May 2, 2016 Rotogram : 37

Five-Year Vision for the Club

President-elect Briar Jones and Vice President-elect Marc McGee lead a discussion of the club’s five-year goals generated through the new Rotary visioning process.

Next Week: East Mississippi Community College

Thomas Huebner is the president of East Mississippi Community College. Roy Ruby will introduce him.

For the Record—April 25

Invocation and Pledge:             Ernie George

Attendance:                                          68.0%

Present — 102 (39 exempt)

Absent — 79 (17 exempt, 12 honorary)

Guests: Member guests were Hunter Arnold of John Robert Arnold, Wendie Woods of Ben Carver, Johnathan Miles of Mark Guyton, Brian Leslie of Thomas Pound, May Gwin Waggoner and Beth Patterson of Linda Karen Smith and Boomer Brown of Garrett Whitehurst. Guests of the club were David Chandler, Ashley and Cleo McLemore, Paula Mabry, Benadetta Trentarossi, RYE Student, and James Carskadon, Starkville Daily News.

Meeting Notes

  • President Zach announced that the club had received the District 6820 Youth Affairs Award named in honor of Rotarians Ruth and Keith Remy for our work with Rotary Youth Exchange.
  • RYE Student of the Week Ashley McLemore was introduced by Grant Arinder. McLemore, a Starkville High junior, is a Mayor’s Youth Council member and SHS cheerleader.
  • President-elect Briar reminded members to sign up for committee preferences. Every member participates in some club committee.
  • Carrie-Beth Randall received her Distinguished Service Award that had been announced at the awards banquet. She had to miss the event due to a commitment at a Starkville Academy Board meeting.
  • The annual solicitation letter for organizations to apply for Rotary funds has been sent. Application deadline is May 31.
  • A call for volunteers reminded members that we, with the Columbus club, are hosting the annual district foundation and membership conference on July 15-16 at the Mill.

Charity Stripe

Our local polio eradication activity, the Charity Stripe, raised $2,287.76. Leveraging the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation matching funds, the annual event tied to NCAA Basketball Tournament free throws generated $6,863.28. First place winner for the second straight year was Nellah Taylor. Second place was taken by Larry Box. Tied for third place were Giles Lindley and Jackie Bowman. Enjoying last place was Melanie Mitchell.

Starkville Community Theatre

Paula Mabry with the Starkville Community Theatre accepted our $500 support check. Funds will support the summer youth program that is no cost to participants.

Mississippi Acts to Help Its Most Vulnerable Citizens, Its Children

April 25 — Mississippi is the only state in the nation in danger of having its family and child services taken over by the federal courts following failure to comply with a 2008 court order.

David Chandler, newly appointed commissioner of the Department of Child Protection Services, intends to avoid a takeover by focusing on “the 5,000 children who desperately need your help.”

On his request, the legislature has removed his division from the Department of Human Services and set it as a governor’s cabinet level unit. The action is in response to the plaintiffs in the Olivia Y. v. Barbour suit.

“Last Wednesday, the legislature granted every penny I told them we need to properly serve these children,” said the MSU alumnus and former member of the Research and Curriculum Unit on campus.

In March of 2015, the state was held in contempt for not fulfilling court-ordered mandates to correct appalling problems in the child care system. Gov. Phil Bryant immediately took notice and set changes in motion.

When the lawsuit was filed in 2004, there were 2,900 children in state custody. One requirement was that the numbers would decrease. However, by 2015, there were almost 5,000 in the state’s care. The rate was growing by about 80 children per month.

The Weir native spent 15 years in top Mississippi courts with his last position as a state supreme court justice.

Recounting his last 100 days engaging with the legislature, he explained that he did not seek the job. But, when he realized that “our children were being starved, raped, beaten, neglected and mistreated in almost every way you can imagine,” he could not refuse the governor’s call to remedy the situation.

The clincher for him was when his wife asked, “What’s more important? Deciding who wins a lawsuit or saving a child’s life.”

“As a supreme court justice, I’ve signed a lot of orders for life sentences without the possibility of parole. And, I have signed execution orders. So, I have read some mighty egregious acts by some pretty despicable sorts of folks,” he said. “I’ve read nothing any worse than what was happening to our innocent children who find themselves in that predicament through no fault of their own.”

Citing Department of Family and Child Services statistics, Chandler noted that of the 5,055 children in state custody at the end of March, 500 had been physically abused. Seventy percent of cases stem from neglect. More than 2,000 cases are the result of parental drug or alcohol abuse.

Two-thirds of the children range in age from birth to ten years. Loss of productivity costs per child in care over a lifetime is estimated to be $1.2 million.

Statewide, the average stay for a child in foster care is 19 months. However, studies show that the shorter time a child is in custody, the more likely the chances for successful family reunification.

DFCS reports that there are 1,585 licensed resource homes. A bit less than half are relative homes while 864 are non-relative homes.   “You may think those are relatively small numbers,” Chandler said. “But, those are individuals, thousands of helpless children.”

“I ask you to pay attention to the children you see in your community, that you see in your neighborhood. If you see a child you think needs some help, let us know and help me save a child’s life.”

Report Child Abuse

Call 1-800-222-8000 to report abuse, neglect or exploitation of a child in Mississippi.

Or, report online msabusehotline.mdhs.ms.gov

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