October 28, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

October 25, 2005: Our own Rob Dewey gave a moving program showing the devastation of both property and, most importantly, people's lives on the Gulf Coast due to Hurricane Katrina. On August 27th, Rob was put on standby and on Sunday was deployed as part of the team to Gulf Port, MS area working with the identification and handling of victims using a portable mortuary.

Rob is a sensitive and caring representative of the Lowcountry, historic Charleston Rotary Club, and his faith. The most moving pictures he showed were not just of the property destruction, but the people working to make life better for the victims.

One picture showed Charleston Police Department on the scene before others and ready to assist as apart of the Outreach by the Lowcountry to others in response to the help we received during Hugo. Rob was asked how Katrina compared to Hugo and his response was, "You can't compare them." He showed a photo of the areas hit by 40 foot wall of water in Bay St. Louis. Even among all this destruction, Rob shared it was very important to keep the sense of humor to deal with the tragedy like this.

One question Rob was asked was how we can create a communications link that connects people who lost loved ones and to support that is needed. The "211" number was given as an excellent example of a way to provide this type of assistance. We have 211 in the Charleston area but unfortunately it is not nationwide and help is needed in promoting it. More will be provided in the newsletter concerning how you can support legislation for a nationwide "211" number for assistance.

One of the photos brought to mind Rotary's "service above self." Rob showed a picture of a tent provided to victims with the Rotary logo on the side for temporary shelter. Rotary was making a difference. We would like to thank Rob not only for great presentation, but also for his tireless support for those in need.

October 21, 2005

South Carolinians can now specify how their donations to schools will be used!

October 18, 2005 - DonorsChoose is "the future of philanthropy" according to the New York Times. Today that future arrived in Charleston via the DonorsChoose bus. DonorChoose program is a process by which families, businesses and philanthropic organizations can easily provide monetary support to South Carolina teachers and classrooms and to specify the exact project or program they wish to fund. Through the use of a user-friendly website with a virtual menu of options, donors can pinpoint the exact program to be the fortunate recipient of a gift. Donors can make a donation on behalf of someone in lieu of a gift when there is a special reason to do so. Missy Sherburne, the Executive Director of DonorsChoose told Rotarians how this program began and how it evolved into a state-wide initiative in South Carolina.

In 2002, a teacher in New York had the idea to build a web site through which parents and businesses would have a simple way to financially support teachers who were spending their own money to fill budget shortfalls and enhance classroom activities. He built the website on his own time and it was an immediate hit! Word spread quickly and before long DonorsChoose was recognized as a national model by The New York Times, Oprah, and by National Public Radio. When word of this idea reached Charleston, people were quick to want to find out more information and to begin the work necessary to get such a program up and running. As it so happens, Greenville schools had also heard about DonorsChoose and were pursuing their own interest in the program. The two cities learned about one another and quickly joined forces. Through the sponsorship of a number of exceptional organizations and the hard work of people in Greenville and Charleston, South Carolina is only the second state to adopt this program on a state-wide basis.

Ms. Sherburne then gave us an on-screen glimpse of the DonorsChoose web site (www.donorschoose.org). It is an easy web site to access and to use. Potential donors can't help but be impressed by the creativity and motivation of our teachers as they read through the variety of ideas expressed in the project proposals. All of the proposals represent class projects designed to enhance and support learning in classrooms K -12 and for which money is not available. One can search the proposals by subject matter or by location and donations can be made to schools in South Carolina from any location in the US. Some of proposals submitted by our creative and talented teachers are, for example, "Chapter Challenge" ($185) to "Don't Let Genetics (Fruit) Fly By" ($428), and "Who Gives a Hoot?" ($908).

At today's meeting, Rotarians had a chance to log onto the web site. One Rotarian who boarded the DonorsChoose bus to log on was Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson told the club how impressed she was by all of proposals she read but one jumped right out at her. Because of her lifelong love of jazz and because music has been such a constant in her life, a proposal involving a small after-school jazz group held special appeal. The proposal would benefit a group of kids who stay after school because of their love of jazz. The only set of drums to which they have access is currently shared by three children. Their wish is for a second set of drums. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson promptly donated $100 to this effort and then challenged Rotarians to come up with the other $900.00 necessary to buy the drums. Within 15 seconds Rotarians had committed significantly more than the additional $900 she requested.

Won't you take a minute to look to this web site? Go to www.donorschoose.org and most likely you, too, will begin to appreciate the potential of this program to positively benefit our schools.

Reported by Helen Harloe, Keyway Committee

October 14, 2005

Distinctively Charleston Food & Wine Festival
Making Charleston a Premier Culinary Destination

October 11, 2005 -Rotarians today were left salivating after hearing about the mouth-watering plans for upcoming Distinctively Charleston Food and Wine Festival scheduled for the first weekend in March. Television personality and author, Nathalie Dupree along with Angel Postell, the Director of the executive committee for the festival, spoke to the Rotary Club of Charleston to tell us about the background and evolution of this festival.

Ms Dupree, a 1999 winner of the esteemed James Beard Award, told us how she became involved with this event. She talked about a group of young Charlestonians who are passionate about launching a festival dedicated to the one feature of our city that they believe has somewhat neglected by the media. The group intends to address this oversight by positioning the city to become a premier culinary destination with a top-tier festival dedicated to the culinary arts featuring the food which is characteristic of our rich cultural history. They envisioned an occasion on par with Spoleto, where experts could gather to share, learn and celebrate their skills along with those who merely enjoy them and do so against the backdrop of our elegant and historical city. The city's many exceptional restaurants, outstandingly talented chefs, and dishes unique to the lowcountry will be showcased as they are joined by celebrity chefs and authors and wine experts and vendors to enjoy the four day weekend.

The Executive Director of the event, Angel Postell, then gave us a tiny preview of the schedule and activities which are already in place for the weekend. There will be more than 65 interactive events which include cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, a restaurant "dine-around", book signings, a champagne and dessert with noted pastry chefs, and all throughout the festivities there will be a massive "culinary village" located in Marion Square where the many vendors will display and demonstrate. There will be a gala on Saturday night to benefit the two selected initiatives sponsored by the festival. One of the beneficiaries will be the new Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Tech. The weekend will culminate in a gospel brunch to be held on Sunday morning.

You can access more information by going to the festival web site: http://www.charlestonfoodandwine.com/ . Surely, this festival is destined to become one of the country's premier destinations for food and wine enthusiasts .

Reported by Helen Harloe, Keyway Committee

October 7, 2005

Keeping the Port Safe
Safety Officer Tells All

October 4, 2005 : Port Security Official, Pam Zarask, gave an informative talk about the safety story at the Port of Charleston, which is the 4th largest port in the USA and the 2nd largest on the East Coast. Each day over 15,000 containers are brought into Charleston. Operating as the Custom Border Patrol, Zarask's organization is the largest branch of the Department of Homeland Security. Its task is to handle all evaluations and be a clearing house for people and goods. At the same time the agency dares not choke the legitimate flow of goods so as to disrupt the economy. The operation has several key phases:

The 24 hour rule prohibits any container from entering Charleston that had not been on a lading manifest for 24 hours.

A National Target Center, based in Washington, DC does an analysis of shipping.

An Auto Targeting System identifies all high risk goods, based upon prior intelligence and insures that said goods are inspected.

The Automated Commercial Environment provides enhanced detection and analysis of cargo.

A non intrusive inspection system provides radiant detection devices, both large and small. Key containers are x-rayed and the back door opened. In general trucks can roll right through the detection system without stopping. An international agreement of 37 ports, which will soon expand to 70 provides world wide inspections. This venture is a combination of private companies and the CBP.

Specialized training of agents is done in collaboration with the Coast Guard and includes both basic and advanced training.

The bottom line is "TRUST BUT VERIFY".

In response to a questions as to how often the Charleston group has found something wrong, Zarask responded:

There have been 15 container seizures in 2005
8 million dollars in fines have been levied
Some irregularity occurs 2 to 3 times per week.

Reported by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee