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HCT’s Best Party In Town Offers $10,000 Vacation Prize, June 8

Hickory - “The Best Party in Hickory,” the Vacation Extravaganza at the Hickory Community Theatre on June 8th at 6:30pm, is fast approaching and the Theatre’s board has just announced the entertainment for the evening.

The Time Travelers, a band featuring Dick Hull, Ken Sigler, Dave Walker and Dave Watson, will be performing in the Jeffers Theatre throughout the evening. Joining them on stage will be friends Jeff Cline and Mark Sinclair.

The Extravaganza is an annual fundraiser for the Theatre, featuring a draw down raffle for a $10,000 grand prize to use on the vacation of your dreams. Tickets are $100 each, which admits two for a party that includes plentiful food and drink, as well as a silent auction with typically over 300 items ranging from hand crafted art to weekend getaways.

Tickets are going fast and can be purchased from Theatre board members, by phone at (828) 327-3855 or online at www.hickorytheatre.org/extravaganza.

PHOTO: The Time Travelers (from left Ken Sigler, Dave Walker, Dave Watson and Dick Hull) are the featured entertainment for the Hickory Community Theatre’s Vacation Extravaganza on Monday, June 8 at 6:30pm. For tickets and information call (828) 327-3855 or click www.hickorytheatre.org.

Color Our World Benefit On May 29 For Guardian ad Litem Assn.

Hickory – On May 29 at 6:00pm at Fanjoy LaBrenz Studio in downtown Hickory, the nonprofit, Catawba Valley Guardian ad Litem Association, will hold their second annual fundraiser Color Our World, a silent art auction. Local artisans have donated pieces ranging from jewelry, photography, pottery, paint-ings, and woodworking and much more. Tickets are $15 and will include an evening of great food, wine, and live music by the quartet “Zapateado.” Tickets can be purchased at the following retail locations: TasteFull Beans, Fanjoy LaBrenz, Studio 2120 and Ella Blu.

Some of the artists that will be represented at the auction include Noah & Melissa Gibson, Dan Smith, Stephen Brooks, Spencer Huffman, Robert Eades, Fanjoy LaBrenz, Terrell Miller, Scott Milar, Sara Frisbey, John Eller, Robert & Sara Echerd, Camille Inman, Wink Gaines, Jan Robbins, Leslie Newton, Huldah Bewley and many more!

The nonprofit will use the proceeds to support the Children’s Assistance Fund created to assist local foster children with items not covered by State funding. In 2014-15 this fund has provided over 60 local foster children with opportunities to participate in sports activities, music lessons, class field trips, and more. In June, the fund will be providing gifts for local high school seniors who will grad-uate while in foster care.

Currently in Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties, there are over 300 children who do not have a Guardian ad Litem volunteer. Studies have shown that a child who has a volunteer representing their best interests will find a permanent, lov-ing home more quickly. Can you be that voice for a local child?

If you are in-terested in learning more about becoming a volunteer Guardian ad Litem in Burke, Caldwell or Catawba counties, please visit our website for an application at www.cvgal.org or our affiliate for the State program www.ncgal.org

Workshops For Steel & African Drumming Begin June 22

Hickory - Rick Cline's Annual Steel Drum Workshop and African Drumming Workshop will take place June 22-27. There are two different classes, Steel Drum workshop 6-7:30pm, $90, ages 12 and up, and African Drumming workshop 7:30-8:30pm, $90, ages 8 and up.

No experience is required. Learn how properly play these instruments as well as the rich history behind them.

Cline has taught African drumming for over 25 years and Steel drums for 15 years and is the director of the the Piedmont Percussion Program and Assistant director of the Hickory Music Factory.

The workshop will take place at the Salt Block in the symphony rehearsal hall. The week will be concluded with a short performance at the Farmers Market on Sat. am June 27. Call or text 828-320-2959 or email: rickclinenc@gmail.com to sign up.

Spring Black Friday Special!

Hickory/Newton, NC - For the remainder of the spring season, every Friday at Humane Society of Catawba County will be "Spring Black Friday", where black and black & white dogs and cats will have a half-priced adoption fee with an approved adoption application (some exceptions apply).

Dog and cat adoption fee includes spay or neuter surgery, current vaccinations, microchip identification, deworming, FIV/Felv test (cats), heartworm test (dogs) and a free veterinary exam certificate. Go by during business hours, at the Newton shelter: Monday - Friday 11am-6pm, Saturday 10am – 3pm, 828-466-7171 and the Hickory shelter: Monday - Saturday from 11am to 6pm, 828-464-8878; or visit the website, www.catawbahumane.org, to see a listing of all available cats and dogs.

Photo: Fig Newton is available for adoption.

Hickory PD Rabies Clinic Sun., May 31

Hickory – Hickory Police Department Animal Control is offering rabies vaccination shots for dogs and cats on Sunday, May 31.

The event will be located in the east front parking lot at the Hickory Police Department, located at the Floyd W. Lucas, Jr. Police Headquarters 347 2nd Avenue, SW, Hickory, NC 28602, from 1 to 4 p.m.

The fee is $7.00 per animal and will be given by a local veterinarian. If your pet participated in this program last year, you are asked to bring paperwork and the pet will receive a three year rabies vaccine for $7.00.

All dogs must be on a leash and cats in crates.

For more information, call Hickory Police Department Animal Control at (828) 324-2060.

Fun Updated Daily In Burke County Lists 100 Activities

Morganton, NC – Looking for enjoyable things to do this summer? Burke County has a hundred of them.

An initiative called Fun Updated Daily began May 1 and spotlights 100 activities that make Burke County worthy of a visit.

The activities will be revealed each morning on Facebook, Twitter, the county’s tourism website, and on flyers available at the Burke County Visitors Center, 110 East Meeting Street in downtown Morganton.

A few examples of the activities are: kayaking the Johns River, hiking Shortoff Mountain, bird watching on the NC Birding Trail, attending the outdoor drama From This Day Forward, swimming at Lake James State Park, hiking to a waterfall at South Mountains State Park, and enjoying the splash pad at Martha’s Park in downtown Morganton.

Martha’s Park in Morganton, NC

“People asked me, ‘Can you really find 100 things to do in Burke County?’ Actually, it was pretty easy,” said tourism director Ed Phillips. “We have several small towns, a thriving music scene, lots of arts and crafts, superb dining, the Blue Ridge Parkway, two state parks, and great fishing and water sports.”

The list includes a nice combination of indoor and outdoor activities, as well as a mix of free and paid activities.

“We’re trying to give people something they will look forward to seeing every day in social media feeds and on our website and in our Visitors Center. Each day a new flyer will be posted that has the same format. It includes a paragraph on the activity, along with a phone number, website, hours, and a color photo.” Phillips said. “And we will keep a running list for people who wish to pursue other activities.”

To sum it all up, Phillip said Burke County has everything from A (apple picking) to Z (zip-lining).

For more info about Fun Updated Daily, call the visitors center at 888-462-2921, or go online to: www.DiscoverBurkeCounty.com.

May’s Seniors Mornings Out Offer Wide Range Of Activities

Hickory - Participants in Catawba County Seniors Morning Out will enjoy a variety of activities during May, including participating in the Senior Games, attending a health fair, and enjoying parties and special musical entertainment.

Seniors Morning Out operates from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday at five convenient locations throughout the county. In addition to a variety of activities, participants are served a hot, balanced lunch. The program is free for any Catawba County resident who is 60 or better. There are no income requirements. Transportation is available along limited bus routes for those who are unable to drive. Please contact the site supervisor at least 24 hours in advance if you wish to attend any of these programs.

All sites will be closed May 25 in observance of Memorial Day. On May 4, all of the locations except for Maiden will travel to the Senior Games at Highland Recreation Center. On May 5, all sites will travel to the Valley Hills Mall to participate in a Health Fair and Mall Walk sponsored by Catawba Valley Medical Center. Other highlights by location are as follows.

West Hickory SMO: May 12, Bingo and Music by Rev It Up; May 14, Breakfast at Hardees and Trip to the Fireman's Museum; May 20, Music by Sycamore Bones; May 28, Birthday Party and Dancing with the Ridgeview Sliders. To reserve your spot, contact Lisa Adams at 828-323-8746.

East Hickory SMO: May 12, Dancing to the Music of Sentimental Journey; May 19, Learn to Make Low-Fat Strawberry Banana Dessert; May 20, Sharing of Strawberry Recipes.

To reserve your spot, contact Rita Pritchard at 828-320-5963.

Newton SMO: May 6, Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with authentic dancing and food. Cost is $3 and registration is required by May 4; May 7, Mother's Day Hoe Down with Music by the Joymakers; May 19, Music by Sentimental Journey. May 28, Memorial Day Cookout at Southside Park with Music by Karen Kondas. Dress Patriotically. To reserve your spot, contact Robyn Curtis at 828-455-4133.

Claremont SMO: May 6, Music by Sentimental Journey; May 11, Making Deviled Eggs; May 20, Hypertension Program by Peggy Messick of Catawba Valley Medical Center; May 21, Music by Bandys High School Jazz Band; May 28, Cookout at Southside Park with Singing by Karen Kondas. To reserve your spot, contact Wendy Thomas at 828-320-0434.

Maiden SMO: May 6, Spelling Bee Contest and Corn Hole Game; May 18, Heart Healthy Bingo and How to be Heart Healthy with Melissa Mooney of Brookdale Living; May 21, Senior Games Fun Walk with Lauren Townson of City of Hickory and Cookout in Maiden Park with Music by Sentimental Journey; May 28, West Side Baptist Church Choir to Perform. To reserve your spot, contact Loretta Hefner at 828-320-5966.

For more information about any of these programs, contact Senior Nutrition Services Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. by calling 828-695-5610. Donations are welcomed to help support this and other Senior Nutrition programs. To make a secure donation, go to www.mealsonwheelsofcatawbacounty.org and click on the red "Donate Now Button." Senior Nutrition Services is a part of Catawba County Social Services.

In addition to Seniors Morning Out, it operates Meals on Wheels, which urgently needs more volunteers. If you could donate one and a half hours per month to deliver meals, please call 828-695-5610.

For the latest information on Senior Nutrition Services, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mealsonwheelsofcatawbacounty.

CVCC Potters’ Workshop To Host Three Summer Workshops

Hickory - The CVCC Potters’ Workshop is pleased to host three summer workshops with some of the area’s talented ceramic artists. Between May and August, participants will be exposed to a variety of turning and decorating techniques. The workshops are designed for the beginner level potter to the more experienced potter, as well as those with a general interest in pottery.
The first workshop will be held on Sat., May 30 with Shane Mickey, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In this one-day workshop, Shane will demonstrate how he creates his signature pitchers and Gnome Jars, as well as a variety of tableware making techniques. The cost of the workshop is $75.00 and lunch is provided.

On Sat., June 20, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Po-Wen Liu will hold a one day workshop on creating platters and plates on the potters’ wheel. The demonstration will include throwing, trimming and decorating techniques. The cost of the workshop is $75.00 and lunch is provided.

The last workshop will be held on Sat., Aug. 8, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with Raine Middleton. This hands-on, one-day workshop will cover paper resist, wax resist, simple alterations, stencil and soft stamp printing, sprigging/stamping, slip trailing, carving and sgraffito. Tiles will be bisque fired (not glazed), in an electric kiln, and participants can pick up their work between August 24 and 28. The cost of the workshop is $86.25 and lunch is provided. • All workshops are held at the CVCC Potters’ Workshop and pre-registration is required. Interested participants can view more information and register online at www.cvcc.edu/potters_workshop, or by calling 828-327-7000 x4032. The Workshop seeks to promote the understanding, appreciation and continuation of Catawba Valley pottery. The goal is to provide contemporary instruction using local, historical methods and materials to make pottery.

Meals On Wheels Volunteers Honored - More Are Needed!

Hickory - Catawba County's Senior Nutrition Services recently recognized the volunteers who deliver Meals on Wheels with an appreciation breakfast held at J&S Cafeteria. The western-themed event was attended by 182 volunteers.

County Commissioner Sherry Butler addressed the volunteers. Jan Shaffer, Adult Services supervisor, told the volunteers they are our heroes, feeding the hungry and helping their fellow man. They were described as rays of hope to homebound seniors. One hundred local businesses participated by donating door prizes.

More volunteers are needed to deliver Meals on Wheels throughout the county. It only takes an hour and a half a month to deliver Meals on Wheels. The volunteers pick up the meals at one of several pick-up stations throughout the county and deliver them to the seniors on their route.

In March, there were 768 Meals on Wheels volunteers in Catawba County. Between July of 2014 and March 2015, 415 seniors were served. There are currently 51 persons on the waiting list. Additional volunteers would allow more of these seniors to receive meals.

To be eligible to receive Meals on Wheels, a person must be at least 60 years old and be unable to shop or prepare their own food. There are no income requirements for this program. Anyone who meets the requirements may receive the meals, which are free to participants.

"Because the typical volunteer only delivers Meals on Wheels once a month, we need to have a large number of volunteers to meet the need," said Vickie Redden, volunteer coordinator. "Our volunteers tell us that they are blessed to deliver the meals. They are often the only person the recipient sees all day and provide a vital link to the community. Because of Meals on Wheels, many seniors are able to remain in their own homes."

If you are interested in becoming a Meals on Wheels volunteer, call 828-695-5610 Monday through Friday during business hours. Senior Nutrition Services is also looking for local businesses who are willing to organize a team of employees to deliver meals. In addition, local donations are needed to support this service.

For additional information, call 828-695-5610, go to www.mealsonwheelsofcatawbacounty.org, or like the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mealsonwheelsofcatawbacounty.

Photo: Helen Brigham, Dale and Debra Zimmerman are some of the volunteers recognized at the annual Meals on Wheels Appreciation Breakfast. More volunteers are urgently needed. To find out more, call 828-695-5610 or go to www.mealsonwheelsofcatawbacounty.org.

Darkness To Light Training June 6

Hickory - Darkness to Light raises awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse by educating adults about the steps they can take to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to the reality of child sexual abuse.

Upcoming trainings are on the following dates and locations:

Saturday, June 6 from 10-12 noon at Viewmont Surgery Center, 50 13th Ave. NE, Suite 1, Hickory, NC

For more information, call Kate Landry at Children’s Advocacy Center at 828.465.8162.

CVCC Offers Free Small Business Series, Through June 9

Hickory - CVCC’s Small Business Center is presenting the “Step Up, Start Up” program, a series of seminars designed to help individuals interested in starting a business build a foundation for business success.  The program consists of six seminars which will be presented on Tuesday evenings from May 5 through June 9 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at CVCC’s Corporate Development Center.  Participants can register for the entire series or individual sessions.  There is no-cost to attend, but pre-registration is required.  

The first session of the program is You, Inc., on May 5 to help participants understand the many roles and responsibilities of business ownership and compare them to their work experience, life goals, current and future financial needs, and their tolerance for risk. 

Additional sessions include:

 Reaching Customer Targets on May 26.  Participants learn how successful business owners create targeted marketing messages and choose appropriate media for effectively marketing products and services.

Keeping $ Score $ on June 2.  Participants are introduced to standard scorecards for tracking business performance, cash position and net worth.  Participants will learn about sources of startup capital. 

Roadmap to Success on June 9.  Participants will compile data and conclusions from the previous five seminars into a draft of a business plan to be used to chart the course for their startup. 

These seminars are provided at no cost to participants through the Small Business Center Network, which is funded by a grant from the North Carolina state government. 

Pre-registration is required.  To register, call the Small Business Center at 828-327-7000, ext. 4117 or register on-line at the Small Business Center website, http://sbc.cvcc.edu.

Free Self-Defense Class, May 30

Newton, NC – Demand for the Newton Police Department’s recent self-defense training was so robust that Newton officers plan to offer another session in May for women and female teenagers.

Newton officers will lead the free class from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 30, on the lower level of the Newton Recreation Center at 23 South Brady Ave. Participants must be 16 years old or older. Participants 16 and 17 years old must have parental permission and be accompanied by an adult.

After a brief presentation, Newton police officers will provide hands-on self-defense instruction to participants.

The class is free, but registration is required. Lunch will be provided.

To sign up for the class, email Sgt. B.J. Williams at bwilliams@newtonnc.gov or call Alex Frick at 828-695-4266.

Bethlehem Day Festival Set For Saturday, Sept. 19

Bethlehem, NC - The Bethlehem Community Development Association announces the 6th Annual Bethlehem Day Festival and Classic Car Cruise In is set for Saturday, September 19th, 2015 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Bethlehem Day will be located in same NEW location as last year at the crossroads of Shiloh Church and Rink Dam Road in Bethlehem (Alexander County).

The annual fall event features live music, entertainment and activities for children, arts & crafts, food & drinks. Craft and food vendor applications are $25.

All applications are available at www.Bethlehemcda.org or can be requested at bethlehemday@gmail.com.

Applications with fees made out to BCDA should be mailed to BCDA, PO Box 6370, Hickory, NC 28603.

For more information contact Bud & Judy Caywood at 828-495-1057, or bethlehemday@gmail.com.

CSC’s Summer Science Camps For Kids Announced

Hickory - Catawba Science Center is excited to unveil the 2015 Summer Fun Science Camps. Enroll your child into Catawba Science Center's Summer Fun Camps, and watch your child discover the joys of science and wonder for themselves! CSC’s Summer Fun is aimed toward rising Pre-K – 9th grade, though campers must be at least 4 years old, with a multitude of classes aimed at every age group within that range.

Join CSC’s own Lead Naturalist Bruce Beerbower in a class teaching all about what it takes to become a naturalist, or take a class to learn about the different galaxies scattered all around the universe. Campers can even embark on an African Safari, find out what the deal is with electricity and, of course, learn about dinosaurs!

CSC's Summer Fun is more flexible than ever. Now with hands-on SciFun classes, Sunrise Science and Afternoon Adventure options, it is easier than ever to work Summer Fun Science Camps into even the busiest schedules. Not to mention, after 6 SciFun classes have been purchased, a 7th SciFun class is awarded to the camper for free! Furthermore, every SciFun camper will receive a free t-shirt!

“We really wanted to make Summer Fun more accessible for potential campers,” said Lori Kistler, Public Programs Coordinator at Catawba Science Center. “It’s important to us that anyone who wants to attend Summer Fun is able to.”

All of this and more is available to aspiring campers. CSC’s Summer Fun Science Camps will run from June 15 to August 21, 2015

Scholarships and payment plans are available. CSC staff will be happy to answer any questions. To receive a brochure and registration form, please contact us at (828) 322-8169 or visit our webpage for more Summer Fun info at www.CatawbaScience.org

Second Annual Feed The Flock Gala Is Friday, June 5

Newton, NC - The Corner Table, Newton’s well known soup kitchen is hosting its 2nd Annual signature event, Feed The Flock Gala, combining a good time with a way to do good for our neighbors in need on Friday, June 5, 2015 at Rock Barn Golf & Spa. The evening will be elegant and fun with delicious food stations, dancing to live music with the highly versatile Baby Black Band, a silent auction you won’t want to miss, and a raffle.

This event is made possible due to the following 2015 Sponsors: Duke Energy, Shane Lee Motorsports, Hanes Companies, Inc., Concept Frames, Normtex, Inc., Mercury Tech Partners, Inc., Catawba Valley Medical Center, L.R. Wooten Building Co., First Security Insurance, Bennett Funeral Service, Newton Family Physicians, Twin City Insurance Agency, Newton Antiques & Collectibles, ConWareCo Logistics, Commscope, Bowman Drug Co., Christian Tours, Glen Oaks Golf Club, Darel & Sandy Scronce, Kelly & Lora Pulliam, and Nancy & Floyd Long.

Food insecurity is a growing problem in Catawba County with 1 in 6 people in our area needing food assistance and around 20% of the population does not receive their share of proper nourishment for a healthy life. Responding to such a need, The Corner Table extended its lunch service to five days a week beginning August 8, 2014. In 2014 alone, more than 41,000 hot nutritious meals and 8,000 bag lunches impacted the lives of our guests in need. Serving more than 140 guests each day, we are committed to helping alleviate the pain and indignity of hunger in our community.

The Corner Table invites you to take part in this event through Sponsorship, Tickets, or donate toward the Silent Auction. Tickets are $75 a piece and sponsorships range from $250-$5,000. For more information on the Feed The Flock Gala, tickets, sponsorships or auction donations, please contact Summer Jenkins, Executive Director, at slee@thecornertable.org or 828-4640355 or visit online at www.thecornertable.org.

Footcandle Film Society Sets Its First Film Fest For September

Hickory - The Footcandle Film Society has been screening and facilitating discussions on films in Western North Carolina since its inception in 2008. Through monthly film screenings, discussions, partnerships with various international and educational organizations, and an annual “Oscar Party,” the film society has built a community of over 500 members that support film efforts in our region.

With the growth of the film society over the past six years, and the desire to bring more film-related efforts to the local area, the Footcandle Film Society is announcing its very own film festival: the Footcandle Film Festival! This event will take place between September 25th and 27th, 2015, with plans to become an annual event.

The event will be held at the SALT Block Auditorium in Hickory, North Carolina, and is being coordinated through a partnership with the Hickory Museum of Art.

It will be a weekend-long event where between 10-20 films, selected from an open submission process, will be screened for both film society members and the general public. The weekend will also consist of an opening night reception, question-and-answer sessions with the filmmakers following select screenings, a roundtable discussion on the future of independent film, and a special closing reception where festival winners will be announced.

Filmmakers from around the world are encouraged to submit their films to be considered for this historic event. For the festival’s first year, there are no limited categories or themes for submissions; all film lengths, types and content matter are welcomed and will be considered for this inaugural year. There will be a “Best of the Festival” award given as selected by our jury, as well as an “Audience Favorite” selected by festival attendees, both with prize money to be awarded.

Filmmakers who want to submit their film should visit the festival’s web site, www.footcandlefilmfestival.com. Submission fees are $10.00, with a deadline of June 1st, 2015. All films will be reviewed by a panel of film society members, with a voting system to determine the best films to show during the festival. Those films selected to be screened at the festival will be notified by early July. Tickets for the festival screenings will go on sale to the general public shortly afterwards.

For any questions about the festival or the submission process, please contact the Film Society at info@footcandle.org or visit the festival’s web site at www.footcandlefilmfestival.com.

Apply Now For Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Kids In College

Hickory - Applications are now being accepted for Kids in College, the Lenoir-Rhyne University summer enrichment program. The program will take place over two weeks this summer – one week for elementary students and one week for middle school students. The elementary Kids in College camp is scheduled for Monday through Friday, June 22th – 26th and is open to students completing kindergarten through 4th grade. The middle grades camp is scheduled for Monday through Friday, August 3rd – 7th and is open to students completing 5th through 8th grade. Both sessions will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and lunch will be provided.

“The mission of Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Kids in College is to expose children to the university environment through challenging instructional camps that foster exploration, creative thinking, and enrichment,” said Michael Lemke, Director of Kids in College.

According to Lemke, the program focuses on the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Students will utilize 21st century skills including critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. Kids in College is designed for teacher-recommended students who meet any of the following criteria:

• Identified as academically and intellectually gifted

• Achieved a Level 4 on reading and/or math EOG

• Maintained an “A” average in math and/or reading

• Recommended by current teacher

Experienced, AIG certified teachers will facilitate learning experiences throughout the week. The classes will be held in the Rhyne Building on campus. Parents will be responsible for dropping off and picking up their children.

The cost of the program is $325 per week. A deposit of $50 is required for registration with the remaining balance due on May 1st. Additional information and registration forms can be found on the LRU website at edu.lr.edu/kidsincollege. Registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis for qualified students. Parents will be notified of acceptance as soon as the following requirements are received:

• A completed application with teacher recommendation

• Signed insurance and liability form

• $50 deposit (returnable only if space is unavailable)

• Emergency Contact form

Parents of accepted students are invited to attend an informational meeting at 7:00 p.m. on May 19 in the Belk Centrum on campus.

For more information, contact Michael Lemke at michael.lemke@lr.edu or (828) 328-7189.

About Lenoir-Rhyne University: Lenoir-Rhyne University was founded in 1891 and is a private, coeducational university with its primary campus in Hickory, N.C. Academic programs include more than 50 undergraduate majors and 24 graduate programs, the Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville, N.C., the Center for Graduate Studies of Columbia, S.C., and the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C. Today, more than 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled across all campuses. Lenoir-Rhyne is affiliated with the N.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and welcomes students from all religious backgrounds. The website is www.lr.edu.

CSC’s Infinity Express Journeys Through Space & Time

Hickory - How big is the universe? Where does it end? Are we alone?

Explore these questions and more as the Catawba Science Center presents “Infinity Express.” This full-dome planetarium show takes you on an exciting journey through space and time.

The universe is slowly giving up its secrets. To present these secrets, “Infinity Express” uses a remarkable blend of science, art and entertainment.

Powerfully narrated by actor Laurence Fishburne of "The Matrix" fame, “Infinity Express” will take you on an exciting journey of discovery. From the exploration of our solar system to the mapping of the universe, “Infinity Express” will funnel you towards humanity's mission to explore what lies beyond Planet Earth.

“Infinity Express” is presented Tuesday through Sunday as part of the Superstar Triple Feature that also includes “Terminal Star,” a collaborative spectacular musical and visual experience of Catawba Science Center and the Western Piedmont Symphony, and “Seasonal Stargazing”. “Seasonal Stargazing” is a look at the current night sky above the Catawba Valley. With this presentation, the positions of the stars directly overhead become shown.

The triple feature, shown in the Millholland Planetarium, is appropriate for children of all ages, but is perhaps best suited for children in elementary and middle school. The triple feature showing “Infinity Express” plays Tuesday through Thursday at 2:30pm and Friday at 2:30 and 3:30pm. On the weekends, “Infinity Express” plays at 1:00 and 3:00pm on Saturday and at 3:00pm on Sunday.

Admission for “Infinity Express” and the triple feature is included in Science Center admission on a seat available basis. Catawba Science Center’s planetarium shows are currently sponsored by John and Eileen Leach. For more information please visit http://www.catawbascience.org or call Catawba Science Center at (828) 322-8169.

Humane Society Seeks Foster Parents For Special Animals

Hickory/Newton, NC - Humane Society of Catawba County is looking for people interested in fostering homeless animals.

Fostering is often necessary when animals need a little more time and TLC prior to adoption; for example, mothers with nursing litters, orphaned litters, and shy animals that need extra socializing.

Sam

HSCC also has a growing need for short-term foster care, sometimes just a couple of weeks, for healthy dogs awaiting transport to another rescue.

HSCC will provide everything you need; the foster family will only need to bring the animal to the shelter occasionally for medical check-ups or for their transport date.

The time commitment and selected animal(s) are entirely based on what is convenient for the foster family. foster@catawbahumane.org.

Vendor Applications For 40th Waldensian Festival Available

Valdese, NC - The Town of Valdese will hold their 40th Annual Waldensian Festival on August 7th and 8th, 2015 in Valdese, North Carolina with live music performances, yummy food (that you can only get at a festival), craft vendors, footrace, boccie tournaments and so much more!

“We have over 170 booth spaces to fill and you can never start too early looking for just the right vendor,” states Barbara Hefner, Community Affairs Director for the Town of Valdese. “Our staff works extremely hard to find vendors that will appeal to our attendees. Highest priority is placed on hand-made crafters and we strive every year to increase the number of independent artists and crafters to our festival.” Booth fees range from $65.00 to $130.00 with the lowest price given to handmade crafters. The festival is held every year on the second Saturday in August and the main street is closed to accommodate the vendors. Vendors interested in participating in the 2015 Waldensian Festival can go to www.waldensianfestival.com or call 828-879-2126. The 2015 Waldensian Festival is sponsored by the Town of Valdese, Carolinas Healthcare System Blueridge, SAFT, Viewmont Surgery Center and Valdese Weavers.

Lenoir Blackberry Festival 2015 Accepting Vendor Applications

Lenoir, NC – The Caldwell Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the 14th annual NC Blackberry Festival, scheduled for Saturday, July 11, 2015 from 10:00am to 4:00pm in Historic Lenoir. The NC Blackberry Festival will again fill historic Lenoir with outstanding festivities including the Colossal Cobbler Brigade Parade with the largest patchwork of delicious Blackberry Cobbler to be enjoyed by the festival goers, as well as the Blackberry Princess Pageant, Blackberry Eating Contests, Live Entertainment, Children’s Activities and hundreds of artisan and food vendors.

This year marks the 3rd year of the “Pre-Heat Party” on the Friday evening before in Historic Lenoir which includes the BlackBEERy Beer Garden, the Blackberry Recipe Contest and the Front Porch Pickin’ competition. Registration is open for the recipe and picking contest and applications are available at www.NCBlackberryFestival.com. Cash prizes will be given to contest winners.

Vendor applications are now open and can be downloaded at www.NCBlackberryFestival.com. Vendors are encouraged to provide quality artisan arts and crafts and other types of products and services. Applications will be approved based on uniqueness of items and overall value and contribution to enhance the festival experience for festival goers.

For more information about the exceptional NC Blackberry Festival, please contact event coordinator, Libby Killian at the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce by calling 828-726-0616 or visiting www.CaldwellCoChamber.org.

Help The Lincolnton Lions Club Help Others-Buy A Broom!

Lincolnton, NC - Mahatma Gandhi, Indian Leader, said “Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger about confession.” According to an old German proverb, “ a new broom sweeps clean.”

With the beginning of a New Year, it’s time to make new resolutions, to break old habits, to renewed with new promises, to make new starts, and to strive toward a lifetime of happiness and success! In keeping with the aforementioned quotations and sentiments, it’s time to throw out your worn out old broom and replace them with a Lions Club broom.

Have you been wondering where to purchase a Lions Club broom in Lincoln County? But didn’t know where to purchase it. In cooperation with the following Denver, Lincolnton and Vale businesses, barber/beauty shops, drug stores, ophthalmologist, and restaurants you may purchase a Lions Club broom throughout the year at the following locations:

Denver
People’s Bank- 142 Highway 16, South
People’s Bank- 6125 Highway 16, South

Lincolnton
City Lunch- 113 Court Square, Southeast
Cutting House Salon- 1704 Gastonia Highway
The Drug Store- 626 Center Drive
Graystone Ophthalmology- 2311 East Main Street
Mosteller Barber Shop- 810 West Highway 27
People’s Bank- 760 West Highway 27
People’s Bank- 1910 East Main Street
Trim Barber Shop- 119 South Academy Street

Vale
The Drug Store-9576 West N.C. Highway 10
Cost per Lions Club broom and children mop is as follows:
·$5.00 child’s /hearth/camping broom
·$5.00 child’s mop
·$8.00 synthetic soft sweep broom
·$9.00 household straw broom
·$12.00 industrial/patio straw broom

By purchasing a Lincolnton Lions Club broom, you’re not only making a smart purchase but you’re assisting the Lions to promote sight conservation, provide services to the blind/visually impaired, purchase eyeglasses and eye examination for the needy of Lincoln County, sponsor blind/visually impaired adults to Camp Dogwood, support NC Lions Visually Impaired Fishing Tournament @ Nags Head, Annual Lions Club Christmas Party/Luncheon For The Blind, sponsor vision screenings at the elementary schools, sponsor four Lions Club College Scholarships, support Lions Cottage @ Boys & Girls Home of NC, Inc., and other Lions Club charities.

Lions Clubs were organized in 1917 and became international in 1920. As the world’s largest coeducational service organizations, Lions Club International has over 1.36 million members in over 46,000 clubs in 208 countries and geographical areas. For more information about Lions Club, please check our websites: Lions Club International ( www.lionsclub.org ); North Carolina Lions, Inc.

( www.nclionsinc.org ), and Lincolnton Lions Club ( www.lincolntonnc.lionwrap.org )

Family Guidance Center Offers Support, Insight On Verbal Abuse

Hickory - The mission of Family Guidance Center’s First Step Domestic Violence Program is to provide needed services to victims of domestic violence and to increase the community’s awareness of the problem.

Verbal abuse is a type of abuse that can leave deep wounds. There are no bruises or marks on your body, but verbal abuse pierces you to the core—it is the Hidden Hurt of domestic violence. Some forms of verbal abuse are obvious, such as name calling or sneering, but many more forms are less obvious and not as easy to recognize. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you are being verbally abused:

Does your partner speak to you differently in private and in public?

Do you often leave a discussion with your partner feeling completely confused?

Does your partner deny being angry or upset when he/she very obviously is?

Does your partner act as though you were attacking them when you try to explain your feelings?

Does your partner discount your opinions or experiences?

You feel as though no matter how hard you try, you just don’t seem to be able to communicate your thoughts and feelings to your partner as he/she always seems to misunderstand you and/or it always seems to cause an argument no matter how you try to approach the subject?

Do you feel nervous or avoid discussing issues which disturb you with your partner because you ‘know’ that trying to discuss them will just leave you feeling even more upset?

Do you feel as though your self-esteem and your self-confidence have decreased?

Do you find yourself spending a lot of time working out either how not to upset your partner or wondering what you did or said which did upset your partner?

Facts which generally apply to verbal abuse:

Verbal abuse tends to be secretive.

Verbal abuse tends to increase over time.

Verbal abuse discounts your perception of reality and denies itself.

Verbal abuse is usually a part of a pattern which is difficult to recognize and it leaves us with a feeling of confusion and upset without really understanding why.

Verbal abuse uses words (or silence) to gain and maintain control.

From time to time, we may all be guilty of saying something which is nasty or abusive to our partner. But when we realize that what we said was hurtful, we regret it and apologize to our partner. Verbal abusers; however, are not likely to apologize. They are not sorry for what they said because hurting you was their intent!

Contact The Family Guidance Center at 828-322-1400. Located at #17 Hwy. 70 SE, Hickory, NC, 28602. www.fgcservices.com

Women’s Resource Center Needs Daily Volunteers

Hickory-Women’s Resource Center is seeking women volunteers who have a passion for giving back to their community and supporting women who are undergoing life-changing transitions.

We need support during our regular daily business hours. WRC Business Hours are 9:00am—4:00pm,Monday through Thursday.

Women’s Resource Center empowers women through Workforce Development, Advocacy, Enrichment Programs, and Community Partnerships.

If interested, please contact Cindy Rose, Executive Director at 828-322-6333 or email
director@wrchickory.org.

Newton Animal Shelter Is In Urgent Need Of Supplies

Newton, NC - Opening the new animal shelter in Newton provides the opportunity to rescue so many more animals, but it also requires many more supplies. Between the Newton and Hickory shelters, Humane Society of Catawba County now cares for approximately 275 animals.

HSCC has several urgent needs for donations from the community. Laundry detergent (any variety, liquid or powder) and bleach, HSCC does many loads of laundry each day for the shelter animals and spay/neuter clinic. Donations of Dry Purina One Kitten, Dry Purina One Cat food, Dry Purina One Puppy or Purina Puppy Chow, and canned dog food will help feed the many shelter animals each day. Cat litter, inexpensive and non-clumping, is needed to accommodate the 115 cats and kittens staying at both shelters. Various cleaning products and supplies are needed for general cleaning and maintenance: window cleaner and OxiClean powder.

With the continued increase in adoptions and spay/neuter surgeries, there is a need for more computers. If anyone has upgraded their computer recently, HSCC needs working computers. HSCC is a 501(c) 3 non profit, no-kill animal organization serving Catawba County and the surrounding areas. All donations are tax deductable. HSCC does not receive any assistance from local or national humane agencies.

Drop off donations at the Newton shelter: 201 Government Services Drive, during regular business hours, Monday – Friday 11am-6pm, Saturday 10am – 3pm, 828-466-7171 or the Hickory shelter: 3224 20th Ave SE, Hickory, 28602 (GPS: Newton) during regular business hours, Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm, 828-464-8878.

Social Workers Partner With Lions Clubs To Help The Blind

According to The World Health Organization, 153 million people have uncorrected refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism). Most of these vision impairments are quickly diagnosed and easy to treat with corrective lenses. For children, clear vision means a better education, healthier development and a better quality of life. For adults, it means greater employment opportunity and economic strength. For seniors it means less dependence on others.

Unfortunately, due to the current economic situation, many people are forgoing scheduling annual eye examinations and purchasing new eyeglasses. That's why County Social Worker's with NC Division of Services For The Blind have established a partnerships with their Lions Clubs in the county to refer children and adults who need financial assistance in securing an eye examination and purchasing eyeglasses who meet their local Lions Club eligibility guidelines.

If Alexander, Burke, Caldwell,Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, McDowell, Polk and Rutherford County residents needing assistance with eyeglasses and eye examinations should contact these County Social Workers For The Blind with NC Division of Services For The Blind listed below , then they will forward their names and contact information to a Lions Club in their county:

Alexander & Caldwell County Social Worker For The Blind
1. Gary Smith
604 7th Street, SW
2345 Morganton Boulevard, Suite A, Taylorsville, NC 28681 Lenoir, North Carolina 28645
Telephone: (828) 632-1080 Telephone: 828-426-8316 gsmith@caldwellcountync.org

Burke & McDowell County Social Worker For The Blind
2. Sandy Freeman
700 E. Parker Road
207 East Court Street
Morganton, NC 28680 Marion, NC 29752
Telephone: (828) 764-9704 Telephone: 828-659-0844
sandy.freeman@dhhs.nc.gov

Catawba Social Worker
for the Blind
3. Greg Morgan
PO Box 669
Newton, NC 28658
gmorgan@catawbacountync.gov

Cleveland County Social
Worker For The Blind
4. Lucy Plyer
130 South Post Road
Shelby, North Carolina 28150
Telephone: 704-487-0661 ext. 317; lucy.plyler@clevelandcounty.com

Gaston Social Worker
for the Blind
5. Charity Patterson
330 N. Marietta Street
Gastonia, NC 28052
Telephone: (704) 862-7622
charity.patterson@dhhs.nc.gov

Iredell & Lincoln County
Social Worker for the Blind
6. Tammy Loukos
549 Eastside Drive
1136 East Main Street
Statesville, NC 28687
Lincolnton, N.C. 28092
Telephone: (704) 924-4111 Telephone: 704-732-9024
tammy.loukos@dhhs.nc.gov

Polk & Rutherford County
Social Worker For The Blind
7. Marian Corn
231 Wolverine Trail
389 Fairground Road
Mill Spring, NC 28756 Spindale, NC 28160
Telephone: (828) 894-2100 Telephone: 828-287-1241 marian.corn@dhhs.nc.gov
marian.corn@rutherfordcounty.nc.gov

To secure names, and contact information of other NC County Social Worker’s For The Blind not listed, please check out the NC Division of Services For The Blind website @
http://www.ncdhhs.gov/dsb/contacts/swcontactbycounty

Catawba Science Center’s Free Fridays Will Continue

Hickory - Catawba Science Center is pleased to announce the continuation of the Free Friday admission program thanks to a $7,500 gift from the Unifour Foundation, a foundation associated with the NC Community Foundation.

The Free Friday program provides free admission to all individuals on the third Friday of each month, thus eliminating barriers caused by admission fees. This program was created with the intent of providing access to science experiences for financially challenged families and children.

Alan Barnhardt, Executive Director of Catawba Science Center stated, “We are fortunate that individuals and organizations in our region understand the importance of engaging children in science.

We see many instances where this has influenced their future choice of careers. The experience these children encounter at Catawba Science Center promotes problem-solving skills and promotes inquiry-based thinking.“

Last year over 130,000 individuals took part in programs at Catawba Science Center. This includes over 53,000 students and teachers from 24 counties in the Foothills and western part of our state.

The NCCF is a statewide community foundation serving NC and has made nearly $68 million in grants since it inception in 1988. For more information on Free Fridays or science programs visit www.CatawbaScience.org.

Child Wellbeing Project Offers Post Adoption Support

Hickory - The Child Wellbeing Project is expanding to assist adoptive families in an eight-county region of North Carolina.

The program uses the Success Coach model of post-adoption services. Thanks to a grant from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Resources, this service is now being made available to any family who has adopted and is currently living in one of the following counties: Ashe, Alleghany, Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Watauga and Wilkes.

Children who have been adopted often struggle with their identity and may have trouble fitting into their new family or adjusting to a new school. Post Adoption Success Coach Services assign a Success Coach to these families, allowing them to receive additional help and support. This assistance is free for the adoptive family.

"We realize that many children who have been adopted continue to have struggles long after the adoption is finalized," said Chrissy Triplett, post adoption care supervisor.

"Success Coaches can work with adoptive families to provide helpful information and coaching in how to deal with these issues."

The Success Coach model has been used successfully with a limited number of families in Catawba County. It is now being offered to any family who has adopted in the eight-county region. International adoptions and adoptions through private agencies are included, as well as adoptions arranged by county Departments of Social Services.

The Child Wellbeing Project will work with several private therapy providers to offer Success Coach services. For more information about Success Coach Post Adoption Services, go to www.postadoptionsuccesscoach.org or call 828-695-4428. The Child Wellbeing Project and Success Coach Post-Adoption Services are a service of Catawba County Social Services.

Hickory’s Angel of Hope House Requests Help

Hickory - Angel of Hope House Inc. is a faith based not-for-profit organization that houses women ages 18 and over; who are motivated to recover from alcohol and/or drug abuse. It is a safe stable environment that practices a program of recovery to work and teach women to be independent and successful members of society. Angel of Hope is a spiritually based facility with diverse group of women; however, we all have the same goal: a happy and sober life.

Angel of Hope has partnered with Vision Outreach Ministries in Conover to help with their Homeless Program. Angel of hope helps with the feeding and clothing. Through this we are teaching the ladies humbleness and to give back what was so freely given to them.

Items Needed:

- contributions for utilities
- refrigerator
- deep freezer
- more dependable vehicle
- toiletries
- household cleaning supplies
- office supplies
- pantry items: coffee, sugar, creamer, beans, rice, peanut butter, jelly
- feminine products
- toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags
- sanitizing items: Lysol spray, Bleach, Clorox Wipes
- gas cards
- notebooks, pens, pencils, for step study work
- paper, pens, envelopes, stamps for writing letters to family and children

To make contributions. donations, or any further information please contact: Joyce Crouse (Asst. Director): (828)- 315- 0352 or Kelly Cook (Resident Manager): (828) 322-6211.

Volunteers Needed To Deliver Meals On Wheels

Claremont, NC - There is an urgent need for volunteers to deliver meals to homebound senior citizens in the Claremont-Catawba area of Catawba County.

Volunteers pick up the meals at Bethlehem United Methodist Church-Claremont between 10:50 and 11:15 am Monday through Thursday. You can volunteer as little as one hour a month and make a difference in the life of a senior citizen.

Volunteers are also needed to deliver meals in the East Hickory, West Hickory, Maiden and Newton areas. For details about how you can help, contact Vickie Redden, volunteer coordinator of Catawba County Meals on Wheels, at 695-5610.

For more information about these programs, and how you can help, go to www.catawbacountync.gov/dss/adult/nutrition.asp or find the Meals on Wheels of Catawba County program on Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/MealsOnWheelsOfCatawbaCounty.

How To Get Your Event In Focus

Email a press release for your non-profit event, fundraiser, festival or other community event to focusnews@centurylink.net. Please include your contact information along with the name of your event, who it benefits, what it features, when the event will take place, and the cost of attending. Please send a text document, not a pdf or jpeg of text information.

Also, please put the name of the event in the subject line of your email. We look forward to hearing from you.

Catawba County Library Offers Free eBooks For Kids

Hickory - Tumblebooks make a great way to keep kids engaged with books over the holidays or anytime.Tumblebooks are on-line eBooks for kids, and are accessible free through the Catawba County Library website. Kids in grades K-6 enjoy animated talking picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, math stories, videos, nonfiction titles, playlists, books in other languages and more. More than 1,000 titles are available.

Find Tumblebooks at http://www.catawbacountylibrary.gov/library and click on the “E-resources” tab.

Tumblebooks can be viewed simply by clicking the blue logo on the left side of the kids’ web page.

For more information about this and other services for kids and youth, contact Youth Services at 465-8668.

HSCC Is Looking For In-Home Heroes To Foster Animals

Hickory - Humane Society of Catawba County is looking for people interested in fostering homeless animals.

Fostering is often necessary when animals need a little more time and TLC prior to adoption; for example, mothers with nursing litters, orphaned litters, and shy animals that need extra socializing.

HSCC will provide everything you need; the foster family will only need to bring the animal to the shelter occasionally for medical check-ups.

The time commitment and selected animal(s) are entirely based on what is convenient for the foster family

If you are interested in opening up your home and heart by becoming an in-home hero contact HSCC for more information, 828-464-8878, Monday through Saturday, noon-6:00pm or email cheryl@catawbahumane.org.

Health-Care Pro Discusses The Many Warning

Signs And How To Spot A Victim Of Domestic Violence

In the United States, women are assaulted or beaten once every nine seconds; worldwide, one in three women have been battered, raped or otherwise abused in her lifetime, according to women’s advocacy organizations.

“That means most of us – while grocery shopping, at work or at home – come across several women a day who have either been abused, or are currently enduring abuse,” says Linda O’Dochartaigh, a health professional and author of Peregrine (www.lavanderkatbooks.com). “It’s a terrible fact of life for too many women, but if there is something we can do about it and we care about fellow human beings, then we must try.”

There are several abuse resources available to women who are being abused, or friends of women who need advice, including:

www.TheHotline.org, National Domestic Violence Hotline, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, 1-800-799-SAFE (7223)

www.HelpGuide.org, provides unbiased, advertising-free mental health information to give people the self-help options to help people understand, prevent, and resolve life’s challenges

www.VineLink.com, allows women to search for an offender in custody by name or identification number, then register to be alerted if the offender is released, transferred, or escapes

www.DAHMW.org, 1-888-7HELPLINE, offers crisis intervention and support services for victims of intimate partner violence and their families

Perhaps the best thing friends and family can do for a woman enduring domestic abuse is to be there for her – not only as a sympathetic ear, but also as a source of common sense that encourages her to take protective measures, O’Dochartaigh says. Before that, however, loved ones need to recognize that help is needed.

Linda O’Dochartaigh reviews some of the warning signs:

• Clothing – Take notice of a change in clothing style or unusual fashion choices that would allow marks or bruises to be easily hidden. For instance, someone who wears long sleeves even in the dog days of summer may be trying to hide signs of abuse.

• Constant phone calls – Many abusers are very controlling and suspicious, so they will call their victims multiple times each day to “check in.” This is a subtle way of manipulating their victims, to make them fearful of uttering a stray word that might alert someone that something is wrong. Many abusers are also jealous, and suspect their partner is cheating on them, and the constant calls are a way of making sure they aren’t with anyone they aren’t supposed to be around.

• Unaccountable injuries – Sometimes, obvious injuries such as arm bruises or black eyes are a way to show outward domination over the victim. Other times, abusers harm areas of the body that won’t be seen by family, friends and coworkers.

• Frequent absences – Often missing work or school and other last-minute plan changes may be a woman hiding abuse, especially if she is otherwise reliable.

• Excessive guilt & culpability – Taking the blame for things that go wrong, even though she was clearly not the person responsible – or she is overly-emotional for her involvement – is a red flag.

• Fear of conflict – Being brow-beaten or physically beaten takes a heavy psychological toll, and anxiety bleeds into other relationships.

• Chronic uncertainty – Abusers often dominate every phase of a victim’s life, including what she thinks she likes, so making basic decisions can prove challenging.

Linda O’Dochartaigh has worked in health care is an advocate for victims of child abuse and domestic violence. She wants survivors to know that an enriched, stable and happy life is available to them. O’Dochartaigh is the mother of three grown children and is raising four adopted grandchildren.

Family Finders Helps Foster Kids Connect With Extended Family

Hickory - “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in,” wrote poet Robert Frost.

But many foster children and youths have lost that type of family support system. Sid Daniels, who works with the Family Finding Program in Catawba County, will tell you that foster children are often very lonely because they have lost contact with their extended family. The longer they are in foster care, the more likely this is to happen. It’s his job to change that reality.

“We don’t want a kid feeling lonely — where the only people in their life are the ones that get paid to be there,” he said. Staff members go home at the end of their shift. Family members can form a lifelong bond. The Family Finding Program in Catawba County is a partnership between the Children's Home Society of North Carolina and Catawba County Social Services. Family Finders is a national program, developed by Kevin Campbell, that has shown strong results in many states.

Daniels' job as a Family Finder is part detective, part negotiator and part counselor. He first has to identify and contact family members who have lost their connection to the foster child. These could include grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, as well as parents and step-parents.

After he identifies these relatives, he tries to gauge their interest in reconnecting with the child in foster care. If they express an interest, he invites them to a couple of meetings. At the first one, he shows them a “video journal” of the young person talking about themselves and what they want in life. They discuss how the relatives may play a role in the child’s future.

Sid Daniels

In some cases, the relatives want to resume the relationship they had before, such as talking with the child on the phone, writing them letters, or visiting with them. In other cases, they might be willing to adopt the child if they cannot be reunited with their parents.
Then the process moves to planning how the relationship might be resumed. If a relative wishes to adopt or become the guardian of the child, he or she must undergo an evaluation process.

It is important to wrap the child in a network of family supporters who are willing to assist them, Daniels said. The goal is to find as many relatives as possible who are willing to participate in the process. Catawba County was one of the first counties in North Carolina to pilot Family Finding, beginning in 2008. Now it has fully embraced the model.

Daniels joined the team last fall. The process can be time consuming, but it is usually completed in three to five months, he said. “The ownership is on the family,” he said. “What do they want to do?”

Catawba County Social Services hopes that reuniting foster children with their relatives can produce a brighter future. Foster children usually age out of care at 18, although they can remain voluntarily until they are 21.

National statistics show that former foster care youths face some daunting prospects if they don’t have a support system in place. Some 49 percent are homeless within three years. Forty-three percent are high school drop outs. Fifty-six percent become unemployed within two years. Forty-two percent, of whom 60 percent are women, become parents within 2.5 years of exiting foster care.

Former foster youth are found to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at two times the level of U.S. war veterans. Fifty percent have used illegal drugs. One in four will be incarcerated within 2.5 years of leaving foster care.

Daniels believes his work can help change those statistics for local youths. That’s why he keeps on calling, emailing, sending Facebook messages, knocking on doors and meeting with family members of children and youths in foster care. He sees his job as finding “who’s going to love this kid no matter what.”

For more information, call 828-695-5600 or visit our website at www.catawbacountync.gov/dss/f&csvs/familyfinders.asp
Or contact Sean Jarman at 828-695-2134 or sjarman@catawbacountync.gov

Loving Our Enemies

By Rev. Susan Smith

Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

A week ago, my son woke me up to tell me Osama Bin Laden was dead. I got up and listened to president Obama tell the nation that our terrorist enemy had been killed by a special forces Navy Seals team. I felt sad. Sad for the pain and misery he has caused all over the world. Sad for the victims of 9/11. Sad that a shy, deeply devoted Muslim boy could grow into a mass murderer of innocent people in the name of holy jihad. I went back to bed, not realizing that people were dancing in the streets to celebrate that Bin Laden was dead.

I have heard many say since that justice was done. Really? The definition of justice in this sense is “the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.” As a person of faith against the death penalty, I do not see this as “justice”. Killing people who kill people to prove that killing people is wrong is not justice. It might help us feel that we have gotten the revenge we want for his horrific acts, but the Bible tells us that vengeance belongs to God.

If we dance in the streets to celebrate the fact that we shot an unarmed man in the head in front of his wife – are we any better than all those who burn the American flag, hang effigies of our president, and chant “Death to America”? God is the only one who can see all the pain caused by war in humanity as a whole. The causes and effects of global, generational hatred and bitterness stemming from the murder of civilians in the crossfire of war has poisoned international relations to the point where it is almost impossible for any country to claim innocence. We have all been murderers.

No, I would not call killing Bin Laden justice, but I would say that it was necessary to prevent the murder of more innocent people. We hope that his death will decrease worldwide terrorism, but only time will tell. Instead of dancing in the streets, we should have been praying that God would help us love our enemies. We should have been praying for his soul, his family, his people, and all those in the Muslim world who looked to him as a hero. They are truly our enemies because they have declared a holy war against us. His death will not end that. Loving our enemies is the hardest thing Jesus commanded us to do, and 2000 years later we have still not learned how to do it. Consider the words of the sermon “Finding Forgiveness” delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church on Christmas of 1957:

“Why should we love our enemies? The first reason is fairly obvious. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.

"So when Jesus says 'Love your enemies,' he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil-hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

For the complete text of this incredibly Christ-like message, go to: www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com/2009/01/martin-luther-king-on-forgiveness.html.

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