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Family-Style Earth Day Event On CSC’s Green, Sat., April 25

Hickory – Celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day with family-friendly activities at the SALT Block during the “Growing a Green Future” event.

Learn about what it means to “be green” in Catawba County during the seventh year of “Growing a Green Future” event. This event will be held on Saturday, April 25, between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., on the “Green” between the Arts and Science Center and the Patrick Beaver Memorial Library, 375 3rd Street, NE, Hickory. The rain date is Sunday, April 26 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

“Each year in the month of April our community comes together to become aware of how we can be part of “making every day earth day,” said Maria Goldstein with GoGreen Hickory. “Everyone must be actively practicing responsible stewardship each day and every day. More than ever before, in the history of the planet, being stewards of the environment is key.”

As in previous years, more than 20 groups will be represented at “Growing a Green Future” and they will be providing educational information, and demonstrations, focusing on preserving the earth, supporting nature, or any environmental product, practice or service offered in the area. Some of those groups are Republic Services, Riverkeepers/Covekeepers, Hickory Museum of Art, Community Appearance Commission, GoGreenHickory with the theme “Buy Locally, Support Sustainable Living,” and Shaklee "Creating a Healthy Planet."

Many organizations come together to bring this event to the community, including The City of Hickory, Catawba County, the Catawba Science Center, Catawba County Cooperative Extension, Greenway Public Transportation, Keep Catawba County Beautiful, Hickory Museum of Art, and Republic Services.

“Earth Day is an opportunity to promote some of the processes and tools available to us to be wise stewards of what we have been given,” said Andrew Ballentine, City of Hickory Solid Waste Manager. “Recycling is a key component in that process because we have an easy opportunity to make a positive difference. Our community is doing a great job, but there is room to improve, as you will see, as we transition into a new and improved recycling program here in Hickory.”

The City of Hickory’s Community Appearance Commission (CAC) and Landscape Services will be handing out tree seedlings again this year. The trees are Crab Apple and Crape Myrtle. The community is encouraged to stop by the City of Hickory’s booth to pick up a tree seedling to plant.

Air quality improvement and the reduction of carbon in the atmosphere is a benefit of trees. Also, a healthy mature tree will increase property value and the larger the tree the higher the value. This is especially important for resale and will increase yearly as the tree grows. All of these reasons should be an incentive to plant trees. By keeping mature trees healthy by proper pruning, and not topping trees, not only will it increase the value of a property and save money on energy costs, but, it, also, helps provide a benefit of cleaner air and reductions in storm water problems.

For more information on the City’s Community Appearance Commission, go to www.HickoryNC.gov.

Writers! Enter Ridgeview Rec’s Challenge The Power Of The Pen

Hickory - Ever want to just say something? Ever just want to be heard? Ever want to feel like you’re making a difference. Well, here’s your chance.

Give us your point of view on any of these three topics, Love, Equality or Work. Submissions must be one 8.5”x11” page or less, with no profanity.

Make a difference to someone and yourself. The power of the pen challenge will give you the opportunity to express yourself through written word then read your work in a press conference style setting.

Submissions are due by Thursday, May 14th. Readings will take place Thursday, May 21 at 7:00 pm. Doors open at 6:45 pm. The event is open to the public and free for all guests. No tickets or reservations are required.

Top submissions will be sent to Focus Newspaper for their consideration.

This event will take place at Ridgeview Recreation Center. This is a free event for ages 16 years and older.

Ridgeview Recreation Center is located at 115 7th Avenue SW. For more information on this program, please contact Recreation Programmer Lance Riddile (828) 324-8007.

Wacky Comedy Vanya & Sonia

Hickory - The boisterous comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” by Christopher Durang, winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play, opens in the Firemen’s Kitchen this Friday, April 17, at 8pm for an eleven performance run. The newly renovated basement cabaret theatre is located at the Hickory Community Theatre, 30 Third Street NW in Downtown Hickory.

At its heart, “Vanya” centers around a dysfunctional, but loving family. Vanya and Sonia are two middle-aged adults who still live in the family home, supported by their movie star sister, Masha, a ridiculously rich "D list" celebrity who tortures her dependent siblings by forcing them to cater to her every whim. The play is rated "R" for adult language.

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” plays for eleven performances, April 17-May 9 in the Firemen’s Kitchen. Tickets are $16 each, available through the Theatre box office, in person or by phone at (828) 328-2283 from 12-5pm, Tue-Sat. Online ticketing is also available through the Theatre’s website at HickoryTheatre.org.

HCT is a Funded Affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County. “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” is produced by Ismo & Kim Kaariainen and Diane Munoz. This production is part of the 2014-15 season sponsored by Paramount Automotive.

PHOTO: Christopher Honsaker, Connie Bools and Chrissy Schramm (seated) star in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.” The award-winning comedy starts April 17 in the Firemen’s Kitchen at the Hickory Community Theatre. Call (828) 328-2283 or go to www.hickorytheatre.org for tickets and information.

Photo is by Ken Burns.

Catawba Valley Chorus’ Spring Concerts Are April 20 -27

Hickory - The Catawba Valley Community Chorus will present their Spring Concerts as follows:

Monday, April 20 at Trinity Village, Springs Road, Hickory, NC at 7:00 PM; Friday, April 24 at Trinity Baptist Church, 725 W 13th Street, Newton, NC at 7:00 PM; Sunday, April 26 at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Main Street, Catawba, NC at 6:30 PM and Monday, April 27 at Abernethy Laurels, 102 Leonard Ave, Newton, NC at 7:00 PM.

All concerts are free to attend.

The Chorus is comprised of 40 members from throughout the unifour area. The Chorus is a volunteer group, directed by Cory Westby, accompanied by Timothy Warren.

HSCC Offers Drive-Through Rabies Clinic On Sat., April 25

Hickory - Humane Society of Catawba County will be at the Hickory American Legion Fairgrounds Saturday, April 25th from noon- 3pm giving cats and dogs their rabies vaccines, 1 year and 3 year (3 year requires documented proof of prior vaccination) for just $7, cash only. This will be a drive through scenario so no one will need to get out of their vehicles.
No appointment is necessary.

Rabies clinics are available to any member of the public and are not limited to residents of Catawba County. In North Carolina, pets are required by law to be vaccinated for rabies by 4 months of age, and pets must be a minimum of 3 months of age to receive the rabies vaccination.

The animal's first rabies shot is good for one year and subsequent vaccinations are valid for three years.

Photo: Panther is available for adoption.

Rabies is a viral disease that is spread by saliva from a rabid animal through a bite. Always report animal bites to your local animal control, and seek the medical advice/attention from your physician immediately if you are bitten by an animal.

“Let's be proactive and prevent any concerns about rabies in our community,” said HSCC veterinarian, Dr. Deidre Sesan.

Taste Of Hickory Exhibitor Applications Are Now Available

Hickory – Applications are now being accepted for Exhibitors for Taste of Hickory 2015. Restaurants, Bakeries, Caterers, Specialty Foods and Beverages, Wineries, and Breweries are invited to participate. Showcasing the local flavors of Hickory and the surrounding area, Taste of Hickory will be held on Sunday, May 17th from 4 – 7 pm at the Hickory Crawdads Stadium.

There will be competition for the “Best Taste of Hickory” in several categories, so exhibitors should be prepared to offer a sample of their best, most creative and award winning creations. There is no cost to participate in the event. Space is limited so early application is essential. Please contact Kirby Dodd at bkdodd@charter.net with questions and for an application.

Taste of Hickory 2015 is hosted by the Hickory Elks Lodge and the Lady Elks. All proceeds from the event will go to the many community outreach programs that the Elks and Lady Elks sponsor including Veterans Programs, Youth Activities and Scholarships, the Helping Hands Program, and Children’s Charities. 2014 proceeds were donated to The Children’s Advocacy & Protection Center, Catawba Valley Behavioral Health and the Catawba Valley Backpack Program among others.

Please, get involved, share your best and support your community.

Full Circle Arts’ Will Accept Entries On

April 23, 24, & 25 For May Photography Show

Hickory - Full Circle Arts will present a photography exhibition open to all photographers from beginners to professionals. Up to three photographs, framed and ready to hang, will be accepted from each entrant at Full Circle Arts on Thursday and Friday, April 23 and 24, 10:00 to 5:00, and Saturday, April 25, 10:00 to 2:00.

The show will open Thursday, May 7 with a reception from 6:00 to 8:00, and will be on display through June 6. Ribbons will be awarded for the most outstanding images.

The pieces will be judged by Rose Mary Cheek, a well-known professional photographer and teacher from Hickory.

"A great photograph rarely happens by accident," says Ms. Cheek. "Most who learn to use the features of their cameras many times pre-visualize the image, or have something in mind. When judging an image there are several things one might take into consideration.

First for me is IMPACT, or the sense one gets when viewing the image for the first time. Other things to look at would be the Technical Excellence, Creativity, Composition, Story Telling, Presentation, and many more."

Rose Mary wishes good luck to all the entrants.

FCA is a non-profit artists’ cooperative located in downtown Hickory, 42-B Third Street NW. FCA members are present at the gallery Wednesday through Friday from 11:00am to 5:00pm and Saturday from 10:00am to 2:00pm. More information about Full Circle Arts, classes, membership, or other upcoming events is available at 828-322-7545. You may also write to Full Circle Arts, PO Box 3905, Hickory NC 28603, or email info@fullcirclearts.org. Please visit our website at www.fullcirclearts.org

Top photograph is the First Prize winner in 2013, William Spencer Huffman, for Mad Hatter

Bottom photograph is Rose Mary Cheek

Blockheads Launch Derby Day Party On Saturday, May 2

Hickory - The BLOCKHEADS, the young affiliates of the SALT Block Foundation, will be hosting the inaugural Derby Day Party on Saturday, May 2, 2015, from 4-7 pm on the SALT Block North Lawn and Lobby.

Derby Day festivities will begin with the gates opening at 4:00 p.m. Butler passed mini hot browns, cash bar featuring beer, wine and mint juleps, as well as derby games will kick off the afternoon activities. Craft beer and wine from United Beverage, paired with a southern fare buffet from Hickory’s Bistro 127 restaurant will be served.

Tickets are $25 per person if purchased through April 18 and $35 after April 18 with proceeds going to the SALT Block Foundation. The SALT Block Foundation provides occupancy costs for the residents of the SALT Block: Catawba Science Center, Hickory Choral Society, Hickory Museum of Art, United Arts Council and Western Piedmont Symphony.

Ticket price includes buffet, music by DJ A&J Entertainment and viewing of the Kentucky Derby at 6:24 p.m.!

“We are very excited about this inaugural event and future Derby Day events in support of the SALT Block Foundation,” said committee chair, Kit Cannon. Committee members include Danielle Cannon, Russell Coley, Mandy Pitts, William and Shannon Pleasant, Ashley Seshul and Frank and Taylor Young. Sponsors of the event are Coldwell Banker Boyd & Hassell, Inc., Ella Blu, Carolina Ear Nose & Throat, and Hickory’s Life Well Crafted brand.

Please contact Tara H. Bland at the SALT Block Foundation, 828-324-4906 x 303 for tickets or more information, or go to www.SaltBlockFoundation.org to order online. You may also mail your check to the SALT Block Foundation, 243 Third Avenue NE, Box 7, Hickory, N.C. 28601.

Cuba: Through The Camera Lens At Caldwell Arts Through 4/25

Lenoir, NC - During the month of April, visitors to the Caldwell Arts Council will experience an exhibit of photography of Havana, Cuba, presented by David M. Spear (Madison NC) and Elizabeth Matheson (Hillsborough NC).

“CUBA: Through The Camera Lens” will be on display in the Caldwell Arts Council Gallery (601 College Ave SW, Lenoir) April 3-25, 2015. All Caldwell Arts Council Gallery exhibits are admission-free and open to the public during the Arts Council’s operating hours, which are Tuesday - Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday 10am-2pm.

Image by David M. Spear

David M. Spear says, “This photographic trip I made for three reasons. I wanted to put myself in the poorest part of the Havana, away from all the tourist attractions and wanted to write about what I saw and learned walking the streets. And I wanted to see if I could still function doing documentary work. I had broken my back in 2011 and I needed to see if I could still function as a documentarian. I made photographs for ten days, making friends, and occasional photographs of real Havana people.

“I also took careful notes and wrote about the people I met.

What I was seeking was a combination of text/photographs that told a more honest story of Havana today. I did something different also.

Image by Elizabeth Matheson

Most photographs displayed here were made with my iPhone. I discovered that the iPhone is a remarkable/ideal camera for doing documentary work. It was not showy thus it helped me to establish a dialogue with natives.

“It also helped my weak back. Several photographs were made on an earlier trip to Havana in '09 with a large Canon camera. It will be difficult for a viewer to pick out these three photographs.”

In March of 2014, Elizabeth Matheson joined a group sponsored by Penland School of Crafts on a week-long trip to Havana. She says, “I had been wild to go ever since seeing the photographs of Alex Harris, Bill Noland, and Andrew Moore. It seemed congenial territory: drop-dead beauty about three minutes away from rubble. It was that in spades, and so, so much more. The ‘noirish’ and deeply weird time warp in which Cubans exist with cunning, resilience, and great charm moved us all. Music was everywhere.”

The Caldwell Arts Council presents monthly and quarterly exhibits, education and collection programs that foster cultural arts in Caldwell County. These programs are supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources and by individual and corporate donors.

To learn more about Caldwell Arts Council events and programs, please visit www.caldwellarts.com, email info@caldwellarts.com , or call 828-754-2486.

ReasonCon Set For Saturday, April 25, Hickory Crowne Plaza

Hickory – “It was beyond anything I could have imagined. To see what these groups pulled together- created for themselves-was an inspiration.” This quote comes from Tracie Harris of the Atheist Community of Austin, a cohost of the television show “The Atheist Experience,” and, among many other things, a guest speaker at ReasonCon One. Last year’s convention was the weekend that became the largest secular conference in the Carolinas, and was held in Hickory, North Carolina. But why Hickory? As astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has stated, “Ignorance is a virus. Once it starts spreading, it can only be cured by reason. For the sake of humanity, we must be that cure.”

In light of the recent passing of the highly controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana, one might think that Indiana’s cities would rank very highly in a 2014 study regarding a city’s “Bible-mindedness,” as compared to cities in North Carolina. According to this study, conducted by the Barna Group, Indianapolis ranked at number 30, well below Charlotte’s number 8, and the Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem area which came in at number 20 on the list. 4 cities in North Carolina, and their metro areas, ranked in the top 40 cities in “Bible-mindedness,” which was determined by online and phone interviews in which respondents indicated that they had recently read the Bible and that they “agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible.” Based on this research, one might assume that Hickory is a very religiously-minded place-and they would be correct- Hickory, according to city-data.com, is approximately 10% more religious than the national average.

Yes, Hickory is very religious, but why bring a convention about reason to this southern city? “[ReasonCon] is about bringing like-minded people, of no religious faith, together for the promotion of secular values, reason, and logic,” according to the Hickory Humanist Alliance President and ReasonCon organizer, Gene Elliott. “During a Gallup Poll in 2013, the Hickory/Lenoir/Morganton area was listed within the top ten ‘most religious metropolitan areas in the United States.’ If the preponderance of the points we are trying to make is that people of no faith are not alone, what better place to do this than one of the top ten places in the US [where] they most have cause to feel this way?”

ReasonCon 2015 will take place this year in the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Saturday, April 25th, with speakers beginning at 9 AM. Tickets are available at www.ReasonNC.com. Guest speakers this year will include: Tracie Harris and Beth Presswood of the Atheist Community of Austin, “The Atheist Experience,” and more; Phil Ferguson, founder of Champaign Urbana Freethinkers, and host of “The Phil Ferguson Show” podcast; David Smalley, host of the “Dogma Debate” radio show & podcast, and CEO of the Secular Media Group; Heina Dadabhoy, Feminist secular humanist, blogger on the Freethought blogs and atheist activist; and David Fitzgerald, atheist activist, writer, and national public speaker. ReasonCon 2015 is sponsored by these organizations: The Atheist Alliance of America, Hickory Humanist Alliance, Atheist Avengers Podcast, The Illinois Report, and the Ra-Men Podcast with Aron Ra and Mark Nebo.

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.

Hickory Hops Beer Festival Is Saturday, April 25, Downtown

Hickory - Saturday, April 25 is set for this year's Hickory Hops beer festival. Staged near Union Square in downtown Hickory, the 13th annual outdoor beer festival is organized by Hickory Downtown Development Association and hosted by Olde Hickory Brewery. It offers plenty for everyone, from inexperienced beer novices to hardened beer fest veterans anxious for something unusual. Pouring for six hours, beginning at 1:00, live music will be presented by the Baby Black Orchestra and a special guest, rain or shine. Food is available at many downtown restaurants during the festival. Brewers sell t-shirts, pint glasses, mugs and a sundry of other breweriana.

Come celebrate North Carolina's craft beer industry. All but a handful of the 54 participants on hand hail from the Tarheel State. In addition to perennial fest participants like Olde Hickory, Highland, Natty Greene's and RJ Rockers, Hickory Hops 2015 will introduce six new NC breweries. Less than a year old, Flat Top is located in Banner Elk. Lost Province and Appalachian Mountain Brewery reside in Boone, Asheville's Hi-Wire and nearby Thirsty Monk along with Lenoir's Loe's Brewing round out the six-pack.

Complementing the Hickory Hops festivities, the Carolinas Championship of Beer makes its 10th appearance this year. Several weeks before the fest, festival beers are subjected to a blind-judged competition. In early-April, about 350 beers, spanning 124 different styles, will be analyzed by a panel of certified judges, brewers and experienced judges. Gold, silver and bronze medals in each category will be presented to winning brewers at a private brewers' dinner held the evening before the festival. During Hickory Hops, engraved plaques will be awarded to three Best of Show winners.

Hickory Hops is a celebration of all things beer. Throughout its history, Hickory Hops has become one of the South's most favored brew fests. This brewer-friendly event, always one of the first of the spring/summer season, brings out the best from local and regional craft brewers. Cask conditioned ales will be featured by many, as will other special or seasonal ales and lagers. The Hickory audience has always shown its appreciation and respect for this brewed art. Brewers are available to answer questions, share tasting notes and enjoy the day. Many past fest-goers have described the beer festival as "the most fun [they've] ever had in downtown Hickory."

Tickets are available on-line at www.hickoryhops.com ($30) and at downtown's Olde Hickory Station, Olde Hickory Tap Room and Amos Howards Brew Works on Highway 70 West ($35 - cash). Tickets may also be purchased at the gate on the day of the event ($40). Designated driver tickets are $10. Must be 21 years of age to enter the gate. No kids. No dogs. No coolers.

Come enjoy Hickory's most fun event!

Saturday, April 25, 1:00 - 7:00 p.m., Olde Hickory Station, 232 Government Ave., SW, Downtown Hickory.

Crucial Doggie Heartworm Tests At Wellness Clinics, April 25

Hickory/Newton, NC - April is National Heartworm Awareness month. Humane Society of Catawba County makes educating pet owners about the importance of protecting their pets against heartworm disease a priority. Heartworms develop when a pet becomes infected with parasites called Dirofilaria immitis. These parasites are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. A heartworm infection often leads to lung disease and heart failure and can damage other organs in the body as well. Jane Bowers, Executive Director at HSCC, stated, “North Carolina’s weather creates a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes; dogs living here have a greater chance of getting the disease.

Administering year-round heartworm prevention is the best way to easily and safely prevent a heartworm infection, but a heartworm test is required before prevention can be purchased.”

After recent testing, HSCC veterinarian, Dr. Deidre Sesan found just over 22% of the dogs currently at our shelters were heartworm positive indicating they had not been on prevention prior to arriving at the shelter. HSCC has begun asking for sponsorships for these dogs to help pay for their treatment.

HSCC is offering $25 heartworm tests with one month of free heartworm prevention for every dog tested at the upcoming Wellness Clinics Saturday, April 11th or Friday, 24th. This special is also available to all dogs signing up for spay or neuter surgery.

To make an appointment for a heartworm test or surgery, call (828) 464-8878, Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm. HSCC and Foothills Spay/Neuter Clinic services are available to any member of the public and are not limited to residents of Catawba County.

Photo: (L-R) Dandy, Sierra and Billy Ray are currently available for adoption, and undergoing heartworm treatment.

Lincolnton Lions Scholarships Announced - Apply By May 4

Lincolnton- The Lincolnton Lions Club are accepting applications for their 2015 Lions Club Scholarship. One $500 Lions Club College Scholarship will be awarded at East Lincoln, North Lincoln, Lincolnton, and West Lincoln High Schools.

All sections of the 2015 Lincolnton Lions Club College Scholarship application and support documents must be completed and returned before May 4th deadline. The application requirements include:

·Graduating seniors at East Lincoln, Lincolnton, North Lincoln, and West Lincoln High School and legal resident of Lincoln County and the U.S.A.

·Submit official copies of your high school transcripts and college entrance examination scores.

·Letters of references

·Proof of acceptance to an accredited college or university

Lions Club College Scholarships will be awarded on the following criteria: Financial need, Academic achievement, Academic goals, Extra-curricular activities, Volunteer Service, and Submitting an original essay on Volunteering.

To receive an official Lincolnton Lions Club College Scholarship application, please contact you should contact your East Lincoln, Lincolnton, North Lincoln, and West Lincoln High School guidance counselor. Lions Club College Scholarship recipients at each of these 4 Lincoln County high schools will be recognized at their schools awards day whenever possible.

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.

Catawba County Seniors Morning Out Events For April

Hickory - Catawba County's Seniors Morning Out participants will enjoy a wide range of activities in April, including a Marimba Music program by Kay Crouch, a concert by the Omer String Quartet, and information about the new Options Counseling service.

Seniors Morning Out is offered from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday in five convenient locations throughout the county. The program is free of charge to any Catawba County resident who is 60 years old or better. There are no income requirements; everyone is welcome to attend the free programs. Informative and entertaining programs are offered as well as a balanced hot lunch. Bus transportation is provided along limited routes. Those wishing to participate are asked to contact the site supervisor at least 24 hours in advance.

The Marimba Music program, presented by Kay Crouch, is supported by a grant from the United Arts Council of Catawba County through the North Carolina Arts Council, with funding from the State of North Carolina and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art. Additional support for art and science programming at Seniors Morning Out is provided by community donors.

The Omer String Quartet performance is presented by the Western Piedmont Symphony Orchestra. Participants from all sites are asked to wear black and white for the April 14 concert, which will take place at Huntington Hills Church of God in Hickory at 9:30am. Free lunch will be provided. Interested seniors 60 years of age and older call 695-5610 to register by April 7.

Some of the program highlights are as follows:

West Hickory SMO: April 1, bingo at Patrick Beaver Library, Wii games, and handbell practice; April 7, Program on Diabetes with Sandy Austin of Unifour Nursing; April 27, Craft with Flowers with Claire Howard; April 30, Birthday Party and Entertainment by Damascus Road. To attend, contact Lisa Adams at 828-323-8746.

Claremont SMO: April 1, Dyeing Eggs with Bethlehem United Methodist Child Development Center children; April 9, Marimba Music by Kay Crouch; April 16, Bandys High School Concert Choir with Allison Keisler; April 22, Options Counseling with Chandra Henson of Social Services and Bingo; April 23, Bandys High School Hand Bells with Allison Keisler. To reserve your spot, call Wendy Thomas at 828-320-0434.

Newton SMO: April 13, Wooden Cross Wall Hanging Craft and Uno Game; April 20, Bandys High School Jazz Band; April 22, Senior Nutrition Program with Peggy Messick of Health First; April 27, Options Counseling presentation. To reserve your spot, call Robin Curtis at 828-455-4133.

East Hickory SMO: April 1, Decorate Eggs and Safety; April 2, Easter Celebration and Egg Hunt; April 8, Options Counseling Program by Chandra Henson of Social Services; April 13, Making a Butterfly Snack, Dancercise and Bingo; April 29, Oral Health Quiz, with toothbrushes donated by Dr. William Straka. To reserve your spot, call Rita Pritchard at 828-320-5963.

Maiden SMO: April 2, Easter Party; April 6, Options Counseling Program; April 13, Health Fair with Catawba Valley Medical Center. Free glucose and cholesterol screenings; April 20, How to Deal with Grief with Catawba County Hospice; April 28, Music by Sentimental Journey and Cake Walk Game. To reserve your spot, call Loretta Hefner at 828-320-5966.

For more information, call the Senior Nutrition Services office at 828-695-5610. You may make a donation by making out a check to Catawba County Social Services and writing "Senior Nutrition Services" in the memo line. Mail your donation to Catawba County Senior Nutrition Services, P.O. Box 207, Newton, NC 28658. You may also make a secure donation online by going to http://www.catawbacountync.gov/dss and clicking on the red "Donate Now" button. For the latest updates on this program, like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MealsonWheelsofCatawbaCounty.

Area Bi-Polar Mental Health Support Available Bi-Weekly

Hickory - A Unifour Area bipolar/mental health support group meets bi-weekly at 7:00 pm at the Mitchell House (West Campus) at Corinth Reformed Church.

Meetings are free to attend and are open to family, friends, caretakers, and people dealing with bipolar disorder and/or other mental illnesses. Meeting format is open discussion with the group and occasional guest speakers.

Future meetings: April 14 (no meeting on April 28) & May 12 (no meeting on May 26).

Location:

Corinth Reformed Church at the Mitchell House(West Campus) is the brick house located to left of Corinth Reformed Church and school building area. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact John Truesdale at johnctruesdale@gmail.com or 803-606-5974.

Caldwell Arts Council’s April Food & Fools pARTy Fundraisers

Lenoir, NC – As much a tradition this time of year as putting away winter clothes and enjoying fresh flowers, springtime means “pARTy” time for the Caldwell Arts Council and its supporters.

The Caldwell Arts Council presents its month-long annual fundraiser again in April 2015. This year’s events include 9 “April Food” parties hosted by individuals throughout Caldwell County, culminating in the “April Fools” event on April 30th when nationally known comedians Julie Scoggins and Will Jacobs perform in downtown Lenoir.

“In addition to the multiple parties from our ‘April Food’ palette throughout the month and across the community, you can support the ongoing work of the Arts Council at an evening of laughs at our comedy event. Each of the parties and the comedy night are a guaranteed good time!” says Lee Carol Giduz, Executive Director of the Caldwell Arts Council

About the pARTies:

Reservations and prepayment are required for each of these dinner pARTies and you can make your reservations using PayPal on our website, www.caldwellarts.com, or by calling 828-754-2486.

Friday, April 10, 7pm – “Ahhh, Brazil!” April Food & Fools pARTy for the ARTs! If you missed Carnival in Rio (again) no worries! Come join the county’s only Brazilian themed pARTy. You will taste Feijoada, the Brazilian national dish, have a Caipirinha (mixed drink made with Brazilian rum), and finish the night with an intimate live Brazilian music concert. Hosts Jimmie & Carrie Griffith will host 8 guests at $35/person.

Saturday, April 11, 11am-2pm – “Starving Artist at the “New” Thankful Goat Farm” April Food & Fools pARTy for the ARTs! Bring the family & join Dawn & Steve Mathews’ family for a tour of our new farm and a yummy picnic "bowl 'o beans." Enjoy all the county favorites: pinto beans, cornbread, and slaw. Come hike the trails, meet the goats, and get your family portrait made with cuddly baby animals. 20+ guests at $10/person

Tuesday, April 14, 6pm – “Farm to Table” April Food & Fools pARTy for the ARTs! Chef’s Table style dining. Enjoy "dinner and a show". You will watch and learn as your meal is prepared by the Culinary Art Students. Chef Keith and Chef Bob will be there to answer all your cooking questions. A one-of-a-kind "mystery meal" as everything served will be local and fresh. The menu includes fresh local fish, seasonal veggies, bread and dessert. Hopefully even a fresh berry pie! What could be better? Limit 16 guests at $30/person.

Friday, April 17, 6pm – “Dinner on the Hill” April Food & Fools pARTy for the ARTs! Come to the mountain top! Nestled on the ridge of Ripshin Mountain in beautiful Happy Valley is the gracious home of Emerson and Cheryl Dickey. This art filled home is an experience unto itself and is the perfect setting for a sumptuous multi-course meal centered around a pork rib roast. Enjoy a relaxing evening, drinks, good conversation and a mountain top getaway. The hosts invite you to come early and stay late! Limit 8 guests at $50/person.

Saturday, April 18, 6pm – “Contra Dance Covered Dish Party” April Food & Fools pARTy for the ARTs! Contra Dancing anyone? If you've ever tried it, you are already hooked. If not, be prepared to be addicted. The night will begin with lessons, so don't fret if you are a beginner. If you can walk, you can contra. So swing on over to the American Legion for a night of contra dance, potluck covered dishes and toe-tapping music by Bob Kogut and friends, hosted by Erik and Kourtney Rabinowitz. All are welcome! Wear comfortable shoes. Non-alcoholic drinks provided; BYOB if you choose. This party is sure to be huge hit. Make plans early to sign up! 30+ guests at $10/person if you bring a covered dish; $15 without.

Saturday, April 18, 6pm – “Frogmore Stew and You” April Food & Fools pARTy for the ARTs! The return of a favorite! You'll be dining in the foothills, but you'll swanny you're in South Carolina's low country after one bite of Frogmore Stew. This one-pot wonder is a combination of shrimp, sausage, corn on the cob and potatoes, served with ice cold beer, hosted by Grey, Tina & Ginny Scheer. Limit 20 guests at $35/person.

Saturday, April 25, 6pm – “Scandinavian Chimney Sweep Meal” April Food & Fools pARTy for the ARTs! Journey to Sweden with Dr. Mark & Kim Picton for a traditional Scandinavian Chimney Sweep feast. Outdoor dining under the stars as your hosts grill over an open firepit delicious packets of fresh local trout and prepare traditional fare of potato salad with sausage and "smorgastarta" (a savory sandwich cake). Enjoy beer, wine and a Schnapps toast to wrap up the meal. Limit 12 guests at $50/person.

Saturday, April 25, 6pm – “Turkish Delights” April Food & Fools pARTy for the ARTs! An authentic Turkish meal of Meze (like tapas), served with baskets of grilled bread slices, Biber Dolmasi (stuffed green peppers with ground Ripshin goat, rice and herbs), Suzme yogurt (strained yogurt), fresh fruit, Kasar (Turkish aged yellow cheese, Lokum (Turkish delight), one glass Turkish red or white wine or Raki (spirit), (BYOB any other beverage you desire). "Afiyet olsun!" (Bon appetit!) say your hosts Rachel Plaster, Wanda Prince, and Liza Plaster. Limit 10 guests at $40/person.

Saturday, May 2, 6pm – “Yoga and Vegetarian Garden pARTy” April Food & Fools pARTy for the ARTS! Join your hosts Christie Arney and Torre Hinnant and gather in Triangle Park for a beautiful stress-relieving yoga session and then return to Torre's home for a delicious vegetarian garden party-style meal. Beer and wine will be served. Wear comfortable clothes. If it rains, the whole event will be held at Torre Hinnant’s home. Limit 12 guests at $35/person.

About Lenoir Comedy Club:

Tickle your sides and funny bones with us Thursday, April 30, 7pm – Lenoir Comedy Club Night benefitting the Caldwell Arts Council will feature comedians Julie Scoggins and Will Jacobs. In addition to the load of laughs, beer/wine/soft drinks will be available for purchase. $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Advance tickets available and you can pay by PayPal on our website: www.caldwellarts.com/comedy.

About the Caldwell Arts Council:

The Caldwell Arts Council presents monthly and quarterly exhibits, arts-in-education events and other art programs that foster the cultural arts in Caldwell County. Located at 601 College Avenue SW near the heart of downtown Lenoir, hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday & 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. There is no admission charge, although donations are gratefully accepted. To be added to the mailing list or e-mail list, please call 828-754-2486 or info@caldwellarts.com. The Caldwell Arts Council’s programs are supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources and by individual and corporate donors.

HMA’s Art à la Carte Benefit Events Are April 25 & 27

Hickory - The Hickory Museum of Art (HMA), the only major art museum in a five county area, invites you to its two-day Art à la Carte event sponsored by the Museum Guild. A sneak-peek preview of the elaborately decorated dining tables by local designers is slated for Saturday, April 25 from 6:00-8:00 PM at a reception in the Coe Gallery, followed by the luncheon on Monday, April 27 from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM. This entertaining event helps raise funds for the Museum’s programs.

This year’s theme for the luncheon is An Enchanted Garden, and Jennifer Cobb BA/MSTech, instructor in Advertising and Graphic Design at Catawba Valley Community College, collaborated with the Hickory Museum of Art Guild to challenge her students to design original artwork to publicize the event.

Designer Joe Huffman

Each participant was asked to create materials for two unique design concepts for the event’s theme. This venture provided real life opportunity for the 2nd year Advertising and Graphic Design students before they graduate. The project involved the students understanding the client’s needs, the purpose of the materials to be designed, and solving the problems inherent in working with a client and creating a winning presentation.

Four students presented their project to the HMA Guild Executive Committee. Each student was responsible for a verbal presentation and an explanation of their thought processes as they designed their materials. Pieces exhibited were advertising flyers, invitations and programs custom-made for the Museum’s event.

Joe Huffman’s design materials were chosen to promote the event. He is a 2nd year CVCC Advertising and Graphic Design student from Taylorsville. Other than a preliminary concept sketch, his project was entirely computer designed. Huffman feels his strengths are in illustration and creating his own fonts.

Always attracted to art, he early on realized the art market was trending graphic, and that today most art available to the public is digitalized. He says the difference between fine art and graphic art is that with art, you only have to make yourself happy; in advertising and graphic design, you have to make the client happy. Huffman loves realism in art and not surprisingly, Norman Rockwell is one of his favorite artists. Huffman’s dream job is to become a children’s book illustrator and a future Caldecott winner.

The Monday, April 27 Art à la Carte reservations are $30 and include luncheon, dining at embellished tables and a hat parade. Among table designers are Whitfield’s by Design, Clater Kaye Theatreworks, Sandy Hancock/Wineshop At Home, and Safe Harbor Rescue Mission/Resource Warehouse. It is not too late to create a table, and you are encouraged to call the museum. Seating for the luncheon will be limited, so register early. Call Chrissy Schramm, Development Manager, at (828) 327-8576 or email cschramm@hickoryart.org

Raffle tickets for interesting gift baskets will be available at both the Preview Reception and the Monday luncheon. You do not need to be present to win. All proceeds benefit the Hickory Museum of Art.

The Guild was founded in 1970 as the hospitality arm of the Hickory Museum of Art and focuses on planning fundraising events, assisting with receptions, serving as docents, and volunteering in the museum office and HMA Galleria. The Guild meets monthly for event planning, art-related programs, and fellowship. For more information, contact the museum.

Third Annual RockyFest Is Accepting Vendor Apps Now

Taylorsville, NC - Vendor applications are currently being accepted for the 3rd Annual RockyFest being held on Saturday, May 9 at Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area (Rocky Face Park).

Fees for vendors are non-profit ($0), arts/crafts ($25), commercial ($35), and food ($50) vendors. The vendor application is now available online at www.rockyfacepark.com/rockyfest. Once submitted, vendor applications will be reviewed by staff who will ensure a good fit with the event. Vendors will need to be set up by 11:00 am.

Sponsorships are also being sought for RockyFest 2015. If your business or organization would like to be a sponsor of this event, sponsorship levels are: $250 (bronze), $500 (silver), $1,000 (gold), and $5,000 (platinum). Gold, silver, and bronze sponsors will be listed on event t-shirts and the stage banner.

Other events during the day long festival which begins at 8:30 am include the Kurt Barkley 5K and the RockyFest 10K and 20K trail races. For complete race details and online registration, visit www.alexandercountync.gov/events or contact Rick French at (828) 632-9332 or rfrench@alexandercountync.gov.

Free rock climbing and rappelling sessions begin at 10:00 a.m. and will be offered throughout the day by Rock Dimensions Climbing Guides of Boone.

Children’s activities/inflatables, food, and vendors will be available from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Guided nature hikes will also be offered throughout the day to encourage attendees to become more familiar with the park’s trails, views, and ecosystem.

Live music will run from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. RockyFest will feature a mix of traditional and roots music that encompasses folk, blues, contemporary acoustic, country, jazz, and bluegrass. The musical lineup includes: Thomas Garlow (12:00-12:40), J. Patrick Warren (12:50-1:30), Mary Elisabeth (1:40-2:20), The Message (2:30-3:30), The Neighbors (3:45-4:45), and The Idle Time Band (5:00-6:00). There will also be a "picking tent” where "unplugged" musicians can gather and play.

The musical lineup includes: Thomas Garlow (12:00-12:40), J. Patrick Warren (12:50-1:30), Mary Elisabeth (1:40-2:20), The Message (2:30-3:30), The Neighbors (3:45-4:45), and The Idle Time Band (5:00-6:00). There will also be a “picking tent” where regional “unplugged” musicians can gather and play.

Randy Everett, renowned chainsaw carving artist, will perform demonstrations throughout the day. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s “Sensory Safari” trailer will also be on site. In addition, the Piedmont Amateur Astronomy Club will have solar telescopes available for public viewing.

For more information about RockyFest 2015, visit www.RockyFacePark.com/RockyFest or call Park Ranger Alisha Stamey at (828) 632-1093..

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

Charlotte’s Discovery Place Has New, Low Cost Admissions

Charlotte, NC – Discovery Place, Inc. announced today the launch of Welcome, a new program that provides low-cost access to families with EBT or WIC cards.

Welcome will reduce the cost of admission to $1 per person for families who present EBT (electronic benefit transfer) or WIC (Women, Infants and Children) cards at Discovery Place, Charlotte Nature Museum or Discovery Place KIDS in Huntersville or Rockingham, for up to six family members. While this initiative provides families with accessibility, more importantly, Welcome is intended to celebrate the diversity of perspectives and ideas in the community and stimulate positive and progressive change in educational outcomes for Charlotte’s children.

"We inspire curiosity and creativity every day in the thousands of children and families that visit our Museums. Sadly, there are parts of our community who need our services most, and many have never had the chance to enter our doors," said Discovery Place, Inc. president and CEO, Catherine Wilson Horne. “Welcome will serve the whole community, creating the opportunity for learning experiences for all families because science and exploration should be for everyone, not just those who can afford it.”

Thanks to generous donors, Discovery Place, Inc. has always been able to provide scholarship assistance and reduced prices for school groups. Welcome will further those efforts by offering a new type of access where the whole family can experience Discovery Place, creating the opportunity for learning and positive experiences for all parts of the community. This creates a new return on investment for those donors who have supported the Discovery Place, Inc. mission over the years.

“If we are going to continue to grow economic mobility and educational fulfillment in our community, we need to engage the entire family with those educational opportunities.

This engagement is needed more than ever as we face a significant shortage in the science-literate workforce, and Discovery Place seeks to be part of the solution in changing this future,” said Horne.

To help launch the community access program, Discovery Place is working with organizations serving low-resource, high-risk populations, including Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Loaves & Fishes, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool and others.

“Our children investigate S.T.EA.M. themes in our Discovery Room—a special classroom we named after Discovery Place. Now Welcome will enable our children and their parents to explore science and nature as a family in a playful setting,” said Claire Tate, Board Chair, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool.”

To redeem Welcome pricing, guests will only need to present their EBT or WIC card at Admissions at Discovery Place, Charlotte Nature Museum, Discovery Place KIDS-Huntersville or Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham. Through Welcome, Discovery Place, Inc. is participating in Museums for All, a national initiative of the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
About Discovery Place

One of the top hands-on science museums in the nation, Discovery Place provides ever-changing, entertaining facilities that engage people in the active exploration of science and nature. The Museum brings relevant, contemporary science to life through groundbreaking exhibitions, interactive educational programming and hands-on activities.

Discovery Place is located in uptown Charlotte at 301 N. Tryon Street. Convenient parking is available in the Museum’s parking deck – the Carol Grotnes Belk Complex – at the corner of Sixth and Church Streets. For more information about Discovery Place, call 704.372.6261, visit www.discoveryplace.org or connect with Discovery Place on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Discovery Place, Inc. owns and operates Discovery Place, Charlotte Nature Museum, Discovery Place KIDS-Huntersville and Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham and is supported, in part, with funding from the Arts & Science Council.

Genealogy Workshop Thursdays Returns To Library

Hickory – Why is genealogy one of the most popular hobbies today? Everyone has a different reason to get involved in the pursuit of family history. Some people are curious about their ancestors—who they were, what were they like and what experiences they lived through. Love of history prompts others. Another part of our passion for genealogy is unwrapping all the puzzling clues to solve the mystery of who we are. If the only barrier to your working on your family history is that you don’t know how to begin, join us to learn how to unravel your past.

Genealogy Workshop Thursdays is returning to the Carolina Room at Patrick Beaver Library. Twice each month beginning on October 2, 2014 and ending on May 22, 2015, Peggy Mainess, genealogy assistant, will lead sessions on genealogy research. Each session is a stand-alone class. Participants can choose which classes they want to attend whether it is one or all sixteen. The “Beginning Family Research” session on October 2, 2014 is a 90 minutes class. All other sessions will last 60 minutes. Registration will begin two weeks prior to each class date.

Please consult the following schedule for class dates.
4/24/2015: Tracing Female Ancestry
5/08/2015: Special Circumstances
5/22/2015: Using On-Line Resources

The workshops begin at 7:00 p.m. and are free, but registration is required. Registration will open two weeks prior to each session. For more information or to register call 304-0500 extension 7235. Patrick Beaver is located at 375 Third Street NE.

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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