Program Report: Renee Fink – What Can the Holocaust Teach Us Today

When I saw the program was to be delivered by a holocaust survivor I wondered how one of those skeletal figures pictured when the death camps were liberated in 1945 could have survived 70 plus years now and still be giving presentations to students and civic clubs.

So, I was a little surprised when I met Ms. Fink who was clearly younger than that by at least a decade or two.  Minutes into her presentation, however, it was apparent why she and possibly a generation or two after her are also genuine holocaust survivors.

My daughter Steph and granddaughter Maddy came to live with me three years ago now. Maddy is now five and has started kindergarten. I cannot imagine the agony we would feel if it ever got so dangerous here that our best option for her safety was to hand her over to an underground railway to deliver her to an unknown family in another country.

For those that were at the meeting, you know that Ms. Fink’s story was told in four videos that were entitled On the Back of a Stranger’s Bicycle: Renee Fink’s Story. Our time constraints being what they are, she stopped at three videos, but there is a fourth and I urge you to watch it too on-line. If you are reading this on the Club’s website, I’m going to embed the first video on the site so that those who couldn’t attend the meeting can see all four of them in sequence. If you just want to watch the fourth you will see links to all four of them by clicking through and watching them on YouTube. Or you can go to the website where you will find a biography of Ms. Fink and a link to the videos.

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New Venue – September 11, 2017

On the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, the Durham Rotary Club had it’s first meeting in it’s new Downtown Venue, the PNC suite at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. President Seth Jernigan, Vice President Shelly Green, Membership Committee Chair Marge Nordstrom and Executive Secretary Sharon Lassiter engineered the move on behalf of the club. Club Photographer-for-Really-Important-Events, Tom Bagby took a few shots of the spanking new facility for posterity.


Program Report: District Governor Shafi Parekh

Durham Rotary Past President and Current Assistant District Governor, Susan Ross introduced the new District Governor, Shafi Parekh.  It is unusual to meet one man whose life illustrates both the international nature of Rotary and Rotary’s commitment to service, but DG Shafi certainly fills the bill.

After getting his degree in dairy and food science from the University of Reading in England, Mr. Parekh lived and worked in many places around the world including Cuba, Puerto Rico, Pakistan, Michigan, Texas and California. His Rotary history includes four districts including one in Pakistan, one in Michigan, one in Texas and now the one he leads, district 7710 here in North Carolina.

Of the four districts, he considers this one the best, which is an appropriate political statement, of course, but set the tone for his plans for individual clubs and the district.

For many years Rotary International has been concerned with the demographics of the membership, especially the average age. Goals have been set and the long term national goal is about 35% of membership to be under 40 years old. He talked about starting two clubs himself with very high percentages of under 40 members.

In a mature club like ours with reasonable retention of membership these goals may be difficult to reach but newer blood in the 10% range is attainable. Strategically, the objective is sustaining an active membership and service projects. Governor Parekh suggested several tactical solutions to achieving these goals including grabbing the “low hanging fruit.”  This means seeking out new members who already have knowledge of Rotary and/or a commitment to service. He mentioned transfers, youth exchange beneficiaries, Peace Corps members, and Junior Chamber members who have “aged out” of their clubs.

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Bull City Race Fest

Join fellow Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Interactors again this year as we support the runners participating in the Bull City Racefest while raising money for EndPolioNow!  The Rotary Foundation will receive $30 per volunteer, so come on out and help in the fight to end polio!

Date: 10/22/2017 (Sun.)Time: 6:30am – 8:30am EDT Location: Watts Street

Click HERE or the picture to sign up.

Rotary Minute: Judge Willis Whichard – On Leaving the Convention Center

Many years ago when I had the privilege of representing Durham in the North Carolina Senate, there was an occasion on which the City of Durham entertained the General Assembly.  The event was held in a tobacco warehouse on a very hot night in the late spring.  Subsequently many members of the General Assembly said to me, “I hope you get a civic center.”

We meet today in this civic or convention center for the last time, at least on a regular basis.  Only a few of us are old enough, or have been in Durham long enough, to remember when the city had no such facility and thus had to entertain distinguished guests in a hot tobacco warehouse.  The old armory across the street was called a civic center, but it was obviously quite ill-suited and limited for such a purpose.

In January 1980, the Durham Progress Group was established under the leadership of Duke President Terry Sanford, whose 100th birthday some of us observed last week.  Early in its deliberations that group concluded that a civic center-hotel complex in Downtown Durham was a major need in the economic and civic life of the community.  As a consequence, it initiated the formation of the Downtown Durham Development Corporation, the primary purpose of which was to develop a proposal for such a civic center-hotel complex.

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Program Report: George Habel and Benjy Capps – Miracle League of the Triangle

Everyone deserves a chance to play baseball

To the 100 or so die-hard Rotarians who chose to attend Monday’s meeting rather than gaze upon the eclipse, Capitol Sports Vice President George Habel expressed his thanks for the support our club has given. First, for “Take a Kid to a Ballgame,” which – spearheaded by a generous donation from fellow Rotarian Michael Goodmon and Capitol Broadcasting, and complemented by club donations – allowed us to treat 66 youth to a Durham Bulls home game, complete with hotdogs and Bulls baseball caps.

Second, George conveyed his gratitude to the club for choosing to move our weekly meetings to the DBAP. “It was a first-time job-related task when I had to hire a chef for the Bulls,” George said. “And now, with Rotary’s commitment to Monday luncheons, I’ve had to hire a sous chef!” While the Convention Center (and the Marriott before that) have certainly worked hard to be accommodating, our move to the ballpark emphasizes our growing, progressive club’s efforts to represent and support the Durham community even more strongly. Reminder – our Monday, September 11 meeting will be held at the DBAP!

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