Rotary Minute – Rachel Galanter

Rachel Galanter, Executive Director of the Exchange Family Center, spoke on a life changing and crazy decision she and Durham County Department of Social Services made 19 years ago.  She learned things through this experience that research has shown make a difference in helping families, but the lived experience was a powerful teacher that helps her in the work she does. Here is part of her first hand account:

First is that it isn’t enough to share information—you need to really engage in communication.  I attempted to make sure that my foster daughter would be comfortable in my home by sharing information that I thought was essential for her making a decision.  However, the DSS social worker and I didn’t probe her understanding or evoke from her any response.  She would have said yes to “we’ll be going to live on the moon.”  Her face when she realized that my being Jewish meant I didn’t believe in Jesus showed how all the things I had shared when right over her head that day.

There are things we know are protective factors:  resilience, a network of support, social and emotional competency, and parenting skills.  I saw in our relationship each of those in action.  She had experienced trauma, left school in the 6th grade, traveled on her own to this country, and still reached out to get enrolled in school.

Her ability to regroup and keep trying was part of why she was able to eventually graduate high school, get awarded a Neighborhood Hero scholarship, and be a successful adult.  She would not have been able to achieve all of that without the network of support.  This includes friends and family helping with her when I had surgery, El Centro Hispano’s youth program (which gave her a peer group and her first job), school sports teams that gave her a place to shine, a supportive employer, and so on. 

Ultimately, building up her capacity to solve conflicts and handle her feelings was what helped her to be able to focus more on academics and eventually have a job.  She learned to communicate better—simple things like letting people know when to expect her and if plans changed.  These weren’t skills that she had in her family of origin.  When we went to visit, I learned first-hand that a commitment from her parents to give us a ride home from an event was not intended to be taken as guaranteed.

Finally, my ability to provide developmentally appropriate support—letting her have some autonomy as a teenager, but willing to dive in and be her advocate and tutor and to set limits was important.   To really spend the time and talk about the 8th grade reading test she had to pass to graduate and figure out what is getting in her way.

Because her parents didn’t relinquish legal rights I wasn’t able to formerly adopt Diana, but she and I have claimed each other.  She lives in Durham with her husband and 4 children and I am their Nana.

Exchange Family Center is having a fund raiser on Sunday at Wheels Fun Park on Hoover Road on Sunday April 30. More information about it is on the organization’s website .



New Member – Caleb Baker

Kay Gresham of the Membership Committee inducted Caleb Baker. Caleb was sponsored by George Deaton. Caleb has succeeded George as the Development Director of Development for the United Methodist Retirement Homes. Please introduce yourselves and welcome Caleb to the Rotary community.

Program Report – Joe Colopy- Founder of Bronto Software

The Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Annual Tribute Luncheon this month celebrated the start-up culture in Durham. The keynote speaker was the founder of MapQuest, Chris Heivly. Chris is also involved in the start-up culture here and started by asking everyone to imagine themselves as 10 year olds who decide to build a fort. His point was that you didn’t do a lot of planning then, you just went out and looked around and built that fort with whatever was available. MapQuest started as an attempt to improve on the trip planners we used to get from AAA.

Listening to Joe Colopy tell the story of how he started and built Bronto Software, my first thought was that I was beginning to see a pattern here and building forts was a good analogy. Bronto was the leading provider of email marketing software for the top 1000 email retailers from 2014 to 2016. Joe sold the company to NetSuite for $50 million in 2015 and it was subsequently acquired by Oracle. By that time Bronto Grew to over 300 people and $50 M in revenue across 5 offices, with headquarters here in Durham on the American Tobacco Campus and other offices in New York City, Los Angles, London and Sydney.

Before sharing all this, Joe told the story of how he and his wife to be, Karalyn, ended up in Durham. When they were both college students in Massachusetts they headed off to Florida for spring break and Durham happened to be where they stopped halfway down. After college, they joined the Peace Corps.

[Read more…]

Rotary Foundation – Paul Harris Fellows.

The Durham Rotary Roadshow went west again to the new JB Duke on the Duke Campus and then returned to TROSA on James Street before heading Downtown to it’s permanent home at the Convention Center.

At the JB Duke Hotel four special PHF awards were made. Judge Nancy Gordon was awarded her first PHF with points accumulated by friends who wished to honor her.  Nancy Marks was awarded her PHF Plus 5.  Susan Ross was awarded her PHF Plus 4 and Plus 5. Brand new member Lucia Powe jumped right into support of the Foundation with her first PHF at the beautiful new facility on Science Drive.

So that Rotary men were not totally shutout,  Tom Krakauer was awarded his PHF Plus 4 during the meeting at TROSA.

Please congratulate all these great supporters of the Foundation and Committee Chair Andy Esser who made all the awards. 

Rotarian Seth Warner – May He Rest in Peace

Mathematics Professor Emeritus Seth Warner: A man of Science and of the Arts, Seth Warner epitomizes the spirit of Durham; Teacher of Mathematics and a musician at heart.

Seth Warner (PHF) joined the Rotary Club of Durham, NC on 1 January 1975.

On a recent Thursday, Warner, a math professor emeritus who taught at Duke for 40 years, walked up a winding stone staircase to Duke Chapel’s Flentrop 1976 organ. With more than 5,000 pipes towering around him, he used a metal shoehorn to slip on special leather sole shoes to better control the wooden pedals.

As a necessity, Seth Warner learned to play organ as a boy growing up during the Great Depression.

His mother knew that learning how to control the massive pipes was a step toward job security in the 1930s. Talented organists were in demand by churches and synagogues looking to fill their halls with hymns and traditional music.

“I am glad, through my music, to contribute to the music of Duke Chapel and hope to continue to do so as long as I am able,” said Warner, (then) 87.

Warner is among the volunteer organists who put their repertoire on display every weekday, between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. in Duke Chapel for curious visitors and reflecting staff and students. The demonstrations are free, and a few of the musicians are retirees or current Duke Employees.

Warner has been playing an organ in the Chapel for about 40 years. During his hour-long performances, he’ll begin with the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and then move on to pieces by French composers such as Pierre Dumage. On a recent Thursday, he played a piece by Bach, “Come, Holy Ghost, Lord God,” while his daughter, Sarah Burdick, listened in an adjacent room that houses the Flentrop’s blower, which feeds wind through the pipes.

In elementary school, Burdick said, her class visited the Chapel while studying Gothic architecture. Her dad ended up playing for her classmates.

“It made me very cool for the day,” said Burdick, now director of administration and special projects for Duke Facilities Management.

One day as Warner played; Rosamaria Scasserra sat in the Chapel pews and listened. She had traveled from the Bronx to visit her cousin, who lives in Durham, and they were touring campus.

“It’s beautiful,” Scasserra said of the organ music. “It just sets the tone. It’s very spiritual.”

Contributed by by President
B. C. Dash
                                                                           20 April, 2017

Flags of Rotary Clubs Worldwide

We can now be more aware of the International nature of Rotary, thanks to President BC’s goal of having international flags on our tables to represent the many countries where Rotary has clubs.

Sets of 7 international flags, 96 countries,
will be on our lunch tables.  And this is not all of the countries!