Dixon High School

Renee Jones

Carrie Hewitt, Club Vice-President, introduced Renee Jones, Social Worker, at Dixon High School. Renee then gave the Club an update on the counseling and assistance programs she coordinates at the school. She first thanked Kiwanis for the fundraising financial support the Club has given the school. She noted how our over $1,500 dollars of support went to various needs of the students such as clothing, shoes, fidget toys for nervous students in counseling, paying off lunch debt so the kids could get school lunches again. She said her school supply inventory was sufficient for now.

Renee described the new normal for school sessions to prevent spread of COVID-19. High students are divided into two cohorts A and B. Cohort A attends in person on Monday and Tuesday and then stays home to learn virtually on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Cohort B attends in person on Thursday and Friday, but learns virtually from home on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. There are no students at the High School on Wednesdays to allow teacher time to organize for virtual learning assignments and hold teacher coordinating meetings with their fellow teachers. This open day at school also gives the school maintenance staff time to sanitize common areas in the school building.

One the biggest problems for students with the at home learning cycle is access to the Internet especially in rural areas of the school district. While students can ‘Drive in to Connect’ in the school’s parking lot, this is not always an option. Apparently, the Onslow County Board of Education has heard you Renee along with many other teachers and parents in announcing two COVID-19 relief funding efforts of $100,000 dollars each to set up better Internet connections throughout the County School District.

Renee continues in her role as school social worker by conducting home visits when needed, counseling students at school, and coordinating with teachers to be sure all students that need her help are getting it. She did note that student suicide rates have fallen this past year, in part to the family members ‘forced’ to stay home by COVID-19.

Renee noted that the community in general has been very responsive to students in need. She cited the Holly Ridge Food Pantry for their assistance with the Friday food bags for the weekend program. She said anytime she finds a student in need of clothing, shoes, etc. she can reach out to individuals in the community and the needed items ‘just show up.’ With the onset of cooler temperature, coats will be the next item in need.

Rich Pollard, Club President, thanked Renee for her presentation and encouraged her to continue her needed and appreciated social work.

Remote Learning Center

Katie White

Katie White, Recreation Program Supervisor, with Onslow County Parks & Recreation spoke to the Club about a special program she directs that provides a ‘Remote Learning Center’ for elementary and middle school students when the county was under remote learning. Katie has spoken to the Club previously in her role as a parks and Recreation Superviser for Surf City.

Since taking on a similar position with Onslow County, Katie has continued her efforts to provide a learning and recreation environment for kids. With an innovative approach to funding through the national CARES act that provides funds for resources lost due to COVID-19, Katie came up with the idea to ‘extend’ summer camps by setting up a ‘Remote Learning Center’ for kids who were under a virtual learning mandate in Onslow County, so that parents who needed to go to work would have a safe place for their students to learn and interact with staff as well as to exercise (recreate) during the day.

In many cases, the remote learning center saved the family home situation since parents that had to work to earn had a very viable option to leaving their kids unattended during work hours. Although the daily fee is $10, Katie was able through the CARES program to even offer scholarships for those kids whose parents were in financial distress.

Katie found two locations for the Remote Learning Centers, one in the community center in Holly Ridge and the other in Jacksonville. The Holly Ridge location also serves kids from Pender County. About 150 students have participated in the program at the two locations so far.

Click on the link below for a description of the original program

Now that Onslow County schools are back to full time for elementary students, the Remote Learning Center program has changed to provide a safe alternative for Middle School students who are on remote learning for 2 days per week.

Click on the link below for a description of the current program which includes K-5 as well as middle school program for grades 6-8

Katie it was inspiring to us how you figured out a solution for kids that needed a safe place for remote learning and that solved a family problem for distressed families as well as provided for recreation in addition to learning.

Thank you, Katie for bringing this example of how just like the Kiwanis motto, ‘Kids Need Kiwanis’ you found a way to provide what Kids need in these challenging times.

Treasurer Report

Kevin Eitel, Club Treasurer

Kevin Eitel gave a semi-annual treasurer’s report to the club membership on Tuesday morning. Kevin noted that a new electronic bookkeeping system has been adopted that will allow members to pay dues and make contributions online. Additionally, payments can be made via debit or credit card, using Stripe and PayPal. This system should be ready when the next quarterly dues become due.

Further, there is a new electronic database that shows current status of dues for all members, as well as when their next dues payment is required. It automatically updates once payment is rendered, and adjusts for each quarter. He also described some changes in IRS rules that the club has, or will, address, for full compliance, related to Administrative [501(c)(4)] vs Service [501(c)(3)]; and that, as of this FY, we have separate bank accounts for each.

Kevin went through both the Service budget and the Administrative budget, and how income and expenses are assigned to one budget or the other. He moved the tracking of the Annual Scholarships to the Foundation for tax-exempt status, and noted that the Foundation had voted last week to contribute to sponsor the speaker at Boys’ and Girls’ Home at Lake Waccamaw on 21MAY20.

Kevin answered a few questions from the members about expenses and income. He also noted that, in general, the club is going to have to find additional income sources as we are just ‘breaking even’ each year with no fund surplus to carry us over in years when income drops. Finally, we need to find fundraisers to increase our Service Budget, including annual end of FY donations to the Club Foundation.

Warrior Canine Connection

Rick Yount, Executive Director

Hello! I’m Cooper! I’m training to be a WCC service dog

Rick Yount, Executive Director of the Warrior Canine Connection brought along his pal, Cooper to tell us about this unique program for servicemen with emotional and physical disabilities. Rick doing graduate work in sociology in California came up with the idea when visiting the veterans hospital in Palo Alto. Unlike most service dog programs which provide a fully-trained dog to the patient, WCC engages the patient by enlisting recovering Warriors in a therapeutic mission of learning to train service dogs for their fellow Veterans.


Warrior Canine Connection is a pioneering organization that utilizes a Mission Based Trauma Recovery (MBTR) model to help recovering Warriors reconnect with life, their families, their communities, and each other.

“Rick’s new program concept, involving Veterans with PTSD in the training of mobility service dogs for fellow Veterans, has yielded very positive results. He has presented the program concept at forums including the VA National Mental Health Conference and the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies.”

About Rick Yount ….

“Rick Yount has served in the field of social services for 30 years. He has involved animal-assisted therapy in his practice for the past 22 of those years. Rick holds a Bachelor of Arts from West Virginia University and a Master of Science in Assistance Dog Education. He combined his social work knowledge and experience with his service dog training background to develop a novel intervention to help Service Members with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Rick pioneered the first therapeutic service dog training program at the Palo Alto, California Veterans Hospital in 2008.”

Rick was invited by Cathi and Rob Safford, two of our newest club members, because they were aware of Rick and his program before relocating to Topsail Island. Their goal is get a Warrior Canine Connection facility operating in our area to support the warriors at Marine Corps Camp Lejuene. They are looking for volunteers, so please let Cathi know if you want to help in this very worthy cause.

Kiwanis members ‘talk’ to Cooper with Rick Yount looking on.

Pender Schools

Pender County School System Update

Dr. Steven Hill, Superintendent of Pender County Schools, updated the club on the status of Pender County Schools and some of the challenges the school system faces with burgeoning enrollments.

Dr. Smith commented

  • The district is comprised of 18 schools serving approximately 9,300 students in grades Pre-K through 12 and an Early College High School.
  • Our students continually exceed local and state performance on North Carolina End of Grade and End of Course tests.
  • Pender County Schools is the largest employer in Pender County with more than 1,200 staff members.
  • Each school day more than 1,200 employees work to provide an environment that capitalizes on students’ natural curiosity, nurtures their desire to learn, and respects their individual learning style. Our goal is to help children become productive members of society.

Lower Cape Fear LifeCare

Jennifer Andrews, Community Liaison, for Lower Cape Fear LifeCare was our speaker on Tuesday, February 18. Jennifer noted that this is the 40th year for the non-profit previously known as Lower Cape Fear Hospice. The non-profit serves New Hanover, Pender and Onslow Counties.

Jennifer noted that ” You deserve the highest quality of life when living with a serious illness. We offer a spectrum of health services to meet your needs at any point in life, wherever you call home, and provide support for loved ones.”

Jennifer outlined the various programs that Lower Cape Fear LifeCare offers including the following

  • Hospice is not about the last months of life — it’s about living those months to the fullest.
  • Palliative Care can begin the moment you are diagnosed with a serious illness.  Those who receive palliative care in the early stages of their illness can live more and do more of the activities they love.
  • Dementia Care can equip and empower caregivers to navigate the challenges of dementia while providing wide-ranging care, resources and support for patients and their loved ones, throughout the disease’s full progression.
  • Grief Care – We provide families with extensive grief support as they work through life’s changes, free of charge to anyone in the community who has lost a loved one.
  • Veterans – We are proud to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a member of the We Honor Veterans program. This program is a collaborate effort of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Click here to learn more about the programs offered and volunteer opportunities

N. Topsail Beach Update

Joann McDermon, Mayor Pro Tem

Joann McDermon, Mayor Pro Tem, North Topsail Beach. (photo by Jeff Wenzel)

Joann McDermon, Mayor Pro Tem, of the Town of N. Topsail Beach presented an update on happenings in Town. She explained that the Board of Aldermen is in a holding state due to the challenge of Dan Tuman, mayor candidate who lost the election to her as write-in candidate on the November 5th ballot. Superior Court will rule on his challenge of her write-in campaign later this month. (photo by Jeff Wenzel)

Update Outline

  • Storm Repair.  Still recovering from Hurricane Florence
  • Town Hall.  Working with our engineer and insurance company to restore the building to pre-Florence condition.
  • Town Park.  Working with our engineer.  Having trouble with getting bids in the expected cost range. Will re-bid.
  • Dune Repair.  Hurricane Matthew dune repair is underway as a sand truck haul project for Phase 5 (south end of NTB). Hurricane Florence dune and beach repair is scheduled for 2020-2021 and will include sand for dunes in Phases 2-4.
  • Onslow County BeachAccess.  We are working with the county to understand the schedule to repair our large ‘Regional Beach’ access lots. 
  • South- End Fire Station. Structural damage to the fire station will require engineering work to fix damaged components in the building.
  • Surf City/ NTB Federal Project in the planning phases.  Aggressively targeting next year for the project. We thank the TISPC for their years-long effort to bring this important beach project to fruition.
  • COBRA legislationWe continue to work with TISPC.org and Audubon to get the legislative map amendments approved in Congress.
  • Upcoming events in 2020
    • Sledgehammer Half Marathon, 10 miler and 5K run to support the Semper Fi Fund of the USMC was held on Saturday, February 1st along the beach and streets of NTB.
    • Cycle NC, a week-long celebration for bicyclists that tours from the mountains to the coast will end at N. Topsail Beach in October.
    • Ocean City Jazz Festival is coming 4th of July weekend
      • We support this festival through financial contributions as well as provided public safety resources for the weekend event.
      • The festival organizers are looking for town-wide donations this year.
  • Earth and Surf Fest 5K will be held in July.
  • TISPC participation
  • We value our membership in the organization and all it does for Topsail Island.
    • By
      • Assisting with lobbyists and COBRA legislation for NTB
      • Assisting with the prioritization and planning for our island regarding beach related issues and projects

January 21, 2020

We had a potpourri of Kiwanis members give short testimonies about themselves

We learned from Joe Bell that he used to be bigger than he is now and played football.  Now he plays Pickleball and golf, but only when the weather is warm. A modest man, Joe failed to mention that he easily rides away from the Thursday morning Kiwanis bike riders whenever they start gabbing too much. As a newly-elected town commissioner he wants to apply our motto of improving the world “one community at a time” to Topsail Beach.

We learned from Larry Bartholomew that he was a grocer who used to work for Boyce Kay before branching out on his own and then later became a home builder.

We learned from Pat Brennan that he once contemplated entering the priesthood until he met his wife.  He likes to work “behind the scene”.  But as our 2019 Kiwanian of the Year the word is out!

Photos by Jeff Wenzel, Above Topsail

Cape Fear Council, BSA

Anthony Nigro, NECF District Executive of the Cape Fear Council of Boy Scouts of America talked about scouting in the Northeast Cape Fear Council of the BSA and program changes the scouts have made to accommodate young families wanting scouting experiences for their sons and daughters. (photo by Jeff Wenzel, Above Topsail)

The mission of the Cape Fear Council, Boy Scouts of America is to foster the character development, citizenship training and physical fitness of young people, and in other ways to prepare them to make ethical choices over their lifetime by instilling in them the values based on those found in the Scout Oath and Law. 

Anthony relayed some scouting facts

  • The Northeast Cape Fear District includes northern New Hanover County and Pender County.
  • The district has over 1,000 boys and girls across 36 units in the various scouting programs list above. This includes an explorer post at the Pender Memorial Hospital that give high school students opportunities to explore potential career paths.
  • Scouting membership in the District grew by 8% in 2019.
  • There were 28 Scouts in the NECF district who earned their Eagle Scout Award this past year providing more than 2,800 man-hours of community service with their projects.
  • More than 200 scouts attended week-long summer camps last year.
  • Youth Fun Day in September attracted 500 youth and 400 adults to participate in sports, fishing, Cub Scout Adventures and other activities during the day-long event.
  • More than 140 campers attended weekend events at the McNeill Cub Scout World.

Scouting Programs

Boy Scouts of America- a recognized organization for over 100 years

Anthony explained the scouts are not changing their name, they are the Boy Scouts of America. What is changing is the opportunity for girls to become members of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

  • Cub Scouts now includes separate girls dens for girls ages 5-10.
  • Boy Scouts has become ‘Scouts BSA’ and includes separate girls troops for ages 11-17.
  • The other programs listed above will stay the same as they already include girls.

BSA Topsail Island Breakfast Fundraiser

Anthony also related the upcoming BSA Topsail Island Breakfast Fundraiser on Feb 28th at 6:30 AM at the Southern Roots Grille, in Holly Ridge. Speaker will be Four Star U.S. Army General Curtis (Mike) Scaparrotti (retired) who himself was a boy scout. Breakfast is free but seating is limited so please RSVP to Rick Stidley –rstidley@aol.com

To learn more about Scouts and the Cape Fear Council of BSA visit them on the web

Future of NHRMC

Lynn Gordon, Legal Officer, New Hanover Regional Medical Center

Lynn Gordon, NHRMC. photo by Jeff Wenzel

Lynn Gordon, Legal Counsel at NHRMC spoke to us on Tuesday, Jan 14th about a “Future Partnership Exploration” for the hospital.

As background, Lynn noted that NHRMC serves patients from New Hanover Co. and six surrounding counties.

NHRMC is unique in the country being one of three large independent non-for-profit hospitals. However, the costs associated with operating a major hospital center are staggering.

So the dilemma is how to adapt to the future of health care for a hospital like NHRMC. With no tax dollars from New Hanover Co. or any of the other six counties served, it is difficult to maintain current levels of service and plan for future needs in staff and infrastructure.

Moving from a ‘Fee-for-Service’ management style to a ‘Value-Based Payment’ style also will require ‘data mining’ of the local population to learn tendencies. This kind of information is the same that retailers rely on to ‘figure’ out what you would like to buy next. But for hospitals it is a whole new arena of operating. The idea here is to learn about health tendencies that of local population.

Changes that NHRMC is seeing in payer shifts. Less private payers and more governmental payers i.e. Medicaid and Medicare.

Volume demands (%) by medical unit at NHRMC are much higher than average for NC urban hospitals (67%)

Partnership Advisory Group is formed with distinguished members from across the community.

Planning for the next 5 years

The decision timeline

No decision has been reached yet! Contrary to what you may see as ‘negative advertisement’ on TV and the internet.

This web link takes you to the NHRMC next-steps list in which you will note that the NHRMC Partnership Advisory Group has not even held the public hearing yet. So they are a long way away from making Decision 2020 for NHRMG.

You can stay informed by signing up for email updates and find presentations at www.NHRMCfuture.org.

Thanks to Lynn Gordon and Carolyn Fisher for providing the PowerPoint presentation of Lynn’s talk.

Topsail Beach Update

Mayor Steve Smith, Town of Topsail Beach

Mayor Steve Smith, Town of Topsail Beach addresses Kiwanis. photo by Jeff Wenzel

Topsail Beach Community Report

Topsail Beach did have a good 2019:

Good Morning

  1. Let me start with a thank you to Howard Braxton and Linda Stipe for their years of service to our town. They were part of a Board that has worked as a team for the benefit of our “Mayberry by the Sea”.
  2. We continued to see recovery progress from Hurricane Florence. We have received FEMA funds for majority of Hurricane Florence and have submitted items for Hurricane Dorian. 
  3. Our town continues to have a strong financial position.
    • Tax collection is 99.4% collected or $1.9m net tax levy or a per hundred tax rate of 29 cents.
    • We have positive balances in all our funds:
      • Beach Inlet Sound Balance – $4.8m,
      • Water System Balance – $1.8m or 215% of Annual Expenditures,
      • General Fund Balance – $2.6m or 89% of Expenditures.
    • We exceed all state mandated reserve requirements for a coastal community.
  4. We have an outstanding staff

Our 2020 year will be productive & positive:

  1. We will start construction of our Storm Mitigation Project which is part of our 30 Year Beach Management Program in about 2 weeks.
    • This is a $24 million dollar project and we expect to put 2.2m cubic yards of sand on our beach.
    • Funding from FEMA & NC Shallow Draw Fund is expected to pay for the majority of this project. 
    • Weeks Marine expects project to take about 60 days to complete.
    • Weather issues are always a concern during this time of year; however, there are weather delays built into plan –  expect to complete our 7 miles of beach before April 30.
  2. Our BIS Committee has now started development of a Sound Side Flood Reduction Program. They are coordinating with N.C. Coastal Federation. We are very pleased with the status of our beach programs.
  3. We will finalize our long-term water & septic security program. We have no issues with water or septic —- however –  
    • With the growth we are seeing in the area (more water systems using the same aquifer we use – remember we are pulling from the side closest to saltwater) and more full time Topsail Beach residents – we need to ensure we have long-term safe water supply.
    • Septic system – again we have more full-time residents. This over the long term with climate change will have an impact on septic systems. The town feels it is important to have a long term plan we can work to ensure we can meet the needs our our community. Our position is to understand our options and have a plan that can be implemented in a manner that is proactive for our needs. It needs to be practical, safe and cost effective.
  4. We will begin the development of our bike/pedestrian plan. It would be nice to see a full island plan developed. We just have more groups and individuals that enjoy these types of activities.
  5. We will add to our administration staff to ensure we continue to meet our community needs – Asst. Town Clerk/Human Resources & Accounting Support. Our Building Inspection Department and Public Works Office will be relocating to the building just north of our police department. Our town staff is focused on meeting the daily needs of Topsail Beach and in our opinion are the best.
  6. 2021 Budget Process has started – I am sure we will have several good discussions on public safety issues and ensuring income sources. I do believe the board in 2020 will review our Hurricane Emergency Procedures, dog leash ordinance, driving on beach permit process, fire department personnel needs, total facility needs which includes an Emergency Operation Center. Board is Focused is on long term needs of Topsail Beach given the increased population of island and area.
  • We also want to thank all our property owners for their willingness to support our town programs through their feedback and service on various committees. We have strong citizen led BIS & Planning Committees.

We wish everyone, safe and a prosperous 2020.

Steve Smith, Mayor
Topsail Beach

Energy Bus Stops at Dixon High

Principal Steve Clarke, Dixon High

On Tuesday morning, December 17, 2019, Principal Steve Clarke at Dixon High School brought his Energy Bus program to Kiwanis.  It was a true learning experience for the audience as we heard an innovative program for high school education inside and outside the classroom. Principal Clarke said that “positive people + positive energy = positive results.” In math terms and this may need to be verified, Pp x Pe = Prx3 (Pr cubed). This is the Energy Bus.
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Boys and Girls Homes

Mason Fuller Smith

Mason Fuller Smith, Director of Civic Club Relations, with Boys and Girls Homes of NC was introduced by Carrie Hewitt, Club President-Designate.

Mason was raised on a small farm just along the Columbus/Bladen County line. After graduating from Whiteville High School, Smith went on to earn degrees in Religion and Christian Ministries from Campbell University and a Master of Divinity from Duke University, before completing his education with a Doctor of Ministry focused on healing cultures from Columbia Theological Seminary.

For over 20 years he has served among the poor, powerless, and marginalized as a missionary, minister, and outreach director through a number of organizations and churches. Now he seeks to use his skills to tell the story of the Children of Boys and Girls Homes, and spread awareness of their unique and fragile needs. Mason joined the Homes’ staff in March of 2019, taking the baton from Gary Greene.

Mason related his work at the Boys and Girls Homes from his previous experience as a minister and the late night calls with people in crisis, who needed someone to help them through their crisis no matter the hour. Mason tries to learn something from everything and these experiences have helped him at B&GH.

Mason talked about kids who first come to the B&GH relating that these kids know they are labeled like worthless, no good, thug, etc. This lie is the first thing about the B&GH that staff works to overcome. We believe every kid has value and that their true label is excellence. We have to help them discover their true label during their time at the B&GH.

Mason related the story of Alvin who came from a tragic background. “My name is Alvin and I am a worthless piece of s***,” his dad told him that every day. Trauma informed therapy, seeks to bring healing to the root of the problem – counselors, Kiwanis support, school, beauty of campus are all components that work together to help kids learn their true self-worth.  Several years later when Alvin was transitioning out of B&G Homes said when asked who he was said, “I am child of God.”

Another story Mason related was about Cora a juvenile who was monitored with ‘jewelry’ when she arrived at the B&G Homes due to her criminal offense.  She was not a receptive child, but we showed her love, and affection. After a bible study she said “I would like to help to do next message.” Mentorship between her and staff developed and the next Sunday, it was positive effect, as all the individuals (kids and staff) came together for her.

Child Advocacy Center

Over the years we have added to our programs. We realize that since so many kids in need will never come to our campus, we began about 20 yr ago a community-based program known as the ”Child Advocacy Center.” Under this umbrella we instituted a foster care program that eventually led to an adoption program. We also have “Project Hope” for anyone in the community which aims to bring families back together through healing and therapy,.

Thomas Academy

Thomas Academy, a county-wide school, for kids left out in traditional schools. The vision of Thomas Academy is to be a school that serves the whole child and helps them find connections, compassion, and character. Mason related, connections with others, you are not alone; compassion to have the sense of care for other humans; and character to know what is right or wrong. Mason used his favorite comedian Jerry Clower’s, ‘is this shirt dirty’ example of ethics to know what to do when there is no rule.

Kiwanis Cottage

Mason said our club partnership has made a difference, standing toe to toe caring for the needs of children, but I have never seen a Kiwanian not care about a child. During the last two years, both Kiwanians Nicki Swafford and Carrie Hewitt have made the Kiwanis Cottage a passion for giving. Sharing with the girls in the cottage the joy of learning to cook has brought a new level of sense of accomplishment and self-worth among the girls.  Once COVID restrictions are lifted, they plan to continue their regular visits.

Finally, Mason responded to questions about B&GH saying that finding new sponsors was critical in this time of financial uncertainty with current sponsors who themselves face a challenging financial environment. Many civic clubs like Kiwanis have seen a significant loss in club funding and he expects next year will see a drop in contributions to B&GH. Mason also related that about 6-8 girls occupy the Kiwanis Cottage at any one time, so that over the course of a year about 20-30 girls will pass through the cottage.

Rich Pollard, Club President, thanked Mason for his inspiring presentation.

Kiwanis scholarships for B&GH

President Pollack noted to the audience that our Club now gives two academic scholarships to graduating seniors at B&GH.  This year the scholarships of $1,000 each went to Hunter, an academically gifted student with the highest GPA in his class who manages time well, and to Caitlyn who is a caregiver, a member of the Kiwanis Cottage with a serving spirit, and a heart for children who will study for a degree in social work.

Click on logo to visit the Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina