Paul Harris Fellow Award – Cathleen S Colon-Emeric

Area Foundation Chairman Dallas Stallings presented a Paul Harris Fellow to Doctor Cathleen Colon-Emric, the daughter of Rotarian Harvey Sellner and his wife Calla. Here is the presentation that Dallas delivered.

She was born into a family where the values of Rotary’s mottos, “Service Above Self” and “Doing Good In the World” were always articulated in life style and practice even though at that time there was no Rotarian in the family.  From an early age she began to pattern her own life  around these same values, a life style that has followed her from childhood to professional life.

She was first introduced to Rotary by volunteering for four years with her junior scout troop serving pancakes at the annual Rotary Community holiday pancake breakfast.  “Service Above Self.”  As a Girl Scout she continued to take the idea of service seriously by working with younger Scouts, teaching them camping skills and then taking them camping to practice the skills they had practiced  — and no matter the kind of weather present on those camping trips.  As a Senior Scout she became the leader of a younger troop of girls, instilling in them the same love of scouting that she had.  Using her love of singing and organizational skills, she often led fellow scouts in camp fire sing-a-longs, eventually leading to a Council-wide song fest for 1200 Girl Scouts….”Doing Good in the World.”  And as a parent scouting was never far from her mind as she changed from green of Girl Scouts to the Kahaki of Boy Scouts as she and her husband worked along side their two sons on their trail to the Eagle Scout Award.

In High School she was selected as program director for an international Girl Scout/Girl Guide Wider Opportunity which led to her receiving  Girl Scouting’s highest award   — The Gold Award.  Again, “Doing Good in the World.”

Upon graduating as Valedictorian, she headed to Cornell where she continued her life of service and where she selected as her dorm a community of students where volunteering in the community was emphasized.  Following Cornell our recipient  became a Big Sister in Baltimore while in graduate school at John Hopkins Medical School and today here in Durham she continues to live the values of service in her professional work, still putting “Service Above Self.”

Today she is a professor of medicine and Division Chair of Geriatrics, specializing in geriatrics,  at Duke Medical Center and VA Hospitals where she places emphasis in the areas of male osteoporosis and hip fractures.  Still “Doing Good in the World.”

Today on behalf of The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and her parents I am pleased to Award a Paul Harris Fellowship to Dr. Cathleen Colon-Emeric and I invite her to come forward with her parents Harvey and Calla

Poinsettia Time Again

Please support our Poinsettia project!

Last year we created the Lois R. Cranford Learning Legacy Fund to honor Lois who cared passionately about our community and was a dedicated and active Rotarian. Lois was involved in many of our projects but she championed the poinsettia project. The poinsettia project serves 2 purposes, to support the “Lois” Fund and to thank the first responders in our community with these poinsettias. We will be delivering the poinsettias to the Durham Police Department as well as to the Fire Department. We also will work with a local nonprofit to help share the spirit of the holiday season with those less fortunate.

A donation of $20 will purchase 2 poinsettias. You can write a check, make a cash donation or make a donation via credit card after the meeting. Checks should indicate in the memo line that this is for the Poinsettia Project. Thank you for making this a special holiday for special people in our community.

Submitted by Kim Shaw

Program Report: The New Class of Innovation Fellows

Club member, Ari Medoff, introduced the three newest Rotary Innovation Fellows to the club, briefly explained the background behind the Innovation Fellows program and pointing out that with the support of a fund, the Rotary Innovations Fellows can now apply for a $2,000 grant to support the efforts of their ventures. He then turned the podium over to each of them to explain their ventures and report progress of them.

Camryn Smith is Executive Director of Communities in Partnership. She said that it started out about six to seven years ago as an effort to create a safe space in their neighborhood in Old East Durham.  It has grown to be a holistic effort at community development for Afro-American People and other Communities as well. She explained that it focuses on areas of Racial Equity, Leadership Development, Health Care and Wellness and is also involved with the purchase of housing stock that can provide affordable housing for those working and living in Durham’s gentrifying neighborhoods. She has been at this for about seven years and cites Self Help Credit Union, Duke Healthcare, the Durham Merchant’s Association and others who have been great help to her. She said that they have developed a Food Co-op and are partnering with Durham Tech for new business ideas. Website:

Cecilia Polanci opened with the fact that she just turned 26 and that her father came to the U.S. from El Salvador when he was 26. She said that she has been three years in Durham and has a food truck called “So Good Pupusas, A Taste of El Salvador.” While she has ambitions to expand to another food truck or a storefront, she is also focused on helping others. She is an ally of undocumented people and created a non-profit scholarship program called P4E, that is helping 5 students. She is a graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill and was able to attend due to scholarship assistance. She is dreaming big about possibilities for others and is particularly in need of help on how to grow endowments in order to make that happen. Website:

Tobias Rose is the Principle/Owner of Kompleks Creative, a venture that he started from his dorm room at NC Central University. Now located downtown on Black Wall Street at 106 Parrish Street, their focus on helping people “do what they like” through branding, web site design and other creative work with a focus now on clients in Durham. As they refocused on the local market, they noticed that there was a pronounced lack of Venture Capital Help for Black-owned businesses. That led them to found Black Wall Street Homecoming, a three-day series of entertainment, speakers, workshops and networking opportunities. Over five years the event has grown and attracted some of the top publications and experts on Entrepreneurship, including a recent appearance by the editorial staff of “Fast Company.” They are continuing to look at new initiatives as they grow. Website:

Submitted by Doug Butler

Special Treat – Choral Society of Durham

The Club departed slightly from the usual order of business for a special program provided by the Choral Society of Durham. The program was organized by Rotarian and Choral member Doug Butler. The program was led by Dr. Rodney Wynkoop, who has served as conductor and artistic director of the Choral Society of Durham since 1986. He is also director of University Choral Music, Director of Chapel Music, and Professor of the Practice of Music at Duke University.

The group present was a small but very talented section of the total Choral. Introductions of each piece by Dr. Wynkoop demonstrated the range of their performance capabilities.  Dr. Wynkoop has served as conductor and artistic director of the Choral Society of Durham since 1986. He is also director of University Choral Music, Director of Chapel Music, and Professor of the Practice of Music at Duke University.

Dr. Wynkoop extended an invitation to Rotarians to attend the Concerts for the Holiday Season, Saturday December 8 and Sunday December 9 at the Duke Chapel for a performance of La Fiesta de la Posada by Dave Brubeck before they sung a short piece of it for the Club.

The Choral Society has a long history in Durham going back to 1949. More information is available on their website including ways to support them. Many thanks to Doug and Dr. Wynkoop for the program.

Where Does the Money Go – President Elect Todd Taylor

President Elect Todd Taylor declared himself the Forrest Gump of Rotary, which was appropriate at our Veterans Day observance since he was a Navy pilot with heroic tendencies (he flew at the South Pole) and Forrest was a modest fictional hero who served in the Vietnam war. But Todd’s mission this day was not to talk about heroics in war or cold climates but the everyday heroics that the money raised by Rotary funds. Truth be told, it’s confusing, and Todd assumed the persona of Forrest in an effort to simplify…”Life is like a box of chocolates…

You really had to be there to get the full story, but the image below is a clickable link to a pdf document that was created from his PowerPoint for you to peruse. But even if it’s just a strong shadow of the full presentation, it should be enough to convince you that everything is under control and you’ll get something you like out of this box of chocolates.

Veterans Day Program: Lt.Colonel Jacques Michienzi

The commemoration of Veterans Day opened with a recognition of club members who were veterans followed by a stirring medley of songs from each of the branches of military service sung by our Rotary Veterans Day Chorus led by George Deaton.

This year’s Veterans Day was especially significant because it marked the centennial of the armistice concluding World War I—fighting ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.  Originally known as “Armistice Day,” the name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower.

Steed Rollins and Don Stanger worked hard to organize this outstanding program.

Few Americans could better personify a military “veteran” than today’s speaker, Jacques Michienzi, who served in World War II, the Korean conflict, and two tours in Vietnam.  He is ninety-five years old, vigorous, sharp as a tack, modest and shares Past President Don’s passion for fly fishing.  He was born to immigrants from southern Italy in St. Paul, Minnesota.  His father had originally come to Montana, but when World War I broke out he returned to Italy for his fiancé, came back to the U.S. through Ellis Island and—Jacques learned much later in life—enlisted in the Army and was gassed while fighting in Europe.

As a platoon sergeant In World War II Jacques’ unit was pummeled during the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944-early 1945.  He himself suffered frostbite from the snow and bitter cold.  Soon after, his airborne unit parachuted into Germany to secure a bridgehead over the Rhine River for British tanks.  In the Korean conflict—I learned from the internet—his level headed leadership and bravery, despite serious wounds, saved his combat patrol from annihilation.

Prior to seeing combat in Vietnam he served as a regimental infantry adviser to South Vietnamese troops—whose colonel was originally from North Korea, had fought the French but had joined the South Vietnamese army because “the pay was better.”  After American troops were committed to battle in Vietnam, Lt. Colonel Michienzi served as battalion commander.  His courageous leadership was most notably on display—again, I learned from the internet—during an intense three day battle in 1969 with North Vietnamese forces.

Jacques is a highly decorated veteran—several bronze stars, several silver stars, several purple hearts, the Legion of Merit and, most significantly, the Distinguished Service Cross.  The DSC, second only to the Medal of Honor, was awarded to him following the fierce 1969 firefights in Vietnam for—according to the citation—“his extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty.”

The club saluted Jacques Michienzi with a standing ovation.

Submitted by Allen Cronenberg