Program Reports

The program write ups as they appear in the meeting bulletins.

Paul Harris Fellows – March 13, 2017

My apologies for one of the worst Paul Harris Fellow photos ever taken. The small version shown here would look very blurry in a larger format and everyone is so spread out except for Marge who is trying to hide. I am especially unhappy about this since these were pretty significant awards. New member Lee Barnes became a Paul Harris Fellow upon joining the club, which is very unusual. Dr. Larry Crane on the left became a PHF Plus 2, while Marge Nordstrom and Reggie Hodges became PHF Plus 1. Andy Esser, Foundation Chairman standing on the right, presented the awards. 

I feel even worse about the picture taken of Past District Governor Newman Aguiar presenting a special recognition to past Chair of the Foundation Committee Ken Lundstrom for his continuing support of the Polio Plus campaign. So this photo is from a few years ago when he was presenting an award.


Program Report – Flying Tigers


It’s a mark of our club’s diversity that at least a few members were alive when the Flying Tigers served first notice from the United States to Imperial Japan that freedom claws back.

Most club members were not yet born as the Second World War swept up Asia, and a small band of volunteer aviators from America helped the Chinese air force slow the advance of Japanese invaders while the free world organized.

But more than a few members, including this week’s correspondent, are old enough to remember building plastic model aircraft of the single-engine, P-40 fighter aircraft that the legendary volunteer force utilized with such elan. Distinctive painted shark faces snarled from the noses of each fighter aircraft.

History came back to life at Monday lunch as Billy McDonald recalled the valor and exploits of the Flying Tigers. McDonald, author of a book that chronicles his late father’s key role as a Flying Tiger organizer and aviator, told Rotarians that tigers played a crucial role in supporting China and keeping Japanese military resources tied down.

“It was a very nice contribution he made to the war,” McDonald said of his heroic father Bill with understatement as he recollected his later father’s longtime friendship and working partnership with the legendary Claire Lee Chennault. Chennault organized and led the Flying Tigers. Chenault once wrote a newspaper op-ed praising the elder McDonald’s skill and bravery and worked closely with McDonald’s father to build the group.

Technically and legally, the aviators were the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941 and 1942. Pilots recruited under presidential authority to be commanded by Chennault came from the United States Army Air Corps, Navy and Marine Corps. They trained in Burma.

McDonald spent much of the presentation describing his father’s early years working with Chenault in aviation, initially in aerial acrobatics. McDonald said that he found his father’s papers, some 30,000 documents brought back from China, badly deteriorated from moisture decades later. The papers included many letters describing the aviation squad’s exploits. He put it into book form with the help of editor Barbara Evenson. The book, “The Shadow Tiger,” is on sale here on

McDonald described how he Flying Tigers demonstrated needed tactical victories against the advancing Japanese invaders when news from Asia was discouraging. Reports of their daring are credited with building national morale during the lowest period of the war for both the U.S. and Allied forces. The Tigers instilled hope. In addition to combat value, they added value in the PR wars.

The Flying Tigers were in action in Asia just days after the attack at Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and continued the fight into 1942 before being replaced by the U.S. Air Force under the command of General Chennault.

McDonald shared the good recent news that both the book and his heroic father’s paper’s have been requested for posterity by the Smithsonian Institution. He said the Chinese ambassador to Washington created the flying unit’s memorable name.

The club thanks McDonald for recalling the bravery of young American aviators including his father who hit back hard and served first notice to the Axis power in Asia that the fight for freedom would ultimately be joined by the U.S. with ferocious will and fortitude.

Submitted by Mark Lazenby

Editor’s note:  Mr. McDonald was introduced by Brady Surles and Scott Long, a member of the Zhuzhou City Committee of Sister Cities of Durham and pictured on the right above with Mark Goodwillie, Co-Chair of the Zhuzhou City Committee on the left flanking Billy McDonald and is wife Nancy McDonald. Here is Brady’s explanation of the connection:

This may sound complicated , but the Flying Tigers story is what started the process of Durham people becoming interested in having a Sister City in China, so I will have to give you some details about the background.

Durham established a Sister City partnership with Zhuzhou City, Hunan Province, China in 2012. This came about because several people in Durham and the Triangle had ties with the history of the American flyers called the Flying Tigers, including making a documentary film in partnership with a Chinese film company.

This connection started with a NC Senator from Moore County who initiated the reciprocal visits in 2006 between Hunan Province and NC to better understand how the Chinese had built ties with Americans , based on their maintaining the burial site of an American Flying Tiger pilot from Moore County who was shot down in Hunan Province.

The Durham film makers visited Hunan Province for their research for their film, in cooperation with the Carolina China Council which is based at NC St University.  This included the Flying Tigers Museum which is in Hunan Province.

This also led them to get to know some Chinese Americans who were from Hunan Province who were interested in having Durham become a Sister City with a city in Hunan Province.

The Carolina China Council assisted us in finding a city in Hunan province which was interested in being a Sister City.

That partnership with Zhuzhou has now included two school visits from China to work with four different schools in Durham,  students and teachers from the School for Creative Studies visiting Zhuzhou, and plans for additional school exchanges.


Program Report: Adam Klein – American Underground

Durham Rotary 03 2017–A Klein small The American Underground has done a bang up job of providing a path and encouragement for minorities and women who want to become part of the entrepreneurial movement. But what about us old folks? It’s also admirable that the model has evolved to include physical products and not just software and high tech stuff. And how smart is it to include professional services, which I assume includes lawyers, graphic designers, accountants, and maybe even real estate agents? Check it out on

But back to us old folks. How many toilets are there in the world? How many guys think it’s more than a little icky to have to lift a toilet seat to do number 1, especially in a restaurant, rest stop, or, God help us, a gas station? What if someone invented a levered device that bolted to the toilet bowl under the seat that would lift the seat out of the way but when in the down position a also provided additional support to rise from the seated position like the arm of a chair without adding those ugly grab bars to the wall?

You have signed the non-disclosure, haven’t you?

Crazy idea maybe, but when Adam Klein, who describes himself as the Chief Strategist of the American Underground, or the Startup Hub of the South, mentioned Feline Innovations’ cat scratching device with replaceable scratch pads as one of the companies participating in the Startup Stampede now in progress, I thought maybe not that crazy. But isn’t that to point…to put together potential entrepreneurs in an environment where they can collaborate and support each other. Anyone that has done product development knows that having a product is often the easiest part of launching a company to sell it.

Case in point, the story of David Baron, the founder of and past member of the American Underground who shared his four-year journey last month to the launch of his product, which is essentially four cushions covered with fabric that configure as a bed or a couch or a fort for the kids. A simple idea maybe but the interesting part was how they improvised the packaging with the help of forklift hydraulics and market it exclusively online.

The idea of having like-minded folks around with experience, however uneven, in things like accounting, marketing, pricing, e-commerce, fund raising, packaging, regulations and dozens of other necessary components that complement the creative process is a big help.

This is the second time that Adam has spoken to us. The first time was in December of 2012. We tend to think about American Underground in terms of what it has meant to Durham and there is no question that it has come a long way and been a major factor in the revitalization of Downtown but we shouldn’t overlook the service it provides for entrepreneurs like David and the impact they have on our city. Some of the key statistics are here from Adam’s Power Point presentation.

This time he was introduced by his friend and our fellow Rotarian Mike Kriston who is a senior vice president at McDonald York Building company. We hope Adam won’t wait another 4 or 5 years to visit again. In fact, maybe Mike can convince him to join. We have our own Innovation Fellows program here that could probably benefit from his experience. The American Underground website is

Product number 2 from Bathroom Innovations… how about a gymnastics ring hung from the ceiling for those that would rather pull themselves up than push themselves up from the seated position. Those of you who still have knees that can get you up without help, need to be thinking ahead anyway. By the way, Feline Innovations really does exist and the product is pretty cool. Check it out here. When I adopted my cats, they were already de-clawed but if they weren’t I’d consider it and it would probably be the most attractive accessory in my whole house.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Program Report: Mike Wienold on Rotary Fellowship Groups and Our Next 100 Days

For many Rotary members, new and old alike, we join service groups on a one-time or regular basis to feel connected to our local community and other local Rotary members. On Monday, we learned about the benefits of a different type of group, Rotary Fellowships — these groups are international in scope (a minimum of three countries must be represented) and they consist of 12 or more participants. Each group is organized around a theme, often a hobby or occasion or activity. A couple of examples include Rotary Global History Fellowship or the Fellowship of Canoeing Rotarians.

There are several reasons to get involved in fellowships; it’s a way to connect with Rotarians outside of the local network; it’s a recruiting tool to draw new Rotarians to service; and, Rotarians can learn valuable vocational skills through fellowship. Additionally, if a local chapter is organizing a fundraiser around a particular theme, there might be a fellowship group that specializes in that theme and can help with organization.

The fellowship groups often plan and meet via email or video chat, and they typically organize an annual in-person meeting around their shared activity. The ski group plans a two week trip each year where they ski, fundraise, and plan future activities and fundraisers, for instance. Groups also meet at the international convention each year.

To get involved in a fellowship group or to learn more, check out

Our Next 100 Days

We have 100 days until the end of the Rotary year, and there are several projects that need our utmost attention.


The Education Committee presented on several volunteer opportunities, and they have three more meetings where members can get involved. Please check the calendar for dates and locations:

Topics to be covered in future Education Committee meetings include:

  • the RYLA retreat which will be the weekend of April 21st
  • finding more volunteers for Reading Rangers to help students with end of year test preparation
  • identifying host families for Youth Exchange
  • working with Book Harvest on a partnership project
  • growing the scholarship fund


New membership chair, Marge Nordstrom, presented on their plans for the next 100 days.

They are tackling the membership directory and making sure each member has a photo in it – if anyone needs a photo to be taken for the directory, Jay Zenner will take photos on 3/6 and 3/13.

Rotary Club of Durham has added 18 new members since July 1, 2016. There will be another orientation for new members on March 13th, and the New Membership Committee will use a new team member approach. New members are placed on six to eight person teams and each team will have two guides, one veteran member and one newer member. With a more hands on approach to club membership, the committee hopes to further their central tenets of retention, engagement, recruitment and technology.

CART Bucket

Other important topics of note include our district fundraising goal for Alzheimer’s research. We have two weeks to meet our $4,000 goal and so far we have raised just shy of $2,000. Plan to bring large bills to drop into the CART buckets next week.

On March 13th we vote for our new board – be there or be square!

Community Service Recognition

Last but not least, five Rotarians were recognized for their community service achievements:

Peter Jacobi – Salvation Army Bell Ringers

Carver Weaver – MLK Meal Packing

Nancy Gordon – Alzheimers Caregivers Luncheon

Nancy Marks – Alzheimers Caregivers Luncheon

Meg Solera – Alzheimers Caregivers Luncheon

Program Report – Adam Eisenrauch – Emily K Center

Adam Eigenrauch, the Executive Director of the Emily K Center asked for a show of hands of those that had been to their facility on Chapel Hill Road.  A lot of hands went up but it probably didn’t surprise him because we have had at least one meeting there and we do award the Brown Family Scholarship to one of the graduates of their program every year.  At least once several Rotarians have participated in a career night at the center.

Adam was introduced by Rotarian Gerry Musante who joined the board of the Emily K Center in 1999 when planning for the center began and remained on it until last year when he was honored with Emeritus status.  Adam has been Executive Director since November of 2010 and came to the Center in 2006 as Director of Education after 10 years as an educator and administrator in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

The Center’s mission revolves around identifying promising students in Durham County from disadvantaged backgrounds and providing intense tutoring and support to lay a future foundation for getting into college and being successful there. Separate programs support the We have met several of these students when the scholarships have been awarded.  Pioneer Scholars is for first through eighth graders, Scholars to College is for them as high school students and Scholars on Campus supports them during their first two years of college.

While this intense focus on a few students has been very successful, what Adam came to talk about was an expansion of their support for potential college students to all Durham high school student. Students participate in interactive college access focused workshops and individualized one-on-one advising services. Workshops are offered both at the Center and in the community. Advising sessions are personalized and flexible, with office hours established based on student availability. Students may participate in as many or as few Game Plan: College services as they wish.

Since there was a little confusion caused by me about who was going to do this write-up, I had to go to the Emily K website to make sure I had some of the details right. Like often happens when I do this, confused or not, I get engrossed in whatever site I find. One of the interesting features was the embedded video below which introduces Game Plan: College. If you are reading this in the printed bulletin you can find the video on the Center’s website at under the Programs tab or go to this write up on our club’s website at

For those of you who might be reading this in India or Argentina on our website and wondering who Emily K was, she was the inspiration for Hall of Fame Duke Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K is the Founder of the Emily K Center and it is dedicated to his mom.


Submitted by Jay Zenner

Program Report – David Baron, Founder of

Don’t just sit there – go to!

As a little boy with a lot of energy, David Baron too often heard “that’s not a toy.” Delicate things, dangerous things, and things his mother claimed were “just for looks” – he converted them into tools and toys. He broke things, and sometimes broke himself. So he decided early on that when he grew up, he wanted to change that and be able to say, “that’s a toy.”

As a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, he discovered that sleeping on a futon – particularly a cheap one – was way less than desirable. He found they broke, they were cumbersome, and they ended up in the dumpster. He was offended that the big box stores could get away with that, basically “tricking customers.” It hit him: that was the opportunity to make something better, and way more delightful. He was on track to become a successful manufacturing entrepreneur just a few years later.

Baron, CEO of, an e-commerce business based in downtown Durham that sells fun foam futons called Nuggets, is a native of Atlanta. Prior to Monday’s speaking engagement, his experience with Rotary was “a dedicated park bench on a corner in suburban Dunwoody, Georgia.” He appeared a bit taken aback by the size of his Rotary audience, but quickly warmed to his topic. [Read more…]