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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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We can't WAIT!! Get your tickets NOW!
The Bluffton Rotary Club's famous annual Oyster Roast is just around the corner!  Tickets are just $25 each, if bought in advance, for a special lowcountry tradition…fresh local roasted oysters, brats, home cut fries…great food, plus music by Low Country Boil…and the special fun of hanging out by the bonfire!

They are HERE!! Tickets are available NOW from any Bluffton Rotarian and at the following business locations.

Kevin Sevier, State Farm - 103 Buckwalter Place
Edward Jones, Sarah Reed - 38 Calhoun St, Unit 1

Litchfield Cabinetry - 53 Persimmon St, Suite 104
Hilton Head Wine & Spirit Shop - 50 Shelter Cove Plaza, Suite K, HHI

Don’t miss this wonderful, community event!! Join in the fun, bring friends and sell tickets!

Happy New Year!
It’s hard to believe that the first six month of the Rotary year is over. It was a busy six months and I hope everyone comes away from it with a sense of accomplishment.

• In August, we roasted in the summer heat for the Boiled Peanut Festival and successfully raised funds to meet our Polio Plus goal of $2,125. 
• In October, we worked hard to support the Historic Arts and Seafood Festival and raised funds to support the Club’s charitable endeavors.
• We ran the most successful Happy Feet project yet providing shoes to 250 children, spending $7,239; the Club spent $4,239 of our funds and also a $3,000 grant from the Foundation – our money returned to the district.
• We supported the Bluffton Jasper Volunteers in Medicine with a $5,000 donation.
• We matched funds raised from Club members to provide Christmas for some deserving local families.
• We donated, along with each member’s quarterly donation, funds to the Rotary Foundation. As a result, we are over halfway to meeting our Foundation Goal.
• November and December saw Rotarians in front of Kroger’s ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.
• We replanted planters in downtown Bluffton and have received a great deal of publicity for our efforts. 
• Your former Presidents and yours truly had the pleasure of literally bringing up the rear of the Christmas parade.
• Finally, we ended the frantic six months with the fresh young voices of the M. C. Riley Singing Eagles entertaining us in December with Christmas and holiday songs.

A special thank-you to all those who took leadership roles in all of these projects and to each Rotarian who put Service Above Self.
I have been told that it’s all down hill from this point for my year as your President. It may be, but I look at is as the second half of some exciting opportunities for us to grow and get better. We have the Oyster Roast on January 24. This is a great fund raiser for the club and is probably the project that the local community looks forward to the most. We need all Club members to participate in selling tickets and in volunteering to help the day of the event.
We are also gearing up for Bluffton Village Festival. The BVF committee will start having meetings soon and we need as much help as possible.
I look forward to another exciting six months.
Yours in Rotary,

RBC Heritage Tournament Director and COO, Steve Wilmot gave us an overview of  The 2015 golf tournament (47th annual event)  planned for April 13-19th    He stated that “losing their sponsor” several years ago helped them step up their game.  RBC and Boeing are bringing new momentum to this destination event.  He emphasized that volunteers have been and continue to be INSTRUMENTAL to what we do!

M.C. Riley Singing Eagles entertain us at breakfast just before Christmas.  Always a treat with many Rotarians bringing their families for the occasion.

David Green and Ken Anderson entertained the Bluffton Rotary Club talking about Osprey Village, a residential community for developmentally disabled adults soon to be built in Bluffton. Ken Anderson also shared his interest and participation in the Osprey Village, some personal stories about family the delight of football fanatics...hjighlights of his football career with the Cincinnati Bengals.  (pictured l to r: Rotary Club President, Steve Miller, Ken Anderson and David Green, President of Osprey Village)

Steve Miller, President of Bluffton Rotary Club and David Tirard, Assistant Governor for Area 4, present an official club banner to USC Rotaract Club officers, Mahogany Hickman (left), Secretary and (right) Samantha (Sam) Smith, President. The USCB Rotaract Club was officially recognized by RI in March of  2014 and is co-sponsored by both Bluffton and Hilton Island Rotary clubs. The banner presented Dec. 3 at the Bluffton meeting and the bell and gavel presented on Dec. 4 at the HHI noon meeting along with Rotaract club T-shirts, previously given and designed by the USCB Rotaract club are all part of the "sponsorship package" traditional to our District 7770 just as they are for new rotary clubs. Both of our rotary clubs shared  the costs.

The Rotary Club of Bluffton provided a check to the Bluffton Jasper Volunteers In Medicine for $5,000. To go towards  support for women for pap smears, HPV testing and mammograms. Funds were raised through some of the proceeds of this year’s Bluffton Village Festival.
Photo features left to right:  Bluffton Rotary President, Steve Miller with Executive Director of Bluffton-Jasper Volunteers in Medicine, Pam Toney and Service Projects Coordinator/Rotarian – Deborah Burt


Danielle Breidung is inducted into The Rotary Club of Bluffton.   She is currently at the University of South Carolina Beaufort for AmeriCorps VISTA and as a Civic Engagement Coordinator.  Congratulations, Danielle!  In the photo left to right: President, Steve Miller with Danielle and Rotarian, Tom Faber.


November always puts me in the Christmas spirit. We started out the month with a very successful Happy Feet Project. Bluffton Rotary provided shoes and socks to 250 deserving children. As most of you know we received a grant from the District of $3000 and the Club matched that $3,000 plus an additional $1,239 for a total of $7,239. The funds the Club contributed comes from the hard work we put in at the Bluffton Village Festival and The Historical Arts and Seafood Festival.

At the November Board meeting the Board voted to contribute $5,000 to Bluffton-Jasper Volunteers in Medicine to help pay for needed test for their female patients. The Board also approved a $500 contribution to the Van Landingham Club to help with their international water project.

November also starts the Salvation Army Bell Ringing. This is always a great time to get to know a fellow Rotarian while serving the Community. The parking lot derby at Kroger is always a lot of fun to watch.
We are in the process of taking up donations for the Christmas Angels project.

Don’t forget to bring nonperishable food items so we can get our donations to those less fortunate than us.

A big thank-you to all who helped get the closet at the RCC cleaned out and organized.

Another big thank-you for all that participated in the planting project in downtown Bluffton. Small projects such as these not only take care of a need in our community but also allow us to get to know each other better.

Looking ahead to December we have the Singing Eagles attending a meeting to sing Holiday songs for us.

And last but not least your former Club Presidents and current President will be following the horses on December 6 at the Christmas parade. I encourage each of you to be nice to us so you don’t get “coal” for Christmas.

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Cleaning the Rotary Community Center Closet...not your idea of fun? These Rotarians made it look fun,while untangling the accumulated mess of years of storage! Becki Hale, Mike Covert and President, Steve Miller work together on clean-up day, Saturday, November 6.

Bluffton Rotarians Justin Rice, Chris Epps, Megan Mack and Sarah Reed help with the joint "beautification" project with the Town of Bluffton on Saturday, November 15, replacing plants in large pots in and around Old Town Bluffton.

Bluffton Rotary Club Member Tony Falgiani helps a student as she picks out a pair of new shoes for Happy Feet.

“Service above Self” is the Rotary Club motto, and this month the Bluffton Rotary Club has done its part to embody this idea. In November, the group was able to provide shoes and socks for less fortunate children in the Bluffton community in addition to sprucing up downtown Bluffton.
The Rotary Club of Bluffton raised $3,000 and then received a matching grant from the Rotary District 7770  to allow the club to complete its seventh annual Happy Feet event. More than 250 students from Bluffton Elementary, M.C. Riley Elementary and Red Cedar Elementary received a free pair of shoes or boots and a pair of socks. The $3,000 grant comes from donations made to the Foundation.

Principals, teachers and Rotarians volunteered at the event on the morning of Nov. 8 at Payless ShoeSource in Bluffton to assist the children. Each child was able to pick out one new pair of shoes or boots as well as a pair of socks. Deborah Burt, with The Rotary Club of Bluffton, coordinated with the school’s social workers to select the students most in need of assistance.

“The Rotary Club of Bluffton is thrilled with the turnout for our Happy Feet project,” says Steve Miller, Rotary Club of Bluffton president. “With funds we raised locally and a grant we received from the Rotary Foundation, we were able to provide more children shoes and socks this year than ever before.”

On Saturday, Nov. 15, the club replaced more than 100 plants and flowers in the large flower pots along the streets of Old Town Bluffton. Owner of The Garden Gate Margie Fox coordinated with Shawn Leininger, Director of Growth Management at the Town of Bluffton, to organize this project. A dozen Rotarians spent a chilly Saturday morning freshening up the plants that are generally changed out twice a year by a local nursery.

Bluffton Rotary starts ringing the bell at Kroger in Bluffton for our annual support of The Salvation Army. On the job with a smile:  Brooks Williams and Lisa Hayes

As part of Foundation Month, individual members of our Club spoke as to the importance of Foundation:
Tony Falgiani was our first speaker.  His wife had polio as a child.  She was in isolation and it was a horrible experience.  Polio is just a person away in this small world.  The work that Foundation does through Polio Plus in its effort to eradicate polio is important to him and was one of the main reasons why he joined our club.

Deborah Burt was our second speaker.  Deborah had a year of work where she had to travel a lot.  After that year she reflected on what she wanted to do to help make the world a better place.  She looked at a lot of charitable organizations that she believed do good for all of humankind.  As she was reviewing each of these organizations the one thing she found in common was that each of them was connected to Foundation.  Deborah was already a member of our club and was pleased to see how important Foundation is to each of these organizations.  The result of her research was that she decided to become a Paul Harris Fellow.

Dee Dee Graham was our third speaker.  Dee Dee spoke about various Foundation projects our Club has previously participated in.  In particular he spoke about partnering with another local club and raising money to provide medical equipment to a third world county.  Our Club was able to send a shipping container full of medical equipment to a county that was in desperate need for these supplies.  In particular, the local hospital’s x-ray machine had been broken for years and they were using a portable x-ray machine.  If that broke, they had no back up.  We were able to provide them with another portable x-ray machine.  Additionally, Dee Dee saw one patient whose leg was in traction and that traction was simply a milk jug and rope.  We were able to provide that patent with proper traction supplies.
Lastly, individual members of our club spoke up about the wonderful things that Foundation does including providing clean and sustainable water and its efforts to promote literacy.

Sandee Brooks, (District 7770 President Elect- 2016) spoke to the club about the history and the purpose of the Foundation. 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. The outreach of international  programs such as improving  Water and Sanitation, Neo-Natal care and Polio Plus are but a few of the programs improving lives every day. It is hard to imagine that a program which began in 1917 with a $26.50 endowment from Arch Clump now exceeds “$1 Billion Dollars”. Bluffton Rotary’s fifteen year contribution to  the foundation totals $175,710.78. Take pride in knowing that District 7770 is number 1 in giving in our zone and ranked number 3 in giving in the world. The original goal of the Foundation to “just do good in the world”, has been rousing success.

October has been a busy month and after a very successful but tiring Arts and Seafood Festival I have finally mustered the energy to write the October President's Pen.
Let me first congratulate Mary O’Neill and the rest of the Arts and Seafood Festival Board and Committees (many of whom are your fellow Bluffton Rotarians) on a very well run and successful Festival. Secondly, I would like to thank all Bluffton Rotarians, their families and friends for all the hard work they contributed to make the Festival and our fund raising efforts a success. I would like to thank Mike Tripka and Bob Prust for stepping up to run the beverage carts. Without everyone pitching in, we would not have been able to raise the funds for our charitable account. Now the fun part begins, determining which organizations we should help.

November is Foundation Month in the Rotary year. We start on November 8th with Happy Feet. We received a $3,000 grant from the District and we will match that grant with an additional $3,000 to provide shoes for the less fortunate children in our community. The $3,000 grant comes from donations made to the Foundation by you and others and returned to the District for projects such as Happy Feet.

The Foundation also awards international grants. Deborah Burt and I have been exploring the process of receiving an international grant in hopes that the Club will choose to do an international project. We are leaning toward a Water and Sanitation project. Once we gather a little more information we will be coming to the Club to gauge your interest in such a project so we can decide if we should move forward. If we get started now we should be able to complete this in the 2015-2016 Rotary year.

November also marks the beginning of the bell ringing for the Salvation Army at the Kroger in Bluffton. We will have signup sheets soon.
One last point, membership is the lifeblood of any Rotary Club. Please keep that in mind as you go about your day and meet with business associates and friends. Also keep in mind that every person you meet is a potential Rotarian. Please invite them to a meeting, to ring the bell with you or attend another function that we are involved in. 

Elizabeth Bergmann spoke with the Bluffton Rotary Club on Wednesday, October 15.  She is the co-founder of Local Money Talks (LMT), a coalition of concerned Beaufort County citizens, and a resident of Port Royal, SC.  LMT’s purpose is to “strengthen the resilience of the local economy of Beaufort, SC by empowering existing businesses and fostering entrepreneurship.”  The group was formed almost a year and a half ago, and includes a diverse group of individuals from both the public and private sectors. 

One concept that Bergmann discussed at length was “slow money,” which encourages consumers and investors to keep money circulating in their local communities.  She encouraged the audience to spend their money in a more deliberate fashion and to consider intentional consumers’ potential impact as a result of choosing to spend a quantity as small as twenty dollars per month at local businesses. 

Local Money Talks is currently in the process of developing a business development program called “The Shrimp Net” through which aspiring entrepreneurs could receive mentorship and assistance prior to launching their businesses. 

The coalition also recently partnered with the Beaufort County Human Services Alliance, the Lowcountry Affordable Housing Coalition, and the Lowcountry Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program to host a community engagement luncheon for local bankers.  This event was designed to inform financial institutions in the Lowcountry of potential community reinvestment opportunities, and was attended by representatives of more than five banks.

In the future, Local Money Talks hopes to serve as a resource for individuals with entrepreneurial aspirations, small business owners in need of investment capital, as well as local residents seeking to invest in their neighbors. 

Executive Director, Pam Toney recognized the support of our Rotary Club for this vital community organization. She shared an overview of where they are today. Bluffton Jasper VIM is a free clinic for uninsured residents of Bluffton and Jasper Counties. The clinic has 5 exam rooms and though they are a free clinic, they give all the medical services you would normally find in a doctor’s office. There are 9 physicians, 13 nurses and over 100 volunteers.  There is a committee for grant pursuits and an administrative staff. The average patient profile would be female ages 40-63 in the Greater Bluffton area – single or divorced.  All patients donate something when they come in. This year to date, they have served 1810 patients. The clinic does not handle pregnancies, but on Wednesdays they have a mobile van that comes to assist and provide care. They also have quarterly dental services.
Goals include the need to improve their IT system and development/introduction of their first diabetes education program. Challenges faced by BJVIM include cash flow (because both donations and grants fluctuate), volunteers, translators and transportation.
Their mission statement includes a focus on preventive medicine and health education.

Human trafficking is a grim subject, but one that should be brought to light. Janice Dyer and Carol Stephens, with the Lowcountry Coalition Against Human Trafficking explained the very real definition of human trafficking and that it does happen right here in the lowcountry. In fact, resort areas are often a target to those who deal in human trafficking.  They love resorts and they love borders, two things we have in plenty.

The Lowcountry Coalition Against Human Trafficking is charged with raising public awareness of this crime and is now also working toward a goal of developing rehabilitation and housing for victims of human trafficking.

According to an earlier article from on “Sex slavery, human trafficking 'alive and well' in SC“, statistics show there are an estimated 150,000 sex trafficking victims in the United States. They are usually between 12 and 14 years old and live for just 7 years. These victims are, on average, sold between 10 and 15 times a day for at least 6 days a week. Only one to two percent of these victims are rescued. Human trafficking can take place in the form of prostitution, forced work labor and is another form of slavery.

"If you look at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there's probably 5,200 to 5,500 kids at a time that are missing that are expected to be in to prostitution," said FBI special agent David Thomas. "People seem to think slavery has gone away, but unfortunately it didn't," said Thomas. "It's still alive and well."

Thomas says it's alive and well in South Carolina because, according to him, the state is a "target-rich environment. We have a huge agricultural industry, and that industry kind of lends itself to that kind of activity," said Thomas. "We have tourism, a very large tourism industry; you look at Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, and Charleston."

In 2012, the South Carolina legislature passed comprehensive new legislation to combat human trafficking in South Carolina. The law became effective on December 15, 2012.

According to law enforcement, human trafficking is becoming one of the most lucrative criminal businesses in this country, second only to drug trafficking here in the US. What can we do? Educate ourselves, learn more, be observant, report suspicious behavior and educate your children and grandchildren.


Students from Interact Clubs all over Beaufort County participated in the second annual Beaufort County Interact Symposium on Saturday, October 4. The newly chartered USCB Rotaract Club helped host the event, held at the USCB Hilton Head Gateway campus. Representing Hilton Head High, Bluffton High, Hilton Head Prep, Beaufort Academy, Beaufort High School and Battery Creek, 81 Interact students attended the one day event. Local Rotary Clubs sponsored the event.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month, all students received and donned bright pink Interact Symposium t-shirts, becoming a sea of pink, as they shared successes and challenges of their clubs, played together with some ice-breaker activities, listened to guest speaker and past District Governor Ed Duryea. Participants also heard presentations from several students that attended Rotary Youth Leadership Awards held in Columbia this past summer, worked on two different service projects and finished out the day with team building activities.

The Interact students also had the chance to talk to Rotarian leaders throughout the district on various topics during breakout sessions after lunch. Topics ranged from scholarships (very popular), to the Rotary Youth Exchange program and Polio Eradication. There was a former Rotary Exchange student on hand to meet students and answer questions.

“This was an awesome event, bringing Interactors from different schools together to share ideas and get to know each other better. These are our future Rotarians!” said event organizer and past president of the Okatie Rotary Club, Annemarie Neubecker. “The feedback from our kids was great and we’re ready to start working on next year’s symposium!”

Dr. John D. Edman, retired entomologist shared a fascinating look at the “no see-um”. Edman’s background reflects an impressive career providing leadership and research throughout the world.  He retired in 2004 after a 40 year career of teaching, research and administration at the University of California at Davis, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory. Originally from Minnesota, Dr. Edman has been a member of the Entomological Society of America for over 50 years. He was Vice President and President of the American Mosquito Control Association and the recipient of their Medal of Honor. Edman has presented numerous invitational lectures internationally and is widely respected in many circles from medical and health organizations and the department of defense.

There are over 4,000 species worldwide of no-see ums – 50 of those species are found in South Carolina. No see ums are small with clear wings and little spots.  Only the females bite. Sugar is fuel for flight and survival.  Some biting midges feed on blood from other insects. Adults only live 1 to 2 weeks.  Our area has over 420,000 acres of salt marshes – that’s why they’re here.  They thrive in the soil.  How far do they travel?  Gnats travel approximately one mile from their salt marsh habitat sometimes further if carried by sea breezes. What attracts hungry no see-ums to their host?  CO2 particularly on your breath and heat movement are the attraction.  Are some people more reactive than others?  It is difficult to identify variables (they have not been able to colonize them in labs for study), but drinking alcohol is confirmed as part of the problem.  The impact of no see-ums is the biting annoyance, health and economics.
Dr. Edman ended his presentation sharing ideas for personal protection.  1. Avoid outdoor activities during peak biting periods. 2. Wear light colored protective clothing and netting. 3. Use #16 mesh screening. 4. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil, Skin So Soft Lotion and Citronella help. 5. Large high speed fans work. 6. Yellow light bulbs help and turn off porch lights.  Save your money on zappers, trap out traps and devices.  They don’t work.  Don’t use a blend of sunscreen and repellant..  Repellant should be used less often than sunscreen.  Choose repellants with a minimum of 30% DEET for adults – 10% for kids.
A final question from the audience received a round of laughter:  Does the no see-um serve any purpose?   Answer: It prevents development in some areas, thus the economics of it all.

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

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. 



Feb 04, 2015
Mike Davis
First Tee of the Low Country
Feb 11, 2015
Kim Jones & Jeremy Ritchie
Bluffton Stormwater Update
Feb 18, 2015
Al Stokes
Waddell Mariculture
Feb 25, 2015
Mar 04, 2015
Mark Orlando
Town of Bluffton
Mar 11, 2015
Carla Raines
Americam Heart Association
Mar 25, 2015
Apr 15, 2015
Harry Walker
American Red Cross
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