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Fellowship and Service the Bluffton Way

We meet Wednesdays at 7:30 AM
Rotary Community Center/Oscar Frazier Park
P.O. Box 142
Bluffton, SC  29910
United States
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As we move into the fall and hopefully the temperature gets a little cooler we start getting busier as Rotarians. September is New Generations (Youth Services) month. Tony, Tom and Chris are busy with Rotaract and Interact. Plans are well underway for the Interact Symposium to be held at USCB on October 4th. The Symposium will include Interact members from all of Beaufort County. This is truly an example of Service above Self. We will also be welcoming our first Student of the Month for this school year from M.C. Riley at the business meeting in September. We are also please to welcome Danielle Breidung who is taking Paige’s place at USCB. I know she will continue the good things Paige did with the students at USCB and Rotaract.
I would like to thank Mike Tripka for heading up our efforts at the Boiled Peanut Festival. We had a great turnout of Rotarians, spouses and friends despite the close to 100 degree temperature.  The turnout was pretty good considering it was melting hot.  In the end we should be able to make a nice donation to the Foundation toward our Polio Eradication goal.
Coming up in October we have the Arts and Seafood Festival from October 12-19. Even though this is not a Rotary event like the Bluffton Village Festival we are fully committed to this Festival. Many of the Club serve on their Board and head up the committee’s.  In exchange for us providing a lot of volunteers for primarily Saturday and Sunday of the festival we get to run the beverage sales for those two days. All of the net proceeds from the beverage sales go into our contributions account and ultimately to those organizations that we support, both locally and internationally.
Also coming up on October 29th will be a visit from District Governor Jimmy Williamson. Please plan on attending the meeting that day so you can hear DG Jimmy’s message.

Maureen Richards with The Heyward House is the current Executive Director of the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society.  She stopped by to give us an update on progress and projects that BHPS  is currently overseeing. Maureen gave us an overview of how she “landed in Bluffton” to work on historic preservation since 2008.

Originally from Philadelphia, Richards earned her Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and worked for the Chrysler Corporation in Detroit.  When it merged with Daimler Benz, she spent time in Austria for Jeep Grand Cherokee.  She soon fell in love with the historic architecture, took a leave of absence to restore castles in Italy and France and eventually returned to Savannah to study Historic Preservation at the Savannah College of Art and Design.  Upon completion of her studies in 2004, she was hired as Promotions Director of the Heyward House Historic Center.

Maureen talked about the visitors to the Heyward House.  Many come from word of mouth or guests of residents. Their tour numbers have seen a steady increase.  One area they struggle in is membership.  Though BHPS primarily focuses on the Heyward House, they also consult with the Town of Bluffton for other historical property preservation.  Currently, they are working on approval for funding a ramp or a lift to increase safety and accessibility to the house

Speaker, fellow rotarianRotarian from the East Cooper Club and author,  Andra Watkins entertained and inspired our morning meeting with her newly published book about her recent adventures walking the Natchez Trace. Andra lives in Charleston, South Carolina. She is the first living person to walk the 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did prior to the rise of steam power in the 1820’s.

 From March 1, 2014 to April 3, 2014, she walked fifteen miles a day. Six days a week encountering wildlife and people along the way and other demands including a daunting wind storm and a memorable bad day physically impaired with a stomach virus. She was ready to quit by the second week, but prevailed to complete the walk and publish her memoirs of her present day experiences and historical themes about life on this road in the 1800’s .  She spent each night in the modern-day equivalent of stands, places much like Grinder’s Stand, where Meriwether Lewis died from two gunshot wounds on October 11, 1809. In addition to celebrating the release of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, the walk inspired her upcoming memoir of the adventure, Not Without My Father, coming in the Fall of this year.  It is sure to amuse and inspire with Andra sharing what it was like to spend each day on the walk with her 80 year old father each evening.

Dee Phelps had a full time and rewarding career as a surgical nurse for nearly 30 years in Beaufort County. She loved making a difference in the lives of others, but when her husband tragically passed, it was time for a change.  Dee started writing for therapy which led to the pursuit and completion of her master’s degree in Literature. After writing a children’s book and travel articles, Phelps desired more.  Dee is now an author of her first novel, The Disappointment Room. 

Family ties to a 2,000 acre plantation in Switzerland, South Carolina sparked an interest in the history and culture of plantation life, ancestors and slaves and soon….the theme of something few knew of was revealed –  “disappointment rooms”.  Disappointment rooms were secret rooms often in attic spaces where slave children with mental and physical handicaps were hidden from public view while their families worked.

Dee is now promoting her new historical fiction book which spans 8 generations of plantation life from Civil War to present through the children of disappointment rooms. The Lowcountry stories are infused with Gullah culture, voodoo and many local sights and sounds familiar to many of us who reside in Beaufort County.

She is currently working on a sequel and she has been nominated for a 2014 Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel.  We wish her further rewards in her journey as a writer.

Quick Update: Dee won the 2014 Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel -- congratulations, Dee!


Fire Prevention Week is October 5 – 11th this year and Lee Levesque, Public Education Officer for Bluffton Township Fire District came by the Bluffton Rotary Club last month to help us get ready.

Our Bluffton Fire Department handles many services for us … putting out fires, cutting someone out of a car and rescuing cats from tires. But they also “want to be a clearinghouse for all things safe”, according to Levesque. “We want to be there to help you”.

While insurance seems to rise on a regular basis, the cost of a single fire extinguisher for the home has only gone up 2% in 20 years. In fact, no one in the history of  Beaufort County has ever died in a burning building that has a working smoke detector…”now that’s good insurance” says Levesque.

Bluffton has 8 fire stations with a total of 126 people working in them, covering 256 square miles; we are within 5 miles of a fire station anywhere in Bluffton. The Fire Department offers a free service, where an inspector will come out to your business, work with you, save your business money and keep you safe. According to Levesque, there are 2700 businesses in Bluffton and “our goal is to hit every business every year.”

As we approach Fire Prevention Week, make sure fire extinguishers are up to date and smoke detectors work properly. If unsure, contact your closest fire department for help. If replacing fire extinguishers, donate old extinguishers to the fire department for training for new fire fighters.

August is Membership Month for Rotary.  We are starting the month off on a high note by inducting Allen Butts into membership on August 6th. Allen will be a great addition to our club and I look forward to him being a fellow Rotarian. Since membership is the focus for August, we should give some thought about who we know that would be a good Rotarian. Invite them to a meeting for a free breakfast and let them have an opportunity to find out what Bluffton Rotary is all about.
Saturday August 23 is The Third Annual Boiled Peanut Festival. This year we will be in charge of the beverage sales. Mike Tripka is chairing this event and will be asking for volunteers for the day of the event. The Board voted at our July meeting to use the net proceeds to help meet the Club’s Polio Eradication Goal of $2,125.
As most of you know, John Beiler and his family moved to Charlotte, NC which left us with a vacant Board position. I am pleased that Tony Falgiani agreed to take John’s place on the Board as Director of Youth Service.
The summer months are generally slow months for most Rotary clubs and our club is no different. July was a month that the new Board spent getting their feet wet learning more about their positions and responsibilities. As we move in to August we should see more activity from our various Committee’s.  Your Board members that head up these Committee’s need your help.  These areas of service are: Youth Services; Membership; Public Relations; Club Administration; Service Projects and Foundation. If you are interested in one or more of these areas please talk with the Board member who is responsible for that area or talk with me.    
In closing, I would like to thank everyone for making the transition to the new year smooth. I know that there well be bumps and hurdles through out the year but each and every member’s focus on the 4-Way Test and Service Above Self makes serving as your President much easier.

Our August 6th presentation was given by Amy Covington of the United Way of the Low Country.  Amy is a 19 year resident of the low country. This is her third week with United Way and her first speaking engagement for them. Amy explained how the United Way helps the people of the low country. They provide food, shelter, and pay bills and many other services to people in need. They do this through various programs - 44 programs in all. United Way received 135,000 calls last year through their helpline. Amy pointed out that United Way helps people across the entire socio-economic spectrum.

She went on to explain how United Way has partnered with the local school system to help lower the dropout rate. Many students who cannot read past a fourth grade level  drop out of school. United Way’s program has increased the math scores by 98%. United Way placed 200 tutors in the school system last year and 300 tutors this year. The goal is to increase the tutoring program to 600 volunteers.  United Way would like to see more involvement in their programs by Bluffton residents.

Besides tutoring they are asking residents to volunteer for the neighborhood ambassadors program and would like to see businesses get their employees to run United Way campaigns to raise money.  You may contact United Way By visiting or call 843.982.3040.


President Steve Miller inducts new Bluffton Rotary Club member Allen Butts. Mike Covert is Allen's sponsor. Welcome Allen!

Attorney, Ryan Mikkelson shared the efforts, successes and vision for Family Promise of Beaufort County.   The organization partners with local congregations, individuals, businesses, foundations, families and social services agencies to provide an extensive program for homeless families with a focus on children.  They provide temporary shelter, meals and comprehensive case management to help them find a job, gain permanent housing with the goal of keeping them out of a “homeless” category for 1 year.  This year, they project that the organization will assist 250-350 homeless children.
Ryan emphasized that families are homeless for many reasons beyond addiction issues.
Their day center is the hub of operations for developing budget and job skills and addressing social needs.  They are currently working towards a fundraising goal of one million dollars to expand facilities to assist and get more families “off the streets.”  Currently Family Promise leadership has raised $300,000 toward their goal. 
Ryan was well received by our club and we enjoyed seeing former Bluffton Rotarian, Family Physician Dr. Michael Mikkelson (Ryan’s father – “Mik” ) in attendance at our meeting.

President Steve Miller will be randomly asking members of our club to share a few interesting factoids about themselves this year at weekly meetings.

What a great way to emphasize this year’s Rotary International theme of “Light Up Rotary.”

Walt Dollman was the first Rotarian chosen for the spotlight. His sense of humor describing his life and career made it fun. He was well received!
Walt is at TD Bank in Financial Services at Okatie.  He is from Pittsburgh. Attended college at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. Received a B.A. degree in basically “nothing” he amusingly shared. He successfully managed a forklift company. Sales, business management and finance have been a major portion of his career. Married for 38 years.

Rodney Vaughn, beloved Rotarian in our club for many years shared his experience on a mission trip in June to the Dominican Republic.

Rodney went with 11 members from the All Saints Episcopal Church to provide a vacation bible school program in two different villages.

The church has gone for six years in a row.  Rodney wanted it to be both a Vacation Bible School and a Rotary connection to this country.  He proudly wore his Bluffton Rotary Club t-shirt throughout the trip.

The journey started with a two day tour of  the capital city, Santo Domingo.  After a day of skyscrapers, the real purpose began as they visited two poverty stricken areas to share the message of Christ.   Rodney and team worked closely with two churches serving a multitude of families over a 5 day period.   The team provided over 200 pairs of shoes to children. This gift was a huge hit with all that were able to receive a pair.   Rodney noted that there were Rotary welcome signs in many villages confirming that projects were under way or completed in the areas traveled. 

The Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber Leadership Class of 2014 had a Ribbon Cutting for a new fitness trail in the Oscar Frasier Park in Bluffton, next to the Rotary Community Center. The Bluffton Rotary Club donated funds toward the new fitness stations, which will be enjoyed by many for years to come. Come on out and get fit!

Several members of the Bluffton Rotary Club received Paul Harris Fellow Awards in May: (from left to right) Steve Miller, PHF+1; Greg Johnson, Paul Harris Fellow; Tabor Vaux, PHF+1; Sidney Jones, PHF +1, Deborah Burt, PHF+2 and Brad Talbert, PHF+2. Congratulations to all for your achievement and contributions to Rotary International!

The month of May and all it represents - spring, end of school, graduation, Mother’s Day and, for the Bluffton Rotary Club, the Bluffton Village Festival - is upon us. In our 6th year after taking over from Babbie Guscio, as Julie Taylor, Event Manager for the Town of Bluffton said we “continue to get better year after year!” This was another great festival year, thanks to all of you…each club member who volunteered this weekend or who served on the committee working for the last several months and for the many volunteers and sponsors outside Rotary…we could not do it without all of you! So many, many thanks for your help, commitment, hard work and time. This is our biggest fund-raiser of the year and all proceeds go to our contributions account, to do good in the community and with Rotary International. However, this event is not just about raising money, it is giving a gift to Bluffton, to our community and guests and to all the area craftsmen and artists who love our event and the chance to show off their wares.
Special thanks goes to Mike Covert, who chaired the committee this year, Lisa Carroll and her team for great publicity and advertising, John Kirkland who once again stepped up to the not so glamorous but oh so necessary job of transportation, trash and sanitation, Sandy Graves for merchandising, Chris Epps for organizing volunteers, Deb Boshaw for handling our wine and beer licenses, Jim Hudson for handling our insurance needs, Bob Prust and Mike Tripka for beverage sales, Steve Miller for the finances and Cindy Owens for entertainment.
And in other club news, we are pleased to announce David Hussey has been approved for membership. Per our club rules, David will be proposed for membership for one week and then, if no objections are brought forward, he will be inducted into membership this month.
We are also so very pleased to welcome Jay Parks back, after an illness and treatment in Atlanta! Jay just got back and was working the beer tent on Saturday! Go Jay!
And more good news: we are greatly relieved to welcome Michael Hahn back home to Bluffton, after a scary few weeks at MUSC in Charleston. We are thankful for having such great medical care so close by and happy to have Michael back in our midst.
We are also happy to welcome our newly chartered and installed Rotaract Club of USCB. The new club was installed on April 28 and new officers inducted. Thanks again to fellow member Paige Castle for helping us move forward with organizing this new Rotaract Club and to Tom Faber for getting the paperwork together to make it happen. We will expect good things from this new club…and we were happy to see many members out helping with the Bluffton Village festival this weekend!
Thanks for your continued support of our Rotary Club, living up to our motto of “Service Above Self” and for supporting me as your “recycled” president!
Yours in Rotary,
Dot Jeger

New University of South Carolina at Beaufort Rotaract Club was Chartered and new officers installed on the steps of the USCB building in Bluffton on Monday, April 28. Assistant Governor David Tirard assisted in the Induction of officers and presented the charter for the new club. Samantha Smith was inducted as President, following Nathan Cooper who just completed his term as President and will now enjoy the much coveted role of Past President! The USCB Rotaract Club is jointly sponsored by the Rotary Club of Bluffton and the Hilton Head Island Rotary Club.



Nov 05, 2014
Rotary Foundation/Stephanie Jameson
Foundation/Behavioral Hurdles
Nov 12, 2014
Rotary Foundation
Rotary Foundation
Nov 26, 2014
Dec 17, 2014
Singing Eagles
MC Rielly Chorus
Dec 24, 2014
Dec 31, 2014
Feb 04, 2015
Mike Davis
First Tee of the Low Country

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