News & Notices

News from the club and its members and notices.

Rotary Minutes: Deirdre Haj

OK Deirdre, you were discovered in high school by Ed Sherin, went through SUNY Purchase with Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames, Ron Eldard, Parker Posey, and Edie Falco, had roles in Dallas and Star Trek and worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, but what everybody really wants to know is how many degrees of separation are there between you and Kevin Bacon.

Lest anybody who wasn’t there think that Deirdre was just dropping names from her acting career in New York and Hollywood, her Rotary Minute actually revealed something much deeper. Besides her encounter with Mother Teresa as a teenage goodwill ambassador traveling with a chamber choir to Egypt and India, she shared her admiration for Dallas star Larry Hagman after hooking him up with a kid waiting for a liver transplant like Hagman had himself. She also described wanting to become a nun after a long recovery from a childhood accident in a Catholic hospital, something her Jewish parents didn’t seem to appreciate. It also gave her an appreciation for the great health insurance provided by her father’s employer, IBM.  Then, during the first Gulf war, she spent time as a political aide in Israel and struggled with reconciling her faith with that country’s policies.

It was in Hollywood though that she met her husband Joe at the Classical Theatre Lab doing Shakespeare. She shared that Joe, who is the Producing Artistic Director of the Playmakers Repertory Company over at UNC, is a first generation American and Catholic Palestinian. She described her daughter Samantha as a gorgeous, smart 12 year old who looks like she is 15 and whose mixed heritage which could uniquely qualify her to bring peace to the Middle East if it doesn’t blow up before she reaches voting age.

Of course, we know Deirdre as the dynamic Executive Director of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. She got into documentaries producing one on smoking in Hollywood films. Under her guidance Full Frame has not only become an important international film festival but is important to Durham’s economy and cultural scene as well as to the kids that participate in its annual camp for budding documentarians.

Deirdre did not encourage me to put her notes on the website but did volunteer to provide a list of her ten favorite movies. Can’t wait. In the meantime here’s a link to the Frank Stasio interview that she mentioned that would help explain how her meeting with Mother Teresa would affect her career. The link also has a pretty cool picture of her in her Star Trek role.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Program Report: Bringing Latinos to the Table – Dr. Luke Smith

Let’s set up more seats at the table.  There’s plenty of room.  And a lot of human upside.

Dr. Luke Smith set aside his psychiatrist’s notebook Monday and made a persuasive public call for more inclusion across the community for a Latino population that is growing locally at the statistical equivalent of fast forward.

Dr. Smith acts as executive director and medical director of El Futuro, Inc., a Durham-based non-profit helping Spanish-speaking people and their families by providing behavioral health treatment for a population traditionally underserved in this important area of development.  He spoke to a near full house during our first luncheon since Thanksgiving.

“They really bring strength to the table,”  Dr. Smith said, noting low rates of organized community participation that can and should be be improved.  “It’s important for our prosperity that we welcome them to the table.  There is room at the table.  There is an open seat at the table. And when we bring them, we are not just going to be placating them.”

Among the numbers presented by Smith alongside photos of the people behind the numbers:

  • Latinos make up nearly 9 percent of the state’s population, a continuing growth trend that began more than two decades ago with job opportunities in the textile and poultry industries in a state the issued drivers licenses until 9/11.
  • Latinos are “underserved;” they comprise just under 4 percent of people served by the state mental health system, due to a wide range of factors including cost, fear of identification, fear of driving, insufficient “health literacy” and fear of perceived discrimination by providers.
  • Latinos are expected to make up 25,000 of 45,000 expected growth in individual residents in Durham County between 2010 and 2020.

Dr. Smith said El Futuro continues to yield clinical and functional successes among the people whom it has aided since a group of volunteer health professionals opened the doors in 2004.  Most are poor women and children, many who have experienced direct or indirect trauma.  Eighty percent of patients over a recent 3-month period demonstrated clinical improvements and nearly as many had functional improvements.  Ninety-nine percent reported feeling helped and respected.  They’d recommend it to a friend.

Dr. Smith himself trained in child and adult psychiatry at UNC when he moved to the RTP region in 2000 from Arkansas.  He described his engagement with the Latino community here as a “full immersion experience” that left him fluent in Spanish and fond of the cuisine.

In short, El Futuro works.  It’s moving the needle.  It’s helping to broaden the civic table a seat at a time.  And for El Futuro’s efforts, our club and our community are grateful.


Submitted By Mark Lazenby

Books on Hand

Books on Hand:  So every child can read!

Books on HandDurham area and Hillsborough Rotary Clubs are partnering with the East Durham Children’s Initiative and the Durham Literacy Center on a campaign to put books in the hands of our children.

If you’re reading this now, you know the value of literacy!

Maybe you’ve just finished a book – something that interested you, inspired you or simply entertained you. Maybe books are an important part of your life, or a foundation for your life’s success. During December and January, here’s an easy and effective way to share the joy of reading with children in our community.

The more that you read, the more things you will know.

The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

 I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!, Dr. Seuss


Thank you to all our partners who helped make the book drive a great success!

51,856 books were collected and donated to local non-profits.  The Durham Rotary clubs contributed 7,427 books to this project.

Estimates for how many book were distributed on April 13, 2013:
Read and Feed – 17,500
Book Harvest – 12,500
YMCA – 5,000
Communities in Schools of Wake County – 5,000
Taken back to Henderson for local school – 500

Recipients of books in Durham:

Book Harvest – 12,500 books

Y.E. Smith Elementary School – 3,644 books

Neal Middle School – 588 books



There are many reasons for the variance in the reading literacy of children ages 4-7.  However, a 20-year international study published in 2010 revealed that a significant predictor of a child’s academic success in school was the presence of books in the home.  This result was consistent regardless of nationality, parents’ level of education, or parents’ economic status.  Those students with books in their homes reached a higher level of education than those who did not.  (“Family Scholarly Culture and Educational Success: Books and Schooling in 27 Nations”, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, Volume 28, Issue 2, June 2010, pp.171-197.)

The Problem

Twenty percent of Durham’s adults (25,000 individuals) are functionally illiterate, unable to cope with everyday challenges such as completing an application form, understanding medication directions or helping a child learn to read. The children of illiterate parents are burdened with a significant disability when they begin school. With no books in the home, not having been read to as children and poor listening skills, the children of illiterate parents are likely to start school not knowing nursery rhymes, the alphabet, or colors and without the vocabulary required to comprehend instruction. These children quickly become frustrated, fall behind and eventually drop out. In addition, the children of illiterate parents often see little reason for putting forth the effort needed to succeed in school.

Correcting the situation and stopping inter-generational illiteracy, requires the support of a diverse community of people who care.

The Solution

Put books in the hands of our children so every child will have the opportunity to read.  Our objective is to collect 45,000 used and new books for elementary aged children (K-5th grades) and distribute the books to Durham Public Schools and area non-profits that support literacy.  Our goal is to increase reading literacy of elementary school age children.


  • The Books on Hand campaign will accept donations of cash and books beginning December 10.
  • Donors may also drop off new or used books during normal business hours at any of the collection locations (see, Partners) listed below.
  • Financial donations can also be made at the collection points or online on the Books on Hand web page by clicking Donate. Checks should be made out to the East Durham Children’s Initiative. Financial contributions will be used to purchase additional books as needed.
  • Individuals are encouraged to drop off books, and businesses and organizations are encouraged to host their own drives.
  • Read a book to a child and share your joy of reading.  Join the Rotary Reading Rangers.

Most Needed Books:

Fiction: ABC books, 123 counting books, color books, types of holiday books, children’s stories, multicultural picture books.

Non-Fiction:  Country books, Science, Technology, Language, Weather, Sports, Biographies, Music, Mythology, Folktales, Fairytales, Hispanic Heritage.

Book Drive Recipient Organizations


East Durham Children’s Initiative – 107 N. Driver St., 3rd Floor, Durham, NC 27703

Durham Literacy Center – 1905 Chapel Hill Road  Durham, NC 27707

Alliance Architecture – 204 Rigsbee Avenue, Durham, NC 27701

501 Realty – 4-B Consultant Place, Durham, NC 27707

Urban Durham Realty – 401 Foster Street  Durham, NC 27701

Durham Rescue Mission – 507 East Knox Street  Durham, NC 27701

City of Durham

  • City Manager’s Office – 101 City Hall Plaza, Durham, NC 27701
  • City Attorney’s Office – 101 City Hall Plaza, Durham, NC 27701

Self Help – 301 West Main Street  Durham, NC 27701

Durham Public Schools

Museum of Life & Science – 433 Murray Avenue, Durham, NC 27704

Croasdaile Village – 2600 Croasdaile Farm Pkwy, Durham, NC  27705

YMCA – 218 Morgan St., Durham, NC

Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau – 101 E Morgan St, Durham, NC 27701

Duke University

  • Allen Building Lobby
  • Bryan Center Lobby
  • Lilly Library Service Desk
  • Perkins Administration Office
  • Smith Warehouse, Bay 6, South Side

Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership – 110 Swift Avenue, Durham, NC 27705

First Citizens Bank – 4004 N. Roxboro Road, Durham, NC 27704

American Dance Festival – 721 Broad Street, Durham, NC 27705

American Red Cross – 4737 University Drive, Durham, NC  27707

Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC – 1830 Chapel Hill Blvd., Chapel Hill, NC 27517

Umstead Pines at Willowhaven Country Club – 253 Country Club Drive, Durham, NC 27712

Walker, Lambe, Rhudy, Costley & Gill – 240 Leigh Farm Road, Suite 100, Durham NC 27707

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University – 2001 Campus Drive, Durham, NC, 27705

Triangle Orthopaedics Associates

  • 4004 Ben Franklin Blvd., Durham, NC 27704
  • 120 William Penn Plaza, Durham, NC 27704

Duke Corporate Education – 310 Blackwell Street, Durham, NC 27701

Moss + Ross –  4102 Westfield Drive, Durham, NC 27705

Sarah P. Duke Gardens – 420 Anderson Street, Durham, NC 27708-0341


For more information:

Visit the Books on Hand website.  Follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Call or email Tammi Brooks – Durham Rotary Club; Phone:  919-308-4910; E-mail

For information about Rotary Reading Rangers, call or email Todd Taylor – Durham Rotary Club; Phone: 919-680-5030; Cell: 919-649-5568; E-mail

To drop off books at the Durham Literacy Center contact Reggie Hodges – Durham Rotary Club; E-mail:; Phone: (919)  489-8383.

Click here to download the Books on Hand 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 ClubMeets Thursdays at Hope Valley Country Club – 12:30 PM

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

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

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

Hillsborough Rotary Club – Meets Thursdays at the Village Diner – 7:00 AM

About East Durham Children’s Initiative

The East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) is committed to changing outcomes and expectations for children and families living in a 120-block area of East Durham. Modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone, EDCI aims to reach this goal by providing a pipeline of high-quality services that starts with children at birth and continues with them through elementary school, middle school and high school.

EDCI does not act alone. Working together with community members and partner organizations, EDCI develops and coordinates new and existing services to best meet the needs of approximately 3,000 children and youth living in the zone. EDCI works to identify barriers that might prevent EDCI kids from succeeding at school and then partners with local organizations to creatively reduce or eliminate those obstacles using strategies that have been shown to be effective.

About Durham Literacy Center

The Durham Literacy Center (DLC),established in 1985, provides vital literacy empowerment services in the Durham community. Through individual literacy tutoring for adults and classes for Durham County residents who speak a first language other than English, the DLC structured literacy programs empower the lives of residents who want to enrich their lives by improving their literacy skills. Each year, the DLC provides assistance to 550 Durham residents who lack basic literacy skills.

The DLC believes that by educating adults, we are also educating children. The DLC is one of the few organizations in Durham County that devotes 100% of its effort and resources to literacy. The DLC has helped give Durham residents the knowledge and skills they need to improve their lives and the lives of their families. In so doing, DLC has helped build a stronger community.

Foundation News

Paul Harris Fellow – Ruth Dzau – Plus 2

Foundation chair Dallas Stallings presented Rotarian Ruth Dzau with a pin for attaining Plus 2 status as a Paul Harris Fellow. This means that she has met the $1000 threshold for fellowship three times. Rotarian Ruth has not only contributed generously to the Foundation coffers but also her time especially during her three year term on the Board.

In a note to President Don, Rotarian Ruth shared the following sentiments about the Foundation and Paul Harris Fellowships:

“The Durham Rotary members are truly committed to Durham in making this city a great place to live and to work. The contributions of money, time and energy to numerous significant Rotary projects over the years have had a positive impact on Durham in many ways. At the same time there is the realization that we are also members of a global community that has needs as well. The Rotary Foundation, especially through Paul Harris Fellow support, is key in partnering successful global and local endeavors. Philanthropy is so critical in making our world a better place. I look forward to the day when all my fellow Durham Rotarians will proudly wear a Paul Harris pin.”

Sustaining Membership

Sustaining members are those that contribute at least $100 to the Rotary Foundation annually. Foundation Chair Dallas reports that with the new invoicing procedure that includes a $50 contribution to the Foundation has meant that we have 28 new first time contributors to the Foundation. This is also part of a campaign to become a 100% Paul Harris club by the time of our Centennial.

Matching Program.

Foundation Chair Dallas asked past Chair Andy Barada to announce a matching program for Paul Harris Fellowship. This has been possible in the past through gifts to the club from contributors such as the late Bill Burns. For the rest of the year $500 gifts will be matched. This is a terrific opportunity to attain Paul Harris Fellowship status for a modest investment. Andy, Dallas and the rest of the club leadership encourage all members to take advantages of this opportunity.

Rotary Minutes: George Deaton – Lasting Impressions

For some reason George Deaton’s Rotary Minute reminded me of the movie Forrest Gump. It wasn’t because George was born in the Virginia mountains and described himself as a hillbilly, or, as he joked, an Appalachian American. In fact, it wasn’t because George reminded me of the character Forrest Gump at all. Forrest, you may recall was not too intelligent while George studied physics at Virginia Tech. And it wasn’t because the love of his life eluded Forrest all of his life while George met the love of his life on an internship during his college days and has stayed married for through 53 years, 6 children and 13 grandchildren.

The parallel that I found fascinating was that like Forrest, George had a knack of being present and involved in some truly historical events that spanned the same time frame as Forrest’s story including manned space flight, the birth of the internet, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

One of George’s passions that put him in the position to be a close witness to some of this history was his love of music and opera. Anyone who has heard George sing will not be surprised that this passion was an element in the courtship of his wife all those years ago and remains a passion that he now uses to help raise money for various organizations as one of the founders and members of Three Triangle Tenors.

George’s complete presentation can be read here and a recording of the Triangle Tenors performing O Sole Mio is here on YouTube.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Rotary Minutes are brief summaries of biographical presentations made by Durham Rotary Club members. This practice was initiated by President Don to deepen our commitment to Rotary and each other with peeks into our backgrounds. They have also turned out to be very entertaining. 

Paul Harris Fellow: Toby Barfield

After a couple of delays, Past President Toby Barfield was presented his pin for becoming a Paul Harris Fellow Plus 2 indicating he has met the Paul Harris threshold of $1,000 three times. In accepting the pin from Rotary Foundation Chair, Dallas Stallings, Toby reaffirmed his commitment to the work, both local and international, the Foundation supports.  He also pointed out that putting aside a little over $83 per month for a year got a member to that $1,000 threshold in a year and challenged the club to become a 100% club with all member Paul Harris fellows.