Charitable giving updates, club awards and installation of new officers was the focus of a special, socially distanced meeting with masks of the Rotary Club of Hickory held on the lawn of the SALT Block on July 9th. Outgoing President Gerry Knox celebrated with the club what was no doubt a challenging, but nevertheless successful, Rotary year, despite the obstacles brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite the challenges the Rotary Club of Hickory still managed to distribute over $58,000 for educational and other charitable needs in the Hickory area:
- Catawba County Partnership for Children received a $15,000 contribution for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program which is administered by the Catawba County Partnership. Children enrolled in Imagination Library are mailed a free, age-appropriate book each month until they turn 5 years old. Since its inception in April 2011, The Rotary Club of Hickory has contributed $227,000 and mailed out 109,135 books serving around 5200 children a year.
- A donation of $5500 for a downtown mural to commemorate the 1944 “Miracle of Hickory” when our community came together to build and run a hospital in the face of a major polio epidemic in western North Carolina. The hospital was built in just 54 hours, had one of the lowest mortality rates in the country (5% lower than average), and was integrated, accepting Black and White children equally during a time when Segregation was the law in the South.
- The Rotary Club of Hickory continued awarding annual college scholarships that are paid in annual installments per recipient per school year for four years to the college of the student’s choice. Two SAS (Service Above Self) Scholarships were awarded to Tamia Larius Sloan from Hickory High School and Luke Matthew Alvarez from Hickory Career and Arts Magnet High School. Each student will receive a $12,000 scholarship payable over four years to the university they attend. Currently the Rotary Club of Hickory is funding five rolling scholarships at $3000 per year per recipient for a total 2019-2020 outlay of $15,000. Including the $24,000 scholarships awarded this year, the Hickory Rotary Club has provided college scholarships valued at $294,000 since 2002, though Service Above Self Scholarship have been offered for years prior to 2002.
- Wilmer Jenkins Teacher of the Year Awards – A total of $5,000 was presented to 9 outstanding Hickory Public School teachers on May 9, 2019. Jana Kaylor, a media specialist at Oakwood Elementary School, was named the 2020 Wilmer Jenkins Teacher of the Year.
- Hickory Museum of Art received a $4,000 contribution for the annual HMA Paul Whitener Art show. Former Rotary Club of Hickory member, the late Paul Whitener, wanted a place where school age children could express their creativity and display their artwork. The show exhibits the artwork of kindergarten through high school students living in Catawba County.
- Madison Yount, Hickory High Interact Club, received a $1000 annual stipend for her role as adviser. Interact is a Rotary International sponsored club for young people ages 12-18 who want to join together to tackle the issues in their community about which they care the most.
- The YMCA received $5000 for the Summer Learning Loss program as the YMCA continues its mission to build healthy spirit, mind and body and to replace and upgrade necessities for child care.
- A donation of $4000 for Schools in Tzancha, Guatemella as part of Rotary’s international efforts to provide educational assistance worldwide.
- A $1000 donation for the United Way Invitational which celebrated 26 years of cross-country competitions in Hickory under the leadership of Rotarian John Hall. Unfortunately, this year’s event was cancelled due to Covid-19.
- ShelterBox USA received $1000 to purchase a ShelterBox which provides humanitarian relief to victims of worldwide disasters. Since many disaster relief aid agencies provide food and water, ShelterBox provides relief in the form of disaster relief tents for families, thermal blankets and groundsheets, water storage and purification equipment, solar lamps, cooking utensils, basic tool kits, mosquito nets, and children’s activity packs.
- A $1000 donation the Coins for Alzheimer’s Trust (CART. The CART Fund provides funds for cutting edge research to cure Alzheimer’s disease. CART started in 1996 with Rotarians voluntarily emptying their pockets and purses of change at weekly meetings. The CART Fund is dedicated to raising funds to provide “seed” money for cutting edge, high impact research in hopes of finding a cure/prevention for Alzheimer’s disease.
- A $1000 donation to Polio Plus. The goal of the Polio Plus program is the global certification of polio eradication. By eradication, WHO, the Global Commission on Certification and Rotary mean the interruption of the transmission of the wild poliovirus.
All of these contributions were made possible by the Rotary Club of Hickory’s successful fundraising activities, highlighted annually by the Rotarian Idol fundraiser. The 2020 event was postponed due to Covid-19 social distancing guidelines and will be rescheduled at a later date when public health and safety allows large gatherings.
Many individuals who are not Rotarians serve Rotary, participating and supporting the club’s many endeavors, by lending their talent, financial resources and time to further the mission of Rotary. Jason Pope with Chick-fil-A accepted the 2020 Friend of Rotary Club of Hickory award presented by outgoing President Gerry Knox. In partnership with Pope and his team of coworkers at the Viewmont location of Chick-fil-A, the Rotary Club of Hickory delivered lunch meals to Hickory Fire Department first responders in June. Chick-fil-A donated and provided the meals, and Rotarians delivered them for lunch, along with messages of thanks from a grateful community.
Phillip Reed accepted the 2020 Heart of Rotary award for his service on the club’s Board of Directors and successful chairmanship of the club’s Membership Committee. Civic clubs are always faced with frequent membership turnover as members change jobs, relocate and pass away. Reed’s leadership of the Membership Committee was instrumental in the successful recruitment and retention of members insuring a continued bright future for the club’s ongoing civic commitments and community contributions. In addition to his efforts on behalf of the club, Reed also served Rotary District 7670 as a vital member of the district membership team.
The 2020 Rotarian of the Year was awarded Deaton Smith. Smith serves as Secretary of the club and was the driving force behind the club’s successful effort to continue meeting, virtually via Zoom, while Covid-19 guidance made public gatherings of civic organizations and other public events ill-advised as the world seeks to slow the spread of the pandemic. Smith also accepted the call to serve as President Nominee and will serve as club president during the club’s 2022-2023 year.
Club President Gerry Knox announced that the Rotary club of Hickory received several awards at the Rotary District 7670 conference held online on June 27. The Rotary Club of Hickory received awards for Best Club Website and Best Social Media Presence for District 7670 Extra Large Clubs. Rotary Club of Hickory also received the Governor’s Award for Best Overall Public Image among all the Rotary Clubs in District 7670. District 7670 represents 50 Rotary Clubs in 22 counties in western North Carolina.
President Knox recognized outgoing members of the Board of Directors: Michael Blackburn, Bruce Bumbarger, Leslie Ferrell and Cliff Moone and welcomed new board members Jon Carfagno, Jean McMullin and Mark Seaman.
Also recognized were nineteen Paul Harris Fellowship award recipients for contributions to the Rotary Foundation: Patrice Bertrand. Mary Burritt, Kit Cannon, Jennifer Clark, Dan Duke, Rodney Garren, Noah Geoghegan, Juliet Good, Kelly Knetsche, Terri Livingstone, Meg Locke, Mike Pilolla, Michael Roper, Gabriel Sherwood, Robert Singletary, Deaton Smith, Greg Suddreth, Steve Walker and Sarah Willis. Currently the Rotary Club of Hickory has 95 active members who are Paul Harris Fellows (86%), compared to 83 on 5 July 2019 (75%). Jon Carfagno was recognized as the first Paul Harris Fellow of the 2020-2021 Rotary year and 96th overall.
The Rotary Foundation helps fund humanitarian activities, from local service projects to global initiatives. The mission of The Rotary Foundation is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty. Donors of US$1,000 or more to the Rotary Foundation Annual Fund, Polio-Plus, or an approved Foundation grant, or people, who have that amount contributed in their name, can be recognized as Paul Harris Fellows.
Tara Bland was sworn in as Club President for the July 2020 – June 2021 Rotary year. Kelly Farr assumes the role of President Elect and will serve as president July 2021 – June 2022. Both will share the honor of serving as the Rotary Club of Hickory celebrates its’ one-hundredth anniversary when Rotary Club of Hickory celebrates 100 years of service in 2021.
The founder of the Hickory Rotary Club was Watt Shuford, a member of one of Hickory’s pioneer families who pursued interests in dairying and farming. While in Asheville for a 1920 business convention, Shuford attended a Rotary club meeting and became interested in forming a club in Hickory. Members of the Asheville club encouraged him to do so, helping with their guidance and assistance.
Ten members of the Asheville club, led by International Sergeant at Arms Emmet E. Galer, attended the organizational meeting of the Rotary Club of Hickory. The meeting, held on Friday, Feb. 11, 1921, at Hotel Huffry, was attended by 18 charter members. Shuford was named president. Elected vice president was Kenneth C. Menzies, cashier of First National Bank. The position of treasurer was filled by George R. Wootten, secretary-treasurer of the First Building & Loan Association. Albert C. Hewitt, president of Hickory Ice & Coal Company, was elected sergeant-at-arms. Named secretary was Frank A. Henderson, vice president and treasurer of Hickory Overall Company. Also elected to the board of directors were Neil W. Clark, president of Yoder-Clark Clothing Company; and George L. Lyerly, manager of Shuford Hardware Company.
The other charter members were: Fred A. Abernethy, livestock dealer; Bascom B. Blackwelder, Shuford Mills executive; John H. P. Cilley, manager of Piedmont Foundry & Machine Company; J. Lenoir Cilley, assistant cashier of First National Bank; Hugh D’Anna, manager of Hickory Hosiery Mills; Joseph D. Elliott, president and treasurer of Elliott Building Company Contractors; Sam H. Farabee, editor of the Hickory Daily Record; Rusk G. Henry, city manager; Robert E. Martin, partner of Whitener & Martin Retail Grocery; A. Alex Shuford, secretary and treasurer of A. A. Shuford Mill Company; and Jake H. Shuford, surgeon and owner of Richard Baker Hospital.
The charter for the Club, issued by Rotary International on Mar. 1, 2021, was formally presented at a regular meeting on May 12, 2021 by District Governor Buck Perrin of Spartanburg, S.C. The Club was the 485th to be formed by the international organization. It was placed in the 280th district which, in addition to Western North Carolina, included the state of South Carolina and some clubs in Virginia and Tennessee.
The Rotary Club of Hickory was founded in 1921 by Watt Shuford. In adherence to Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self,” the club has a history of giving back to the community through its primary service avenue of education.