Posts Tagged ‘Rotary’

John FLournoy Named Rotary Dan Reed Award Winner

November 5, 2014
Rotary Club of Columbus President Ryan Clements and John Flournoy, recipient of the Dan Reed Service Above Self Award.
Rotary Club of Columbus President Ryan Clements and John Flournoy, recipient of the Dan Reed Service Above Self Award. (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

Congratulations to Columbus business leader John Flournoy on being named this year’s recipient of the Rotary Club of Columbus Service Above  Self Award.  He received the  honor for his  work in beautifying interchanges on I-185 in the Columbus area, especially the Gateway entrance to Fort Benning,   He was also honroed for his contributions to Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus.

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Let There be Rotary Light

July 7, 2014
Alexa, Luke, and Ryan Clements performing the unity clap to close Rotary Club of Columbus President Clements acceptance speech.  Of them,  he said, They're my daily reminders of why it's importan to go  the extra mile each and every day to  help make our community and world a better place for all people." (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

Alexa, Luke, and Ryan Clements performing the unity clap to close Rotary Club of Columbus President Clements acceptance speech. Of them, he said,”They’re my daily reminders of why it’s important to go the extra mile each and every day to help make our community and world a better place for all people.” (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

Rotary International’s theme this year is Light Up Rotary, and carrying the torch for that effort in Columbus is Ryan Clements.  He just became president of the Rotary Club of Columbus.  Greg Camp, last year’s president, passed the torch to Ryan at Wednesday’s meeting.

President Ryan – local Rotarians stick to first names –  said, “This is an exciting theme for  me because it encourages all of us to tell the Rotary story and to invite our family and friends to celebrate Rotary with us.”  I can’t go into all of the Rotary story in this short space, but I can tell you that a major  part of it is supporting the Rotary Foundation, which raises hundreds of millions of dollars to help  people in parts of the world who. as Ryan says. “would otherwise go without basic necessities such as clean water, proper sanitation, and fundamental  nutrition.”

Vice-President Greg, who is an executive at the National infanrty Museum, said that the drive for  Rotary Foundation Funds during his term as president exceeded its goal.  In order to keep that ball rolling and hopefully raise impressive funds for Rotary’s “greatest cause, the eradication of polio,” President Ryan, who is in the construction consulting business,  will lead the club in reviving the 1983 Run to the Sea, a relay race of 275 miles from Columbus to Jekyll Island.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed to match funds for polio eradication 2 to 1 up to  $35 million a year through 2018.

When you add this effort to all of the other services Rotary offers the Columbus community,  local Rotarians should have no  problem at all Lighting Up Rotary by spreading the word on how remarkable the Rotary experience can be.

 

Resuming the War on Poverty in Columbus

November 30, 2012
Betsy Covington

Betsy Covington, Executive  Director, Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley

Betsy Covington  really grabbed my attention when she told Columbus Rotarians that the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley now has assets of $95 million.  The Foundation can distribute the interest that is generated by that endowment to non-profit organizations that need it. The 200 funds that contributed that money can designate who gets it, but, as Betsy told me after her Rotary talk, the Foundation itself is given authority to decide who gets some of it.

Columbus’ greatest problem is poverty. That was determined by a study a few years ago by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute.  Former Muscogee County Schools Superintendent Guy Sims tells me that the problem has gotten worse, not better. Guy,  the original and unpaid Director of the Building Prosperity Initiative, which was organized to coordinate efforts to lessen the poverty problem in Columbus, says that program was put on hold three years ago after the 2008 Great Recession hit because charitable giving dried up. It appears  that now givers are feeling confident enough to start giving again.

The Building Prosperity Initiative, which has been on hold for three years, may crank back up and coordinate the effort to solve Columbus’ biggest problem, poverty. The program, headed up by former Muscogee County School Superintendent Guy Sims, with the help of Columbus business leader  James Blanchard,  did accomplish one of its goals before it became dormant, determining how to get people out of poverty. That was accomplished by a study  that was financed by a grant  from the  Community Foundation of the  Chattahoochee Valley.  Betsy says the study shows that “…there are three things a person can do that greatly lessens their statistical chance of living in poverty: graduate from high school, get some kind of a job, and wait until they are 21 and/or married before having children.” 

Guy Sims said the Building Prosperity Initiative now has an office in the state’s Enrichment Services building. To get things going again, he says, money has to be raised to hire an executive director. He donated his services to get the program started, but a salary will be necessary for a permanent director. No, he tells me, he is not a candidate for the job, but he is still supporting the program.

The Rotary Club of Columbus was the Center of the Rotary World Today

February 15, 2012

ROTARY INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT KALYAN BANERJEE OF INDIA ADDRESSES COLUMBUS ROTARIANS

Rotary International President Kalyan Banerjee speaking to Columbus area Rotarians

What a day at Rotary today. As my old broadcast journalism friend Phil Scoggins – I brought him to Columbus from Albany when I hired him as Sports Director for WRBL back in the early 1970s – said the top story for our area today was happening as he spoke.  He gave a short newscast at the beginning of the Rotary Club of Columbus meeting.  That was something I did for many years until I passed the baton to Phil.

The President of Rotary International, Kalyan Banerjee of  Calcutta, India, chose the Columbus club for his visit to the state of Georgia.  He did that because the Rotary Club of Columbus is the largest 100% Paul Harris Fellow Club in the world.  That means that every one of the clubs more than 300 members is a Paul  Harris Fellow.  Rotarians who give $1000 to the Rotary Foundation become Paul  Harris Fellows. 

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who is now a Paul Harris Fellow beacuse she was given the award by the Rotary Club of Columbus, honors RI President Banerjee by declaring Kaylan Banerjee Day in Columbus, GA. She's not a Rotarian, but President Banerjee says she should become one.

RI President Banerjee and Mayor Tomlinson displaying proclamation honoring President Banerjee. (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1.)

The Rotary Foundation is a major contributor to eradicating polio  in the world. President Banerjee told of how India,  his country, went from being an endemic polio country to a country virtually free of the disease. It went from 40 cases in 2010 to 1 case last year.

Polio  is not the only beneficiary of  the Rotary Foundation. President Banerjee told the story of a 12-year-old girl in Nigeria who couldn’t see. Her sight was restored by Indian Doctors who operated an Eye Camp sponsored by the Rotary Foundation. Banerjee said nothing we do is more important than things like that.

He also told of how such efforts can bring countries together. He reported on a meeting in India of the last 4 countries that still have polio problems, with one of the those countries being Pakistan. Pakistan, an enemy of India for a long time, was represented at  that meeting as the countries came together to fight polio.

As a gift to President Banerjee, the Columbus area Rotary Clubs gave $99,200 in his name toward the refurbishing of one of the cabins  that can be used for recuperating patients at Warm Springs in connection with the polio museum. Club President Jimmy Elder said he was sure that the $800 to raise it to $100,000 would be donated before the day was over.

I have been a Rotarian since 1972.  I can’t recall a bigger Rotary day than this one. The Columbus club is one of the largest in the world, the largest one that President Banerjee has visited. And, no doubt, it  has one of the biggest hearts in the service club world, which makes me extremely honored to be a member.    

 

Environmentalist Ken Henson is Named Dan Reed Award WInner

November 16, 2011

Dan Reed Service Above Self winner Ken Henson

He goes into his law office every morning at 8:30 and leaves every afternoon at 6:30 just as he did when he was practicing law full-time, but he isn’t practicing full-time any more. He uses the time mainly to help others, to improve the quality of life in his community.  Some of his service includes free legal work for his favorite causes.

He is a strong environmentalist. He is a big supporter of Trees Columbus and the Coalition for Sound Growth, two organizations that work tirelessly to keep Columbus green and beautiful.

He has a generous heart.

He’s “Mr Habitat,” having helped form the organization in Columbus and continuing to work building houses for the needy over the years.

“Even though he is a lawyer, he is still a good guy.”

He is the perfect example of someone who gives back to his community.

That’s what we learned from friends and fellow Columbus attorneys about Columbus Attorney Kenneth Henson today when he was given this year’s Rotary Club of Columbus Dan Reed Award for Service Above Self.  “Service Above Self” is the Rotary motto.

Since his environmental attitude and mine are in perfect harmony, and since I just like him anyway, he certainly has my congratulations.

Mary Reed, Rotary Club of Columbus secretary, widow of former secretary Dan Reed, for whom the Dan Reed Award for Service Above Self is named, pinning this year's honoree Ken Henson. Photo by Jim Cawthorne of Camera1.

The Day the Fun Died

September 1, 2011

It’s hard to imagine Columbus without Sam Rawls. If anyone had stage presence, it was Sam. All he had to do was walk into the room and you knew he was there. But, you knew he wouldn’t just  walk into the room. He would have everyone laughing in no time with his insults of the most prominent people there. You could say that he  was Columbus’ Don Rickles.  Quite  often he was the butt of his own jokes.  He was one of the kidders who could appreciate  return fire.  That is  not always the case with kidders. On some public occasions, I would be the target of his kidding, which pleased me a lot, because it was an honor to be singled out by Sam. I also managed to return the favor a few times.

He is going to be missed by so many people and groups.

He was active at  his church, Trinity Episcopal.

He was a force at the Schwob School of Music, not only contributing funds himself, but raising even more with his birthday parties.  How many people do you know who would throw their own birthday party in a room the size of the Bill Heard Theater at  the River  Center?  There was no admission charge for the entertainment, which could range from a stand-up comedian to a concert pianist, but he would give you the opportunity of contributing to the Schwob School.

This photograph of a young Sam Rawls and the portrait above were both furnished by Jim Cawthorne of Camera1. Jim is also a fellow Rotarian, and Sam's friend, as well as mine.

He was also a big supporter of the Springer Opera House.  That support included not just money, but performing in a number of plays. That’s where Sam and I became friends, acting in Springer plays directed by the  late Charles Jones. Among the plays we were in together were The Crucible and How to Succeed in  Business Without Really Trying.  The Crucible,  a heavy  drama about the Salem witch  trials, was an interesting challenge for both of us, but the most fun was How to Succeed.  It was the one and only time I ever sang on stage.  And, as Bud Frumph, I got a lot of laughs.  I must have done it  pretty well since Sam said, “You were nominated for the wrong part.”   He was referring to the Springer’s version of the Tonys. I had gotten nominated for Best Actor in Death of a Salesman. Turned out he was right. I probably would have won Best Supporting Actor for How to Succeed.  As it turned out I didn’t win Best Actor.

Sam was also one of the main players in the Rotary Club of Columbus.  Not only was he active in serving on different committees, but you could count on him to give everyone a laugh during a lot of the  meetings.

When I did a talk at Rotary premiering my memoir The Newsman, I asked Sam to do the introduction, which he did.  The late S.L. Mullins, fellow Rotarian and student at Jordan Vocational High School, who was also a big  kidder, came up to the head table before  the program started and said, loud enough for Sam to hear, “What did you do, buy some insurance to get him to introduce you?”   I didn’t.

Yes, like hundreds of others, I loved Sam and will  miss him.  And my heart goes out to his family, including his wife of 58 years, Jacquie, and his son Robin Scott Rawls, and his two grandchildren.

No, Columbus won’t be the same without Sam.

A Blogger’s Report on Governor Deal Dealing with Columbus Rotarians

July 20, 2011

It’s the duty of the blogger to report stuff you won’t get in the mainstream media, so I’ll try to pick out a few things that Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said today at the Rotary Club of Columbus that you probably won’t read in the paper or see on TV. I don’t claim they are important, just something nobody else will probably tell you about.

Take this picture, for instance.  Nevermind.  I already took it.  Hey, even retired newsmen get to be corny sometimes. Anyway…now, where was I?  Oh, you won’t get  this shot anywhere else of Jim Cawthorne of Camera1 getting his picture of Governor Deal. Usually, I use Jim’s Rotary stuff, but I thought, hey, sometimes the photographer needs to be seen, even if it is from the back.

Here’s something the governor said you probably won’t get anywhere else.  He said he was walking down the corridors of the  state capitol heading for an important meeting, when some middle school kids spotted him and wanted to get their picture taken with him.  An aide told him not to stop because he had to make the really important meeting, so they tried to just walk around the kids. However, he said, the kids decided to surround him. He explained that he couldn’t stop because of the important meeting. One little girl said, “But we voted for you.”

“You did?”

“Yes, it was just a straw poll, but you won.”

“She got her picture.”

Now why did he tell that story?  (Analysis warning!) Was it because he wanted to reenforce what Muscogee County Rep. Richard Smith said in his introduction?  Richard- I can call him Richard because we are old friends, not close, but old – said this about Deal, “He is a good man.”  Remember, you heard it here first!

You’ll probably read in the paper or hear on TV what he said about the water wars.  But, just in case you don’t,  he was happy that three federal judges threw out a lower court ruling that  Atlanta had to stop slurping up million and millions of gallons of water from Lake Lanier so the oysters at Apalachicola can stay happy, and Alabama can keep its nuclear power plant  buzzing.  But will you hear what  he said about  Columbus’ white  water theme park?  You really shouldn’t, because what he said didn’t amount to a hill of beans.  He said it will help the city economically. Who hasn’t  said that? Well, come to think of it, seems like I read in the Ledger-Enquirer’s Sound Off thing a comment by some spoil-sport who said there is no guarantee it will make money, only that it will  cost a lot..

The governor said the state has some good schools, and some really bad ones, and we need more really good ones.  Can’t argue with that.  He pointed out that the state actually increased the education budget, but, certainly, one could reason, not enough since, answering a question from the audience, he said more teachers will have to be furloughed, though not by the  state, because the state doesn’t furlough teachers. He gives the local schools systems credit for that.

You’ll probably  get some of that in the mainstream media.  But will you learn that Columbus Rotary’s new president, Rev. Jimmy Elder, who is also pastor of the First Baptist Church, said that Governor Deal “is a courageous man” because he took question from the audience. He said he would never do that after a sermon. You have to go to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship to witness that event.  Yes, it does happen often there. He didn’t say those last  two sentences. I did.

That’s all I can think of now about things you probably won’t hear or read in the mainstream media, though you might.  Just remember, you read it here.

New Ledger-Enquirer Excutive Editor Promises a “Better Paper”

January 6, 2011

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Executive Editor Joseph Kieta speaking to Columbus Rotarians (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

 If first impressions mean anything, and according to the book Blink, which gives scientific evidence, they definitely do, I have to say I am feeling good about the future of journalism in our area. 

Based on what he told Columbus Rotarians today, the Ledger-Enquirer’s new executive editor, Joseph Kieta, is my kind of journalist, one who understands that a free press has a responsibility to do more than make money, though, of course, it must also do that to survive..

 What a lot of people who run today’s media, especially local TV stations,  don’t seem to realize is that doing a first-rate job of investigative reporting  is not only responsible journalism, it can be quite profitable. Back in the old days, I did some investigative reporting, and the ratings were boffo.  If a paper or TV station wants a truly impressive exclusive story, it digs, goes beneath the surface, and comes up with  news that no one else has. Yes, it takes capable reporters, and you get what you pay for…well, sometimes. Hey, it takes money to make money. How’s that for a run of clichés!

 He promised a paper that will “probe, illuminate, compel and not be boring.”  He also promised to “shine light into dark corners,” saying he agrees with the statement that “sunshine is the best disinfectant.”  Amen.

 There will be changes. He plans to reorganize the paper’s newsroom, but gave no details. He praised Dusty Nix for his editorial page work. During audience question time, someone asked if he was going to check with other members of the community about keeping Dusty. That got a big laugh, but Kieta said, with a smile, that a reader might not agree with everything that Dusty writes, but that what he says will provoke thought.  As I told him after the meeting, Dusty is intelligent and does a good job. I stand by that. Besides, I like him. He has no problem speaking truth to power.

 Kieta acknowledged that the media ball game has changed drastically over the years, and that newspapers have changed and will continue to do so. Since papers can now break stories on their websites at any time, which lets them better compete with electronic media,  in the future, the print edition will concentrate more on reflective reporting rather than printing “yesterday’s news.” Makes sense to me. I look forward to it. 

We didn't get to hear from the Ledger-Enquirer's new President and Publisher Rodney Mahone, but since Joseph Kieta works for him, I suppose we can assume that they share the same journalistic philosophy. Good.

Steve Butler is this Year’s Dan Reed Award Recipient

November 10, 2010

If anyone deserves the title Chairman, it’s Steve Butler. 

Steve Butler (Photo by Jim Cathorne, Camera1)

He has more chairmanships than anyone I have ever heard of.  Most of those chairmanships are for civic and social organizations. And I am sure that’s why he was chosen as this year’s winner of the Dan Reed Rotary Award for Service Above Self.  The award,  named after former Rotary Club of Columbus Secretary Dan Reed,  is given each year to a non-Rotarian for selfless service to community. 

 Steve Butler works, not only as Chairman of the W.C. Bradley Company, but as a contributor to the welfare of his community. 

Now, he is Chairman of Brookstone School, the Pastoral Institute, and Strategic Planning for St. Francis Hospital.  which is undergoing its largest expansion. His parents, Dr. Clarence and Mrs. Butler, were very active supporters of St. Francis.  

He just stepped down as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Bradley-Turner Foundation.  Abbott Turner, Bill Turner’s youngest son, is now filling that position.

Steve was also Chairman of United Way, Columbus State University Foundation, Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Columbus ’96, Columbus Sports Council, and the Administrative Board of St. Luke United Methodist Church where he teaches Sunday school.  That’s apparently a family tradition because Bill Turner, his philanthropic uncle,  taught a class there for many years.

During a video presentation announcing his winning the Dan Reed Award, Robert Granger, President/CEO of St. Francis Hospital, who nominated Steve, said that he had been instrumental in facilitating the hospital’s largest-ever expansion, “Steve never seeks the spotlight. He is a humble leader who provides strong leadership.”

Brookstone School Headmaster Brian Kennerly said, “He embodies Service Above Self as he clearly keeps an eye on the people he is leading as he paves the way for the organization.”

 Ron King, Executive Director and CEO of the Pastoral Institute, said, “Steve Butler is a compassionate, committed, community leader that calls forth the best from all around him.”

His pastor, Hal Brady of St. Luke United Methodist Church, said, “I cannot think of a better nomination for the Dan Reed Award than Steve Butler. Steve is a choice servant leader who lives out the Rotary motto Service Above Self in his life, church, community and commitment.”

Congratulations to the Rotary Club of Columbus, GA

October 21, 2010

Rotary District Governor Casey Farmer presents 100 Percent Paul Harris Fellow Club banner to Rotary Club of Columbus President Betsy Covington. On the left is Rotary Foundation Director George Flowers, and on the right is Past President Bob Jones. (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

The Rotary Club of Columbus reached an impressive landmark Wednesday.(Full disclosure: I am a member.) It became the largest service club in Georgia to be designated as a 100% Paul Harris Fellow Club. That means that each member is now a Paul Harris Fellow, which means each gave $1,000 to the Rotary International Foundation, which, among other accomplishments, has just about eradicated polio in the world.  Since the club has more than 300 members that means it has given more than $300,000 to the Foundation.  It’s not called a service club for nothing.

Paul Harris was the founder of the Rotary Club.  The first club was organized in Chicago in 1905; now it is all over the world, including places like the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia.