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Rotary Club of Hickory notes accomplishments

Rotary Club of Hickory notes accomplishments

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Charitable-giving updates, club awards and installation of new officers were the focus of a special, socially distanced meeting, with masks, of the Rotary Club of Hickory.

The group met July 9 on the lawn of the SALT Block.

Gerry Knox, outgoing president, celebrated with the club what was a 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 more than $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 about 5,200 children a year.

» A donation of $5,500 for a downtown mural to commemorate the 1944 “Miracle of Hickory,” when the 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 percent 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 club is funding five rolling scholarships at $3,000 per year per recipient for a total 2019-20 outlay of $15,000. Including the $24,000 scholarships awarded this year, the club has provided college scholarships valued at $294,000 since 2002, though Service Above Self Scholarship were offered for years before 2002.

» Wilmer Jenkins Teacher of the Year Awards — A total of $5,000 was presented to nine 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. A 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 $1,000 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 $5,000 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 $4,000 for schools in Tzancha, Guatemala as part of Rotary’s international efforts to provide educational assistance worldwide.

» A $1,000 donation for the United Way Invitational, which celebrated 26 years of cross-country competitions in Hickory under the leadership of Rotarian John Hall. This year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19.

» ShelterBox USA received $1,000 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 $1,000 donation to the Coins for Alzheimer’s Trust. 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 $1,000 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 transmission of the wild poliovirus.

All these contributions were made possible by the Rotary Club of Hickory’s successful fundraising activities, highlighted annually by the Rotarian Idol fundraiser. The 2020 contest 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 people 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 Knox. In partnership with Pope and his team of co-workers at the Viewmont location of Chick-fil-A, the club 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 or die. Reed’s leadership of the membership committee was instrumental in the successful recruitment and retention of members, ensuring 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 member of the district membership team.

The 2020 Rotarian of the Year was awarded to 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. Smith also accepted the call to serve as president nominee and will serve as club president during the club’s 2022-23 year.

Knox announced that the club received several awards at the Rotary District 7670 conference held online June 27. The Rotary Club of Hickory received awards for Best Club Website and Best Social Media Presence for District 7670 Extra Large Clubs. It 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.

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 19 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 percent), compared with 83 on July 5, 2019 (75 percent). Carfagno was recognized as the first Paul Harris Fellow of the 2020-21 Rotary year and 96th overall.

The Rotary Foundation helps fund humanitarian activities, from local service projects to global initiatives.

The mission of the 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 $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 to June 2021 Rotary year. Kelly Farr assumes the role of president-elect and will serve as president from July 2021 to June 2022. Both will share the honor of serving as the Rotary Club of Hickory celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2021.

The founder of the Hickory 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 attended the organizational meeting of the Rotary Club of Hickory. The meeting, held 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 Co., was elected sergeant-at-arms. Named secretary was Frank A. Henderson, vice president and treasurer of Hickory Overall Co. Also elected to the board of directors were Neil W. Clark, president of Yoder-Clark Clothing Co., and George L. Lyerly, manager of Shuford Hardware Co.

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 Co.; 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 Co. 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 Co.; and Jake H. Shuford, surgeon and owner of Richard Baker Hospital.

The charter for the club, issued by Rotary International on March 1, 1921, was formally presented at a regular meeting May 12, 1921.

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.

In adherence to Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self,” the Hickory club has a history of giving back to the community through its primary service avenue of education.

For more information about the Rotary Club of Hickory, visit

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