Program Report: Kevin Leonard – North Carolina Association of County Commissioners

Like any long journey, progress is often made in small steps with pauses, wrong turns and unexpected obstacles.  It’s all worth it though when during one of those pauses you look up from the road, realize where you are and say “Wow.”

Our guest and the primary presenter on Monday was Kevin Leonard, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. Mr. Leonard was with us at the invitation of Rotarian and County Commissioner Brenda Howerton. In the upcoming year, Ms. Howerton will assume the presidency of the organization which will mark the first time in the 100 + year history of the organization a commissioner from Durham has held that role.

Before Ms. Howerton introduced Mr. Leonard, the program was introduced by Club Vice President Shelly Green, who, of course, also leads the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau.  She announced that another historical milestone, that is that the NCACC’s Annual Conference will be held here in Durham. This might not have been possible even a few years ago, at least in Downtown Durham. Durham now hosts thousands of annual conferences and this is now possible because of the many new hotels in the area. Older members will remember when Rotary meetings were held in the old Heart of Durham Motel located where the Transportation Hub is now at a time when there was no convention center and the space it occupies now was a line of abandoned retail buildings with decaying art projects in their windows.  The activity in the Convention Center has now reached the point that it has become a problem for the club, forcing us to frequently seek “off-site” locations for our meetings. Indeed, this meeting was hosted again by TROSA at their campus on James Street.

There are 100 counties in North Carolina, represented by an equal number of county managers and 583 commissioners plus sponsors and other officials who will be in town for the Conference in August. This is an important opportunity to showcase Durham’s progress to an important statewide audience.

After a warm introduction by Ms. Howerton, Mr. Leonard first recognized and thanked those in the audience who had chosen to seek elective office and serve in underpaid and underappreciated roles. A primary role of the Association is advocacy in the legislature. Two of their issues during this session have been for allocating more lottery money for school construction and against attempts to regionalize social services.

Each president adopts a theme. The current president who Ms. Howerton will succeed is Fred McClure of Davidson County who focused on the availability of mental health treatment and the opioid epidemic, that is so much in the national news these days.

The inevitable question that arose and was voiced by Rotarian Larry Crane was about managing a group of representatives from every county without falling into the fault lines we see in the legislature created by the divergent interests of rural and urban areas.  Mr. Leonard responded by pointing out that they focus on issues that are common to all counties and work closely with North Carolina League of Municipalities.

My “wow!” moment came when Mr. Leonard ticked off the list of new hotels in Downtown Durham that would be used by the attendees of the August conference.  But his presentation was also an interesting peek under the hood of the machinery of government especially when he mentioned some of the other function of the NCACC, such as the education of new commissioners, research and even risk management. You can learn more about the NCACC at their website

Our thanks again go to all the folks at TROSA for their hospitality.  TROSA itself is another one of those amazing milestones in Durham’s progress.

Past President Lois in Martha’s Vineyard

Past President Lois sent us a picture of her and a new Rotary friend in Martha’s Vineyard. I’m glad she explained where she was ’cause I was wondering about the beanie.  My first impression was that if was supposed to be a reindeer but I guess it’s a lobster.

Rotary International Convention in Atlanta

June 26 EOY “Celebration and Fair Meeting”

Come by 12 noon for Fellowship and Visit the Display Tables
(Committees and Projects)
 Enjoy Appetizers  —  Enter Drawings for Door Prizes

Our Meal: A combination of the Appetizers and Sandwiches, Chips and Fruit.
Dessert will be at the end of the meeting at the Display Tables.

We recognize the many key leaders of our 2016 – 2017 Rotary Year:.
RI Service Areas of Community, Youth, Vocational, International, Club.
  And we present these Special Awards:
Rookie of the Year;  Rotarian of the Year;  Nicholas Fagan Award

Door Prizes:  PH Points, History of Durham Rotary Books,
Centerfest VIP family pack,  One registration for a summer camp,
International Gifts,  Alzheimer’s Items, Rotary Eco-Friendly items,
Rotary Caps, Mugs, Tote Bags

Program Report – Latino Community Credit Union

One of my more disturbing dreams is being lost in a town where I know I have a place to go but can’t find it, nobody can understand what I’m saying and my wallet seems to have disappeared. If the dream is really bad, I’m under-dressed…or worse.

Rotarian Jenny Levine introduced a program about the Latino Community Credit Unions mission to integrate immigrants into the financial mainstream. Our two presenters were Gabe Treves, a Development and Community Affairs Senior Specialist and Silvia Rincon, Director, Office of the CEO.

In the kindergarten class that Don Stanger and I tutored in this year, there were several Latino students who spoke virtually no English.  The challenge with one young guy was to get him to even say his name and acknowledge your presence.  Happily, by the end of the year, his natural gregariousness had fully emerged and the challenge was to get him to sit still for a few moments. He may not have won any reading awards, but at least he wasn’t so overwhelmed by the bad dream he was waking from. This ignited the flares of empathy and appreciation for the courage that it takes to face the difficulties of settling in a strange country, often with few resources.

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Rotary International Convention – Rotary Minute June 11, 2017

Day 2 at  the International Conventions in Atlanta. The video is produced by RI. The picture below it is from President BC and shows some of the Rotarians from Durham at Dinner in Atlanta.