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

New Member February 26 – Candace Minjares

Please welcome Candace Minjares! In her own words here is a little bit about her and we look forward to learning more.

Born & raised in Texas, my parents had me on horses before I could walk. After graduating from Texas A&M, I moved to Chicago for law school. After 8 years in Chicago, I moved to North Carolina seeking warmer weather & to be closer to my sister in Southern Pines. I specialize in trusts and estate administration at Kennon Craver here in Durham.

CART Bucket “Challenge” – March 6 Meeting

  Can We Meet the CART Bucket Challenge – March 6 Meeting?

$440.49 was received for CART on 2/27 making a total of $2,314.49.

We need $1,686 to reach our Goal of $4,000 on Monday.

How Can We Do It On Monday?
1)   Bring Bags of Coins

2)   Consider putting $5, $10,  $20 in the Bucket

3)   Consider a tax deductible check to “The CART Fund”

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

Alzheimer’s Caregivers Celebrated Again

On February 19th, 75 guests gathered at the Levin Jewish Community Center in Durham for the 3rd annual Rotary Alzheimer’s Caregivers’ Appreciation Luncheon. The event is jointly sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Durham.  Attendees were treated to lunch, an acapella serenade by the Pitchforks of Duke University, a takeaway gift box of truffles and a great raffle of twenty prizes.    Raffle prizes were generously donated by local merchants and included gift certificates from local restaurants, bottles of wine, massage and pedicure treatments and movie night packages among many others. The event was great fun and guests were very appreciative of the opportunity to attend.

The planning committee was comprised of Rotarians Nancy Gordon, Meg Solera, Emily Page all of Downtown Club, Della Michaux of the Sunrise Rotary and Assistant Governor Joyce McKinney of the Southwest Club. Committee members organized over the past 4 months to ensure the event’s success.  Emily Page served as emcee, the invocation was given by Nancy Gordon and Meg Solera, once again, served as raffle announcer- extraordinaire, generating great excitement for each prize.  Past District Governor Newman Aguiar shared a video and remarks about Rotary’s commitment to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.  Bobbi Matchar of Duke Family Support Services also offered remarks.  Several Rotarians volunteered to serve as table hosts and to lend a helping hand as needed.

Alzheimer’s is a chronic, progressive, neurodegenerative disease  that slowly erodes memory and thinking skills and eventually even the ability to carry out simple tasks.   Alzheimer’s disease impacts about 5 million people nationally. In North Carolina, over 170,000 people are affected by Alzheimer’s and these numbers are expected to increase to 210,000 by the year 2025.  Caregivers are tasked with tremendous responsibilities and the demands on them increase with time.

Rotary continuously supports Alzheimer’s research through CART bucket collections. The caregivers’ luncheon is a direct, personal experience offered to members of the Durham community whose lives are impacted by the disease.  The luncheon is made possible through a joint area grant from the Rotary Foundation.

Deepest thanks are extended to the Levin JCC and its wonderful staff for graciously sharing their facility, to the Pitchforks of Duke University for our fabulous entertainment, to Carolyn Aaronson for our centerpiece arrangements and to the Leaders of Tomorrow of the Raleigh-Durham Chapter of the National Black MBA Association for assembling our take-away gifts.

Finally, a very special thank you goes to all of our raffle sponsors for their generous donations that helped to make this Rotary event a success:


California Pizza Kitchen – Southpoint Mall

City Barbeque of Durham – Highway 54 and Fayetteville Road

Dulce Café & Gelato – Sutton Station

Nana’s – University Drive

Nantucket Grill – Sutton Station

Pulcinella’s Italian – Woodcroft Shopping Center

Washington Duke Inn – Cameron Boulevard

Watt’s Grocery – Broad Street


Spas & Massage Services

Bella Trio Spa & Salon – Sutton Station

Luxury Nail Salon – Fayetteville Road & Highway 54

Mary McFarland Massage – Guess Road



Big Bundts Bakery – Broad Street

Carolina Theatre of Durham – W. Morgan Street

Durham Co-op Market – W. Chapel Hill Street