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Aug 06 2010

Celebrating the cogs in the Rotary wheel

By Kristin Hackler

DSC00547There are so many people selflessly giving their time and talents to help others on and around John’s Island, and on July 21, the Johns Island Rotary Club took the time to recognize a few of them. During their annual leadership installation celebration, Johns Island Rotary also introduced a new annual service award recognizing individuals in the sea island community.

Following a rousing, inspirational speech by former Cleveland Browns Head Coach and Kiawah Island resident Sam Rutigliano, Tumiko Rucker welcomed Rural Mission director Chris Brooks to the podium to introduce the first recipient of the Rotary Service Award.

“When you serve the people of John’s Island, you realize the great deeds of so many people,” said Brooks. “One individual has been on the island for a number of years, and though she could have started her practice in a number of other places, she chose to be here where she’s welcomed the poor and minorities.” With that, he asked Dr. Jackie Mendez of Angel Oak Family Medicine to come forward and accept her award. Dr. Mendez thanked the Rotary Club, smiling as she thanked her mother as well for working three jobs in order to put her through medical school and providing her with the startup money to open her first clinic. “Thank you for the recognition,” she said, “I couldn’t do this except through God’s grace.”

The second recipient of the service award was unable to attend the night’s meeting, but everyone in attendance knew him. John Olson of Kiawah island volunteers on a regular basis at St. Johns High School and was one of the key proponents in starting the school’s Interact Club – a school club which works directly with Johns Island Rotary. He was able to secure a $2,500 grant to help start up the Club and also works as the school/Rotary liaison. “He should be commended,” said Rucker.

A business service award was also given to Newton Farms, and Store Operator Jeff Harrell was in attendance to accept the recognition.

“There are many causes on the island which are near and dear to my heart,” said Harrell. “I love it when people come in to the store looking for help – whether it’s a walk or golf tournament – and being able to say ‘Yes, we can help.’”

Lastly, before installing the new Rotary Club leaders for the 2010-11 year, the Club awarded St. Johns High School student Brandon White with the Club’s annual $1,000 student scholarship. Brandon was selected, said Rucker, for not only his athletic and scholastic achievements, but also for his work with the school’s Interact Club. While Brandon was not able to attend the meeting as he was attending an enrichment program at Claflin University, his mother, Betty White, accepted the scholarship on his behalf, reading a letter of thanks that Brandon had written to the Club. “Thank you, Rotarians, for the opportunity to excel,” she read, and then added her own comments, stating, “I am the proud parent of two wonderful students. Keep us in your prayers as we continue on our journey.”

The leadership team for Johns Island Rotary as it goes into the 2010-11 year includes Tumiko Rucker as President, Kenneth Gunnells as Treasurer and Chris Brooks as Secretary.

Johns Island Rotary meets at 7:30 every Wednesday morning at Berkeley Electric, located at 3351 Maybank Highway, Johns Island. For more information, contact Chris Brooks at

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