May 28, 2007

Rotarians Learn About Trident Literacy

May 22, 2007: Today the Chairman of the Board of the Trident Literacy Association addressed our club to help us all understand the importance of what they do and how we, as community members, can help them continue to help those in need.

Molly Hughes has been on the Board of Directors for the association for 6 years. She is an attorney with Nexsen Pruet specializing in labor and employment law. She received her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Wofford College and her law degree, cum laude, from the University of South Carolina. This is her first year as Chairman.

The Trident Literacy Association is a non-profit organization that has been in operation for 35 years this year. It was started by a small group of teachers that had no budget and has, over the years, grown into a formidable organization. There are 10 board members who have a common goal to help each person become self sufficient and economically independent.

What is Literacy?
When Molly asked the club the above question, several people had different versions but the common one heard was "being able to read." The US Congress has a much longer and wordier version, but Molly's definition was simple: Literacy is fundamental to a person's ability to function in life in every way. If a person is unable to read or write, than regular things become much more difficult and at times impossible. Grocery shopping, reading prescription instructions, interpreting directions or instructions and the list goes on.

How does the Literacy Association help?
With over 7 main sites and 20 outreach locations, the associations helps approximately 3,000 adults (18 years and older) per year. There are over 200 volunteers that assist in several areas, with many of them tutoring students on an individual basis. Each student pays a nominal fee (no more than $25) to attend classes. The association is also funded by the Federal and State Government as well as several corporate and individual donors, some who are members of our club.

What do they do?
There are several different programs for the students. Some are: English as a Second Language program, the GED program and the Adult Basic Education program. They give classes in all their locations and have now been authorized to teach a GED class at the Charleston County Detention Center.

Why is it important?
1 in 4 adults in the Tri-County area is illiterate. There are 50,000 people that are functionally illiterate in the Tri-County area. It's important for our community to be aware for so many reasons. For example, in order for our community to continue to grow and prosper and have new businesses come to the area, we must provide a work force that is qualified.

How can we help?
The best way is by volunteering to tutor, help with publicity, office work, fundraising or in numerous other ways. Volunteers are requested to commit to two hours per week for at least six months. If you can't commit your time, donations and word of mouth publicity are also very helpful. For more information, please contact the Trident Literacy Foundation at 747-2223.

Submitted by Darby Hand, Keyway Committee

May 20, 2007

"New" Police Chief in Town

May 15, 2007: Today the Honor Guard for the Charleston Police Department presented the colors in honor of their fallen comrades as it was Police Officers Memorial Day.

Rob Dewey was not able to be present because he was in Lincolnville with 300 other officers responding to a crisis of an officer who disappeared, so Henry Fishburne introduced our speaker, Chief Mullen. Chief Mullen is a native of North Carolina, began his career in law enforcement in the Air Force, spent 21 years with the Virginia Beach Police Department, and on October 1, 2006 was selected to be the Chief of the Charleston Police Department.

Chief Mullen addressed the three key questions on everyone's mind. These questions were 1) What we doing? 2) What do we need to do to get to the next level? and 3) Most importantly, what are the challenges or barriers we face in the community? Chief Mullen explained that Charleston, like everywhere else, is facing an epidemic of violent crime. While nationally violent crime rose 3.6% last year, it rose in areas that you would typically not expect. For example Orlando has had the greatest increase in murders in the past year, even though it's known for its family-friendly resorts.

To address the needs of our community, Chief Mullen said we must see the problem in a broader perspective. One of the unique perspectives is that the average age of people committing violent crimes has moved from the 18 to 25 years bracket to the 15 to 25 years bracket. The Chief explained that violent crime tends to be committed by the same target group who are going in and out of our justice system even though they are starting much younger.

The key to reducing crime is getting everyone engaged in the community and working with other agencies throughout the area. Because criminals do not respect municipal boundaries, he has initiated a program of investigators of the Area Police Departments meeting weekly to share information. These meetings lead to not only solving crimes, but spotting trends earlier to prevent crimes. By stressing inter-operability of agencies and focusing on the localized areas where violent crimes occur, the investigators are helping to make our communities safer.

Chief Mullen closed with a request of the Club to assist him in two key areas to help prevent or reduce crimes. First, he asked everyone to lock their cars and not keep valuables in plain view, as this is an open invitation to vehicular crime, which funds drugs and guns. Second, he asked us to communicate with our legislators to support stricter legislation, especially for bonds and searches. He shared a story about an individual who was arrested for a homicide committed while being out on bail on a weapons charge. If our laws had allowed him to remain incarcerated until trial, this crime could've been prevented.

Submitted by Wayne Outlaw, Keyway Committee

May 15, 2007


May 8, 2007: Myron Harrington introduced four talented Rotary scholars at the meeting last Tuesday. Brittany Nicole Coaxum, Sarah Renee Ellison, Tina Rae-Tin Mao, and Trent William Robbins, are high school seniors with stellar academic and extra-curricular resumes. Only one of these four exemplary youths was chosen to receive the grand prize of a $3,000.00 scholarship, however all of them received our praises. The three runners up to the grand prize each received a $1,000.00 scholarship award.

Brittany Coaxum, from Burke High School, was the President of the National Honors Society, has received the Septima Clark Award, was Miss Burke 2006-07, and has time for activities like the marching band and the Academic Bowl team! Ms Coaxum plans to attend the USC (Columbia) in the fall, where she would like to major in psychology. She came to our meeting with three very welcomed guests, her mother, guidance counselor, and school Principal.

Sarah Renee Ellison, who is set to attend U. Penn in the fall, is a senior at Ashley Hall, where she was Vice-President of the student body, President of the National Honors Society, and Chair of the Honor Council. She is also heavily committed to volunteering her time to community activities, and plans to continue that in college. Both of Ms. Ellison's parents and her college advisor joined us at the meeting.

Trent William Robbins has attended First Baptist Church School his whole academic career. It seems that he is mature beyond his years, and he explained that his passion and drive come from his desire to fulfill a higher calling. Among other things, Mr. Robbins is the Valedictorian, Student Government Chaplain, a member of the Math Team, and an avid community volunteer.

Tina Rae-Tin Mao was chosen as the grand prize winner of the Rotary Scholars award. Ms. Mao is a senior at Porter-Gaud, and she has yet to chose from an array of top notch schools for her higher education. She has been accepted to UNC Chapel Hill, U. of Chicago, Princeton, and a list of other Ivy League schools. Yet Ms. Mao is not only an incredibly bright young woman- she is also the Managing Editor of her school newspaper, a member of the Forensics team, the winner of the Sewanee Award for Excellence in Writing, the Franck C. Ford Award for Leadership, among others. Porter-Gaud's Dean of Students was present to see Ms. Mao receive her award.

Ms. Mao answered questions from the club members with poise and confidence, as did the other three scholars. The question and answer session reaffirmed why these four young adults were chosen from their respective institutions as the creme of the crop. We enjoyed spending time with the scholars, and hope to see them in Rotary again some day!

Submitted by Jackie Grau, Keyway Committee

May 6, 2007

Dr. Greenberg, "...our students are our best resource."

May 1, 2007:
Andy Brack introduced Dr. Ray Greenberg as a highly qualified and accomplished professional "who doesn't know which Carolina blue to cheer for." With a medical degree from Duke University it should be obvious, but add a BS and PhD from UNC Chapel Hill and a MS from Harvard and every season is a new challenge.

Dr. Greenberg immediately complimented Rotary as a Partner...he believes in what we do and constantly sees the positive results of our efforts. His overview comments reflected his excitement for MUSC's new $300 million, 650,000 square foot hospital opening in October 2007 and the implementation of a new statewide fiber optic network that will connect our research institutions. He quickly added, "I'm not go to say anything that you'll walk away saying: Wow, I heard something today I'll remember for a long time." To the contrary, Dr. Greenberg did say something we all will remember: "...our students are our best resource." With that, he introduced Justin Elett as one of "6 or 7 students a year" bright and dedicated enough to enter the MD/PhD program. In January 2005, as a second year medical and graduate student Justin started something extraordinary in Mt. Pleasant: a clinic for uninsured patients called CARES. CARES stands for "community aid, relief, education, and support." On a shoestring $10,000 dollar annual budget, Justin and 5-7 of his fellow student volunteers at MUSC run a clinic on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 PM free of charge. The clinic opened in August 2005 and has treated over 800 individual patients with over 1100 encounters. The clinic is aided by MUSC providing the lab services for "cost" and donated pharmaceuticals. Mr. Ellet's fellow student, Scotty Buff, is equally impressive. As a Wofford College undergraduate who, "almost has her PhD in microbiology and immunology," she started an outreach program to schools in 2004. Her "Junior Doctors of Health" program empowers children to learn to recognize the importance of their health as well as others. She enthusiastically talked about how the 6th Graders at Fraser Elementary love "pulling the organs out of a plastic body" as a part of learning what healthy eating and exercise can do to promote good health. She explained the program's three-prong approach:

Interdisciplinary: Teach them about related career fields such as "male nurses" of which they had no knowledge.
Target the Parents: The Frasier "Walk to School Day" resulted in over 300 participants; 100 more than expected; parent participation was overwhelming. (Dr. Greenberg provided the event T-Shirts, including the extra 100). Additionally, the program's "Literacy Drive" raised over $400 for books.
Take the Program to High Schools: Plans are being made for health fairs that increase the student's health knowledge and self-esteem.

NOTE: A lively Q&A session followed and was enjoyed by all.

Reported by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee