Meeting Report: Annual Picnic

My first lunch in Durham since high school was about this time of year in 1984 with Past President Bill Burns in the Hope Valley dining room with a view of the green on the 18th hole. During the conversation about moving to Durham to work for Bill at CCB, a ball landed on the green and rolled within a couple of feet of the hole.  Good omen I thought and decided to do it.  A year or so later Bill sponsored me in Rotary.

I noted that that view hasn’t changed much in the 34 years as my daughter, granddaughter and I joined the festivities at the First Annual Durham Rotary Family picnic at HVCC, while Durham and the Rotary Club certainly have.

Of the country clubs in Durham, HVCC strikes me as quintessentially Southern, and is my favorite by being elegant but not ostentatious. On this day it was also the perfect place for the picnic. There were tables set on both the covered portico to catch a breeze or a step into the dining room by the buffet if it was too hot for you.

The food, although picnic fare, also had a country club flair. The salad was beautiful, the hamburgers and hot dogs were oversized, the grilled chicken was just right. There was an impressive fruit platter that left me wondering how they left the little rind handles on the watermelon slices. And the deserts…wow. And all set on linen covered table cloths. The great HVCC staff hovered over it to make sure everything was going well.

The practice putting green, cornhole games and the swimming pool were open for our group to use and I confess I spent a good deal of time at the pool watching my granddaughter. Maddy is six and a half and starts 1st grade at Hope Valley elementary next week.

All great fun, but the primary reason for the picnic was the opportunity for fellowship and the casual interaction of members and their families. In my observation that made the picnic a great success and verified the leadership’s desire for more fellowship opportunities where we can get to know our fellow Rotarians outside the constraints of the jam-packed regular meetings.

President Brady and an ad hoc committee that included Arthur Rogers, Savannah Lennertz, Gin Jackson, Julie Wells and Elisabeth Wiener pulled the event together with the HVCC staff. 

I have another confession to make.  I was going to take pictures and I forgot. The only pictures I got were of my granddaughter. Maddy is fearless. After jumping off the diving board a couple of times, I dared her to do a flip. She’s never attempted one before, but she didn’t even stop to think about it. She did a half dozen or so and was getting a little better each time but the lifeguard, who seemed even more amazed than I was but more concerned, stopped her.

If anyone else got any pictures, if you send them to me I will add them to the post on the website.

– Jay Zenner

Brown Family Scholarship Winner

As her final duty as Chair of the Scholarship Committee, Meg Solera introduced the latest Brown Family Scholarship winner, Justin Gunn. The scholarship was established with funds contributed a long time Rotarian and the father of current Rotarian Judge Craig Brown and benefits students from the Emily K Center.

Justin Gunn has been attending the Pioneer Scholars program (for elementary grade students) and then the Scholars to College program (for high school students) at the Emily K Center since he was in the third grade. He is a graduate of Jordan HS, and will be attending Williams College in Mass. and plans to study Political Science. Williams is always listed as a top five liberal arts college nationally. From left to right in the photo are Judge Brown, Adam Eigenrauch, Ex. Dir. of the Emily K Center, Rotarian Kim Suarez (Development Dir at the Durham Nativity School) and incoming Rotary scholarship liaison to the Emily K Center, Camille Wilson, Emily K Center Associate Director of College Readiness, Justin Gunn, Robin Gunn (mother of recipient),  and Meg Solera.

Adam gave an update of the current fundraising campaign at the Emily K Center and there plans for expansion. Camille updated us on the work of prior Brown Family recipients. Of those who have graduated, one teaches in Texas and is working on her Master’s in Education at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, another is a science lab technician, and a third works in Durham at a law office. The rest are on schedule to graduate from college and are doing well. The scholarship has definitely made an impact on the lives of these students and their future career opportunities.

Congratulations to Justin, the dedicated professionals at the Emily K Center, the Scholarship Committee and all those who contributed to this successful program.

New Class of Innovation Fellows 2018

Christopher Gergen on the right introduced the fourth class of Innovation Fellows to the Club.

As a reminder, As a reminder, the Fellowship was proposed and organized by Mr. Gergen and is meant to provide an exceptional leadership development experience for emerging innovators in our community who are striving to make measurable, sustainable and scalable impacts in their respective fields.  It is also an opportunity to emphasize the concept of “inclusive innovation” – welcoming leaders from diverse backgrounds and neighborhoods into the Rotary community and the broader Durham leadership network.

New Rotarians and Innovation Fellows Cecilia Polanko, Tobias Rose and Camryn Smith are flanked by President Brady Surles and the left and Mr. Gergen on the right.

New Member: Camryn Smith

Please introduce yourself and welcome new member Camryn Smith who was sponsored by Christopher Gergen.

Camryn is the Executive Director for Communities In Partnership, founded in Wake County and now having programs in Durham, Mecklenburg, Forsyth and Pitt Counties.

Communities In Partnership provides direct services to children and adults with developmental disabilities, adults with brain injuries, and adults with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders.

The Communities In Partnership Team is made up of experienced therapists, job coaches, case managers, and other professionals. Camryn is married to Ernest Smith and lives in Durham.

New Member: Tobias Rose

Please welcome and introduce yourself to new member Tobias Rose who was sponsored by Christopher Gergen.

Tobias is the Principal/Owner of Kompleks Creative, located in Downtown Durham, on Parrish Street.  When founding Kompleks Creative, Tobias’ goal was to create a designer-friendly environment that pushed creative limits and brought edgy concepts into otherwise-conservative environments.

At the same time, he wanted to develop a strategic component that would help clients meet their business objectives. As a student at North Carolina Central University, Tobias started Kompleks Creative (formerly known as The Praktis) in his dorm room. He later graduated with a Bachelor’s in Art with a concentration in Visual Communications, and has since served on the Board of Visitors for the College of Arts and Sciences.

In 2012, Tobias received the NCCU Forty Under 40 Award for contributions tothe arts and entrepreneurship. Tobias grew up in Kannapolis North Carolina, and is currently engaged to be married to Chantal Winston.

New Member: Cecilia Polanco – Innovation Fellow

Please introduce yourself and welcome new member Ceci Polanco, one of this years class of Innovation Fellows.

At 25, Cecilia Polanco owns and manages So Good Pupusas, a social justice food truck serving Salvadoran pupusas, and their partner non-profit Pupusas for Education, which awards college scholarships for undocumented students.

Born in California to Salvadoran immigrant parents, and raised in Durham, Polanco was the second student to graduate from Durham’s Northern High School as a UNC Chapel Hill Morehead-Cain Scholar in twenty years.

As a recipient in the first class of Global Gap Year Fellowship, Cecilia took a gap year between high school and college to volunteer and travel abroad as a global citizen. Her passions lie within access to higher education, business as a force for good, and advancing racial equity.

Since graduating Carolina in 2016, Cecilia has been a HPJ Fellow with the social justice consulting firm Frontline Solutions, a Smith Fellow for the Southern Foodways Alliance, and a Fellow with the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation.

She is on the board of the Helius Foundation (small business consulting for need-based and entrepreneurs of color), NC SLI (high school honors and college prep program for Latinx youth), the Gap Year Association (national gap year accreditation organization) and serves on the City of Durham Women’s Commission.

Recently she was recognized as a Local Food Hero by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, and also works as a facilitator on their Committee on Racial Equity in food systems team.

She hopes to one day open a second truck or restaurant as a platform for community culinary entrepreneurs to start their businesses, and to return to school to obtain a Masters in Business Administration or Education.