Happy Feet for Kids Inspires Acts of Generosity

Thanks to many dedicated and generous members, Rotary Club of Raleigh is proud to announce that we will be purchasing approximately 100 pairs of shoes as part of the 2017 District Conference Happy Feet for Kids community service project. District Governor Rusine Sinclair, also a member of the Rotary Club of Raleigh, announced her goal to pave the way to the Atlanta Rotary International Convention by purchasing at least 500 pairs of shoes to be donated to the Children’s Home Society https://www.chsnc.org/, making sure that children in need of new shoes for the summer have them.

We are grateful to nearly 40 members in our club who donated $50 or more to purchase a large portion of these shoes.

Two specific acts of generosity are worthy of specific recognition, and these gifts come from people outside of our Club membership. Jannah Said, an 8th grader at Martin Middle School, won the first prize in our Club’s Four-Way Test essay contest. She not only won the contest, but she also won the hearts of our members when she wrote this email to Club member Eric Stevens, who coordinated the contest for our Club:

“I was the 1st place winner of the Rotary Club Essay Contest from Martin Middle School (yesterday). I was awarded $300. First of all, I would like to thank you and the Rotary Club for this amazing opportunity. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciate it. Secondly, upon discussion with my family, I’ve decided that, with the money I won, I will keep $100 to spend for myself, put $100 in my college bank account, and give the last $100 back to the community through a charity of my choice. Since the Rotary Club helped me to have my voice heard and my writings read by a real audience, not to mention winning a few hundred dollars, I have decided to give back through it. Yesterday, during the meeting, I heard a project mentioned called “Happy Feet for Kids.”  I was inspired by this idea and was wondering if you could direct me on how to send the Rotary Club of Raleigh a check for $100 to purchase 2 pairs of sneakers.”

To hear Jannah Said’s speech click on the Four-Way Test.

Second, Mark Hackett, who is a member of our Club and also the coordinator of the Happy Feet for Kids project at the District level, let his church know about this important project. As a result, members of the Baptist Grove Church (7109 Leesville Rd., Raleigh, NC 27613) under the leadership of Pastor Bankole Akinbinu, took up a collection of $2,100 to be donated to the Happy Feet for Kids Project, allowing our Club to purchase close to 50 additional pairs of shoes.

In service to those in need, Rotary Club of Raleigh is delighted to partner with other Rotary clubs in our district and play a small but important role in the lives of the children being cared for by the Children’s Home Society.

Update from Our Global Scholar in Edinburgh

Over the holidays, Edinburgh looked very festive. The Christmas markets (a tradition imported from Germany) have been up since the end of November, there’s a nightly light show in the New Town, and there’s a caroling concert nearly every weekend. The semester has flown by!

global scholar 1

All is well here. Classes have officially ended and we’re all in the middle of writing final papers and studying for essays. The workload is unbelievable, but I’m getting through it, one assignment at a time. To break up the monotony of reading and researching, my program organized an international food night. I helped some coursemates prepare a Lebanese feast, and at the dinner we learned a little Arabic, a traditional Lebanese dance, and played games.

In Rotary news, I attended the Edinburgh club’s International Night with the other scholars, and it was really good fun! We introduced ourselves and talked a little about what we’re studying and what we hope to do after our program. It was nice to get to know the club members a bit better, and for entertainment they hired a belly dancer, which was a first for me. I was meant to go the district conference a couple weekends later, but unfortunately I came down with a stomach bug and missed it.

Next semester I will have Thursdays free to attend the Tranent club’s lunch meetings. The other ladies and I have also been invited to other clubs in the area, so after the New Year we’ll get together to plan where we’ll go and when.

And I have some more travel recommendations for you all! The Cairngorms National Park is stunning, snowy, and definitely worth a visit. There’s a not a lot to do in Inverness, but the country-side is beautiful, and it’s close to Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. I believe I caught a glimpse of Nessie, the Loch Monster, but I can’t be sure it wasn’t just a big wave…

Hope all is well.


Micaela Arneson

E-Club and Interact Team up for Service Project

Monday, November 7, 2016. The Rotary E-Club of District 7710 and their sponsored Interact Club from the School for Creative Studies in Durham had a great time volunteering at the Goodwill Community Foundation (GCF) in Durham.  During their service project the Clubs helped assemble over 200 school kits. GCF, a Durham based tax-exempt organization focuses on creating opportunities for a better life, by partnering with tier one elementary schools and youth programs to provide school kits to children. Each school supply kit distributed by GCF is valued at approximately $5.00. GCF has provided approximately 34,000 such kits since beginning the project in 2001. GCF and Rotary understand the importance of providing opportunities that encourage and enable students to complete each school year successfully. Such volunteer opportunities strengthen Rotary’s engagement in communities where Rotarians live, work and provide service to others.

Rotary Youth Exchange

Clockwise, from lower center: Oceane Rousseaux (Belgium), hosted by Apex Sunrise; Soph Silva Dragao (Brazil), hosted by North Raleigh; Mirei Isozaki (Japan), hosted by Clayton; and friends.

Clockwise, from lower center: Oceane Rousseaux (Belgium), hosted by Apex Sunrise; Soph Silva Dragao (Brazil), hosted by North Raleigh; Mirei Isozaki (Japan), hosted by Clayton; and friends.

The District 7710 Youth Exchange Committee has adopted some new policies that will make sponsoring Outbound Long Term Exchange students even easier for local clubs and will help move the Youth Exchange program toward self-sustainability, which will be easier on the District’s budget.

Our membership in Rotary’s Eastern States Youth Exchange (ESSEX) consortium requires that each district hosting or sponsoring Youth Exchange students submit administrative fees of $250 per student, both inbound and outbound. This year, with five Inbounds and three outbounds, District 7710’s bill to ESSEX was $2,250, including a $250 charge for an outbound student who was placed by ESSEX, but did not participate in the exchange.

To help cover these expenses as well as provide our local students with tools to professionally be a Rotary District 7710 ambassador abroad, a total of $775 will be charged to each outbound student, beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year. This fee will cover ESSEX dues and will also include purchasing a student blazer, District 7710 name badge, patches and lapel pins for exchanging with other students, and business cards.

In addition, Jim Harrington, Outbound Coordinator, has developed instructions for students and for sponsoring clubs which will facilitate the application process.

Outbound applications are currently being received. Students must be age 15-18 by departure date in 2017. (NOTE: Some countries have different maximum ages they will accept). If you are interested in an exchange student contact Harrington at rotary7710jh@gmail.com or Helen Holt at hwholt09@gmail.com, as soon as possible. The sooner an application is received, the more quickly it can be processed, including interviews at the club and district levels, and the more likely a student will be assigned to their top country choices.

Finally, please remember that clubs which sponsor an outbound student are also expected to host an inbound student during the same year. Johnny Whitfield serves as inbound coordinator and can be reached at jwhitfield@newsandobserver.com.

We look forward to working with even more district rotary clubs as this excellent international youth exchange program continues to grow in the Heart of Carolina!

Rotary’s Youth Exchange Program is Growing!

This year, a total of eight students are participating in District 7710’s long-term Outbound and Inbound Youth Exchanges, representing three continents and six different countries.

The district has five Inbound students. From the left are: Sophia (Brazil), Robin (France), Oceane (Belgium), Agustin (Argentina), and Mirei (Japan)

The district has five Inbound students. From the left are: Sophia (Brazil), Robin (France), Oceane (Belgium), Agustin (Argentina), and Mirei (Japan)

This year’s three “outbounds” have all landed safely in Europe and South America:  Ryan  Raulynaitis, sponsored by Fuquay Varina Downtown,  in Mellau, Austria; Grace  McCrorie, sponsored by West Raleigh, in Brazil; and Allison Becker, sponsored by North Raleigh, in Argentina. While in their respective countries, they will have broad exposure to a variety of cultural experiences.

The five “inbounds” all arrived during the week of Aug. 21 and were enthusiastically greeted at RDU by various club members, host families, and Youth Exchange committee members. Those students, their home countries, and area club sponsors include: Sophia  Dragao (Brazil), North Raleigh;  Robin Schultz (France), Oxford; Agustin Brignolo (Argentina), Fuquay Varina Downtown;  Oceane Rousseaux (Belgium),  Apex Sunrise;  and Mirei Isozaki (Japan), Clayton.

Whether inbound or outbound, the Youth Exchangers will all be changed by this year abroad.  Travel experts value the long-term Rotary exchange as a $25,000 scholarship, made possible by the efforts of volunteer Rotarians worldwide.   With room and board supplied by host families, monthly stipends provided by host clubs, and a local network of supportive Rotarians, District 7710’s youth ambassadors encounter life-changing experiences and build life-long relationships.

Outbound student Grace McCorie pictured above with her Argentina host family is  sponsored by the West Raleigh club

Outbound student Grace McCorie pictured above with her Argentina host family is sponsored by the West Raleigh club

Outbound student Grace McCrorie is doing a “gap year”—the year in between high school graduation and college– and writes this in her blog, “Tudo Bom: It’s All Good” about Brazil:

“Every time I say a word in Portuguese that isn’t “oi”, “tudo bom”, or “sim”, everyone cheers, gives me a high five and a fist bump.  Everyone here is super kind to the new foreign girl who speaks little to no Portuguese, and I am forever grateful for that.” 

Inbound Brazilian student Sophia Dragao, hosted by North Raleigh Rotary, gave these observations about her first week in the United States:

“I am amazed with all I see here: the houses are different, the way people dress is different, the food, the city, the school and everything imaginable. The stereotype that Americans are reserved was broken when I arrived at the airport and received all the affection that anyone could offer to me.”

Breaking stereotypes.  Getting to know each other. Accepting differences: these are the goals for these Rotary youth ambassadors.  May they live their dreams this year!

youthexchange4District 7710 Rotary Youth Exchange orientation took place at the home of Terry & Brenda Winebrenner (Apex Sunrise Rotarians). Helen Holt, Chair of the Youth Exchange Committee for District 7710 and member of the Wake Forest Rotary Club, planned a great afternoon which included District 7690 and 7730. YE committee member, Johnny Whitfield, provided orientation for the inbound students and everyone enjoyed hot dogs, hamburgers and brats afterwards. We are looking forward to an eventful year with students from Japan, Brazil, France, Germany, Belgium and Argentina.


Old Dominion Rotary Golf Tournament raises $18,768 for Boys & Girls Home

A steady rain fell over the course as the participants completed the final holes of the 2016 Old Dominion Rotary Golf Tournament at Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club earlier this month, but it did not dampen the spirits of the fundraising event for the Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina (B&GH).

bghome2The annual event led by Old Dominion Freight Line and Rotary clubs from throughout the state raised $18,768 to support B&GH. This event has raised more than $163,000 over 11 years.

Located in Lake Waccamaw, the non-profit agency is committed to providing a comprehensive array of services for children and youth who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or other family dysfunction. B&GH offers adoption, family and therapeutic foster care, as well as residential care on the Lake Waccamaw campus.

“What was done today helps some of the most deserving children we have ever served,” said B&GH President Gary Faircloth. “We are currently serving 230 children through foster care, traditional residential care, and the school located on our campus.”

Since opening in 1954, B&GH has helped nearly 5,000 children break the cycle of neglect and abuse.

“You can never make a better investment than that in the life of a child,” said Old Dominion Freight Line representative Chip Overby during the event’s closing reception. “When I think about this tournament and these children that we are serving I am reminded of the story of Mr. Harris.”

bghome3Overby shared that Mr. Harris worked on a 5000-piece puzzle gifted to him for seven years. As the puzzle work neared the end, the realization hit that one of the pieces was missing so it could not be completed. The puzzle was no longer being produced so the company could not send a replacement piece. The local newspaper learned the story and helped rally the community to pay for the single piece to be produced so the puzzle could be finished.

“That is what you are doing participating in this tournament,” Overby said. “You are completing the puzzle.”

Boys and Girls Homes provides an array of services for children and youth who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or other family dysfunction. The campus features a  public charter school with a middle and high school curriculum, vocational education, recreation facilities, farm, chapel and cottage life.

More about the Boys and Girls Home of North Carolina

We will continue the traditional events for this Rotary Year:

The Summer Enrichment Program:  This is a summer, four week program allowing four to six girls and boys to visit the Raleigh/Cary area to experience living outside the Boys & Girls Home before they leave.  The girls stay for two weeks, then the boys come for two weeks.  Thanks to the Cary Rotary Clubs for their sponsorship and leadership with this experience for the residents.

The Annual Rotary Day:  This is an annual event held on the campus every year on the second Sunday, which this year is February 12, 2017. This annual event starts with a church service at 11:00 AM, followed with a lunch. After lunch, there will be a short program from the Boys & Girls Home, then each club will have an opportunity to present contributions to the BGH.  After the program, we will visit the Rotary Cottage hosted by the current residents.

12th Annual Old Dominion Rotary Golf Tournament:  This is a state wide tournament sponsored by Old Dominion Trucking Company with all proceeds going to BGHNC.  This year’s date is June 5, 2017 in Pinehurst.  PDG Charlie Hatch will coordinate this event for the district.  More information will follow.

Our goal this year is to increase the District 7710’s contribution by $10,000.  Thanks to 7710 Rotarians for over 50 years of supporting the Rotary Cottage and BGHNC.

Young Professionals Summit

The Southland Young Professional Summit in Atlanta, Georgia from June 9th-11th was full of excitement, fun and problem-solving. Five representatives from District 7710, Jheanne Schack (e-Club), Catherine Doyle (Raleigh Midtown), Jason Potts (North Raleigh), Marie Howard (Kerr Tar Region) and Joyce Mckinney (Southwest Durham) attended the summit. Young Rotarians and Rotaractors, from ages 25 to 45  from zones 33 and 34 came together to figure out what the problems and solutions are to recruiting and maintaining young professionals (YPs) in Rotary.

The summit was energetic and a place where ideas and action were catalyzed for change. We came away knowing that YPs don’t want to be sold something but want to buy into ideas and something bigger themselves. We found that the ideal way to get more YPs involved in Rotary is the same way we recruitment new members in general. The majority of YPs join for professional development and for community service, but stay in Rotary because of the fellowship and the fun they have in being a part of their community and global organization that changes the world.

As a district, we decided to tackle YPs involvement by continuing and supporting our district’s YP committee, the New Generations Committee, that engages in quarterly socials and community service. In addition, we are planning a professional development workshop on topics that appeal to young professionals such as public speaking, communication, and networking. The summit was an experience that changed my perspective on Rotary and will be an experience I will never forget.

Durham Rotary Names 2016 Scholars

Alexandra Zagbayou, Executive Director Student U (left), Tiwana Adams, Frank Adams (Durham Rotary Centennial Scholar), Fahsyrah Knight (Durham Rotary Centennial Scholar), Sylvia Knight, Fahim Knight and Meg Solera, Co-Chair, Scholarship Committee, Durham Rotary Club

Alexandra Zagbayou, Executive Director Student U (left), Tiwana Adams, Frank Adams (Durham Rotary Centennial Scholar), Fahsyrah Knight (Durham Rotary Centennial Scholar), Sylvia Knight, Fahim Knight and Meg Solera, Co-Chair, Scholarship Committee, Durham Rotary Club

The Durham Rotary Club selected five 2016 scholars from Durham Public Schools who have achieved academic excellence and need assistance to continue their educations.

Marge Nordstrom, co-chair of the Durham Rotary Club Scholarship Committee, said, “The goal of our 2016 Rotary Centennial and Brown Family scholarships is to make their future education dreams a reality. Each student will start their college education with a $1000 scholarship.”

Named as Durham Rotary Centennial Scholars were Fahsyrah Knight, Frank Adams, Khalik Weaver, and Brenda Durhan Velazquez of the Student U program.

Named as the Brown Family Scholar was Pamela Gonzalez of the Emily K program.

Each of the students and their parents attended weekly club meetings on July 11 and July 25 at the Durham Convention Center.

“Our club is proud to help them achieve their education goals,” Nordstrom said.

Adam Eigenrauch, Executive Director, Emily K Center (left), Troy Weaver, Kahlik Weaver (Durham Rotary Centennial Scholar), Florentina Gonzalez, Pamela Gonzalez (Brown Family Scholarship recipient), Blanca Velazquez, Brenda Duran Velazquez (Durham Rotary Centennial Scholar), Alexandra Zagayou, Executive Director Student U, and Meg Solera, Co-Chair Scholarship Committee, Durham Rotary Club

Adam Eigenrauch, Executive Director, Emily K Center (left), Troy Weaver, Kahlik Weaver (Durham Rotary Centennial Scholar), Florentina Gonzalez, Pamela Gonzalez (Brown Family Scholarship recipient), Blanca Velazquez, Brenda Duran Velazquez (Durham Rotary Centennial Scholar), Alexandra Zagayou, Executive Director Student U, and Meg Solera, Co-Chair Scholarship Committee, Durham Rotary Club

Student U is a college-access organization founded in the proposition that all students in Durham have the ability to succeed. Student U creates a pipeline of services to support students through middle school, high school, and college.

Brown Family Scholarship recipients are members of the Emily K program.  The K to College programs of the Emily K Center develop educated student leaders who achieve in school, gain entry to and graduate from college, and ultimately break the cycle of poverty in their families.

Child’s Cup Full

A children’s toy brand: creating jobs for talented refugee women artisans in the West Bank

Cayley Pater was RYLA participant at Chapel Hill High School in 2003 and a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship finalist through the NC Oxford Rotary Club in 2010. After finishing her Master’s Degree in Women’s and Gender Studies at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, she is now the Assistant Director of Child’s Cup Full, a non-profit social enterprise serving refugee and low-income communities in the West Bank.

In the West Bank, limited access to the global marketplace prevents many talented Palestinian refugee women from building careers with their craft and design skills. Dr. Janette Habashi, Associate Professor in educational psychology at the University of Oklahoma, and I are determined to create business opportunities for these women right here in the US. Our objective is to train and employ women to make high quality, handmade children’s toys and accessories that are marketable in the US and to sell our products online and through retail stores across the country. We believe that instead of creating a charity model of support for these women, we can establish a self-sustaining business that will generate more opportunities for years to come.

childsCupFull2Many families lack a stable income in the West Bank because of precarious employment opportunities. We have several women who are the primary breadwinners of their families for long periods, which contributes to their social standing in the community. Nowadays, we’ve seen increasingly more organizations and US government agencies talking about the power of the artisan sector: “Behind agriculture, artisan activity is the second largest employer in the developing world,” Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, partner of the US State Department for the Global Campaign for Artisans. We are so excited to be part of this global movement to empower the artisan sector in the West Bank, where access to global business opportunity is severely limited.

We have had several artisans tell us that with a full-time job, their husbands and their family members give them more respect, including Abeer, who has been making children’s toys at the Child’s Cup Full artisan center since 2012:

“Women need to work; not stay home… They need to go out and obtain their own salary and help their families. We now have so many expenses to educate our children, pay for rent, transportation, and food…I came to Child’s Cup Full almost two years ago not knowing how to do anything tatreez (embroidery) and now I am able to make toys for kids.”

childsCupFull3As a non-profit social enterprise, Child’s Cup Full uses the funds generated from product sales to support its training and employment programs in hard-to-reach communities in the West Bank.  CCF aims to grow its own artisan center, and to train and employ women in artisan collectives across the region, including Ramallah, Hebron and Beit Jala, to manufacture products for the Child’s Cup Full brand.

Right now, we are trying to raise funds to expand our reach across the West Bank region. In order to create positive, lasting change in the West Bank in 2016, and in years to come, I invite the Rotarian community to help us grow our artisan center so that we can create more training and employment opportunities in the Zababdeh community, in and vulnerable communities across the West Bank. On our Indiegogo campaign, you can learn more about our initiative, our goals for 2016, and the funds we are trying to raise to increase our impact:


For each donation, you’ll receive a handmade gift from our artisan center in Zababdeh! Thank you for your support!

Rotary Against Drugs

District 7710 held its Rotary Against Drugs Speech Competition on February 27, 2016 in Raleigh. Winning first place was Surasya Guduru, Clayton High School, sponsored by Clayton Morning; second place Andrew Smith, Sanderson High School, sponsored by North Raleigh; and third place Robert Wilson, West Johnston High School, sponsored by Central Johnston.

Other contestants were Kasey McFerren, Corinth Holders High School, sponsored by Clayton Mid-Day; James Daniels, Johnston County Early College, sponsored by Central Johnston; Geoffrey Watters and Ava Neijna, Broughton High School, sponsored by Raleigh; and Jane Svoldi and Brigitte Kelly, Holly Springs High School, sponsored by Holly Springs.

Judges for the competition were Rusine Mitchell-Sinclair, Jason Potts and Charles Caldwell.