Michael Smith: Charleston Symphony Orchestra

Oct. 11, 2016:  After a week of nailing up ply board, clearing outside furniture and loading up for evacuations, Rotarians assembled at the Harbor Club to celebrate their good fortune in being spared from the potential catastrophe of Hurricane Matthew.  It was a fitting and perfect program to have as our guest speaker someone to talk about the magic and inspiration of arts—and of survival. 

It was not long ago that the Charleston Symphony Orchestra (CSO) was fighting for its life as the economic downturn dramatically impacted ticket sales.  This difficult position was played out all over the country as arts organizations struggled for their very existence.  Added to the challenge was the very long—although ultimately spectacular!—renovation of the Gaillard Center that kept local arts organizations out of their regular performing venue. 

So how did the CSO survive and thrive to become one of the most respected symphonies in the country?  The answer is, as usual, extraordinary leadership–the right person at the right time.  In this case, the outstanding leadership of our speaker, Michael Smith, the Executive Director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.  Read more

Lt. V. “Buzz” Buskirk: North Charleston Police Department

October 4, 2016 – Our speakers on October 4th were Lt. V. “Buzz” Buskirk and Captain Joe Stephens of the North Charleston Police Department. The subject of their discussion was active shooters and how we, as civilians, can respond to such an event. Their talk for us was condensed from a 3 hour plus presentation they have created for public awareness. After attending a similar class-Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE), they received permission from Mayor Summey and Police Chief Driggers to go out and teach the class. According to Capt. Stephens, “it ain’t going to stop”. In 2015, the longest period of time without a mass shooting, (4 or more victims), was 8 days. The audience for their class has included: someone who was in World Trade Center Tower 2 on Sept 11, a father from Sandy Hook (whose daughter was out sick that day) and a professor from Virginia Tech.  Their goal is to show us that we are not helpless in these situations. The presentation was divided into 3 areas: Disaster Response Psychology, Active Shooter Events and Civilian Response to ASE (Avoid, Deny, Defend).  Read more

Darrin Goss: Coastal Community Foundation

September 27, 2016 – Our most recent message from nonprofit organizations in our region comes from Darrin Goss of the Coastal Community Foundation.  Goss, who is the President and CEO of the Coastal Community Foundation, has been on board for seven months and comes from serving as a leader in a number of nonprofit organizations across the country, most recently as President and CEO of the Capital Area United Way in Baton Rouge, Louisana.  He received his undergraduate degree from Wofford College, a masters from North Greenville University, and is a veteran of the United States Army.  In 2010 he participated in the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leadership Institute.  He is an avid golfer and is glad to be back in the Lowcountry after 27 years away.  

The CCF was founded, with the help of our own club, in 1974, and Goss used the biblical analogy of the house built upon a rock to explain how the strength of the CCF can be traced back to its origins.  He remarked how important it is for the CCF to remain strong, because it is the source of relief for our community when the storms of the world overtake us.  After Hurricane Hugo the CCF provided $3.7 million in assistance.  In 2007 when the Sofa Super Store fire devastated our fire-fighting community, the CCF was there, and last year when the winds of hate blew through Mother Emmanuel Church, again the CCF was there.  Goss says his task as President and CEO of the CCF it to ensure that the CCF is ready for the next storm, whatever it may be.   Read more

Madeleine McGee: SCANPO

September 20, 2016:  Madeleine McGee didn’t need an introduction to many Rotarians at our Harbor Club meeting on September 20. A former Historic Charleston Rotarian herself and well-know for her work in community activities, Madeleine now heads up one the of state’s most valuable non-profits—the South Carolina Association of Non-Profit Organizations (SCANPO)—that is in the business of helping the state’s many non-profit organizations operate as effectively as possible.

With hundreds of active non-profits in our area, Madeleine pointed out that Charleston’s Rotarians are some of our state’s most active non-profit volunteers, giving of their time and resources to help our fellow citizens and to improve the quality of life in our beautiful area.  Serving on a non-profit board, however, can bring with it challenges as well as rewards since a poorly run non-profit can lead to board frustration, alienation and an inability for the organization to fulfill its stated mission.   Read more