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Bertha Todd named as Rotary's first Legacy Award recipient

Bertha Boykin Todd is recipient of Rotary's first Legacy AwardMay 1, 2024: Bertha Boykin Todd, a retired educator who has devoted her life to bridging racial divisions in Wilmington, received the club's first-ever Legacy Award at the May 1 Leaders in Service banquet. Between 1952 and 1968, she was librarian at the all-Black Williston High School. When New Hanover County Schools were desegregated and Williston closed, she was assigned to the new Hoggard High School. There, she helped students navigate the turmoil and violence that followed between 1968 and 1971. She soon became an assistant principal and held that position until retiring in 1992. Member of local and state human relations boards, she advised mayors, superintendents, and governors. She was co-chair of the 1898 Centennial Foundation, which remembered the white-supremacist insurrection that overturned Wilmington's bi-racial city government, forcibly exiled leading Black citizens, and largely destroyed a thriving Black business community. She also was a major force behind the 1898 memorial on North Third Street.

2024 Leaders in Service honorees accept awards

Dr. Charles Hardy, founder of UNCW's College of Health & Human Services, honored in the government category Joanne Parker of Wilmington Health Access for Teens, honored in the non-profit category.Brian McMerty, founder of Men on a Mission at St. James Episcopal Church, honored in the private-sector category

From left: honorees Dr. Charles Hardy, Connie Parker, and Brian McMerty

May 1, 2024: The club's third annual Leaders in Service Awards honorees were recognized at the club's banquet on May 1. They are Dr. Charles Hardy, founding dean of UNCW's College of Health & Human Services, in the government category; Connie Parker of Wilmington Health Access for Teens, in the non-profit category; and Brian McMerty, who led the consolidation of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern North Carolina, in the private-sector category. Leaders in Service recognizes executives and other leaders who have made outstanding contributions to their community. Through sponsorships and ticket sales, it is the Wilmington Rotary Club's chief fund-raiser.

Law officers, others, honored with 'Service Above Self' award

March 5, 2024: Police officers, a crime-lab specialist, a judge, and an alert restaurant employee were presented with the Rotary Club's 2024 "Service Above Self" awards. This annual program recognizes first responders and people in the justice system for actions beyond the call of duty. District Attorney Ben David, a Rotarian, presented the awards. Those honored were:

  • Deputies Emily Watson and Stephen Sawyer of Pender County Sheriff's Department for providing life-saving first aid, including cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, to a nine-year-old boy suffering a severe asthma attack.
  • Detective Timothy Moon of Wilmington Police Department and the regional ATF Task Force, for his investigative work that enabled successful federal prosecutions for several serious firearms offenses.
  • Jennifer Slish, a ballistics specialist with the North Carolina State Crime Lab, for resolving the murders of three people by linking bullets to the guns -- and the killers -- that fired them.
  • Sgt. Craig Melville of Wilmington Police Department, for many years of service in the department's community outreach efforts, including a bike-patrol crime-prevention project, "Cop Camp," and now the Crime Scene Investigations unit.
  • Officers Joseph Lachapelle and Daniel Huerta of Wilmington Police Department and deputies Danny Atkins, Jeremy Moncus, Aaron Naughton, and Eric Tello of New Hanover County Sheriff's Department, for stopping and fatally shooting a gunman who had attacked multiple people, while safeguarding innocent passers-by on busy Market Street.
  • District Court Judge James Faison, for more than twenty years of overseeing the Community Recovery Court, which offers alternatives to prison, and a path to sobriety, for offenders struggling with drug or alcohol addictions.
  • Meghan Gilbert, an employee of the Sawmill Restaurant on Castle Hayne Road, for administering life-saving CPR to a customer who went into medical distress while dining.

Each of those recognized received a hand-crafted plaque made by teenage volunteers at Kids Making It, and a $200 gift certificate to treat their family to dinner. David made a point of recognizing the vital support that spouses, children, and parents provide to public-safety professionals.

Rotarians host Boys & Girls Home residents at UNCW game

March 2, 2024: Six boys from the Rotary Cottage at the Boys & Girls Home of North Carolina enjoyed a UNC-Wilmington basketball game. The guests, along with three Rotarians, watched the Seahawks defeat the Towson Tigers, 75-64. Each of the boys was treated to food and drink, as well as a Seahawks T-shirt and souvenir cup. David Grandey, Matt Hilliard and Allan Lusk represented the club. Rotarians' next opportunity to support the Boys & Girls Home will be the Rotary Day open house on the Lake Waccamaw campus, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 23.

Rotary sponsors free dental-screening clinic for children

Rotarian and dentist Dr. Gabe Rich examines a patient at free dental clinicFebruary 17, 2024: Twenty-five low-income children got dental screenings and cleanings at the first of four planned free clinics sponsored by the club. This took place on Feb. 17 at the St. Mary Health Center, housed in the Tileston Building below St. Mary School. The Rotary club supplied money for supplies, as well as seven volunteers, including dentists Dr. Gabe Rich and Dr. Coleman Burgess. All the patients received exams, cleanings, fluoride treatments, and X-rays and dental sealants as needed. Any dental disease, such as cavities, was documented and the children’s families given referrals for follow-up treatment. All were also given a take-home dental care kit. Additional clinics were scheduled for Feb. 24, March 9, and March 16.

Beginning teachers honored with cash awards

February 13, 2024: Five second-year teachers in New Hanover County Schools were honored as the 2024 "Rookie Teachers of the Year" on Feb. 13. These Rotary Club awards, issued annually since 2017, are meant to encourage beginning educators to continue in their profession. The top winner received $1,000; the other four got $500 each.

2024 Rookie Teachers of the Year honored by Rotary 

Rookie Teachers of the Year for 2024 are Maggie Sellers, Devin Pierce (top winner), Breylin Young, Sarah Wood, and Melissa Lawrence. Each got cash awards.

Rotary funds and volunteer ushers help Theatre for All

December 7 and 8, 2023: Volunteers from our club helped set up the Second Street Stage auditorium and lobby, and hand out programs, at Theatre for All's production of "A Night's Tale." Theatre for All provides performing-arts opportunities for people with disabilities. The Rotarians helped as part of a $2,500 District Grant project.

International grant to combat teen pregnancy in West Africa

November 21, 2023: the club presented a $2,000 grant to Missions of Hope, a faith-based group working in the West African nation of Sierra Leone. This will support the group's "Let Girls be Girls" project, which provides education about pregnancy and sexual health to teenage girls.

Community dinner feeds hundreds, with help from Rotary

November 17, 2023: Rotarians helped Wilmington's Northside Food Cooperative feed members of more than 150 families at a "community dinner." The Wilmington Rotary Club has supplied money and volunteer work to support two such group meals. Of the club's $2,720 contribution, half came from the club's charitable foundation and half from a Rotary District Grant."

Global Grant buys equipment for Honduras health clinic

November 7, 2023: The Clinica Santa Maria in Reitoca, Honduras, unveiled new diagnostic and treatment equipment bought with a Rotary Global Grant in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. This $47,000 project, led by Wilmington Rotary Club, is a collaboration among multiple clubs in North Carolina, Honduras, and elsewhere. The international Rotary Foundation contributed $30,000; this club gave $6,000, and other local Rotary Clubs $7,000. Other funds came from Rotary District 7730 (Southeastern North Carolina), clubs in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and the Tegucigalpa Sur Rotary Club, which is the project's local sponsor. The clinic, in a remote and impoverished part of the Central America nation, serves a population of 50,000. It was founded by Laura Vinson, who runs the St. Mary Clinic in Wilmington, and strongly supported by Rev. Robert Kus, a former member of this club and retired pastor of Wilmington's St. Mary Catholic Church. "Father Bob" now lives in Honduras. Rotarians Tolis Vardakis and Tom Hoggard of the Wilmington club, along with Nancy Boston and her husband Jim of the Shallotte Rotary Club, attended the Nov. 7 event in Reitoca.

Leaders in Service fundraiser for 2024 kicks off

October 2023: Rotarian volunteers are beginning to solicit sponsorships for the 2024 Leaders in Service awards. Nominations for the awards, both from the club and the general public, are now open.  The 2023 version of this event netted more than $70,000 for our club's projects and grants. Our 2024 goal is $100,000.
Learn more, nominate honorees: go to Leaders in Service site

Be prepared to bid: holiday party to help Salvation Army

Dec. 19, 2023: The club's annual holiday lunch meeting will be a fund-raiser for the Salvation Army. In addition to musical entertainment from Opera House Theatre Company, the meeting will feature an auction of various goods and experiences, including desserts, beverages, and entertainment. Come prepared to bid! Other donations, by cash or check, will also be gratefully accepted.

Rotarians help raise walls at Habitat house

October 28, 2023: The first on-site work day for the Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity "Rotary Build" house took place Oct. 28. Six members of this club, along with Rotarians from other area clubs, Habitat volunteers, and the future homeowner and members of her family raised prefabricated wall sections and installed sheathing. Next for volunteers was installing roof sheathing and vinyl siding during work days Nov. 4 and Nov. 18 work days.

Be prepared to bid: holiday party to help Salvation Army

Dec. 19, 2023: The club's annual holiday lunch meeting will be a fund-raiser for the Salvation Army. In addition to musical entertainment from Opera House Theatre Company, the meeting will feature an auction of various goods and experiences, including desserts, beverages, and entertainment. Come prepared to bid! Other donations, by cash or check, will also be gratefully accepted.

Grant will help support youthful artisans

October 17, 2023: Kids Making It, which gives young people training in woodworking and entrepreneurship, will benefit from $2,000 from the Wilmington Rotary Club. Half of that is a direct grant, which will help the non-profit buy supplies. The other $1,000 is the club's commitment to buy hand-crafted pens, to be used as gifts for guest speakers. The club presented the $1,000 grant on Oct. 17.

District grants approved for three projects

October 2023: Three Wilmington non-profits will receive support from our club, with the help of 50-50 matching grants from Rotary District 7730. Half of the funds will come from this club's charitable foundation. The three projects will take place during the 2023-24 Rotary year. Recipients are: Northside Food Cooperative, to support bimonthly community dinners, feeding 150 people each time, $2,720; 2Share, Inc., supplying beds for children in need, $3,500; and Theater for All, staging performances by 100 people with disabilities, $2,500.

Ukrainian refugee family finds new home in Wilmington

Ivan and Anastasia Slepov with their twin sons in Wilmington apartment

Thanks to local Rotarians, Ivan and Anastasiia Sliepov, a young couple with infant twin sons, arrived here August 22, 2023.  They are living in an apartment rented and furnished by volunteers from the East Wilmington Rotary Club and Wilmington Rotary Club. In addition to contributions from individual Rotarians, both clubs have made financial commitments to help resettle refugees from the Ukraine war. The Sliepov family is the third that the Rotary coalition has helped bring to Wilmington. Meanwhile, Ivan Sliepov, a qualified marine engineer, has found a job with an HVAC contractor, and Anastasiia Sliepov is taking English lessons.

Club gives gift cards to all beginning public school teachers

Each first-year teacher in New Hanover County Schools got a $25 Staples gift card on August 15, 2023, a gift from our club. Rotarians wearing “Wilmington Rotary Works” T-shirts joined the new teachers at Hoggard High School and spoke about our various projects to help teachers and schools.

Club creates scholarships to Cape Fear Community College

On August 21, 2023, our Board of Directors approved two scholarship funds. One will grant a $2,000 academic scholarship to CFCC each year, with preference to students who formerly attended Williston Middle School. Application for the second scholarship, for $1,500, is open to students in the college's film program.

$5,700 to help Maui fire disaster relief

Rotary District 5000's Maui Fire Relief Fund Also on August 21, 2023, the club allocated $5,000 to help in the aftermath of the wildfire that destroyed most of Lahaina on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Individual Rotarians added another $700. The funds have been directed to the Maui Fire Relief Fund, established by Hawaiian Rotary Clubs. These contributions echo the many generous donations our club received in 2018 from Rotarians around the nation to help Wilmington's recovery from Hurricane Florence. Follow this link to the Maui Fire Relief Fund, or scan the QR code.

Club helps New Hanover's new teachers with expenses

August 15, 2023: Tight budgets and low salaries are a chronic challenge for public school teachers, who often pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets. Wilmington Rotary Club offered some help to the newest teachers in the New Hanover County Schools, offering every beginning faculty member a $25 gift card to Staples. Members of the club, wearing "Rotarian at Work" T-shirts, distributed the cards at an August 15 meeting. The club spent $2,000, enough to help 80 teachers.

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