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Hickory Jaycees’ Set Conover Alive! Concerts For June

Conover, NC – The Hickory Jaycees are excited to announce the return of their summer concert series! Conover Alive! will be held every Friday night in June (3rd, 10th, 17th & 24th) from 7pm to 11pm at Conover Station, located in downtown Conover. The concert series is free to the public, there will be food and beverages for sale, all shows are rain or shine. The City of Conover is extending the Splash Pad hours to 9pm during the concerts. The Jaycees will also be collecting pet food, toys and blankets to donate to the Humane Society of Catawba County and the Catawba County Animal Shelter.

Band selection is in progress and will be announced in May. Conover Mayor Lee Moritz commented, “The Conover Alive! events will be exciting for our city.

Hosting the Jaycees in Conover has been a real win/win partnership and we do appreciate their leadership and investment in our community”.

The Hickory Jaycees are a young professionals’ civic engagement organization. Through business projects, we gain professional experience while raising funds to support community projects like Christmas for Teens with Department of Social Services, GrandPals through Meals on Wheels, NC Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Chapel Hill, Duke Cancer Center and the Boys & Girls Homes of NC at Lake Waccamaw.

They also work with local food pantries, soup kitchens, housing programs and animal shelters to raise funds and awareness about local needs to make our community a better place to live and work.

For more information or a sponsorship packet, please contact the Hickory Jaycees at hickoryjaycee@yahoo.com.

44th Annual Just Plain Dog Show Is Sunday, May 1, 3pm, Gastonia

Gastonia, NC - The 44th Annual Just Plain Dog Show is Sunday May 1st from 3pm till 5:30pm. All ages (6 years and older) are eligible to participate, we will have two age groups for each event: 17 and under and 18+.The show has two categories with 20 different classes for your four legged friend to participate in.

There is no admission charge or entry fee. All dogs that enter must be tagged and have a current rabies vaccination. Ribbons will be presented to the top three finishers in each class.

Category one starts at 3 pm and category two starts immediately a brief intermission. All participants must arrive no later than 2 pm.

Entry forms must be turned in by Thursday, April 28 at 5:00 pm. You can pick up and turn your entry forms at the Gaston County Parks and Recreation Department or Gaston County Animal Control or email to parksandrec@gastongov.com.

For additional information please contact Gaston County Parks & Recreation at 704-922-2164 or visit the County’s website at www.gastongov.com./parksandrecreation.

Gaston County strives to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to access its programs, services, and activities. If you require assistance to participate in a program, service or activity of Gaston County, we request that you contact our office at least 5 days before the event.

Southern Campaigns Round Table & Mill Tour, Sat., April 30

Lincolnton, NC - The Southern Campaigns Round Table & Battle of Ramsour's Mill Tour will be Saturday, April 30, at the Lincoln Cultural Center, 403 East Main Street, Lincolnton, NC. The time is 10am - 4:30pm.

The Southern Campaigns Round Table starts at 10:00 am and ends at 4:30 pm, followed by a car-pooled guided tour of the Ramsour's Mill battlefield. There will be a break mid-day for a catered "Dutch Treat" lunch.

The Southern Campaigns Revolutionary War Roundtable is an informal gathering of professional and amateur researchers interested in sharing and helping others on topics focused on the era of the American Revolution. Attendees may make a short presentation on their current projects and share their finds with the group.

The public is invited.

A hat will be passed to collect expenses for the lunch and to make a contribution to the host facility.

The meeting will be in the Reception Hall of the Lincoln Cultural Center at 403 East Main Street in Lincolnton, North Carolina.

The event is co-sponsored by the Lincoln County Historical Association.

For event information, visit http://www.southerncampaign.org/roundtables.

For information on the Lincoln Cultural Center, contact Jason L. Harpe at (704) 477-0987 or lcmh@bellsouth.net.

Foothills Folk Art Festival Is Taking Artists’ Applications Now

Newton, NC - The Foothills Folk Art Festival is now accepting artist applications for the juried festival, which will be held in downtown Newton on Saturday, Oct. 1.

The festival is a partnership between Downtown Newton Development Association (DNDA) and Hickory Museum of Art (HMA). Formerly known as the Lake Norman Folk Art Festival, this event will make downtown Newton its new home in 2016. Festival hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To participate, artists should be primarily self-taught and must submit 3-5 hard copy or high-resolution digital photos of their art to the selection committee. Artists are encouraged to apply now to take advantage of the early registration fee. Registration fees for those who are not accepted for the festival will be returned. Artists may obtain more information about the festival, and an application form, from Hickory Museum of Art by contacting Clarissa Starnes at cstarnes@hickorymuseumofart.org or by calling 828-327-8576, ext. 210.

The Foothills Folk Art Festival’s roots date back to 2005, when Hickory Museum of Art first acquired 153 folk art objects from Barry and Allen Huffman of Hickory. Since acquiring the Huffman collection, HMA has showcased contemporary Southern folk art through a variety of exhibits, public programs and special events. The Museum also has an ongoing and changing exhibition of folk art, Discover Folk Art: Unique Visions by Southern Self-Taught Artists, located on the third floor. The museum, located at 243 3rd Ave. NE, Hickory, is open Tuesday through Sunday, and admission is free. Shoppers can also purchase unique folk art in the Museum’s Galleria.

Admission to the Foothills Folk Art Festival is free. Visitors will have the opportunity to purchase a wide variety of folk art directly from the artists. In addition, there will be special activities for children, artist demonstrations, and two stages with live music. The festival will offer food from local restaurants and food truck vendors, as well as two different beer gardens.

Festival volunteer committees are now being formed to organize everything from parking and signs to children’s art and food. To volunteer, contact Shannon Johnson, Newton Main Street Program manager, at 828-695-4360 or sjohnson@newtonnc.gov. For the latest news about the festival, like its Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/FoothillsFolkArtFestival. The Foothills Folk Art Festival website will be going live soon.

Tractor Shed Theatre Honors The Holocaust At CVCC On April 28

Hickory - In honor of CVCC’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, St. Stephens High School's Tractor Shed Theatre presents I Never Saw Another Butterfly by Celeste Raspanti.

The Honored Guest Speaker Holocaust Survivor is Walter Ziffer, who will share his stories with a Q & A. The event is free, and will be at 12:30pm, Thursday, April 28, in

the East Wing Auditorium of Catawba Valley Community College.

Introductory remarks will be by Professor Ari Sigal. The poetry of Primo Levi and Michael Longley read by poet Adrian Rice.

For more information contact Molly Rice, Saint Stephens High School’s Theatre Arts Educator/Director, at 828-256-9841, ext. 409.

Hickory Youth Council Seeks New Members - Apply By May 31

Hickory – The Hickory Youth Council is recruiting new members for the 2016 - 2017 school year.

The Hickory Youth Council was established in 2000 by the Hickory City Council to give the city’s youth a voice in city government. All rising 9 - 12 grade high school students, living in the Hickory city limits or extra-territorial jurisdiction, are eligible to apply.

The Youth Council consists of 30 high school students who learn about city operations, participate in community service projects, and advise the City Council about issues and policies that affect the youth of Hickory. The Hickory Youth Council is also a chartered member of the State Youth Council of North Carolina. This organization offers opportunities for leadership training, community service, and networking opportunities for high school students across the state. “I feel that Youth Council is important to learn about city government, as well as the many amenities provided by the city for its citizens,” shared Youth Council Chair, Alanna Church. “It’s also encouraged me to consider moving back to Hickory after I’ve started a family and perhaps pursue a career in government.”

“The students involved in the Hickory Youth Council have a voice in local government. They have the opportunity to meet with and confer with the Hickory City Council on items that affect youth in this area,” said Dave Leonetti, Hickory Youth Council Liaison. “They plan fundraising events, attend seminars and conferences, and they have the opportunity to get to know and work with their peers who may attend other area schools.”

All applications must be received by close of business on Tuesday, May 31, 2016.

For more information about the application process or to download an application please visit www.HickoryNC.gov/youthcouncil. Any questions about the application process should be directed to Dave Leonetti, Youth Council Liaison, at (828) 261-2227.

Taylorsville Lions Club Apple Blossom Festival, April 30-May 1

Taylorsville, NC - The Taylorsville Lions Club presents The Apple Blossom Festival on Saturday, April 30th-May 1 at the Lions Club Fairgrounds, from 9am to 5pm.

Join the fun, with live music Shellem Cline and others!

There will be a carnival on site by R & D Amusements and Pony Rides by Moore Equine Events.

Celebrate Spring by browsing through the fine vendors. If interested in being a vendor, email at tlcappleblossomfestival@gmail.com, or download an application at www.taylorsvillelionsclub.org!

Located at Taylorsville Lions Club Fairgrounds, 170 Fairgrounds Road, Taylorsville NC.

HCT’s Mel Brooks’ Musical Young Frankenstein Features

Familiar Young Faces; Opening May 6

Hickory - The upcoming production of “The Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein,” opening May 6th at the Hickory Community Theatre, features two young actors who will be familiar to local audiences.

Cody Watson has the leading role of Doctor Frederick Frankenstein, which he insists is pronounced “Fronk-en-steen” in order to distance himself from his infamous grandfather. Carolyn Oursler plays Inga, a young local woman hired to be a lab assistant to Dr. Frankenstein but who also complicates his love life.

Watson, a resident of Morganton is a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne University who majored in Theatre. During his time there he played iconic roles such as Tiger Brown in “Threepenny Opera” and Benedick in “Much Ado About Nothing.” Frederick is his first role in three years at HCT, where he previously played Matthew Mugg in “Doctor Dolittle,” Ernst in “Cabaret” and Jack in “Leading Ladies,” which was his first appearance at the Theatre. He returned to LRU in 2015 for the role of Hawthorne in “The Cruicible.” In 2015 he also got engaged to his lady love, Kayla and the two will wed this June. After that they’ll be relocating to Raleigh, where she has been accepted to a graduate program at NC State.

Oursler, of Hickory, is a sophomore at University Christian High School and Inga is her seventh role at the Theatre. Her first time on stage at HCT was in the 2011 production of “The Jungle Book,” in which she played an elephant and a monkey. This is her third show in this season, she played Pilar, a member of the “Greek Chorus” in “Legally Blonde” and Zanetta Shinn in “The Music Man.” The latter was a familiar play for her, because she had the role of Marian in a production at Hickory Day School, where she also got to play Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.” After high school, her college plans are to complete a double major in Spanish and Psychology and to eventually receive a PhD in psychology.

“The Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein” is on stage in the Jeffers Theatre May 6th through the 22nd. Tickets are $10-$20. Call 828-328-2283 or click hickorytheatre.org for tickets and information.

“The Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein” is produced by Corning Optical Communications, Catawba Radiological Associates, Delores Hammer DDS and First Citizen’s Bank. This show is the final Mainstage show in the Theatre’s 67th season, sponsored by Paramount Automotive and A Cleaner World.

Rated PG 13 for sexual innuendo and language.

Photo: Carolyn Oursler plays Inga and Cody Watson is Frederick Frankenstein in “The Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein.” The Hickory Community Theatre production of the musical begins performances on May 6th. For more information go to hickorytheatre.org or call 828-328-2283.

Photo is by John Koval.

Wiggles & Wags Adoption Fest Is Saturday, April 30, 11am-4pm

Hickory - It will be a beautiful day of adoptions and happily-ever-afters at Humane Society of Catawba County’s Hickory shelter on Saturday, April 30th from 11am-4pm. HSCC is welcoming Happy Tails, Sassy Paws, Hartman’s Haven and other local rescue organizations to bring their adoptable companions.

Conrad the Crawdad from Hickory’s beloved baseball team, the Hickory Crawdads, will be there from 11am-2pm cheering on adoptions and posing for pictures.

Denver Canine Club and Howl-A-Day Inn will be there with info about their services, and Unique World Gifts and several other vendors will have booths for shopping.

Musical guests Zen Den and Sonny Skyyz, $5 rabies vaccines and $15 microchips available, great raffle prizes, food, and to show support for humans in the community too, there will be a blood drive set up from noon-3pm.

Join HSCC for a day full of wet kisses & tail wags! Visit www.catawbahumane.org for more information. Interested vendors contact Natalie at 828-464-8878, 11am-6pm Monday through Friday.

Lenoir Sax Performs May 1 At Chapel Of Rest Preservation Soc.

Happy Valley, NC - The Chapel of Rest Preservation Society invites the public to a MayDay concert by the Lenoir Sax on Sunday, May 1 at 4pm. Classical and jazz chamber music from their latest CD "High Standards" will be featured by the quartet, and the concert will be performed in the acoustically perfect Chapel of Rest in Happy Valley. Co-sponsor for the event is Lucy McCarl.

"In many ways, we are no different than a string quartet except that we have the flexibility and sonority of the saxophone's voice to present, " says Robert George, founding member and music historian. As a scholar, Robert (alto and soprano saxophone) has done extensive research in the Library of Congress on saxophone quartet and solo literature , and his research on the Hollywood Sax Quartet has inspired doctoral dissertations. He has received two Emerging Artists Awards from the Caldwell Arts Council.

Jenny Lanier(alto saxophone) is band director at McDowell High School in Marion. During her seven years at West McDowell Junior High School, the number of band students doubled. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Western NC Bandmasters Association, and is co-founder of "Music Across the Miles," an international program which takes her to Haiti to work with village bands.

Lenoir Sax performs May 1 in Happy Valley

Patrick Young (tenor saxophone) has performed with Asheville Jazz Orchestra, Asheville Community Jazz Band, Marion Foothills Community Band, Land of the Sky Symphonic Band, and with The Temptations, among others.

He was 2002 Teacher of the Year at McDowell High School.

Michael Myers (baritone saxophone) has been awarded a Regional Artists Project Grant from the Transylvania County Arts Council in Brevard, and has been commissioned as a commercial composer by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and by The Red Cross. He performs in commercial recordings as a multi-instrumentalist, maintains a woodwind studio and teaches at Montreat College.

Founded in 1992, Lenoir Sax has performed jazz and classical chamber music for audiences throughout the Southeastern US, and as far as Austria. Their recording, "High Standards," pays homage to the Hollywood Sax Quartet with new arrangements of jazz standards by Asheville, NC composer / arranger David Wilken.

Performances of their music can be heard on public radio stations including WETS, WNCW and WDAV in the US , and in Scotland through NPR cultural exchange programming. They have been featured guest artists with the Western Piedmont Symphony, and have appeared in the Raleigh, NC Chamber Music Series at the NC Museum of Art in the program "French Impressions," which highlighted the connection to the saxophone's French / Belgian heritage. They also earned the invitation to open for the N C Symphony. Dedicated to new music, Lenoir Sax has commissioned and premiered works by NC composers Mark Scearce, James Gossler, Joseph T. Dorsch, Frank Graham Stewart and David Wilken.

Admission to the concert is $15, and includes a reception with the musicians following the program.

The Chapel of Rest is located nine miles north of Lenoir on Highway 268, adjacent to the Patterson School campus. For more information, call 828 / 758-0906.

Photo: Robert George, Jenny Lanier, Michael Myers and Patrick Young

Call For Artists For Oktoberfest’s Juried Arts & Crafts, Vendors

Hickory - Be a part of Downtown Hickory’s 31st Annual Oktoberfest!!

Hickory’s Oktoberfest 2016 is now accepting applications for Arts and Crafts vendors. Celebrating its 31th year, this annual festival will be held October 7, 8, and 9, 2016 in Downtown Hickory NC. Estimated attendance is 100,000 for the three day event.

Hickory's Oktoberfest is an outdoor festival held annually on the second weekend in October. It features four stages of non-stop live entertainment ranging from traditional polka to rock & roll, two beer gardens, amusement rides and carnival games, a juried arts and crafts show, and hundreds of food and commercial vendors.

Oktoberfest’s Juried Arts and Crafts show is a juried event, with prizes given for the top three artisans. The Arts & Crafts area includes paintings, sculpture, pottery, handmade swings, candles, jewelry, photography and more. Booth spaces are 10 x 10 and limited to one craftsperson per booth. Registration will be accepted until Thursday, August 1, 2016. Booth fees are $200.00 for all three days with electricity available for an additional $25.00. Applications and guidelines are available on line at www.hickoryoktoberfest.com.

Other vendors include foods from around the world, commercial businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Applications for Commercial and Non-Profit vendors are available online at www.hickoryoktoberfest.com. Food vendors are welcomed into the festival by invitation only. No food vendor applications are provided online.

For more information on Oktoberfest 2016, applications and guidelines or sponsorship information please visit the website www.hickoryoktoberfest.com and click on vendor applications or email info@downtownhickory.com.

Catawba Co. Social Services Supports Adults’ Life Changes

Hickory - Catawba County Social Services continues to offer Information and Options Counseling to adults in the county who are experiencing a major life transition and need assistance discovering and navigating the services that may be available to them. Information can be provided about services ranging from in-home assistance and adult day care services to assisted living or nursing home placement. Some examples of individuals seeking this service include: aging individuals wanting to discuss options to sustain health, wellness, and independence; individuals returning home from a rehab center following a surgery; or an individual having increased difficulty managing household tasks such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, but who wants to remain at home.

This service is designed to help the person identify options, weigh the pros and cons of each, and make an action plan to help meet their goals. The counselor will work with the person to discuss their preferences, values, service needs and circumstances. The counselor will provide information about various options so the person can make informed choices about long-term services and supports. Information and Options Counseling provides valuable information to individuals who may not be aware of what services are available.

While Social Services has always provided information and referral services to persons who need to make decisions such as these, the Information and Options Counseling service is a more in-depth and personalized approach.

The goal is to offer decision support to individuals making decisions about their own care. To make use of this service, the person in need of care must be able to make their own decisions. However, caregivers or family members are invited to participate in the process if they wish.

To schedule an appointment with a certified Information and Options counselor, call Catawba County Social Services at 828-695-5609.

FCA’s Photography Show Is Open To All: Intake Is April 28-30

Hickory - Again this year, Full Circle Arts will recognize the talented photographers in our area by featuring their photographs in an exhibition and competition to be displayed in its gallery.

Entry into the photography show is open to all photographers, both amateur and professional, from all levels of experience.

Full Circle Arts will accept hand-delivered works Thursday, April 28 and Friday, April 29 between the hours of 11 AM and 5 PM, and Saturday, April 30 from 10 AM until 2 PM. Each photographer may enter up to three pieces, framed and ready to hang, for an entry fee of $10.

The exhibition will open to the public for viewing on May 5 and remain on exhibit until May 28. Full Circle Arts will host a reception on Thursday, May 19, coinciding with the Downtown Hickory's Art Crawl. Ribbons will be awarded for selected pieces. Refreshments will, of course, be offered.

Full Circle Arts is proud to welcome John and Janice Setzler as the judges for the show. Mr. Setzler is president of the Catawba Valley Camera Club and we look forward to seeing the choices they make.

FCA is a non-profit artists’ cooperative located in downtown Hickory, 42-B Third Street NW. 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.

Catawba Regional Hospice Golf Tourney Is Monday, May 9

Newton, NC – Catawba Regional Hospice is gearing up for its 14th annual Friends Fore Hospice Golf Tournament, which will take place on Monday, May 9, 2016, at Catawba Country Club in Newton, NC.

The community event brings together seasoned and novice golfers in support of overall hospice services. As part of its mission, Catawba Regional Hospice pledges to provide end-of-life care to all patients who need it, regardless of their ability to pay. The proceeds from Friends Fore Hospice help guarantee that uninsured and underinsured patients have access to this high-quality hospice care.

Openings for teams are still available. Registration begins at 7:30am, and shotgun starts are scheduled for 8:30am and 1:30pm. A buffet lunch will be served between the morning and afternoon rounds.

Individual player costs are $100, and foursome costs are $400. These fees cover 18 holes, cart and green fees, practice range, a light breakfast, a buffet lunch, and complimentary beverages. Prizes will be awarded to first, second, third, and women’s flights. As added incentive, a hole-in-one cash prize of $10,000 is available on Hole 3, should a golfer's skills prove exceptional.

Players should plan to register by Wednesday, April 27, 2015.

Sponsorships are still available for businesses or individuals. The tournament’s Premier Sponsor is CommScope. Foundation Sponsors are the Hickory Daily Record and WHKY. The Golf Cart Sponsor is Cargo Transporters, and the Hole-in-One Sponsor is Electrical Associates of Hickory, Inc. Food and Beverage Sponsors include Fresh Air Galaxy, Newton Family Physicians, PA, ITP Business Communications, Inc., and McCreary Modern. The Scoreboard Sponsor is Catawba Valley Medical Center, and the Putting Green Sponsor is Epsilon, Inc.

To register online, visit www.CatawbaRegionalHospice.org/golf.

To request a form for registration by mail, contact Sue Mulay, Community Development Coordinator, at 828.466.0466, x2357, or smulay@pchcv.org.

Hickory Youth Council & Library Seek Teen Artwork For Exhibit

Hickory – The Hickory Youth Council and the Hickory Public Library are seeking submissions of teen artwork for the rotating exhibit showcasing Teen Art at the Patrick Beaver Memorial Library. This is the fourth call for teen art work since the Teen Art Wall was unveiled at the library in 2014.

This exhibit offers teens an opportunity to display their work in a location that will be seen by hundreds of people each day.

The contest is open to all current High School and Home School students located in City of Hickory or Catawba County. Artwork will be judged by representatives from the Hickory Youth Council and the Hickory Public Library.

The qualifications for submittal include that all artwork must be the original work, created and submitted by the high school student. Artwork may not be drawn from any existing artwork (i.e. photograph, painting, etc.) not created by the student. All artwork must be at least 8 ½” X 11” but not larger than 36” X 36”. Students may only submit one piece of artwork. All entries must be accompanied by a completed Entry and Liability Release Waiver Form. The Hickory Youth Council and the Hickory Public Library reserve the right to reject any submissions deemed inappropriate for display at the library.

All artwork is due to David Leonetti in the Planning and Development Department at City of Hickory City Hall by 5 p.m. on Friday, May 27. The Art Wall details and entry form can be downloaded from the Youth Council page on www.HickoryNC.gov/youthcouncil.

Please submit artwork directly to David Leonetti, City of Hickory Youth Council Advisor, by mail at PO Box 398, Hickory, NC 28603. You can drop off the artwork in person to 76 North Center Street, Hickory City Hall Planning Department, Hickory, NC 28601. Please direct all questions to David Leonetti, Hickory Youth Council Advisor, at (828) 261-2227 or dleonetti@hickorync.gov.

HMA Summer Art Camps Are Registering Now; Begin June 13

Hickory – Registration is now open for summer art camps at Hickory Museum of Art, 243 Third Ave. N.E., Hickory. Camps for children ages 4 to 14 will be offered Monday-Friday, June 13 – August 19, with morning (10 a.m. -12 p.m.) and afternoon (1-3 p.m.) options available.

Twenty different art camp themes will be offered throughout the summer, giving participants a chance to create superhero and fairy tale inspired art, learn the basics of drawing and painting, make 3D art and sculptures from clay, wood and foil, discover the art of handmade paper, form fantastic masks and more.

Back by popular demand, the weeklong drama camp “Lights, Camera, Action,” invites kids ages 7 to 14 to act out a short play, which will be performed at the end of the week on stage in the Drendel Auditorium. Also, participants ages 7-9 can sign up for the “Comic Book Clinic” camp, which will allow the opportunity to develop original comic book characters and tell their stories.

Camp descriptions, cost and registration forms are available for pick up at Hickory Museum of Art in the Galleria shop or the Museum’s second floor offices. Download a Summer Art Camp brochure and registration form at www.HickoryArt.org/summer-camps.

Hickory Museum of Art is located on the SALT Block, 243 3rd Avenue NE, Hickory. Admission is free. For more information about Museum exhibitions, art classes, field trips, and events, visit www.HickoryArt.org or call 828-327-8576.

Photo: Isabella Hargrove is pictured alongside her colorful artwork, created during last summer’s art camps at Hickory Museum of Art.

Hickory Music Factory Sets Dates Summer Music Camps

Hickory - Attention musicians 11-18 years of age. The Hickory Music Factory (HMF) is offering two summer camps in July. The first is the annual HMF Rock Camp (July 11-15, 9-2:30pm). Students will rehearse throughout the week with their band and learn the essentials needed to perform on stage.

There will be classes/clinics focusing on song writing, stage performance, music history, and music theory. The week will end with the students and their band playing a concert on Friday night at the SALT Block Auditorium. Bands for the HMF Rock Camp will also have an opportunity to perform at this year’s Hickory Oktoberfest.

The second camp is the HMF Recording Camp (July 18-22, 9-2:30pm). Students will learn the essentials they need to properly mix and record music. There will be classes focusing on the history of recording, microphone placement, layering of instruments and phasing. Students will also learn how to use Pro Tool recording software and record a live band. Cost for each camp is $225 HMF Students and $250 non HMF Students and the camps will take place at the Hickory Music Factory. To sign up, please contact: HMF 828-308-5659 contact@hickorymusicfactory.com

Photo: Previous Rock Camp students

Carmike Cinemas & Children’s Miracle Network

Set May 7 For Super Hero Challenge - Win Tickets!

Hickory - Carmike Cinemas Hickory has partnered with the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals to bring you the Super Hero Challenge - Laps for Charity. This inaugural event will be held Saturday, May 7th between 9 am - 10 am at Carmike Cinemas Hickory. This is the kick off event for the theater's month of giving, which also includes a large car Show as well as a Yard Sale.

We encourage you to come dressed as your favorite Super Hero and walk or run as many laps as you can in one hour. Regardless of if you complete one lap or twenty, our objective is to raise money and awareness for our charity.

You will have an opportunity to register, donate, and become a fundraiser during the registration process. Each participant will receive a free entry into a special showing of Captain America in the BIG D Theater following the completion of the challenge, as well as complimentary popcorn and a drink.

Prizes will be given away for the best costume and most money raised. Grab your capes, shields, and magic lassos and join the challenge.

The first 50 participants receives a FREE $1 movie ticket (in addition to free entry into Captain America on race day) and the first 150 participants to register will receive a Super Hero Challenge Coin!

Age-Based Pricing - Registration Fee is $30 - 17 & under and 60 & over only pay $18

Early Registration through 11:59 pm on Tuesday, April 26th includes a FREE RACE TEE. Race Day Registration opens from 7:45 am - 8:45 am Race Day (No race T-shirt will be included during Race Day Registration). You must have the proper amount for cash payment on race day, no checks accepted.

Prizes

Best Super Hero Costume
1st Place - 12 Free Movie Tickets & 5 Free Buckets of Popcorn
2nd Place - 8 Free Movie Tickets & 3 Free Buckets of Popcorn
3rd Place - 5 Free Movie Tickets & 2 Free Buckets of Popcorn

Most Money Raised by a Participant
1st Place - 12 Free Movie Tickets & 5 Free Buckets of Popcorn
2nd Place - 8 Free Movie Tickets & 3 Free Buckets of Popcorn
3rd Place - 5 Free Movie Tickets & 2 Free Buckets of Popcorn

For Sponsorship Information - please call Clam Sepulveda, Carmike Marketing Director, at 828-303-7512 or e-mail clamsaw@yahoo.com.

For questions on this event, or to register, please go to www.RunTimeRaces.com

Hickory Brain Injury Support Group Meets Monthly

Hickory - Connect with survivors, families, and professionals at meetings that offer help, hope, and education, so you can live a happy and successful life after brain injury.

2016 Meetings: 5/24/16 Speaker; June TBD Crawdads Baseball; 7/26/16 Speaker; 8/23/16 Cookout at Glenn Hilton; 9/27/16 Speaker; 10/25/16 Spooky Bingo; 11/22/16 Speaker; and 12/13/16 Christmas Dinner.

Meetings are the fourth Tuesday of most months, 6:00 - 7:30 pm, at First United Methodist Church, 311 3rd Ave NE, Hickory, NC, 28601.

Times and locations sometimes vary, especially for social events. For more information, contact Travis Glass at (828) 781-0778 or travis@crossroadscounseling.org.

Also check them out on www.facebook.com/HickoryBlSG.

Annual Car, Truck & Bike Show For Non-Profits Is Sat., April 30

Statesville, NC – The 6th Annual Car, Truck & Bike Show supporting non-profits in the Iredell County region will be held in Horizon Church’s parking lot at 316 Signal Hill Drive, Statesville on Saturday, April 30th, 2016 from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm. Cars, Trucks & Bikes judged to be among the Best will win trophies for Best in Show, Best Engine, Best Interior, Best Paint, Best Work in Progress, Best Club Participation, and People’s Choice. In addition to showcasing classic & muscle cars, trucks and motorcycles, this family oriented event will feature live entertainment from “EVOLVE” THE BAND, a presentation by In His Steps Dance, Iredell County Firefighter Association’s Pink Fire Truck will be on display, a bounce house for the kids, 50/50 drawing, milk chugging contest, and other fun games/activities. Food will be offered for purchase by Horizon Church, and arts and craft vendors will also be selling at the event. Proceeds from the show will benefit Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County, Horizon Church, and other non-profits in the Iredell County region. The public is invited and admission is free however; everyone who attends is asked to bring canned goods or any non-perishable food items as a contribution to the Horizon Church Food Pantry Ministry. Horizon’s Food Pantry serves many Fifth Street Ministries “Transitional Housing” residents and other needy families in the Statesville area.

“The proceeds collected through this effort will help fund several non-profits in this community and deliver better experiences for many families within our local region,” said organizer, Jada Thompson. “This is our 6th year for the show and everyone always has a lot of fun, but we couldn’t do it without all of our wonderful, hard working volunteers, registrants, patrons, and all of you that come out each year to support this awesome event!” Thompson continues.

Statesville area businesses and vendors may rent booth space at a rate of $20 per space. Madd Monkey Garage in Troutman has signed on as the official sponsor for all trophies awarded at the show however; other sponsorship opportunities are also available. There is also a $20 registration fee for Car, Bike, and Truck owners wanting to show and compete for trophies. Anyone who wishes to register can do so at the event. Please contact Jada Thompson at (704) 450-2752 or jadat101@yahoo.com to receive booth participation forms, sponsorship and event related information.

Charles Williams, lead pastor at Horizon Church, wholeheartedly endorses the show noting, “I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was a teenager and classic bikes and cars are a great passion of mine. We are using this somewhat unconventional event to reach out to the community and hopefully meet some new people,” He continues, “Our goal is to show everyone the love of Christ through this event and the other ministries of Horizon Church… as our tagline says, it is truly ‘A Place For New Beginnings.’

Horizon Church is a non-denominational church located at 316 Signal Hill Drive in Statesville, NC. Worship times are Sunday mornings at 10:00 am; as well as Wednesday evenings at 7:00 pm. Services are of a casual atmosphere, with contemporary music, and messages relevant to everyday living. Charles Williams is the lead pastor of the church, which was founded in 1999. The church website is www.horizonchurch.net and the phone number is (704) 873-5250.

Shakespeare’s First Folio Is Coming To Raleigh In May

Washington, DC - Four hundred years after Shakespeare's death, his characters are timeless and familiar, from wide-eyed Miranda to grim Macbeth. But how do we know about Shakespeare's plays in the first place?

For many of the plays, the answer is a single book: the 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare. Assembled seven years after Shakespeare's death, the First Folio includes 36 of his plays—18 of which had never been before published. Without it, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, As You Like It, The Tempest, and more could have been lost.

In 2016, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, presents First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, which will bring the First Folio to all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. The exhibition, which also includes panels and digital content, exclusively features First Folios from the Folger, whose collection of 82 First Folios is by far the largest in the world.

The exhibit will stop in Raleigh, NC, May 7 – 30, at the North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh, NC. For a full list of stops, see the link below. Many other features, including a full digital version of the First Folio are also online at the Folger Library’s site.

Visitors to First Folio! will come face to face with the original 1623 book, displayed open to Hamlet's speech in which he debates whether "to be or not to be." Each First Folio! host location has also planned public events and activities, often including additional exhibitions, in joyful celebration of the book that saved so many of Shakespeare's dramas and the amazing plays it holds.

The locations include 23 museums, 20 universities, five public libraries, three historical societies, and a theater. Online explore the Folger’s interactive map for the complete list of host sites and tour dates. www.folger.edu/about-the-first-folio-tour

Healing For Life Great Race 4K Is Sat., May 14, In Bethlehem

Bethlehem, NC - The Bethlehem Community Development Association has announced that the 2nd Annual Healing For Life Great Race 4K will be held on Saturday May 14th at Bethlehem Elementary School beginning at 9 AM. Children’s Fun Run at 10 AM. The race supports the Back Pack Program of Alexander County and other needs in the community. Healing For Life Chiropractic & Acupuncture of Hickory will again be the title sponsor for the Great Race 4K.

For registration and race information go to http://www.bethlehemcda.org or RunSignUp. Pre-registration fee is $25 and guarantees a tee shirt for 4K participants. The out and back course boasts a ¼ mile sprint finish on the school track. Awards will be given to any NEW course records established overall and age divisions. The FAST 4K race established 30 course records in 2015 in 16 Male & Female Categories. Go to http://www.bethlehemcda.org for all COURSE RECORDS. The 4K race is also included in the Alexander County Points Challenge Race Series at www.alexandercountync.gov/events Points Challenge Leader Board.

Catawba County Churches Urged To Participate In

Foster Care Sunday On May 22

Hickory - Churches in Catawba County are invited to participate in Foster Care Sunday on May 22. This event will emphasize the need for more foster parents throughout the county.

Foster Care Sunday is being sponsored by Family Builders, the foster and adoption unit of Catawba County Social Services, which has an average 230 foster children in its care at any given time. There is an urgent need for more foster parents, who provide a temporary, loving home for these children until they can reunite with their parents, be placed with guardians, or be adopted. Placement with family members or relatives is preferred when possible. Social Services always tries to place foster children within their home county, preferably in their home school district, to minimize disruption in their lives.

"If one family in every Catawba County church would become a foster family, we would not have a shortage of foster homes," said Megan Hildebran, foster parent recruiter and trainer." Foster parents must undergo a background check and attend training. "Our social workers are always available to respond to the needs and questions of foster parents," she said. "We hope that church members in our county will prayerfully consider becoming foster parents."

Churches may participate in Foster Care Sunday by placing a notice in their church bulletin, making an announcement during church services, or by other means of their choice. Speakers will not be available for all churches, due to the large number of churches in the county.

Social Services offers a free, no-obligation information meeting on the second Tuesday of each month for persons who are considering becoming foster or adoptive parents. The next meeting will be April 12 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Family Services Center, located at 3050 11th Ave. Dr. SE Hickory. There will also be a special morning informational meeting at the same location at 8-10 a.m. on March 31.

Persons interested in becoming foster or adoptive parents, and members of local churches or other organizations that are interested in assisting in this effort, are encouraged to contact Megan Hildebran. She may be reached at mhildebran@catawbacountync.gov or by calling 828-695-4553. Additional information about the fostering process may be found at http://www.fostercatawba.com.

Caldwell Arts Council Sets Spring 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.

This year’s fundraiser events include dinner parties, house concerts, workshops, the famous Lenoir Comedy Club, and even a dinner and private screening of the new EARTHCASTER documentary with internationally-renowned sculptor Thomas Sayre, creator of the “Across the Grain” sculpture in downtown Lenoir.

Reservations and prepayment are required for each of these events and you can make your reservations using a credit card on our website, www.caldwellarts.com, or by calling 828-754-2486. All proceeds from these events (with exceptions noted) will benefit the Caldwell Arts Council.

About the pARTies:

Saturday, April 30, 10am – Grilling and Brewing with instructor Kevin Smith of the Grill & Brew Club at Studio 102 in downtown Lenoir. Introduction to home beer brewing. Try craft beers and enjoy delicious hamburgers grilled by members of the Grill & Brew Club; limited to 14 guests at $25/person.

Saturday, April 30, 7pm – Exploring Creative Photography with photographer and dentist Douglas Terry at Studio 102. Enjoy light snacks and a pint or two of craft beer or wine while Doug inspires you with his creative images to pursue or revive a photography passion. 20 guests at $25/person.

Saturday, May 7, 7pm – Lenoir Comedy Club returns this time to the JE Broyhill Civic Center (upstairs) with Comedy Zone’s Dean Napolitano and Ryan Van Genderen keeping you laughing for an evening of adult comedy! Limited to 200 guests at $30/person in advance, $35 at the door.

Thursday through Sunday May 12-15, times vary (see website) – ShadowLine Vineyard’s Winery Weekend offers several opportunities to taste all the wines made at their winery; $10/person. A portion of the proceeds from this wine tasting will benefit the Caldwell Arts Council.

Friday, May 13, 7pm – Kay and Patrick Crouch will perform their eclectic repertoire of modern folk songs, jazz, traditional and contemporary bluegrass, Celtic airs and dance tunes while you enjoy hors d’oeuvres and beverages at the Caldwell Arts Council. 35 guests at $15/person.

Friday, May 20, 7pm – Dr. Mark and Kim Picton will host a concert party with the legendary Bob Henson of ‘The Neighbors.’ Bluegrass music will float through the air, and the pool and hot tub will be open if you want to swim or soak. Light refreshments and beverages will be served. Limited to 20 guests at $20/person

Saturday, May 21, 6pm – Dr. Steve and Dawn Mathews will prepare a Middle East Feast for your enjoyment at the Caldwell Arts Council – take a tour of the Middle East, where the food is delicious and the spices are intoxicating! Limited to 12 guests at $25/person.

About the Caldwell Arts Council

The Caldwell Arts Council presents 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.

Tucker’s Barn Singer/Songwriter Series

Lenoir, NC – The Harper School of Performing Arts is proud to announce the start of the 2016 Tuckers Barn Singer Songwriters Series!

The dates are first Thursday of each month, May 5, June 2, July 7, August 4 and September 1. The location is the 1841 Cafe, 117 Main St. NW, Lenoir, 28645. The time is 7 – 9pm and there is no cover charge though donations are gratefully accepted. All proceeds benefit scholarship programs at the Harper School.

Tuckers Barn Singer Songwriters Series will start Thursday April 7th and be held on the first Thursday of every month through September. Each month performers come out to show case their talent by performing songs they have written themselves. April’s Kick Off showcase consists of Patrick Crouch, Kevin Leftwich and Chad Triplett. Please join us awesome music, good food, wonderful community sharing time and help us support and encourage our local artists. Stop by the school and experience “The Magic that Happens at the Harper School.” For more information on the Harper School, contact us at 828-754-2297, visit our new website www.theharperschool.org and “Like” our Facebook page.

A night of fun benefiting the Caldwell Arts Council!

Lenoir, NC – The 4th Annual Lenoir Comedy Club fundraiser for the Caldwell Arts Council will be held Saturday, May 7th starting at 7pm at the JE Broyhill Civic Center (upstairs) in Lenoir NC!

In addition to the load of laughs, snacks are provided. Beer, wine, soft drinks and bottled water will be available for purchase.

Comedians Dean Napolitano and Ryan Van Genderen from Charlotte's Comedy Zone will have you laughing all evening! This event benefits the Caldwell Arts Council; Tickets $30/person in advance or $200/table for 8. Tickets will be $35/person at the door. NOTE: ADULT CONTENT-may not be suitable for those under 18.

Full details and ticket order information is on our website: www.caldwellarts.com/comedy or by calling 828-754-2486.
About the Comedians:

Ryan Van Genderen

Comedian Dean Napolitano is a throwback to the great comedians of yesteryear only with a modern twist that makes him one of the most prevalent comedians working today.

A true storyteller with imaginative delivery that makes audiences feel as if they have been through each experience themselves.

A hilarious stand-up comedian, Dean is also a recognizable actor who has made over 50 TV and Movie Appearances. Dean is the co-star of the internet sitcom “Hollywood Handyman” and a comedy correspondent for ABC’s Good Morning America. Dean’s Credits include HBO’s Montreal Comedy Festival and “From Earth to the Moon” as well as guest starring roles on popular shows like “Vegas” “The Shield” “Hero’s” “Dirty Sexy Money” “What About Brian” –and more. Dean brings his own unique views on family life and humor in everyday situations.

Ryan Van Genderen is patiently waiting to get famous so other people can write his bio but until then...

Ryan hails from Patterson, New Jersey. He's been writing and performing comedy for over 10 years. Based out of Charlotte, NC he now tours the country as both a feature and headlining act delivering the funny one city at a time. His unorthodox style will sneak up on you with a laugh you never see coming. Voted "Class Clown" by his peers in 2000, Ryan has managed to make a career out of making people laugh. A true force on stage he mixes self deprecation with a witty point of view on life... in fact he might just change yours.

Dean Napolitano

In September 2013 he was selected as a finalist in the Comedy Central Up Next competition in Charlotte, NC. Ryan has headlined at West Virginia University and featured at both the Hard Rock Casino in Cleveland as well as the Atlantis resort in Nassau, Bahamas. He can do it all!

He has opened up for some of the best including Nikki Glaser, Neal Brennan, Jaime Kennedy, Keith Alberstadt, Mike Birbiglia, Charlie Murphy, Margaret Cho, Aries Spears, Natasha Leggero, Jon Lovitz, and Bill Burr.

About the Caldwell Arts Council

The Caldwell Arts Council presents art exhibits, arts-in-education events and other 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.

Lincolnton Lions Offer Locations For Cell Phone Recycling

Lincolnton, NC - Did you know electronic waste is a huge problem in the USA and around the globe? The worst- case scenario is unwanted cell phones, SMART PHONES, and I-Pad’s. While one discarded CELL PHONE in the trash might appear on the surface as “no big deal”, a 100 million in the trash is an environmental disaster. The nickel, cadmium, mercury, and lead in these products can poison the Earth, taking 20 years or more to decompose. According to environmentalist, lithium, the main ingredient in cell phone batteries, can harm the nervous system and vital organs. Nickel, cadmium, and silver have been linked to organ damage.

According to cellular phone industry on the average, Americans upgrade their cell phones, blackberries, and PDA's every 12 to 18 months. Many homes have 2 or 3 of these wireless devices left over from their previous service provider. Cellular usage in the USA and globally is approaching 300 million and over 2 Billion respectively. Unfortunately, only a small percentage are recycled and end up in our landfills to contaminate your water supply with toxin chemicals. .

To encourage Lincoln County residents to donate, deposit, and recycle their unwanted BLACKBERRIES, CELL PHONES, I-PHONE, SMART PHONES, AND I-PADS, the Lincolnton Lions Club has strategically placed one of their eyeglasses, and cellphone boxes at the following Denver, Lincolnton, and Vale businesses, health care providers and governmental agencies:

BUSINESS
1. City Lunch- 113 South East Court Square- Lincolnton
2. Lincolnton/Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce- 101 East Main Street, Lincolnton
HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS
1. Advance Family Eye Care- 7547 Waterside Loop Road, Denver
2. Carolinas Eye Care-231 General’s Boulevard, Lincolnton
3. Carolinas Eye Care- 623 North Highway 16, Denver
4. The Drug Store- 626 Center Drive, Lincolnton
5. The Drug Store-9576 NC Highway 10, Vale
6. Graystone Ophthalmology, PA- 2311 East Main Street, Lincolnton
7. Lincoln Eye Center- 110 Doctor’s Park, Lincolnton
8. Dr. Robin Owings & Dr. Rob Schick- ProWellness Family Chiropractic- 1814 North Aspen Street, Lincolnton

GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES
1) Lincoln County Senior Services (2nd Flo0r)- 514 South Academy Street Lincolnton
2) Jerry Cochrane Computer & Cosmetology Building- Lincoln Campus of Gaston College, 511 South Aspen Street, Lincolnton
3) Lincoln County Veterans Services- 200 Gamble Drive, Lincolnton

Before donating, depositing, and recycling your unwanted cell phones, i-phones, blackberries, PDA's and i-Pads in any Lincolnton Lions Club box, please erase all personal information. Cell phones will be refurbished and programmed for 911 and donated to the charities.I-pads will be donated to charities too. Unfortunately, the Lions Club is unable to accept and recycle landline telephones and answering machines.

SAFE Connect Offers Resource Website To Assist Homeless

Hickory - While there are many groups working on the issue of homelessness in Catawba County, it has often been difficult to locate the help needed in specific cases.

A new website hopes to correct that problem, providing a virtual portal for citizens, law enforcement, or nonprofits to quickly refer persons experiencing homelessness to resources and information. It can be accessed at http://safeconnectcatawba.com. A multi-disciplinary team worked on the SAFE Connect project throughout 2015. The word "SAFE" in the name refers to the services that are often needed: shelter, assistance, food, and emergency care.

Now anyone with a computer or smart phone can access the site and immediately learn about available services and where they are located. The service can also use GPS to identify the closest service.

A person using the site selects the types of services they need and a series of links pop up listing the choices available in that area and how to contact them. Users of the service may also click on a button for immediate assistance, and a message is sent to a local person who can provide personalized information and assistance.

"We hope that governmental and non-profit groups in our area will use this site to refer persons experiencing homelessness to the most appropriate services," said John Eller, director of Catawba County Social Services. "Concerned citizens and persons who are experiencing homeless can also use the service if they have access to a computer or smart phone. The service is also a valuable resource when a person is at-risk for becoming homeless. This will be a great complement to United Way's 211 system and we will even have the 211 link visible so those interested can see their robust database should they want to obtain information other than homeless services."

The long term intent is for this service to eliminate the problem of persons contacting multiple agencies trying to find different kinds of assistance.

FOCUS Newspaper Is Now A FREE App, Too! Special

Introductory Ad Prices For Businesses!

FOCUS Newspaper is now available on smart phones and tablets!

Go to the App store for iPhones or Google Play Store and search Focus Newspaper NC and download it — it’s FREE!

Just launched February 22, the FOCUS App will have most of the content found in print and online at Focusnewspaper.com. Your favorite columnists, local news, national news and of course, Found Around Town photos, and much more:

An endless Events Listing will expand every day!

There’s an Eat & Drink section with GPS directions, phone numbers and a link to the establishment’s website. A Local Biz section with the same features as Eat & Drink.

And, an Around Me featuring Eat & Drink, Local Biz and Live Music. Again, it’s growing every day with content and ads, special deals and so much more!

If you’re a business owner - call FOCUS today and get on the App!

If you’re a FOCUS Newspaper fan, get the App right now!

Focus Newspaper NC - the new FOCUS Newspaper App!

For more info email FocusNewsApp@centurylink.net. Call FOCUS at 828.322.1036 to advertise on the App, in the paper or online.

Good Times & Great Deals on the FREE FOCUS App!

CBCC Reveals Urgent Need For Blood Donations In This Area

Charlotte, NC – The Community Blood Center of the Carolinas (CBCC) has an urgent need for blood and platelets as a result of Winter Storm Jonas and is urging the community to donate immediately.

Collections have been impacted since Wednesday of last week. CBCC is experiencing a shortage and has an urgent need for blood and platelet donations.

“We are faced with significantly low inventory levels as a result of the weather,” said Martin Grable, president and CEO of CBCC. “We had many blood drives that were cancelled and donors who were unable to safely drive to one of our blood donation centers. Due to our current shortage we urge the public to donate blood or platelets within the next few days. These are the times that we often struggle most to provide blood that hospitals and patients need.”

All CBCC Donation Centers and mobile drives are scheduled as planned. To make a donation appointment or schedule a community blood drive, call CBCC at 704-972-4700. For more information or to find a mobile drive or donation center location, visit www.cbcc.us.

Donor Center Hours:

CHARLOTTE CENTER

M: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
T: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
W: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Th: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
F: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
S: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Su: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm

CONCORD CENTER
M: Closed
T: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
W: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Th: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
F: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
S: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Su: Closed

GASTONIA CENTER
M: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
T: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
W: Closed
Th: Closed
F: Closed
S: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Su: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm

HICKORY CENTER
M: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
T: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
W: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Th: Closed
F: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
S: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Su: Closed

GREENSBORO CENTER
M: 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
T: 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
W: 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Th: 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
F: 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
S: 7:30 am - 2:30 pm
Su: Closed

About Community Blood Center of the Carolinas

The Community Blood Center of the Carolinas (CBCC) is a non-profit community-based blood center and the primary blood supplier to 27 regional hospitals, serving 19 North Carolina and three South Carolina counties. CBCC focuses exclusively on gathering red blood cells, platelets and plasma from volunteer donors to save local lives here in the Carolinas. Every drop stays here, saving local lives. CBCC is a member of America’s Blood Centers, North America’s largest network of community-based, independent blood centers providing more than 50% of the nation’s blood supply. For more information on hosting a blood drive or donating blood in your area, visit www.cbcc.us or call 704-972-4700. Follow the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/BloodCenter, on Instagram https://instagram.com/cbccarolinas/ and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CBCCarolinas.

Bethlehem Library Accepting 2017 Artist Applications

Bethlehem NC - The Bethlehem Branch Library in Alexander County is now accepting applications for the Exhibiting Artists Series for the 2017 and 2018 schedules. All visual wall art mediums and photography may be submitted. Sculpture and wood carving is also now accepted for exhibition. Art is exhibited for two mnths with an Opening Reception and Gallery Talk on the first Thursday of the first month. The Bethlehem Branch Library has been one of the most successful and popular art exhibition venues in the region since its inception in 2010. The exhibition series is sponsored by the Bethlehem Friends of the Library and Bethlehem Community Development Association. Its purpose is to showcase local and regional artists work. For more information and submission guidelines contact Bud Caywood at caywoodstudio@charter.net. Visit the Library Gallery at 45 Rink Dam Road, Hickory, NC 28601.

Applications For Women2Work Workforce Program Available

Hickory - Practical help for unemployed or underemployed women is offered through the Women’s Resource Center’s Women2Work Workforce Development Program. The unique — and FREE — one-year program, designed to assist women in their job search, is now accepting applications.

“Women2Work is an advanced program that provides long-term support, resources, educational workshops and counseling,” says WRC Executive Director Cindy Rose. “The program is available to eligible unemployed or underemployed women in our communities and, since 2013, has successfully graduated eighteen women who have found secure employment. Currently 10 women are enrolled in the program, and we are currently seeking qualified applicants.”

Eligibility requirements include the ability to look for full-time work, a valid driver's license and reliable transportation, and the willingness to commit to a one-year program. Program participants must live in Catawba, Caldwell, Burke or Alexander counties and have no criminal record. For more information call Twila Hartford, Workforce Development Coordinator, at (828) 322-6333. Ext. 202.

The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) offers assistance to women in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties through workforce development, advocacy, enrichment programs and community partnerships.

Women’s Resource Center Seeks Items For Pantry

Hickory — The Women’s Resource Center’s personal products pantry, which provides personal and cleaning projects to women and families in the area who are struggling to meet basic needs is in critical need of supplies to replenish the pantry.

“We are asking for help in re-stocking our shelves,” said Executive Director Cindy Rose. Families receiving food assistance from the government cannot use their allotment for these products. We rely on the generosity of community members to keep the shelves stocked so that we can make the items available to women who meet the eligibility requirements.”

Products needed include laundry detergent, hand soap, fabric softener, dryer sheets, bathroom cleaner, window cleaner, disinfectant, mouthwash, body wash, bleach, dish detergent, and all purpose cleaner (409, etc.)

Donations can be dropped off at the Center at 125 3rd Street NE, Hickory, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. No donation is too small.

For additional information, visit the website at www.wrchickory.org.

The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) offers assistance to women in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties through workforce development, advocacy, enrichment programs and community partnerships.

Hickory Cribbage Club Invites New Players, Tuesdays, 6:15 PM

Hickory - Hickory Cribbage Club “The CRIBBADIERS” is inviting new players to join our weekly tournaments of friendly competition. The club plays at 6:15 p.m. each Tuesday at Unitarian Universalist Church located at 833 5th St. SE Hickory, NC 2860. Members are willing to teach the game to newcomers or to help former players get back into the swing. Contact: Zig (828) 324-8613 or zkryszczuk@yahoo.com

Caregiver Support Program Offers Local Families A Break

Hickory - Caring for an older member of the family, who is ill, can be very rewarding and challenging. Karen Harshman willingly cared for her father John Godfrey during his illness and more so after he had to have surgery. During the time Karen cared for her father, she continued to work and raise her young daughter. Karen was glad to care for her father but found that she needed extra help. She was able to receive help from Health and Home Services of Catawba County through the Family Caregiver Support Program respite grant. Karen states, “The respite program benefited me by allowing me to maintain my employment and not have to take a leave of absence from work. It provided high-quality care for my father in his home, as opposed to putting him in a skilled nursing facility.”

Family members are the major provider of long-term care in the United States, with over 65 million individuals providing care to an older adult. Many caregivers have to remain in their jobs while being caregivers for family members. The responsibilities of caring for a loved one can often leave a caregiver inattentive to their personal health or leave little time for a break from their daily responsibilities. Taking a break from caregiving and focusing on their personal needs often renews the caregiver, allowing them to cope better and continue providing care for their loved one and their responsibilities.

While caregiving can be very rewarding, it can also have an emotional, physical and financial toll on the caregiver. When the stress of caregiving begins to have an impact on the caregiver's health and mental well-being, it is time to seek help and support. The Family Caregiver Support Program is a Federal and state program from the federal Older Americans Act that provides supportive services for those considered caregivers. Program services are available to adult family members who are caregivers for a person age 60 or older and priority given to caregivers providing care and support to persons with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and/or to individuals with disabilities.

Melody Beaty, RN, BSN, Agency Director for Health & Home Services administers a respite program in our area which provides much-needed breaks for caregivers who are caring for a family member. As Melody explains, “Every day hundreds of people are providing care to a loved one in our community. For most they do not even recognize themselves as caregivers. This labor of love can be stressful and overwhelming at times.”

The Family Caregiver Support Program serves Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba County caregivers and services are available to assist caregivers on their journey. It is important for caregivers to take a break or take some time for themselves during the time they are dedicating to caring for a loved one. If you are caring for someone and feel you need assistance or if you know someone who is a caregiver and could use a much-needed break, contact the following organization in your county:

·Alexander County – HomeCare Management Corporation, 315 Wilkesboro Blvd. NE, Lenoir NC 28645. Phone – (828) 754-3665

·Burke County – Handi-Care, Inc., 304 South Main Street, Drexel, NC 28619. Phone: (828) 437-8429

·Caldwell County – HomeCare Management Corporation, 315 Wilkesboro Blvd. NE, Lenoir, NC 28645. Phone – (828) 754-3665

·Catawba County - Health and Home Services, Inc., 910 Hwy 321 NW, Suite 150, Hickory, NC 28601 or by phone at (828) 322-2710.

Photo: Left to right: Jennifer Godfrey, John Godfrey and Karen Harshman

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.

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.

Family Guidance Center Offers Support, Insight On Verbal Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does your partner discount your opinions or experiences?

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

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

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

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

Facts which generally apply to verbal abuse:

Verbal abuse tends to be secretive.

Verbal abuse tends to increase over time.

Verbal abuse discounts your perception of reality and denies itself.

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

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

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

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

Women’s Resource Center Needs Daily Volunteers

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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