Jan. 23, 2020

Minutes of the Rotary Meeting
January 23, 2020
By Kathy Miller

Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by Tom McGehee, President of the Rotary Club of Mobile, at 12:00 p.m.

Song, Music, & Pledge: Matt Head offered the invocation and Larry Sindel led the Club in song and the Pledge of Allegiance. Tommy Blankenship introduced Member’s Guests and visiting Rotarians.

Student Guest: Jeff Luther introduced Jessica Coleman, Counselor at Satsuma High School. Ms. Coleman introduced the student guest, Haylee Lynd, who spoke to the club about service.

Announcements: Tom announced that the annual Mardi Gras party will take place on Thursday, February 20th at the Carnival Museum. He encouraged members to bring families and guests, including future potential members. He thanked Sumpter McGowin for making the arrangements for the party. Tom also announced that Ann Bedsole was honored by the Alabama School of Math and Science for her role in sponsoring the bill in the Alabama State Senate to establish the school and for her impact on future leaders of Alabama.

Program: Tom introduced the speaker, Pratt Paterson, Executive Director of Wilmer Hall. Pratt is a native of Montgomery and has been a member of the Club since 2016. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama and previously served as Director of Development for St. Mary’s Conference Center in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Pratt gave members an overview of the history of Wilmer Hall, which was founded by Bishop Wilmer to care for children orphaned during the Civil War. In 1867, the home was moved to Mobile and located on property donated by St. John’s. In 1914, the Diocese of Alabama purchased the 11 acres on Old Shell Road on which the home presently sits. The buildings were completed in 1916 and the home officially was named Wilmer Hall in 1948. Pratt described the present programs at Wilmer Hall. There are three residential programs: the Residential Program, for young people under the age of 18 who are still in school and do not have a place to live; the Transitional Living Program, for young adults ages 18 to 22 who are provided educational support, vocational training, and life skills training for a period of about two years; and the Transitional Family Program, for young adult mothers ages 18 to 24 with babies. Wilmer Hall also operates the on campus Education4Life Program founded in 2008 for students at Wilmer Hall. The students participating in this program have a 100% graduation rate. In 2017, Wilmer Hall added the Community-Based Education Program which offers similar educational support at Williamson Prep Academy through the Philippa Stirling Hamilton Educational Center and, in conjunction with Springhill College’s Community Service Program, at three additional middle schools through the Max Miller Education Program. The Community-Based Education Program serves between 160 and 170 students.

Wilmer Hall recently opened a fifth residential cottage for “graduate housing” and also increased capacity with the renovation of Green-Harrell Cottage. Wilmer Hall operates a delivery based food pantry which served 325 families in the nine months it was operating in 2019. Wilmer Hall has hired two licensed counselors who are on campus. Pratt answered questions from members and, at the conclusion of the program, Tom presented Pratt with a Speaker’s Certificate and a check representing a grant to Wilmer Hall from the Rotary Children’s Foundation.

Adjournment: After announcing members’ birthdays and the program for next week, Tom adjourned the meeting at 1:00 p.m.

Kathy Miller
Contributing Editor

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