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Self-Defense For Women, March 19, Newton PD

Newton, NC – Newton police officers will lead a free self-defense class in March for women and female teenagers.

The class will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 19, on the lower level of the Newton Recreation Center at 23 South Brady Ave. Participants must be 16 years old or older. Participants 16 and 17 years old must have parental permission and be accompanied by an adult.

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

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

To sign up for the class, email Master Police Officer M.D. Hopkins at mhopkins@newtonnc.gov or call Alex Frick at 828-695-4266.

IFB Opens A Brighter Path Blind Idol Singing Contest

Winston-Salem, NC - Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind (IFB) is looking for this country’s best singers who also happen to be legally blind to participate in the second annual A Brighter Path Blind Idol singing competition. Interested singers can visit www.blindidol.com for competition details. Submissions open on February 1, 2016 and end on March 15, 2016.

The 2016 Blind Idol singing competition is open to any legally blind adult who is 18 years or older and a resident of the United States.

Entrants are required to provide proof of legal blindness as defined by the Social Security Administration.

The Blind Idol winner will receive a Grand Prize package of $1,000 cash, eight hours of recording time at a recording facility in Winston-Salem, N.C., and a professional headshot. The total prize package is valued at $3,000.

To enter, contestants must submit a video or mp3 audio file of an individual singing performance no longer than two minutes in length either online or by mail no later than March 15, 2016. The IFB staff will then select 20 semi-finalists to perform in a live audition in Winston-Salem, N.C. on May 14, 2016. Five finalists will move on to the live finale competition on August 6, 2016 at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, N.C. Contestants will be responsible for their own transportation and lodging.

The 2016 Blind Idol singing competition is sponsored by A Brighter Path Foundation, the supporting foundation of Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind. Anastasia Powell, program associate for IFB’s A Brighter Path, and Chris Flynt, director of A Brighter Path programs, are returning as the event’s co-organizers. Powell and Flynt have not let their lack of sight deter them from pursuing their love of music, and they encourage everyone who shares that love to enter. “Music has the ability to move all of us – young and old, sighted and not sighted,” said Powell. “Blind Idol is a great opportunity to showcase our talents on a national stage and enjoy these tremendous performances.”

For more information regarding Blind Idol completion guidelines, contact Anastasia Powell at 336-245-5698 or apowell@wsifb.com.

About IFB (www.WSIFB.com)

Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind (IFB) is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 that provides employment, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. As the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the United States, IFB operates manufacturing facilities in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., in addition to more than 50 office supply stores and optical centers across the country. IFB also provides outreach through A Brighter Path Foundation, which operates Community Low Vision Centers across North Carolina and Tracy’s Little Red Schoolhouse based in Winston-Salem.

Harlem Renaissance Celebrated With Programs & Events At HMA

Hickory – Celebrate art, literature and music of the Harlem Renaissance Era throughout the month of February during art exhibitions and programs offered by Hickory Museum of Art, together with Hickory Community Theatre and Patrick Beaver Memorial Library.

Hickory Museum of Art presents two new exhibitions influenced by the Harlem Renaissance, a time of racial pride in music, literature and visual arts. Tribute to the Harlem Renaissance: Works from the Permanent Collection, on exhibit in the Museum’s Windows Gallery Feb. 6 -May 29, features artists from this important movement, including Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Sharif Bey, Juie Rattley III, Kara Walker and more. Museum admission is free.

Inspired by the music of Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, Gastonia, N.C. artist James Biggers depicts visual rhythm through colors, shapes and forms in Visual Jazz: Digital Imagery by James Biggers, on exhibit in the Gifford and Regal Galleries through April 10. Biggers describes his most recent body of work as an extension of the Harlem Renaissance Era. Museum admission is free.

Related programs during the month of February include:

Tribute to the Harlem Renaissance
SALT Block Auditorium
Feb. 14 – 2 p.m.
Members from the cast of Ain’t Misbehavin’ will perform selections from the show, which opens Feb. 26 at Hickory Community Theatre. View a screening of the documentary film Against the Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance, then stay for refreshments and explore related exhibitions at Hickory Museum of Art. Admission is free. An encore presentation of Against the Odds will be shown at 6 p.m. Feb. 15 at Patrick Beaver Memorial Library, Hickory.

Poetry Pickens – Road Scholar Elisha T. Minter
Patrick Beaver Memorial Library
Feb. 13 – 6:30 p.m.
This program covering poets of the Harlem Renaissance is made possible by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Admission is free.

February Family Fun Day
Hickory Museum of Art
Feb. 27 – 1 – 3 p.m.
Collage a greeting card in the style of Romare Bearden and complete a scavenger hunt through the Museum’s galleries while learning about important artists in HMA’s collection. Admission is free.

Programs are presented in collaboration with Hickory Community Theatre’s production of Ain’t Misbehavin’, Feb. 26-March 13. Call 828-328-2283 to purchase tickets for this show. Program support is provided by City of Hickory Community Relations Council.

Hickory Museum of Art is located on the SALT Block, 243 3rd Avenue NE, Hickory. Admission is free.

For more information about these and other events, visit www.HickoryArt.org or call 828-327-8576.

Photo: The painting After the Demonstration by Juie Rattley III is among artworks influenced by the Harlem Renaissance Era on exhibit at Hickory Museum of Art, Feb. 6-May 29 in the Windows Gallery.

City Grants Offered For Community Programs

Supporting Diversity, Positive Human Relations

Hickory – The City of Hickory Community Relations Council (CRC) is currently seeking projects to fund for the current year and is inviting qualified groups or individuals to submit grant requests.

Every spring and fall, the CRC allows businesses, organizations, and individuals to apply for the CRC grants. Priority will generally be given to projects that are designed to deliver the greatest impact on positive human relations, that are most effective in bringing different sub-communities of Hickory together, and that provide services and resources to the people who can most benefit. Agencies are encouraged to partner with each other to avoid duplication of services and to maximize efficiency in delivering needed services.

CRC Chair, Clise Plant, said, “We look forward to opening up our Spring Grant Cycle to the many organizations that serve the City of Hickory."

The grant application should be completed in full, approved by the director of the agency, and submitted to the CRC, care of the address on the application. Applications are reviewed twice a year. The deadline for submitting for the spring 2016 grant cycle is Friday, March 4, at noon. Applicants may include any 501(c)(3) or otherwise tax exempt organizations.

Funds from the CRC are provided by the City of Hickory and may not be used to pay salaries or to construct buildings, and will not be used to promote a particular political or religious point of view. Funds may be used for contracts for services and/or specific honoraria.

A report on the use of the funds is required from recipient groups. The CRC reserves the right to request an audit of funds allocated to ensure proper use. Projects may be funded partially or in full; however, priority will be given to projects for which matching funds are available.

Agencies receiving grant funding are asked to acknowledge the grant from the City of Hickory CRC in their publicity materials. A City of Hickory logo and a CRC logo will be provided for inclusion on all promotional materials.

Anyone submitting an application is asked to submit 17 copies of the grant request.

Applications can be found online at HickoryNC.gov, Your Government, Boards and Commissions, Community Relations Council. (http://www.hickorync.gov/egov/documents/1454003643_66196.pdf)

For more information, please call staff liaison Thurman Whisnant at the City of Hickory Police Department, at (828) 261-2605 or email twhisnant@hickorync.gov.

HCT’s Outside Mullingar, Funny & Touching, Opens Friday, Feb. 5

Hickory - The romantic comedy “Outside Mullingar,” opens Friday, February 5th at 8:00pm in the Firemen’s Kitchen at the Hickory Community Theatre

The play takes place in Ireland, where two families have neighboring farms. Rosemary, the daughter of one household, harbors strong romantic feelings for neighbor Anthony but he’s clueless and more concerned with his own desire to give up farming.

Performances of “Outside Mullingar” are Fridays and Saturdays, Feb 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 8:00pm; and Thursdays, Feb 11 and 18 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $16. To purchase tickets, or for additional information click hickorytheatre.org or call the Theatre box office (828) 328-2283. This play is suitable for general adult audiences and children over age ten.

HCT is a Funded Affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County. “Outside Mullingar” is produced by Robert Abbey, Inc. and Dr. George Clay, III, DDS. This is the sixth production in the Theatre’s 67th Season, sponsored by Paramount Automotive and A Cleaner World.

Photo: Christopher Honsaker and Elisabeth Bokhoven play lifelong neighbors and unlikely lovers in “Outside Mullingar,” on stage Feb 5-20 in the Firemen’s Kitchen at the Hickory Community Theatre.

For show times, tickets and other information go to hickorytheatre.org or call the Theatre box office (828) 328-2283.

Grace Ridge Has Color Me Happy Adult Coloring Event, Fri., Feb. 12

Morganton, NC – Seniors and guests are invited to color, blend and shade their way to a good mood at Grace Ridge Retirement Community’s Color Me Happy event, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Feb. 12.

The $10 cash admission at the door includes a packet of 10 coloring sheets, coloring supplies and lunch. Attendees also will learn about different coloring tools and techniques, and have a chance to win happy-themed door prizes.

“The holidays are over and it’s cold outside so it’s a perfect time to gather with friends, sit down with a warm bowl of chili, listen to some cheerful music and let your inner artist run free,” said Evelyn Beaver, Grace Ridge’s director of life enrichment.

Seating is limited. RSVP by Feb. 5 by contacting Evelyn Beaver at 828-580-8328 or Evelyn.Beaver@blueridgehealth.org. The event will be held in the Ervin Community Room at Grace Ridge Retirement Community, 500 Lenoir Road, Morganton, NC 28655.

Grace Ridge is a Life Plan Community spanning 52 acres in Morganton, NC, owned and operated by Carolinas Healthcare System, Blue Ridge. To learn more about Grace Ridge, visit http://www.graceridge.org/ or call 828-580-8300.

Spring Veggies Class, Thurs., Feb. 11, Beaver Library

Hickory - Join Dr. George Place, Catawba County Cooperative Extension Director, at Patrick Beaver Memorial Library on Thursday, February 11th at 6pm for a presentation about growing some of your earliest spring crops including potatoes, snap peas, kale, collards, beets, and others. Learn of the recommended varieties, pest management strategies, and how to extend the growing season.

Participants that attend 9 out of the 11 presentations and conduct 20 hours of community garden service in 2016 will receive certification as Advanced Gardeners with additional gardening incentives (coupons and gift certificates) from some of our local garden supply businesses and an official library gardening program T-shirt! Come out and be a part of this great gardening group!

This workshop is free and open to the public. Registration is required. To register, call 304-0500 ext. 7235. Patrick Beaver Memorial Library is located at 375 3rd Street NE on the SALT Block.

Keith McCutchen, Internationally Known Composer,

Is Music Director Of Ain’t Misbehavin’

Hickory - Keith McCutchen, internationally known composer, as well as the Director of the ASU Gospel Choir, Men’s Glee Club and the Jazz Vocal Ensemble is the Music Director for the Hickory Community Theatre’s upcoming production of the musical revue, “Ain’t Misbehavin’”

McCutchen's compositions have been recorded by the St. Olaf Choir, Dr. Anton Armstrong, director; The American Spiritual Ensemble, Dr. Everett McCorvey director; and numerous collegiate and community choruses.

In 2013, McCutchen premiered his “Jazz Vespers for Chorus, Orchestra, Soloist and Jazz Quintet” with the Camerata Antiqua de Curitiba in Curitiba, Brazil. His composition “Spiritual Medley” was composed for National Endowment of the Arts recipient, jazz bassist, Richard Davis.

His arrangement of “Amazing Grace” was performed at the World Choir Symposium in Seoul South Korea. In the fall of 2014, McCutchen's “We Shall Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Historical Narrative for Chorus and Orchestra commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act,” was premiered and commissioned by the Des Moines Community Orchestra.

McCutchen received his Masters of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Minnesota and is currently completing his Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Indiana University Jacob’s School of Music. He and his wife Noel have five daughters Monica, Morgan, Maya, Ella and Lyvia. “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” is his second production with the Hickory Theatre, following last season’s award-winning production of “Crowns.”

In addition to his work as a choral director at ASU, he also teaches Jazz Piano and Improvisation.

Performances of “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” begin on February 27th and continue through March 13th. Regular price tickets are $20, seniors are $2 off; tickets for students and youth 18 & under are $10. Thursday nights, all adult and senior tickets are just $14.

To purchase tickets, or for additional information go to www.hickorytheatre.org or call the Theatre box office (828) 328-2283. The play is rated R for adult language and violence.

HCT is a Funded Affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County. “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” is produced by Alex Lee, Inc. and is the seventh production in the Theatre’s 67th Season, sponsored by Paramount Automotive and A Cleaner World.

Photo: Internationally known composer and ASU professor Keith McCutchen returns to Hickory as Music Director for “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” The production opens February 27th at the Hickory Community Theatre.

For information and tickets go to hickorytheatre.org or call 828-328-2283.

Dan Smith’s US: A Civil War, Opens Thurs., Feb. 11, Newton

Newton, NC - An artist reception will be held for Dan Smith from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11 in the McCreary Modern Gallery at Newton-Conover Auditorium.

Smith has his MFA in Painting from the University of South Carolina and his art has been featured throughout the country, from New York City to San Francisco. This exhibition titled, “US: A Civil War,” is part of a larger body of work made up of mixed media paintings, photographs and installations all inspired by the American Civil War. To draw that inspiration, Smith traveled throughout the U.S. visiting Civil War sites and observing historical reenactments. He also read extensively on the subject and used his experiences and even some physical materials he acquired on battle sites to produce the collection that is now on display at Newton-Conover Auditorium through March 31.

While Smith’s work is abstract, much of it is rooted in history and inspired by the stories of individuals. Previous exhibitions focused on specific historical characters, such as John Smith of Jamestown, VA and frontiersman, Daniel Boone.
“My art is about death and life packed in with stories,” says Smith. “Matthew Brady’s story and work are woven into the US: A Civil War exhibition.”

Matthew Brady was an early photographer who documented much of the Civil War. In addition to people, specific battle sites are the focus of some pieces, many of which draw connections to Catawba County.

Matthew Brady Coming and Going by Dan Smith

The reception on Feb. 11 will include a panel discussion with Professor Richard Eller, Sylvia Ray and artist, Dan Smith. In addition to teaching for CVCC, Eller is in residence at the History Museum of Catawba County and a local Civil War expert. He, along with Sylvia Ray, will be offering a historical perspective to Smith’s work and making connections to local Catawba County Civil War history. The panel discussion will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Piano music will be provided by John Wepner and a local reenactor will be on hand with a few uniforms for display. Refreshments will be available throughout the evening.

Partial funding for this exhibition was provided by a grant from the United Arts Council of Catawba County through the North Carolina Art Council with funding from the State of North Carolina and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes a great nation deserves great art.

The Newton-Conover Auditorium is located at 60 W. 6th St in Newton.

For more information, please visit the Auditorium website at www.newton-conoverauditorium.org or call the Auditorium office 828-464-8100.

Orchids In Bloom At Ironwood’s Open House, February 9-14

Hickory - The public is invited to Ironwood Estate Orchids for an Open House and Sale at the Greenhouse from February 9 thru February 14, 2016. Hours for the Open House are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. More than 100 orchids will be in bloom during the Open House.

Ironwood Estate Orchids, owned and operated by Dale and Phyllis Erikson. The Erikson's have over 30 years of experience growing and caring for orchids.

The greenhouse is located at 3757 Sandy Ford Rd., Hickory, NC, 28602. For further information, you may contact Phyllis at (828) 294-3950 or visit http://www.ironwoodorchids.com.

The Open House is free to the public. The Erikson's will be on site and available to answer questions on the care of orchids. Plants, pots and orchid supplies will be for sale. During this event, purchase $50 or more and receive 10% off the entire purchase (some exclusions apply).

Driving Directions: Take 321 South to exit 41 (River Road). Turn left on River Road and drive approximately 2 miles to Sandy Ford Road. Turn right on Sandy Ford; Ironwood Estate Orchids is located behind the fifth house on the left. Look for the sign at the driveway.

Photo: A type of Cattleya

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.

Humane Society Of Catawba County Offers

Low-Costs Vaccines, Heartworms Tests

Hickory - Humane Society of Catawba County’s clinic performed 6,093 spay and neuter surgeries in 2015. Every surgery moves us closer to the end of pet overpopulation in our community. Foothills Wellness Clinic at HSCC also offers low cost vaccines, heartworm tests, and pest solutions for pets.

HSCC has a Well Pet Vaccine Clinic almost every Friday now from noon - 5:30pm at their Hickory location. They have increased the availability to accommodate more families’ schedules. HSCC’s goal this year is to raise awareness of their vaccine clinics and get more dogs and cats in the community vaccinated against rabies and get more dogs tested for heartworm disease so they can be on heartworm prevention. In January and February all dogs tested for heartworm disease get a free one-year or 3-year rabies vaccine. ($10-$14 savings)

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

Photo: Collette is available for adoption.

Hickory Police Dept.’s 11th Polar Plunge Is February 27

Hickory – Want to get a warm fuzzy from something extremely cold? Come join us at the 11th Annual Polar Plunge!

The Hickory Police Department will be hosting the 11th Annual Polar Plunge on Saturday, February 27, 2016 to benefit the Special Olympics of North Carolina.

The event will be held at the Wittenburg Wildlife Access on Lake Hickory. Registration will begin at 11:00am with the actual plunge being at 1:00pm. A minimum donation of $50.00 is required to take the plunge. All plungers will receive a free Polar Plunge t-shirt. (To pre-register, contact Sgt. Randy Isenhour at risenhour@hickorync.gov 828-261-2676 OR Chrystal Dieter at cdieter@hickorync.gov 828-261-2600)

Warm campers will be available for changing clothes and coffee, hot chocolate, doughnuts will be offered as well for plungers. DJ Ryan Carswell will provide entertainment for the day.

Special thanks to our local businesses and organizations for their assistance in making this event a success: LAMAR Advertising, Krispy Kreme, Lake Hickory Scuba Center, Sunrise Camping Center, Sunbelt Rentals, DJ Ryan Carswell, Valley Rentals, Hickory Crawdads, Texas Roadhouse, Bethlehem Fire and Rescue, Alexander County Rescue Squad and Push America (Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity of Lenoir Rhyne University).

To Create Your Own Web Page for Donations Go To:

http://tiny.cc/2016HickoryPDPolarPlunge

February Seniors Morning Out Features Fun, Informative Events

Hickory - Catawba County Seniors Morning Out will offer a wide variety of programs in February, including Valentine’s parties, Black History Month programs and musical performances.

Seniors Morning Out is a free program open to any Catawba County resident who is at least 60 years old. There are five convenient locations throughout the county. In addition to informative and entertaining activities, SMO includes a hot balanced lunch. The program operates from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, except for county holidays. SMO will be closed in case of inclement weather.

West Hickory SMO is located at the West Hickory Senior Center, 400 17th St. SW. On Feb. 2 and again on Feb. 16, the program will present Darkness to Light training through the Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center. This two hour, free training, prepares adults to prevent, recognize and respond to child sexual abuse. The CAPC hopes to train 6,000 adults in Catawba County in this program. Other West Hickory activities will include: Feb. 9: Age Related Macular Degeneration and Low Vision Month with Greg Morgan with the N.C. Services for the Blind; Feb. 11: Intergenerational Activity with the Children’s Morning Out Program of New Hope Moravian Church; Feb. 17: African Dance with Betty Primus; Oct. 24, Black History program with Mary Young of Friendship Baptist Month. To reserve your spot, contact Lisa Adams at least 48 hours in advance at 828-323-8746.

East Hickory SMO is located at the Huntington Hills Church of God at 2123 Fifth St. NE. Activities will include Feb. 2: Performance by Sentimental Journey; Feb. 11, Valentine’s Day Party with Newton SMO; Feb. 15, Benefits of Music Therapy with Christa Buff at West Hickory SMO; Feb. 23: How Blood Pressure Affects the Heart and Blood Pressure Checks; Feb. 24: Lip Sinc with Diana Ross, The Supremes and Chubby Checker. To reserve your spot, call Rita Pritchard at least 48 hours in advance at 828-320-5963.

Newton SMO is located at First Presbyterian Church, 701 N. Main St., Newton. Activities will include the following: Feb. 8: Newton Mayor Anne Stedman, owner of Trott House, will speak on the history of the bed and breakfast; Feb. 10: Black History Month Program with the Rev. David Roberts and Choir of Morningstar First Baptist Church; Feb. 11: Valentine’s Day Party with East Hickory SMO; Feb. 16: Music by Sentimental Journey; Feb. 25: Glass Art Craft, Make a Heart Plaque, Necklace or Pin with Sharon Messeray from Glass-N-Sass (cost $15); Feb. 29: Macular Degeneration with Greg Morgan with the N.C. Services for the Blind. To reserve your spot, call Robyn Curtis at 828-455-4133.

Catawba SMO is located at Center United Methodist Church, 4945 Sherrills Ford Road. Activities will include: Feb. 3: Horse Racing Game; Feb. 17: Food Borne Illness: Norovirus; Feb. 22: Pancake Breakfast and Game Day; Feb. 23: Praise Dances by Betty Primus. To reserve your spot, call Wendy Thomas at 828-320-0434.

Maiden SMO is located at the Maiden Community Center, East Second St. and Klutz St. Activities will include: Feb. 3: On this Day in History; Feb. 4: Bingo and Group Singing; Feb. 8: Emergency Tips for Winter Safety with Jim Dickerson and Corn Hole Game; Feb. 11: Valentine’s Party; Feb. 15: Performance by Charles Ballard; Feb. 29: How to Care for Bunions, Corns and Hammertoes. To reserve your spot, call Loretta Hefner at 828-320-5966.

Senior Nutrition Services operates Seniors Morning Out, Meals on Wheels and related programs in the county. Volunteers are urgently needed to deliver Meals on Wheels. For more information, contact Senior Nutrition Services at 828-695-5610 during regular business hours, or visit the website at http://www.MealsonWheelsofCatawbaCounty.org. For the latest updates, like the program on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MealsonWheelsofCatawbaCounty.

Lincolnton Food & WineFest Sets Sat., April 23, As Event Date

Lincolnton, NC - Driven by a dedicated group of volunteers, the Lincolnton Food & WineFest Committee has secured local tourism funding for regional advertisements and recognition for our 2016 festival. The committee has met regularly to develop tactics and designate tasks to bring this event to fruition and is pleased to announce this festival will be advertised in both Our State and Southern Living magazines, totaling over 1.6 million in circulation.

Local hotels in Lincolnton will be offering packages for those attending the festival, including reduced rates on rooms and providing a shuttle service to and from the festival location. Interested attendees just need to mention the ‘Lincolnton Food & WineFest’. Participating hotels include: Comfort Inn, Days Inn & Hampton Inn.

Vendors will become rivals during this festival as competitions commence for food trucks, and performers. Food trucks will be competing on two levels: People’s Choice and a Judged Competition. Festival attendees will be able to support their favorites in the People’s Choice category by casting their votes throughout the day. A panel of three judges will determine the winner of a $250 cash prize for the judged competition on: Taste, Presentation & Creativity.Buskers(street performers)will contend to a secret panel of judges while they perform. These entertainers will be judged based on: Creativity, Crowd Favorites & Unique Performance. The top entertainer will go home with a $250 cash prize.

The street festival begins at 11a.m.on East Main Street, right off of Lincolnton’s iconic Court Square taking place on Saturday, April 23, 2016.While this event is free and open to the public, attendees wishing to participate in wine/beer tastings must purchase a ticket and receive an arm band with ID check. Tickets can be purchased prior to the event on our website for $10 or purchased at the event for $15. Ticket fee includes beer/wine tastings at all event participants and one commemorative wine glass.

The Lincoln County Soil and Water Conservation will have a designated area within the Lincolnton Food and WineFest featuring vendors and demonstrations in recognition of Earth Day. Free children’s activities will be available making this a free,family fun day.

UMAR Art on Main will be providing a Kids Zone for free children’s activities throughout the day. Attendees can participate in life-sized, interactive games.

Live artist demonstrations, music, food and vendors are all on the agenda for the 2016event. Ample parking available, bring your friends and indulge in the fruit of the vine.

Find yourself in downtown Lincolnton this spring at the 2016 Lincolnton Food & WineFest.

For more information, sponsorship opportunities or advanced tickets, visit www.lincolntonfoodwinefest.com

Hickory Day Schools Sets Open House Dates For 2016-17

Hickory – Hickory Day School, an independent school in Catawba County serving students in transitional kindergarten through 8th grade, is pleased to announce its Admissions Open Houses/Preview Days for the 2016-2017 school year.

Open Houses will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursday, February 25; and Wednesday, March 23. Parents of prospective students and other interested individuals may visit classrooms, and Student Ambassadors will conduct school tours. At 10 a.m. on each of the Open House days, Dr. Rick Seay, HDS Head of School, will make a few comments about school programs and answer questions.

Hickory Day School was founded in 1993 and is one of only 15 elementary schools in North Carolina to be authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization. The school offers students in transitional kindergarten through eighth grade a comprehensive college-preparatory, inquiry-based curriculum in a nurturing environment. HDS creates globally aware, lifelong learners who are equipped to handle the challenges of the 21st century through many curricular and co-curricular programs including core academics, music, theater, visual art, wellness, fitness, and foreign language.

Please join us to learn what makes Hickory Day School such a unique learning environment. For those who can’t join us at one of the Open Houses, call the school to set up a private tour. Hickory Day School is located at 2535 21st Avenue NE, Hickory, NC 28601. We hope to see you soon!

For more information, visit www.hickorydayschool.org or call the school at 828-256-9492.

Hickory Museum Offers Folk Art- Based Outreach For Senior Artists

Hickory – Hickory Museum of Art (HMA) will continue its folk art-based community outreach program to provide enriching, participatory experiences for financially challenged seniors in the area. The community outreach program is supported by funding from Unifour Foundation and 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.

Local folk artist Theresa Gloster will work with seniors, leading them in art-making, as well as singing, dancing and storytelling. Programs include an art project, lunch (provided by participants or site) and a tour of the Museum, including Discover Folk Art, an installation of more than 250 southern folk art objects from HMA’s permanent collection on the third floor. Programs are scheduled 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., and are offered twice a week for groups up to 15 participants.

Gloster is a nationally recognized folk artist who lives and creates heartfelt imagery in Lenoir, N.C. A self-taught artist, she depicts scenes from childhood memories, using vibrant colors, whimsical brushwork and any surface or object that may come her way. Gloster aspires to provide interesting classes for all age ranges and has a passion for working with seniors.

“Hickory Museum of Art has provided a wide variety of meaningful interactive experiences for participants of all ages since we were founded more than 71 years ago,” said Lisë Swensson, HMA executive director. “When Betty O’Hearn proposed the concept of inviting groups of financially challenged seniors to meet with an artist here at the Museum and their sites, I introduced her to Theresa Gloster, who uses the visual arts as a creative, expressive and inspirational tool. With funding provided by two important community resources, we were able to put this project together.”

To learn more or schedule a program, call Hickory Museum of Art at 828-327-8576, or email program coordinator Betty O’Hearn at bohearn@hickoryart.org.

This project was supported by Unifour Foundation and 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.

Hickory Museum of Art is located on the SALT Block, 243 Third Avenue NE, Hickory. Admission is free. For more information about this and other programs furthering art education in our community, visit www.HickoryArt.org or call 828-327-8576.

NC Artist James Biggers’ Visual Jazz At HMA Through April 17

Hickory – Inspired by the music of jazz giants Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, North Carolina artist James Biggers depicts visual rhythm through colors, shapes and forms in his new collection of work on exhibition at Hickory Museum of Art, 243 Third Ave. N.E., Hickory. Visual Jazz: Digital Imagery by James Biggers will run through April 17, 2016 in the Museum’s Regal and Gifford galleries.

Biggers, a native of Gastonia, N.C., describes his most recent body of work – which includes digitally manipulated photographs – as an extension of the Harlem Renaissance Era. He is the nephew of artist John Biggers, an African-American muralist who came to prominence after the Harlem Renaissance and toward the end of World War II.

Visual Jazz is part of the Museum’s tribute to the 1920s Harlem Renaissance – a time of racial pride in music, literature and the visual arts. This exhibition is presented in conjunction with another new exhibition at Hickory Museum of Art – Tribute to the Harlem Renaissance: Works from the Permanent Collection, which opens in the Windows Gallery on Feb. 6. See works from artists influenced by this important movement, including Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Sharif Bey, Juie Rattley, III, Kara Walker and more.

A special program – Tribute to the Harlem Renaissance – will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 14 in the Salt Block Auditorium, 243 Third Ave. N.E., Hickory. Program includes a screening of the film Against the Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Admission is free and open to the public.

About James Biggers

James Biggers was born in Gastonia, N.C., in 1948. He graduated from Highland High School in Gastonia, before going on to earn a B.A. in Art Education from North Carolina Central University, and a M.A. in Art Education from Appalachian State University.

Biggers taught art in the Gaston County School System for 30 years before retiring in 2000. He has also served an adjunct professor at a number of universities and community colleges in the region, and led numerous workshops.

Biggers has been exhibiting his art work at museums, galleries and cultural centers since 1968. He has been commissioned to create numerous murals, including his work “North Carolina Belongs to Children” at the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh. Biggers has earned arts and education awards through his career, and is being honored with the Gaston County MLK Unity Award on Jan. 19.

Hickory Museum of Art is located on the SALT Block, 243 Third Avenue NE, Hickory. Admission is free. For more information about Museum exhibitions and related programming, visit www.HickoryArt.org or call 828-327-8576.

Images:
Atomic Egg, digitally manipulated photograph, James Biggers
Untitled, digitally manipulated photograph, James Biggers

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.

Caldwell Arts Seeks Sculptures

Lenoir, NC - The Caldwell Arts Council and the City of Lenoir, NC are seeking sculptors interested in participating in our outdoor sculpture sales gallery. Tucker’s Gallery is a public/private partnership project between the City of Lenoir and the Caldwell Arts Council, and is located outdoors in downtown Lenoir, NC. Application forms are available at www.caldwellarts.com or by calling 828-754-2486. Selected sculptures must be suitable for outdoor installation. The Caldwell Arts Council is located at 601 College Avenue SW, Lenoir NC. Phone 828-754-2486; e-mail info@caldwellarts.com; website www.caldwellarts.com.

This program is supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.

Catawba Regional Hospice Volunteer Training is Sat., Feb. 20

Newton, NC – Catawba Regional Hospice is seeking caring, compassionate volunteers to serve as valued members of the Hospice team and to offer welcome support for patients and families.

CRH has been invited to serve patients in a 10-county region, including Lincoln, Gaston, and Iredell counties. The need for patient support extends throughout the area and offers residents an excellent opportunity to help their neighbors. If you are willing to bring comfort and assistance to families dealing with advanced illness, your participation would be greatly appreciated.

The next volunteer training session will be held at Catawba Regional Hospice’s main campus (3975 Robinson Road, Newton, NC 28658) on Saturday, February 20 (9am-5pm) and will continue on Monday, February 22 (5:30pm-8:30pm). There is no fee for the training.

The session is designed to educate volunteers on communicating effectively with patients and families, to showcase what hospice is, and to clarify the role of hospice volunteers. After completing the class, volunteers will be able to supply administrative support, provide respite for caregivers, offer companionship to patients, and help in other meaningful ways.

To register for the February session or for more information, please contact the Volunteer Services Department at 828.466.0466 or at volunteer@pchcv.org.

About the Organization:

Catawba Regional Hospice, founded in 1979 as one of North Carolina’s original three hospices, is a community-based organization providing hospice medical care, patient and family support, and spiritual comfort throughout the multi-county Catawba region. From Lake James to Lake Hickory to Lake Norman, we serve patients and families regardless of diagnosis, age, gender, nationality, race, faith, sexual orientation, disability, or ability to pay.

CRH is licensed by the state of North Carolina, certified by Medicare and Medicaid, and nationally accredited. For more information about our programs of service, call 828-466-0466 or visit www.CatawbaRegionalHospice.org.

Town Of Valdese 2016 Citizens Academy Begins March 24

Valdese, NC – The Town of Valdese would like to invite Valdese citizens to become part of the 2016 Valdese Citizens Academy. The Citizens Academy will consist of seven sessions designed to expose citizens to the different aspects of local government that make up the Town of Valdese. During these sessions, citizens will tour town facilities, hear presentations about how these facilities function, and l learn how they can participate on Valdese boards and committees.

“This is an opportunity for citizens to learn how our town operates and how tax dollars are used. I believe it will promote a greater understanding of our municipal government and provide an entry point for citizens to become involved in the community,” said Mayor Chip Black. The goal of the Valdese Citizens Academy is to increase communication and build a relationship of trust and understanding between Valdese officials, town employees and citizens.

The program will be held on Thursdays from 6-8pm beginning on Thursday March 24 at Valdese Town Hall. Sessions will be held for seven consecutive Thursdays and participants who attend at least six sessions will receive a graduation certificate at the final session. There will be a maximum of twenty participants. Applicants must be at least sixteen years of age and a Valdese resident.

Citizens interested in participating should submit a completed application to Town of Valdese Community Affairs, P.O. Box 339 Valdese, NC 28690, or by email to: mwangi@ci.valdese.nc.us, or by fax to 828-874-2311. Applications are available on the town’s website, www.townofvaldese.com, or at Town Hall, and will be accepted until March 1, 2016.

For more information about the Valdese Citizens Academy and other events with the Town of Valdese go to www.townofvaldese.com or call the Community Affairs Office at 828.879.2129

Hickory Fire Dept.’s Citizens’ Fire Academy Begins March 17

Hickory – Applications are currently being accepted for the 2016 Hickory Fire Department’s Citizens’ Fire Academy.

The Citizens’ Fire Academy is a 10-week course offered to adults who either live or work in the City of Hickory. The 2016 course will meet on Thursday nights from 6:00-9:00 p.m., beginning March 17, 2016, at Hickory Fire Station #7, located at 465 Catawba Valley Blvd SE.

The course is free; however registration is limited to the first 12 people who apply.

Participants in the Citizens’ Fire Academy will learn about the equipment, services, and duties of the department and how it serves the residents of Hickory.

Each class includes a different topic as well as hands-on activities or demonstrations. During the course, participants are also given the opportunity to participate in hands-on training experience with Hickory firefighters.

Applications can be found at www.HickoryNC.gov or at any Hickory fire station.

For additional information, contact the department at (828) 323-7420.

Caldwell Arts Council Seeks Submissions For 2017 Shows

Lenoir, NC – The Caldwell Arts Council is currently accepting portfolios from local and regional artists for possible exhibitions in 2017 at either our Caldwell Arts Council gallery (four 2-month long exhibit opportunities) or at the Art-in-Healing Gallery (three 3-month long exhibit opportunities at Caldwell Memorial Hospital.

Details for submitting your portfolio are available on our website at http://www.caldwellarts.com/157-guidelines/. Portfolios will be accepted through January 30, 2016 and may be delivered or mailed to Caldwell Arts Council Exhibit Selection Committee, 601 College Ave SW (PO Box 1613), Lenoir NC 28645 or emailed to office@caldwellarts.com.

About the Caldwell Arts Council

The Caldwell Arts Council is a regional arts center that presents monthly and quarterly exhibits, education and collection programs that foster cultural arts in Caldwell County. Our center is housed in an historic 100+ year old home. There are four gallery spaces that have been renovated as professional exhibit spaces. Exhibits range from contemporary to traditional and include 2-D and 3-D exhibitions. The Art-in-Healing Gallery at Caldwell Memorial Hospital can hang up to 20 works of 2-D or 3-D wall artworks. The Caldwell Arts Council exhibits artists from across the country and has a reputation for quality exhibits. For information on the gallery space or to see a list of upcoming exhibits please visit our website at www.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.

CVCC & Newton Recreation Dept. Plan Classes For 2016

Newton, NC - The Newton Parks and Recreation Department and Catawba Valley Community College are proud to present classes which are sure to interest you or someone you know. Classes will be held at the Newton Recreation Center, 23 South Brady Ave.

Shag Dance–Beginning
The course will teach the dance of the South by introducing participants to the six count method. The course includes the basic shag step, female turn, male turn, chase, cuddle, pivot, lead out, and variations on the fundamental steps. The class will be held on Tuesdays, March 1-March 29, from 7-8:30 p.m. Cost for this class is $55 per person. Partners are needed for this class. Instructor for the class is Judy Boston.

Quilting–Back to the Basics
You decide what size quilt and what pattern you want to make. You will start with the basics and go from there. This class is designed for the beginner to intermediate student. The fee for the class is $45 per person. The class will be held on Mondays, March 14-May 9, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. (no class on March 28). Instructor for the class is Mary Ann Parkhurst.

Needle Fun
The course instructs needle crafters of all skills levels. Variety is the spice of life in this class as participants choose which needle to use. It could be a knitting needle, an embroidery needle, or even a crochet hook. The class will be held on Tuesdays, March 15-May 10, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. (no class on March 29). Cost for the class is $45. Instructor for the class is Mary Ann Parkhurst.

Stained Glass–Beginning II
This is a continuation of Stained Glass – Beginning I. Learn the fundamentals of stained glass design in this fun and entertaining class with an emphasis on lampshades. You will learn how to choose the correct glass, create patterns, cut and grind glass, and complete two projects. The class will be held on Mondays, April 4-May 9, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The fee for the class is $60. Instructor for the class is Melanie Zimmerman.

NEW!!! Zumba– A Fun Way to Exercise
Zumba is a Spanish word that means “buzz like a bee and move fast,” according to the American Council on Exercise. When you’re participating in a Zumba group class, it doesn't really feel like you’re exercising. Instead, it feels more like you are “movin and groovin” at a dance party, so come to the class and have some fun! No partners needed. The class will be held on Thursdays, April 7-May 12, from 6-7:30 p.m. The fee for the class is $55. Instructor for the class is Regina Dula.

For more information or to register you may contact Cheri Toney at ctoney@cvcc.edu or 828-327-7037. You may also contact the Newton Parks and Recreation Department at 828-695-4317 or visit www.newtonnc.gov.

Caldwell Arts’ HS Shakespeare Monologue Contest Is April 9

Lenoir, NC - High school students from traditional, home and Christian schools in Caldwell and contiguous counties are invited to participate in the 4th annual High School Shakespeare Monologue Competition sponsored by the Caldwell Arts Council and Caldwell County Schools.

Over $1,000 in cash awards will be presented. Details for participation are on the website: http://www.caldwellarts.com/227-shakespeare-monologue-competition/.

Caldwell County students should contact their school’s office ASAP to determine the Shakespeare Monologue Competition coordinator in each school. Students from outside Caldwell County should contact the Caldwell Arts Council at 828-754-2486 or info@caldwellarts.com.

Applications will be accepted now through March 4, 2016 – first come, first served on monologue selection.

The final competition will be held April 9, 2016, 8:30 a.m. at the JE Broyhill Civic Center.

For further information, please contact the Caldwell Arts Council at 828-754-2486 or info@caldwellarts.com.

Hickory Sunrise Rotary Valentine Dance Set For Sat., February 13

Hickory - The Hickory Sunrise Rotary Club has announced that it will be hosting a Valentine Dance on February 13, 2016, from 6:00 to 11:00 pm at Moretz Mills, located at 74 8th Street SE, in Hickory, NC.

During the club’s Valentine dance, DJ Eric Bowman will play from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, followed by The Entertainers at 8:00 pm. There will also be a silent auction and 50/50 raffle. A full meal, dancing and a cash bar will be included with the price of admission, which is $40.00 per person, or $30.00 per person if purchased before Christmas. Proceeds from the event will be used to fund scholarships to CVCC for economically challenged students who otherwise would not be able to attend classes.

The Entertainers were founded in 1980 and scored their first regional smash hit with "Living For The Summer" that same year. The song helped propel the group to the forefront of beach music, which led to their playing the finest clubs along the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach, corporate conventions, weddings and festivals from Washington, DC, to Naples, Florida. While staying true to their R&B and beach music roots, the group also satisfies the most diverse audiences by playing selections from the latest Top 40, classic rock and roll and country music. The group's years of performing experience and recording prowess culminated in the release of their latest album entitled, "The Inside Story,” which contains the #1 beach music hit, "Thank Goodness She Cheated" and other classic beach and soul hits.

A member of Rotary International District 7670, the Hickory Sunrise Rotary Club was chartered on November 7, 2000, and has grown to become the most diverse Rotary club in western North Carolina. A small, friendly club with about 24 members, the Hickory Sunrise Rotary focuses on educational initiatives and the needs of the homeless and veterans in our community.

The club also embraces the Rotary motto, "Service Above Self," and specializes in having fun while serving others. The mission of Rotary International is to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders. The Hickory Sunrise Rotary Club meets Wednesdays at 7:00 am in the Fireside Room at Lenoir-Rhyne University.

For more details, please call Bob Steiger at 828-303-0057 or visit www.hickorysunriserotary.org

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.

Lenoir-Rhyne University Announces Terrific

Visiting Writers Series Roster For 2015-16

Hickory – Lenoir-Rhyne University will kick off its 2015-16 Visiting Writers Series in September. Jaki Shelton Green will be the first of eight guests featured in the series, which has brought world-renowned authors to members of the LRU campus and the community for nearly three decades. The award winning poet is scheduled to speak on Thursday, September 10 at 7:00 p.m. in Belk Centrum. Green and the other authors featured in the series will be joining LRU as it celebrates its 125th anniversary.

Inducted in 2014 into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, Green has appeared in numerous national poetry publications and her work has been widely choreographed by numerous dance companies. She is the author of Breath of the Song: New and Selected Poems (2005); singing a tree into dance (2003); Conjure Blues (1996); Swiss Time (1990); Dead on Arrival (1983); and Mask (1981). She is also the co-editor of two anthologies: Poets or Peace and Immigration, Emigration, and Diversity.

In 2003, Green received the North Carolina Award for Literature, the highest award the state can bestow for significant contributions in science, literature, fine arts, and public service. She is also a 2014 Pushcart nominee; the 2010 Fine Arts Emerald awardee; the 2009 North Carolina Piedmont Laureate; and the 2007 Sam Ragan awardee. As a community arts advocate, Green creates and facilitates programs that serve diverse audiences and populations. She is the owner of SistaWRITE, which provides retreats and travel excursions for women writers.

In its 27th season, LR’s Visiting Writers Series will continue with the following writers:

Garrison Keillor – Thursday, March 31 at 7:00 p.m. in P.E. Monroe Auditorium
Keillor is an author, poet, storyteller, humorist and radio personality. He is well-known as the host of A Prairie Home Companion, a public radio variety show which debuted in 1974. A National Radio Hall of Fame inductee and winner of the Peabody Award and National Humanities Medal, his latest works include The Keillor Reader (2014), a collection of his work, and O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic and Profound (2013), a volume of poetry.

Anne Lamott - Thursday, April 7 at 7:00 p.m. in P.E. Monroe Auditorium
Lamott is the bestselling author of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life; Operating Instructions (an account of life as a single mother); and Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith. She is a Guggenheim Fellowship awardee and California Hall of Fame inductee who has taught at UC Davis and at writing conferences across the country. Her biweekly Salon Magazine “online diary,” Word by Word, was voted Best of the Web by TIME magazine.

Paul Muldoon – Thursday, April 14 at 7:00 p.m. in Grace Chapel
Muldoon - LRU’s very first visiting writer - was born in 1951 in Northern Ireland. Since 1987, he has lived in the US and has worked as a professor at Princeton University and as Founding Chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. Between 1999 and 2004, he also served as Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford. Since 2007, he has served as poetry editor of The New Yorker. In addition to the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, he has won numerous awards including the International Griffin Prize, American Ireland Fund Literary Award, Shakespeare Prize as well as both the Aspen and the European Prize for Poetry.

Will Osborne & Mary Pope Osborne – April 23 at noon in P.E. Monroe Auditorium
This year’s Little Read event boasts two authors: Will and Mary Pope Osborne. Will Osborne is a respected playwright, book author, director, teacher, and actor. His play Smoke & Mirrors has been produced internationally. He has authored more than a dozen books for children and young adults - many co-written with his wife. Mary Pope Osborne received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her highly successful Magic Tree House series. She has published nearly 50 books in the series, which has been translated into over 30 languages and has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. As part of The Little Read event, the musical A Night in New Orleans will be presented. The musical was co-written by Will Osborne and is based on the Magic Tree House series.

Sponsors of this year’s Visiting Writers Series include Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Crowne Plaza--Hickory, Hickory Public Library, National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, Our State: North Carolina, United Arts Council of Catawba County, and WFAE 90.3 FM.

All events are open to the public and free for all guests. No tickets or reservations are required. Visit www.visitingwriters.lr.edu for more information.

About Lenoir-Rhyne University:
Lenoir-Rhyne University was founded in 1891 and is a private, coeducational university with its primary campus in Hickory, NC. Academic programs include more than 50 undergraduate majors and 24 graduate programs, the Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville, NC, the Center for Graduate Studies of Columbia, SC, and the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, also in Columbia. Today, more than 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled across all three campuses. Lenoir-Rhyne is affiliated with the NC Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and welcomes students from all religious backgrounds. The website is www.lr.edu.

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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