Beaufort Middle School Principal and Sea Island Rotarian Carole Ingram shares this photo from the BMS student balloon launch. Sea Island Rotary Club sponsored this launch with a donation of funds. As you can tell, it was a tremendous success! Carole thanks SIRC for our sponsorship and support of these students.
Our May program theme has been Inside Beaufort Memorial Hospital, with a series of programs introduced by club member and BMH Chief Human Resources Officer Dave Homyk. On consecutive weeks we heard from the hospital’s Chief Information Officer, Director of Safety, and Chief Medical Officer. After the last program, President Larry asked if we could get either certificates or discount cards from the hospital after learning so much about its inner workings.
Sea Island Rotary’s April 28 meeting was a little out of the ordinary. Our speaker, Stephen Schnabel of the Birds of Prey Center in Awendaw, brought two guests with him: a barred owl and a Cooper’s hawk. The guests let him speak for a while, explaining the good work that the Birds of Prey Center performs, but then they decided to take over the show. The owl made himself known from inside his crate, making mournful owl sounds during the video whenever a certain staff member spoke. Stephen told us that this owl had been brought to the center when quite young and bonded with the young woman to an extent that he called out when he saw or heard her, even on video. The Cooper’s hawk gave us a flying demonstration inside our meeting space, causing several Rotarians to duck when he flew inches over their heads. This was definitely a demonstration and talk that got our full attention!
The April 28 club meeting featured an unusual topic: lessons from SC Drug Court. The speakers, introduced by Rotarian Jim Grimsley, are officials with the local multi-county drug court. Mike Lee comes from a law enforcement background, have served as a City of Beaufort police officer before his (first) retirement. He was called upon by the Solicitor to restart a drug court in the region including Beaufort County and surrounding area. The purpose of the drug court was finding alternatives to incarceration in the face of a badly overcrowded state prison system. Our second speaker, Krista Grabenbauer (yes, she’s Beaufort Rotarian Gabby’s daughter-in-law) comes from a social work background. Krista, who deals directly with offenders, described the 3-step program that helps individuals get free of drug habits and live productive lives. This approach not only gives drug offenders a new start in life, but also saves the state the expenses of incarceration.
Sea Island Rotary’s April 14 meeting included a special presentation to Ms. Jasmina O’Neil, who was recognized as Beaufort County’s outstanding dispatcher for 2015. Rotarian David Zeoli read the citation from Sheriff P.J.Tanner recognizing Ms. O’Neil. David commented that Jasmina’s is the voice people first hear when calling 911, and is sometimes the last voice they ever hear.
Our program featured a presentation by Kelly Thorvalson, who heads sea turtle rescue and recovery programs at the Charleston Aquarium. Kelly told us about the types of sea turtles that frequent the South Carolina Coast, the rescue situations, and the types of diagnosis and treatment used on the turtles before they can be released into the wild.
Captain David Murray of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island gave our club a two-pronged presentation. First he gave us the history of Parris Island, which had been used by the Navy as part of the port of Port Royal before being handed over to the Marines as a recruit training depot in 1915. Captain Murray then told us of the centennial celebration events planned during this year, with open houses, runs, and many other events. We all had our calendars out to be sure we’re part of them.
President-elect Chuck Ingle presented us with the banner for the next Rotary Year – Be a Gift to the World – and also described his vision for a service project for next year, which would involve cooperating with Beaufort-Jasper Comprehensive Health Services to operate a mobile dental clinic to treat under-served populations in Beaufort County. While there are still several steps to take before this vision is a reality, club members are very interested in pursuing it.
Sea Island Rotary honored several of its members with additional Paul Harris Fellowships and also recognized members of the Rotary Foundation Bequest Society. The program was presented by long-time hotel operator Vimal Desai, and was essentially an insider’s guide to choosing a hotel room and making your hotel stay comfortable and safe.
The program was presented by long-time hotel operator and Sea Island Rotarian Vimal Desai. It gave us an insider’s guide to choosing a hotel room and making your hotel stay comfortable and safe.
Sea Island Rotary got a special insight March 10 into what it takes to fly the President, First Family, cabinet officials, and foreign dignitaries from Rob Bridgers. Rob, who currently lives in Beaufort and helps to match veterans with civilian jobs, spent his career in the Army and Marines, where he became one of the pilots of Marine 1, the helicopter used to transport the President and other VIPs to and from Camp David as well as from airports to destinations both within the US and abroad. Rob was very entertaining with his description of the job and of some of the people he transported over the years during the Reagan and Bush presidencies. He managed to walk the fine line between telling what it was really like and keeping confidences.
As the last of four business-oriented speakers in February, John F. Windley President & Chief Banking Officer, South State Bank spoke on building banks in the 21st Century. He described spending the first half of his career working for major regional and national banks in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, and then transitioning to a much smaller bank. He succeeded in building South States Bank from a small group of local banks into a profitable regional bank with a local feel for business. John was especially proud of the bank’s performance during the recent recession, noting that the bank never lowered its dividend payments.
On February 17 the Sea Island Rotary Club had a very informative presentation by Dick Stewart. Dick, a Beaufort native, worked in the telecommunications field in his first careers. Dick started with Motorola and then moved to MCI before starting his cell tower business. Dick hit the market right, did very well with his company, and was able to move back to Beaufort in the early 2000s. Instead of retiring as many would, Dick decided to invest in the community, as a business and to help revitalize downtown Beaufort. In addition, Dick serves on the boards of several local nonprofits, applying his business acumen and experience to help these foundations thrive. Dick is also a Rotarian in the Rotary Club of Beaufort.