News & Notices

News from the club and its members and notices.

Centennial Project – Oral Histories

loisSusanAnnaAs part of gearing up for Durham Rotary’s 100th anniversary, we are beginning to record some oral histories of longtime members of the club.  The first to be done was Honorary Member Lois Cranford.  Club member Anna Jones joined Lois and her daughter Susan Ross for a recording session at the Story Room of the Durham History Hub in early March.  Lois’s memories are now preserved for the Club as well as the Museum of Durham History and the Durham Library.  Plans are underway to interview additional members in the coming months – if you have a story to tell, please let a member of the Centennial Committee know.

Submitted by Susan Ross

Books-on-Break – Reading Rangers




During May 5-8, the Durham Rotary Club, YE Smith Elementary, and Book Harvest are teaming up to run BOOKS ON BREAK at YE Smith, in which all students will choose 10 free books each to take home and keep.  We need about 64 volunteers to transport books to YE Smith, to help set up the pop-up bookstore in the media center, to assist kids in choosing their books, and to clean up and transport remaining books back to the Book Harvest warehouse. Your friends, family, and colleagues are more than welcome as volunteers.

Click on this link  to take you to the Durham Rotary Club/YE Smith/Book Harvest sign up page.  Most of the shifts are 2-hour blocks, from 11:15-1:30 and 1:30-3:30. Set-up and clean-up are 2-3 hours. If you can’t do 2 hours, please note in the comment section.

Submitted by Mimi O’Brien

Program Report: Cicely Mitchell – The Art of Cool Project

CicelyDierdreAOCBack in December I was helping Tom Kern a little with keeping the schedule for the Salvation Army bell ringing with the intention of scheduling my own shift at the last moment to fill any holes. There were several gaps as the time shortened but I picked the one I did because it was with a new member ringing for the first time and I reckoned that it would be totally uncool if she had to do it alone. I recognized the name but I couldn’t put it with a face. How lucky was I that it turned out to be Cicely Mitchell, the President and co-founder of The Art of Cool Project, a jazz festival that will launch next month, and our presenter today?

The donor traffic was slow, so I got a chance to learn a little bit about Cicely and her project. If you’ve been around here long enough you know there is no shortage of starry eyed hustlers with big ideas for bringing cultural enlightenment to the local yokels who shine for a while and then fade into the woodwork.  But the more Cicely described what she was doing the more I became convinced that she and the Project might be for real. First was her background and education as a bio-statistician.  Call her Doctor Mitchell. That stop is not on the path of least resistance and takes brains and perseverance.

Nothing about what she told us today changes my conclusion.   It certainly appears that she and her team have done everything to give the festival a fighting chance including:

Research. Cicely easily answered questions about competing festivals and where the AOC audiences might come from.

Finances. The list of sponsors that she left on our tables is impressive but she stressed that ticket sales would make or break them and they hope to, at least, break even this first year.

Connections. She mentioned several including Jim Goodman, Adam Klein, and Alice Sharp. Perhaps the most important for her though is our own Deirdre Haj, who not only introduced Cicely but is collaborating with her to provide a little overlap from the Documentary Film Festival and The AOC Festival. I suspect Deirdre is being her usual generous self, sharing the ins and outs of launching something like this. Cicely has also involved NCCU. A little research online also revealed a strong board of advisors including Connie Campanaro.

Programming. Before Cicely and I parted from the WalMart she told me about an ad hoc and un-promoted concert organized by her partner and co-founder, trumpeter Al Strong at a bar downtown that was going to feature a very famous jazz musician. I thanked her and thought it might be fun to go to, but I didn’t. Why? Because I would have felt out of place.  What is less cool than an old fat white guy in a button down oxford shirt. But as Cicely pointed out on Monday, they have purposely curated the festival to reach a broad audience without spoiling the experience of the true aficionados.  That’s cool.

Fellow Rotarian and former leader of the Convention and Visitors bureau, Reyn Bowman, often blogs about what he calls “sense of place” and its importance to Durham. Cicely noted that she had heard Durham compared favorably to Austin but “without the music.” The APC project should be a big part of making up the difference. Down in Texas, they want to famously “Keep Austin Weird.”  We need to keep Durham cool. Events such as the film festival and a great jazz festival contribute to that sense of place in amazing ways. Both Cicely and Deidre have emphasized that their festivals are designed to be Durham events. As so, they will continue to make Durham attractive to the talented folks who want that sense of place, so that when you’re in Durham, you know you’re in Durham…for good reasons.

The Art of Cool has two websites. Start with for some general information about the project and then click on the festival tab to go to for ticket information for the April 25 and 26 event.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Rotary Minute: Lois DeLoatch

rotary32414 024President designee Lois DeLoatch presented her Rotary Minute. Personally I was hoping she had woven her story into a song and would sing it to us.  It was not to be, but it was clear she is confident with a microphone and can tell a story.  Her theme was “connections.” Some were surprising, but all filled in the picture of a talented and accomplished woman ready to assume leadership of the club after Vandana in a little more than a year.  Below is the transcript of her presentation.

Connections, Advice and Adages…

 I’m from a tiny town, but I’ve always been part of a big community. I’m the 7th of 10 children, raised in Margarettsville, NC (Northampton County), population 500. We grew up in a house my father constructed – on property his grandfather purchased with money he earned as a union soldier.

Rotarian Brantley Deloatch and I are connected. He’s also from Northampton County. Before 1865, Brandt’s ancestors owned my ancestors In Northampton County.    Rotarian Anna Jones and I are closely connected – we graduated from the same high school. Like Anna, I was raised by loving parents who instilled values of hard work, self-sufficiency, a thirst for knowledge and a commitment to the greater good. 

We’re from a community where the elders freely gave guidance and advice – often in adages and parables. Our high school principal reminded us regularly that “You’ll need all you can get here and then some more…people have died for you to have the right to an education and you will not squander this precious opportunity.” 

Rotarian Brian Scott and I are connected.  His wife, Sona, and I grew up and went to UNC together. Sona’s mother was my PE teacher.  My father built her family’s house.

As children, we were taught to respect ourselves, respect others, respect nature, love everybody and help anyone who needed it – you don’t wait for them to ask. We learned to lead and follow –to make your point quickly, comprise and settle differences. Our parents taught us that we were as good as anyone else – no better – no less.   That relationships and people matter most – not stuff and things.

I learned to drive a tractor and make biscuits at 12 years old. We worked in the fields in summer and during fall breaks – We planted and harvested cucumbers and chopped peanuts, corn and soybeans and other crops.  We picked cotton to earn money for school clothes. We raised pigs and chickens.  We learned at a young age that a job is what you do to make a living, not who you are.  And no matter how menial the task, you perform to the best of your ability. 

My parents lead by example – the first migrant workers from Mexico moved to Margarettsville in the late 1970s, my mother noticed that they didn’t have curtains to cover the windows, so she packed boxes of linen, curtains and household items and took it to them.  Because we had it and they needed it.

I didn’t know I was poor until I completed financial aid forms for college. I attended UNC because I had two brothers there at the time and I knew I could work to supplement my scholarships and grants.  I loved my time at Carolina. I was a peer mentor, sang in the choir and worked two jobs most of the time.  In my senior year, I worked full-time, got married and bought a house in Durham. 

After college, I worked at Durham Academy Upper School where I met Rotarian Sheridan Van Wagenburg’s mother, Sherry Townsend. She was beautiful and helpful – I was 21 years old and needed all the help I could get.  I was recruited back to UNC to serve as an Admissions Director – I traveled to 100+ high schools across the state each year counseling with students about college and helping them apply.

I took a couple of years off work to raise my young son and went to work as a temp for John Woody at Mid-Atlantic Stihl in 1988. It was John’s wife, Judy, who got me involved with the Volunteer Center of Greater Durham where I met Rotarian Lois Cranford and other dedicated volunteers like Anne Moore.  That experience lead to my 25+ year involvement with dozens of local nonprofits. I’ve had the pleasure to work with Rotarians Newman Augier, Kay Gresham, MaryAnn Black, Phyllis Coley, and Jerry O’Keefe and numerous others

I began work at Duke in 1990 and remained there until 2010.  At Duke I held several fundraising positions and was colleagues with Rotarian Susan Ross and Melissa Mills. Rotarian Mimi O’Brien was my departmental director, and I sat in the seat that Rotarian Treat Harvey had occupied. I worked closely with Rotarians Phail Wynn, Sam Miglarese and Michael Palmer to raise funds and implement programs for Durham schools and community projects.  I earned a master’s degree from Duke while I was working there and I pursued my singing career.  Once a month or so I traveled throughout the country and internationally to sing.

At NCCU, I worked closely with Rotarian Ingrid Wicker McCree and other terrific colleagues. Rotarians Tom Bonfield and Sam Miglarese and I presented together in Florida about our collective work in building university/community relationship.

Currently, I continue to maintain several lives at once – Through my consulting company, Northampton Partners, I’m working with Durham Public Library to help expand African American Collections and I joined the staff of Self Help/Center for Responsible Lending in January – their mission is to combat predatory and abusive lending practices that hurt poor and vulnerable communities such as military personnel and people of color.  And, I’ve also returned to singing/writing.

A few years ago Rotarian Doug Zinn asked me to consider joining Rotary. I’ve known, respected and worked with Doug for many years so I came to the meeting.  When I arrived, I was greeted by so many people for whom I have very high regard and strong connections.  The four-way test reflects the values with which I was raised and try to live my life.    

I’d like to leave you with some advice recently given to me by my 96 year old aunt who said:

“Honey, Enjoy your life and keep your affairs in order – it is later than you think.  People are leaving this world every day, and all of them are not old.”


Program Report: Dan Kimberg – StudentU

StudentUWebDurham is indeed fortunate to be served by a vibrant organization committed to fostering the intellectual, social and pre-professional development of mostly needy students in the sixth through twelfth grades.  Executive Director Dan Kimberg co-founded StudentU to awaken unknown dreams and to help these students achieve goals—graduating from high school, getting a college degree, gaining rewarding employment—they would never otherwise have imagined.  It seeks to instill in students the notion that they are all “brilliant.”

When he founded StudentU people derided his dream as, among other things, crazy, naïve, unrealistic, and idealistic.  The facts, however, have proved the naysayers wrong.  From fifty students in 2007 the program has exploded to 340 currently.  Beginning on a shoestring, StudentU now has an operating budget of roughly $1.4 million.  Student reading scores eclipse those of not only their economically disadvantaged peers but Durham Public Schools students as well.  Nearly all high school students will have taken at least one Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or Honors course. Last year 74% of all grades earned by middle school students were A’s or B’s.  Students are reading above grade level and all 40 of this year’s students are on track to graduate.  Student motivation—as well perhaps as personal well-being or parental expectations—is evidenced by the fact that StudentU participants missed an average of 6 days school compared to the 11 days missed by average Durham Public School students.  Twenty-eight of the graduating class of 40 have so far gained admission to over 90 colleges.

Dan believes there are three principles or factors that account for the success of StudentU:  Partnership, Passion and People who “make the dream possible.”  Major partners include Durham Public Schools, Durham Academy, the four major local universities and businesses.

Admission to StudentU is highly competitive.  All 5th grade students are eligible to apply although added weight is given to economically disadvantaged applicants; and rising 6th grade students are given preference over students in upper grades.  After an initial screening, applicants are chosen randomly.

High school students receive mentoring by staff, guidance counselors and others to prepare them for college and careers.  Alex Zagbayou who heads the high school program related the ways in which StudentU assists students to achieve their goals.  Not only is academic achievement stressed but students are encouraged to participate in after school clubs and to experience internship opportunities.  Prepping for tests such as the ACT which is required by most colleges, guidance in filling out applications, writing essays and experiencing mock interview for college admission or employment are other benefits of the program.  Additionally, tours of college campuses enable StudentU students to gain first hand knowledge about different campuses and to interact with students at those schools. 

One of the highlights of the program was Daniel O’Day, a senior at Jordan High, who was introduced as the embodiment of the ideals of StudentU.   Daniel spoke passionately about how the program had benefitted him, not only academically but in personal well-being including eye examinations, healthy food and even a yoga class.  Being connected to a community of people who helped his development was especially rewarding.  He has gained so much that he feels “an obligation to give back” which he has done by serving as a mentor to younger students and performing 600 or so hours of community service.  Because he spoke with such poise, eloquence and conviction I found it difficult to believe his confession that he used to be shy and quiet.  Daniel indeed embodies the ideals embraced by StudentU.

Submitted by Allen Cronenberg

Ranger Report: Y.E. Smith Goes International

Congratulations to  Chief Reading Ranger Todd Taylor  for organizing a teleconference connecting Y.E. Smith students with Indian students visiting Todd’s office in Ahmedabad. Credit goes to  Communications  Chair Mark Lazenby and Phyllis Coley for getting the great placement on page A-3 in Sunday’s (March 23, 2014) Herald-Sun.  Thanks too, to Duke Corporate Education (where Todd’s other job is) for the generous use of their facilities. Yee-Haw!

This is the picture that appeared with the story and the copy that appeared with it is below.  The link to the story on the Herald-Sun website is here or click on the picture.

Elementary students participate

in global teleconference


Six students from Y.E. Smith Elementary School joined six counterparts from India on Friday in a global teleconference organized by the Durham Rotary Club and Duke CE. At the end of the 70-minute conference, participants on both sides of the globe joined in group photo with Duke CE’s Todd Taylor, the program organizer, Principal Letisha Judd, Coach Smith, Victoria Robinson, and Darlene Escudero, with six AIG students from Y.E. Smith and students and teachers from New Bricks School in Ahmedabad, India, on screen.