meg has been the organizer and hostess for the annual progressive dinner since she conceived it as a club fundraiser several years ago. I’m not sure how much money it raises but it sure has been successful as a chance for many club members to get to know each other much better and everyone to know Meg.

Because of Meg’s gregariousness I’m sure no one was surprised when she grabbed the portable microphone and didn’t seek the protection of the podium like most of the other Rotary Minutemen and Minutewomen have done. She also didn’t have any notes to hand to me afterwards, which I may forgive her for one day.

Making a little fun of some of the claims of other presenters with movie stardom and rocket science in their backgrounds, she described her family connection to FDR and her own encounters with Newt Gingrich and Robert Reich…and if that ain’t Ying and Yang I don’t know what is. She also bragged about a friend of her daughter Kaitlin who is going to get them a special tour of the White House…I think she said it was Michelle Obama…but I could be wrong.

A California girl, she graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with a degree in Sociology, one of those degrees that gets you a job at something like a restaurant chain. Not finding that totally satisfying she heard about business schools and applied to two….Harvard and Cornell. After being encouraged by the folks at Cornell to reapply after building a little more substantial quantitative base, she did that and was accepted. But her biggest prize at Cornell wasn’t her MBA but her husband Jose, who was also there getting an MBA.

With MBA’s in hand, Meg and Jose did the high tech SiliconeValley thing, he at Intel and she at Varian. They moved briefly to Dallas and then back to California where she changed gears and did college recruiting. She then spent 7 years as the director of youth services at the Palo Alto Jewish Center and as a volunteer Girl Scout leader which involved overseeing 80 adult leaders and 1100 scouts. I’ll bet those were great progressive dinners…Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, Peanut Butter Patties and, finally, the ever popular Shortbread.

When she and Jose finally found the right coast here in Durham, Meg kept a left coast connection by taking a certification course online from UCLA to become a college counselor helping high school students sort out their college options. She has been doing that ever since.

Meg thanked the club for becoming a family of friends and connections to their new community. We’re glad she found us.

Submitted by Jay Zenner