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New Pastor

November 5, 2015

pastorProvidence Baptist Church will install their new pastor, Minister Keith Vereen, on Saturday, November 7 at noon.
Vereen, originally from Fayetteville, grew up attending Parks Chapel Freewill Baptist Church, hearing the call to minister in his early teens.
“I probably started feeling the call around 13 or 14-years-old, but I actually ran away from it. I didn’t want to accept it,” he said. “I decided to accept it in 2011. God came to me, and basically it was a divine appointment from Him. He had allowed me to do my own thing through freewill, but now was the time and He was not going to accept no for an answer.”
Before accepting the call, Vereen served in the Army from 1986-1995 at Fort Bragg in the Airborne Division. Having to retire early due to an accident in 1992, he went to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to earn a degree in social work. From there, he worked with the homeless at The Bethesda Center.
“I was hoping that would suffice with God, but that wasn’t enough for Him,” Vereen said. “When I heard God’s voice again, I said, ‘I need to go to school to learn what it means to serve God and learn more about the Word of God so I would know more about what I was sharing with God’s sheep.’”
Before Vereen declared ministry, he enrolled in Carolina Christian College in Winston-Salem, where he earned a Master of Arts of Religious Education with a concentration in Christian Education. He is currently working on his Doctorate of Divinity.
While working at The Bethesda Center, Vereen said it allowed him to share the Gospel.
“I was allowed to share the Word of God with my clients, but I actually left The Bethesda Center to attend law school at Wake Forest. That’s when I started hearing the calling from God that this was not the path for me,” he shared.
Though the position at Providence Baptist Church is his first appointment, Vereen is excited as he will be ministering to a congregation he has been part of for several years.
After he and his wife, Yolanda, transferred to the area, they stumbled upon the church, which was in their backyard.
“One Sunday I had my children (two sons, Jonathan and Jordan) at the park, and I saw people leaving the church. I heard a voice telling me that I needed to attend there,” he said, noting he began attending in 1998 and officially joined in 2000. “I was serving as the Administrative Board president. When the previous pastor resigned, I filled in as interim pastor and will be taking over in full effect on November 7.”
Vereen noted that he was not a shoo-in, as 27 people applied for the position.
He shared that he is looking forward to leading the church.
“I am just looking forward to continuing to do God’s Will and exactly what He tells me to do,” he said.
He added that he would like for the church to be more in tune with the needs of the community and to serve as a light where they are located.
“I would also like to continue to make disciples and teach people about the Word of God,” he remarked.
Vereen said he has seen the power of God firsthand through his own battles.
“One of my greatest challenges has been battling cancer and seeing the way God delivered me from that. I was also in an accident in 1992, which is why I retired early from the military. I spent 18 months in the hospital and have had 27 surgeries. When I was in the hospital, it gave me time with God one-on-one, which clarified what He wanted as well,” Vereen explained. “Having seen the power of God firsthand has helped me to remain humble. I can accomplish all things through Him.”
Providence Baptist Church is located at 319 Nelson St. For more information, call 336-996-6284 or visit

November 5, 2015

serveEarlier this month, members of The Summit Church and numerous other churches took part in The Big Serve, an annual event where church members volunteer to help organizations in the community over a weeklong period.
Amy Loflin, The Big Serve coordinator for The Summit Church at the Oak Ridge location, explained that The Big Serve ran from October 3-11, but continued out further because of rainy weather this year.
“We typically focus it to be a really strong blitz throughout our community in a short amount of time,” she said.
Loflin added that they had roughly 60 projects around the community this year, with close to 1,000 volunteer slots that were filled between The Summit’s Kernersville and Oak Ridge locations.
“Volunteers sign up on to send in project requests, but we also send cards out to projects we did the previous year and ask them to dream big. Maybe they didn’t get the funds to accomplish them and we try to fulfill that,” she said. “We are always looking for new projects as well.”
Loflin shared that while there are many volunteer slots to fill, they set the website up to help people find a project they can enjoy.
“We try to filter the projects by category – beautification, construction, helping hands and landscaping,” she said. “The people we help typically have to be non-profits. Some of the organizations are able to provide their own materials, but if not, we help supplement that through our Big Serve budget.”
Loflin said the purpose of The Big Serve is to not only help people, but to create a buzz in the community to get people interested in what is going on and to get people involved in helping others.
“It’s an easy opportunity to give people a taste of serving in a project that is hopefully near and dear to their heart. It’s a first step. We don’t want them to just serve with The Big Serve. We want them to have God in their hearts and hopefully connect with the organization they are working with and come back and help there again,” she said.
Several volunteers shared what they did during The Big Serve and what they enjoyed about volunteering.
Rodney Nail, project leader at Oak Ridge Elementary School (ORES), said he has been leading the project for three years.
“Since Oak Ridge Elementary School is our satellite location for The Summit in Oak Ridge, it’s vital that we continue our tremendous partnership with them. The administrators and staff are so appreciative every year when they arrive on campus after our Big Serve weekend,” he said. “We do outdoor beautification every year with new mulch, trees and hedges trimmed, and anything else on the staff’s wish list.”
Nail said this year, in addition to the outdoor projects, a team painted the bottom portion of the walls in the school’s hallways.
Nail added that The Big Serve is just a small gesture of gratitude they give back to the school and community as a way of demonstrating the love of Christ.
“Christ was a servant to mankind and gave His life for us. The least we can do is serve our fellow man and our local community,” he shared.
Nikki Honeycutt said this is the third time she and her family have participated in The Big Serve.
“We love it,” she remarked. “I used to hear people say we are Jesus’ hands and feet, and I always thought that was odd sounding. After doing The Big Serve, I get it. Loving people right where they are at, no matter what, everyone wants to be loved.”
Honeycutt shared that she works with juniors and seniors.
“My girls went with me to Lot 2540 in Madison. They get their name from the Bible in Matthew 25:40, ‘The least of these,’” she said. “They restore old things and they restore lives. We washed produce for the open market, where they allowed people to come through and get a variety of food for anyone in need.”
Honeycutt said at one point, she served an older gentleman who appeared to have no one and nothing.
“He just wanted someone to talk to and to listen,” she shared. “I just wanted to take him home with me and show him there is someone who loves him no matter what his circumstances or his life choices have been. It was awesome to see my teenagers love these people by cooking lunch for them and just serving them. I am planning on taking my family back in December so we can do this again.”
Honeycutt said she has learned that you don’t have to be talented to help others.
“The greatest thing I have learned through The Big Serve is anyone can do it. You don’t have to be super talented or gifted; you just have to be willing to love people,” she said.
One of the recipients of The Big Serve, who is continuing to benefit, is The North Carolina Leadership Academy (NCLA). Renee Faenza, principal of The NCLA, said she is thankful to have help from The Summit.
“It’s unusual to find a place that practices what they preach. I’m Catholic, and we’re a good church too, but it’s like these people have taken service to a whole other level,” she said. “Their theme is making everybody feel welcome and like they are somebody.”
In one of their ways of giving, The Summit has offered space for The NCLA students as they are already starting to outgrow their school and are waiting for a modular building to be built.
“They have wanted to make the children feel welcome, so they bought all 126 children and teachers lunch one Friday,” she said. “On the first day of school, they provided coffee and refreshments for our parents, and every Friday, they have to tear down the kids’ stuff and prepare for church and then set it back up for the kids.”
Faenza said volunteers from The Summit have also done some beautification around the school.
“They’ll offer their volunteers to come over. They have planted trees, helped us build a playground – offering their labor, and just being good to their neighbor,” she said.
Faenza said students at The NCLA are making cards and are in the process of creating their own version of The Big Serve. They plan to make lunch for the volunteers and members.
Loflin said what she enjoys about The Big Serve is seeing everyone come together.
“I just like seeing everyone coming together with a positive attitude and carving time out of their Saturday to help others and to see how much fun we can have coming together as the church, and not just The Summit, but being Christians and making a big impact,” she shared.
For more information about The Big Serve, visit

Alaskan Summer

November 5, 2015

alaskaWith a love for the outdoors and children, Laura Barnhardt, a third grade teacher at Caleb’s Creek Elementary School, enjoys spending her summers in the great outdoors teaching children about nature, and bringing what she has learned back to her students in Kernersville. This year she traveled to Sitka National Historical Park in Alaska.
Last year, Barnhardt went through the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Program at Mount Rainier. She wanted to do something similar again this past summer; however, having already gone through the program, she wasn’t sure what would be available.
“This year, I volunteered as a park ranger,” she said. “I had to apply through the National Park Service.”
Barnhardt wasn’t the only volunteer working at the park this summer. She had two roommates who were volunteering as well.
“The program provides housing. I had two roommates who were in their 60s,” she said.
Though much older than her, Barnhardt said her roommates were a lot of fun.
“They were awesome. Of course, they took me under their wings, but we went out and did everything together,” she said. “One lady was a retired accountant, so she did a lot of the books for the store at the National Park, and the other lady was a retired teacher, so she worked at the visitor center.”
Although this year she was volunteering, Barnhardt was still required to do an assignment.
“This year, I developed a monthly preschool story hour, but I had to (first) learn about the park itself and the town of Sitka,” she said. “I also visited the town’s library to observe their preschool hour, and from there I figured out how I was going to do my story hour.”
Barnhardt developed a theme for each month, with the first month being about salmon.
“The salmon start coming up the rivers from the ocean to lay their eggs. After they lay their eggs, they die. This is also the time when all the bears come down from the mountains,” she said. “The salmon do this in August, so since it was August, I was able to teach the first lesson. I came up with a craft, we had a snack, played games, sang a song and I told a story about salmon.”
Other themes Barnhardt created were about bears, whales, and snow. She also did a theme on the rainforest and totem poles.
“I did a theme about totem poles because they are very important to the Tlingit tribe, a native tribe of Alaska,” she said. “I also did a theme about the rainforest because it is considered a rainforest there, which a lot of people don’t know.”
Barnhardt noted that she saw firsthand the amount of rain Sitka receives, and why it is called a rainforest.
“I was there five weeks and there were only six days that it didn’t rain,” she said. “My main mode of transportation was a bicycle, so I biked everywhere in the rain.”
Along with creating a preschool story hour at the park, Barnhardt worked at the visitor center, where she said she did a lot of interpretation for tourists who came off of cruise ships on a daily basis. She also worked at a camp for local children.
“The kids were a lot different than kids here,” she said. “They are very outdoorsy. They get really excited about being outside.”
Barnhardt said she was impressed that the children enjoyed playing in the rain.
“That’s what they are used to because it is always raining,” she remarked. “We went to the ocean and the children would play in the tide pools. They would find different sea creatures like purple crabs, sea stars and sea cucumbers.”
When Barnhardt wasn’t working, she did a lot of fishing and hiking.
“We met some locals who took us fishing. The first line I threw in I reeled in a 26 pound Alaskan King Salmon,” she said. “I learned how to cook fresh salmon and never had to buy any other meat while I was there. I have never had so much fresh salmon in my life.”
Barnhardt said Sitka was very mountainous, and she always had to be alert while hiking because of the grizzly bears.
“I ran into two of them and that was the one time I didn’t have my bear spray. We had to act very big and they finally ran off,” she said as she noted that there is one grizzly bear per square mile on Baranof Island.
She was also amazed at how many bald eagles she saw.
“It was neat to see so many in person,” she said.
Barnhardt said she learned a lot on her trip, which she plans to share with her students.
“It was in the 40s and 50s and rainy all summer, and the kids loved playing in the rain and creeks. One day they dressed up like bugs,” she recalled. “When I got back, one of the lessons I did with my students was that I dressed up like a flower and we did some gardening together.”
Since Russians settled Sitka, Barnhardt plans to teach a lesson on Russian-American history.
“I don’t think people know about how much the Russians have to do with Alaska,” she said.
Barnhardt shared a few interesting facts about Sitka.
“The time difference there from North Carolina is four hours and we only had about four hours of darkness at night. Also, Sitka is on Baranof Island, which is where the Russians first came. Sitka was the capital of Alaska, although Juneau is now the capital,” she said.
She also plans to stay in touch with the island of Sitka by Skyping with the lead ranger.
“They are starting a distance learning program in Sitka,” she shared.
Barnhardt said she loved experiencing a new culture and a different way of life.
“There were no Walmart stores and everything at the grocery store was expensive because it has to be brought in. They have a very simple way of living and I loved it,” she said. “I would go back in a heartbeat. Everyone was so welcoming. I was only there for a little over a month, but if felt like I had lived there for years.”

Persimmon Festival

November 5, 2015

persimmonThe 8th annual Colfax Persimmon Festival will be held Saturday, November 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Historic Stafford Farm, located in Colfax.

Since the beginning of the Colfax Persimmon Festival, persimmons have become popular and are making their way around the Triad.

“Earlier this year, my friend Kenny Hamilton entered persimmon wine, made with persimmons from the Historic Stafford Farm, in the Dixie Classic Fair and won a gold medal, first place in the amateur division,” said Gene Stafford, event organizer and owner of the Historic Stafford Farm. “Hoots Roller Bar is planning to brew a beer with persimmons from the Stafford Farm.”

The Persimmon Festival was started as a way to try to save the Historic Stafford Farm.

“The farm is dated back to the 1780s, according to John Larson of Old Salem and someone from the Mendenhall Plantation. Supposedly, General Cornwallis stopped by here on his way to the Guilford Battleground during the Civil War,” said Stafford, who explained that he grew up on the working farm with his mother and grandmother.

Stafford said in 2008, when his mother died, he started doing restoration work to the farm as a way to honor and remember her. Before starting the festival, he had help from various people to restore the house, and at the end of each renovation he would celebrate with a chicken stew. Then he got an idea to have a Persimmon Festival because of the persimmon trees on the property and because it would be something unique.

Stafford said since the Persimmon Festival started, he has made several more renovations to the historic home, including restoring the chicken and hog houses, the tobacco stick shed, the root cellar, and he built a porch with windows where the Persimmon Queen sits each year. Also, for persimmon pulp sales and storage, Stafford rebuilt the garage building after a tree fell last year.

Stafford said the money raised at the Persimmon Festival goes toward the restoration of the farm, as well as promoting the vendors and the community. He feels that the restoration to the farm is a community effort. He looks for volunteers throughout the year for help on the house, as well as at the Persimmon Festival.

At the festival, the persimmons and persimmon items will be available while they last.

The festival will include food such as BBQ, chicken stew, Brunswick stew, hot dogs, funnel cakes, Muscadine juice, fried apple pies, and pork skins.

The Colfax band Cornbread Revival (A.K.A. The Persimmon Pickers), the Daniel Baker Band, and Tyler Millard Band will perform.

There will be various other art and vintage craft vendors; a nature walk to the big poplar tree; atlatl and primitive weapons (Tim Whaley); foot operated lathe; Dennis Maness will have a Revolutionary War camp and will be doing primitive cooking over a campfire; Civil War camp; Colfax and Stafford history; chainsaw artist (Randy Everett); molasses making demonstration; Model A Car Club Show; hit and miss machines from 1920s and 1930s; vintage farm equipment and tractors; and farm history tours.

The event will also feature a children’s area, which will include vintage games, corncob dart game; beekeeper, flintnapper (Mike Hill), persimmon hole (cornhole board using persimmon seeds instead of corn); and an arrowhead collector.

Joe Huygens, member of the Piedmont Region of the Model A Restorers Club, said Mark and Leigh Bodenhamer are hosting the club during the Colfax Persimmon Festival this year, which will feature several Model A cars.

“Randall and Tonda Strickland are bringing their 1922 Model T car, which was built in Kernersville. They are one of only three known owners,” Huygens said.

Stafford is looking forward to another great festival.

“I am looking forward to seeing a big turnout. I hope people enjoy the festival,” he said. “I also hope we raise enough money to continue the restoration of the farm.”

Stafford noted that upon cutting into a persimmon seed this year, he saw a spoon.

“That means we’re going to see snow this year,” he shared.

The Historic Stafford Farm is located at 558 N. Bunker Hill Rd. in Colfax.

The entry fee is $7. Children under the age of 12 get in free.

Parking will be located at Shady Grove Wesleyan Church, located at 119 N. Bunker Hill Rd. with a donation. Oasis Shriners of Greensboro will handle parking. This year, the shuttle services will include modern up-to-date buses for comfort taking visitors from Shady Grove Wesleyan Church to the festival.

If your vehicle has a current handicapped tag, ask about handicapped parking at the site.

Pets, coolers and alcohol are not permitted.

For more information, or if interested in volunteering, visit or call 336-682-5328.

Teal Pumpkin Project

October 22, 2015

pumpkinIf you don’t live with allergies every day, it is hard to imagine that something as miniscule as a sliver of a peanut can produce severe and even life-threatening reactions in those not immune. For those who do, vigilance is a necessary fact of life when it comes to the foods they not only eat, but those they touch.
For children with food allergies, it is up to their parents and other adults in their lives to provide that layer of protection. If they don’t, the consequences could be dire.
For one local couple and their 10-year-old son, holidays are especially challenging. That’s why they hope to raise awareness about food allergies by supporting the “Teal Pumpkin Project,” an initiative that encourages attention to the subject and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.
Natasha and Lee Canter have managed their son Nate’s food allergies since he was a toddler. In the years since, the couple has made their home a safe place for their son. If Nate can’t eat it, they don’t either. Neither does their younger son, Micah, who doesn’t suffer from food allergies.
“Nate was diagnosed with life-threatening peanut and severe tree nut allergies at two-years-old. Our lives changed from that moment. We decided our home would always be a safe haven for him, free of his allergens. Even the smallest trace could be a problem. He is now 10-years-old and thriving,” Natasha said.
Natasha said she and her husband first began noticing something different when Nate was about nine-months-old. He’d put a tiny piece of a peanut in his mouth and became violently ill for about an hour. Then, at around two, Nate became ill while Natasha was making peanut butter cookies.
“He got sick from just being around them,” Natasha recalled.
The Canters took Nate to be tested for allergies. A skin test revealed more than 40 allergens to which he was susceptible.
“He reacted to everything, plus he was diagnosed with asthma. We had food allergies and environmental allergies,” she said.
Ten years ago, food allergies weren’t as prevalent as they appear to be today, so there wasn’t a lot of information. Most of what the Canters have learned has come from their own research. Today, they carefully read labels on foods, which Natasha said can be misleading if one isn’t familiar with how food labeling works.
She explained about voluntarily disclosure and that while manufacturers are required to disclose a product’s ingredients, they don’t have to reveal if it was made on equipment with something else that might illicit a reaction – such as peanuts.
Needless to say, Natasha takes the warning “may contain” to heart. If those words are present, the Canters won’t be purchasing that particular item.
Because the family is so vigilant, Nate hasn’t had a reaction to peanuts since he was two. He did, however, develop a rash from drinking hot chocolate that was made at a plant where other tree plant products may have been produced.
While every reaction isn’t life threatening, Nate carries an epi-pen with him just in case, Natasha said.
Boys being boys, both Nate and Micah are eagerly looking forward to dressing up for Halloween; however, there will be a teal pumpkin on the Canter’s front porch promoting the Teal Pumpkin Project to raise awareness about the issue of food allergies during the holidays.
“Holidays can be challenging with the emphasis on food. Halloween is scary for him, not because of the ghosts and goblins, but because of the candy. He loves to dress up for trick-or-treating, but 95 percent of what he brings home he cannot eat. That’s tough for a child,” Natasha said. “The Teal Pumpkin Project is a wonderful campaign. It offers inclusion for all children with allergies or dietary needs such as diabetes or celiac disease. We hope to see some teal pumpkins on doorsteps this year, indicating they have safe non-food treats to share. We will be handing out both nut-free candies and non-food treats at our home.”
Don’t let the Canters be the only family in Kernersville sporting a teal pumpkin on their front porch. Paint one yourself and show your support for children with food allergies by providing non-food trick-or-treat items. Nate, for one, will be appreciative.

October 15, 2015

pumpkinMain Street United Methodist Church (UMC) encourages the community to purchase pumpkins from their annual pumpkin patch in order to continue their funding of the many organizations and ministries they support.
The pumpkin patch, in its 21st year, was originally started by the J.C. Grose Sunday School class as a way to raise money for missions. The pumpkin patch was later turned over to Director of Youth and College Age Ministries Wayne Purdy and Director of Christian Education Pastor Amy Burton.
“The money we raise does not stay here. It goes back into the community and is used toward missions in the U.S.,” Purdy said, noting the pumpkins are grown on an Indian reservation in New Mexico.
Purdy said with a willing effort from church volunteers on Saturday, the pumpkins were successfully set out on time.
“We had 175-200 church members unloading those pumpkins on Saturday in the rain,” he added.
Purdy said several of the organizations and ministries the church supports include The Shepherd’s Center of Kernersville, Crisis Control Ministry, Children of Zion, Appalachia Service Project, ReCreation Experiences Mission and Ministry, Next Step Ministries, Open Arms Ministry, and Bethesda Center, to name a few.
Dave Torbett, executive director for ReCreation Experiences Mission and Ministry, shared what the funding from the pumpkin patch means to them.
“Main Street United Methodist Church is a true testament to what the church is and should be. Over the last decade, they have been an incredible partner and community of support for the outreach ministry, ReCreation Experiences. Their Youth Ministry, led by Wayne, has continued to impact the community and the world through the good services to so many people in need. The adult members of the church reach out through service events and by supporting and encouraging a strong youth ministry. It is a privilege and an honor to be a partner with Main Street and the good people there,” he said.
Carol Fulton, senior pastor of Children of Zion Community Church and founder and executive director of Children of Zion Outreach Ministry, located in east Winston-Salem, shared how important the funds from Main Street UMC’s pumpkin patch are to her ministry. She noted that along with Main Street UMC, four other churches help support the Children of Zion Outreach Ministry.
“They prepare 160 to 175 meals and bring them to Rubert Bell Park off Mount Zion Place in Winston-Salem on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday after we hold a service in the park around 12:30,” she said. “They prepare hot meals, bag lunches and, in good weather, we play games and do activities.”
Fulton, a Kernersville resident, said she started out helping children, but has branched out to helping the homeless and people falling on hard times as well.
“The money goes to buy the food and clothing if anyone needs it,” she said, as she shared that she buys coats and jeans as the weather gets colder. “We had a family with eight children that needed clothes for back to school. That was a family in Kernersville.”
For Christmas, Fulton also gives the children a bag of items that include hats, gloves, a scarf, candy and a toy and shared that some parents have told her that is the only gift their child will receive for Christmas.
“The meal money they give us helps to free up other funds to do things like take children on field trips or to keep the lights on in a child’s house so they can do their homework at night,” she said.
Purdy said their pumpkins are priced higher than what you would find at a local grocery store; however, it’s for a good cause.
“It allows us to pay for the pumpkins and then keep a percentage. One hundred percent of the percentage we get to keep goes back out into the mission field,” he explained. “We average about $10,000 each year. We don’t keep any of the money, no matter how much we make. It all goes back out into the community.”
He added that they do not pay anyone to work the pumpkin patch.
“It’s a church-wide event and everyone pitches in. We organize volunteers to work in three-hour shifts from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays,” he said. “The pumpkin patch will be open until Halloween.”
Purdy also shared that they offer story time to groups of kids from Monday through Thursday, from 9:30 a.m. – noon. Those who are interested need to set up an appointment by calling Purdy at 336-993-3411.
Purdy said while most pumpkins range from $7 to $15, there are some smaller pumpkins and gourds that start at 50 cents, as well as very large pumpkins that range anywhere from $25 – $30.

Decoding Dyslexia

October 15, 2015

dyslexiaThe Auchmuty family, founders of Decoding Dyslexia (DD), work to raise awareness about dyslexia. The family was presented with a proclamation that designates October as Dyslexia Awareness Month by Mayor Dawn Morgan and Governor Pat McCrory.
According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is a language-based learning disability and refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms, will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services.
Since first finding out their son, Payne, had dyslexia, Penny and Neil Auchmuty have been fighting and working hard to find him the help he needs.
Neil and Penny first noticed there was something different about Payne when he was about seven-years-old. They explained that Payne has always been smart, but they had a heightened concern when they noticed he wasn’t doing well in school.
In the second grade at the time, Penny and Neil tried to address Payne’s issue; however, they ran into a roadblock, which caused them to start DD.
Neil said DD first started in N.J. with a group of parents who got together to discuss what was going on in their children’s schools. He said they decided to put together a handbook for parents in other states to start a grassroots movement.
“(DD) is parent-led and parent-driven,” he said. “Through Decoding Dyslexia, parents share ideas about how to get the help they need for their children.”
Payne explained what it’s like to have dyslexia.
“It makes it a lot more difficult to answer questions out loud in front of people or reading out loud, and I have a hard time organizing my thoughts,” he said.
Neil added, “Dyslexia is a spectrum disorder, so some people are very mild and others are more severe. Most people recognize it as reading letters backwards, but that’s just the small, well-known piece of it.”
Penny said 10-15 percent of students are dyslexic.
“We need to talk more about it, and with help of legislation, we can get help in our schools,” she said. “The big problem is that you can’t see it, so it’s hard to believe there is an issue.”
Neil said one of the reasons it is such a struggle for students with dyslexia to get help is because dyslexia is so varied. It can be difficult for schools to pinpoint that a student suffers from it, and because their IQ is always average or above average it makes it even more confusing.
Penny and Neil said there have been attempts made at various levels of government (state and federal) to help students with dyslexia. Two of those bills include NC House Bill No. 420 and NC Senate Bill No. 439. Those bills were shot down, Penny noted.
“They introduced these bills this year, but they didn’t go anywhere,” Penny said. “North Carolina Representatives (Debra) Conrad and (Donny) Lambeth were the primary sponsors of Bill No. 420 and North Carolina Senator Paul A. Lowe, Jr. was the primary sponsor of Bill No. 439. All sponsors on the bills were from Forsyth County. We would like to see the bills broken up a bit, but ultimately, it’s up to legislation.”
Although the bills were shot down, Penny and Neil encourage families to speak out.
“You can call your state representatives and share the story about your children in public schools dealing with dyslexia,” Penny said.
Although help specific to dyslexia has not yet made its way into the school system, Neil and Penny have found ways to help their son.
“We worked hard to get him an IEP in school and getting him accommodations, such as extra time, not being graded on spelling, reading quizzes and tests to him orally, and small group activities,” shared Penny. “We also used an Orton-Gillingham tutoring program. It’s a multi-sensory program.”
Penny said Neil and Payne will be attending Parent Camp USA in Washington, D.C. on October 26 at the U.S. Department of Education, which will bring together administrators, teachers, parents and students to talk face-to-face about what works best for kids with dyslexia. Although registration is closed, Penny noted that you can sign up online at to watch the event.
Payne is also doing his part to raise awareness by having participated in a dyslexia awareness video that was put together by Dyslexia Buddies Network’s Founding Mama Bear, Kristin Paxton, and the creator of the film, “Embracing Dyslexia,” by Luis Macias.
The video can be found by searching, “What I wish teachers knew about dyslexia” on YouTube.
“It was debuted at the Everyone Reading Illinois Conference on Tuesday to help spread dyslexia awareness and was shown to 300 teachers,” Penny remarked.
Neil and Penny have also contacted Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School principals.
“We shared the dyslexia awareness month proclamations and asked if they would help to spread dyslexia awareness, and some have,” Penny said. “Southeast Middle School has posted it on their roadside sign and Glenn High School has posted it on their website.”
Penny and Neil said they have also trained to become Augustine Literacy Project tutors through Read-Write-Spell (ReadWS) so they can help tutor students in schools.
Penny also encourages parents to become trained as an IEP (Individual Education Plan) partner through N.C.’s ECAC at (Parent Training and Info Center tab and click on IEP Partners).
“This is a way for parents wanting to make a different to get involved,” Penny remarked.
For more information or to find useful resources, visit one of the following sites: North Carolina’s Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center:; Dyslexia Advantage:; International Dyslexia Association:; Dyslexia Training Institute:; Eye To Eye:; The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity:; Bright Solutions for Dyslexia:; Headstrong Nation:; National Center for Learning Disabilities:; and Understood:

Food Truck Festival

October 15, 2015

brewerThe Brewer’s Kettle in Kernersville is hosting a Food Truck Festival on Saturday, October 24 from 3-9 p.m. to help raise funds for the Belle Raisers Foundation Inc., a local family raising funds and awareness for cystic fibrosis (CF).
The event will feature roughly 18 food trucks, live music from three bands, vendors, a raffle, and N.C. craft beer and wine.
Andy Kennedy, owner of The Brewer’s Kettle in Kernersville, said he chose to have the event benefit the Belle Raisers because of his connection with Mark and Jessica Hanson, whose daughter Annabelle has the unforgiving disease. Having met them at a previous event, he wanted to help.
Annabelle and her twin brother, Dominick, who does not have CF, were born one month early on May 19, 2011. Although they were early, Mark and Jessica were given no indication that there were any health issues with Annabelle, so they were released to go home. The only thing they recalled was that Dominick was one pound heavier than Annabelle, which they noted isn’t unusual for twins who are born early.
It wasn’t until one month later that doctors called to tell them Annabelle has CF. At this point, Dominick was three pounds heavier than his sister.
For Mark and Jessica, the idea of their daughter having a shortened life span and a more complicated life weighed heavy on their hearts.
Jessica explained in an earlier interview with the Kernersville News that CF affects multiple organs in the body, most specifically the lungs.
“People with cystic fibrosis are more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. Things that regular people are able to cough up, she isn’t able to do as well,” she said.
Fortunately, with the help of modern medicine and medical devices, Annabelle has managed to stay relatively healthy, but Mark and Jessica know she may not be healthy forever, as the median life expectancy for someone with CF is 37 years.
Mark said they recently celebrated Annabelle having gone a year without hospitalization, though she did have to go on some oral antibiotic medication recently.
“It’s the little things that are important,” he said.
Mark noted that in April of this year, The Belle Raisers gained their 501(c)3 non-profit status.
“We earned our non-profit status, but we have been active in raising money for cystic fibrosis since Annabelle was diagnosed. We created this vehicle to be a stronger local presence and (to put a face on CF),” he said, noting that you can donate to the Belle Raisers on “If you shop at and use Amazon Smile (, you are able to choose a non-profit and one half of one percent of what you spend on Amazon will go back to that non-profit. When you select a non-profit, look up the Belle Raisers Foundation Inc.”
Mark said the Belle Raisers Foundation is in partnership with the North Carolina Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
“Since we have no overhead and are all volunteer based, all of the money we raise goes to help fund their research and patient care initiatives,” he said.
Last year, Mark shared information about a development in the drug industry for people with CF and recently mentioned that the drug Orkambi, a combination therapy, has been FDA approved, but it is currently only for children 12 years of age and older, so Annabelle is unable to take it.
“It’s great news and a big deal. They are going in the right direction. Her age group is not even in clinical trials. She is over four-years-old, so we just have to sit back and wait for now” he said. “It’s not a cure, but for the first time it’s something that will treat the underlying cause instead of treating the symptoms, and we expect bigger and better things to come.”
Mark said he is looking forward to the October 24 Kernersville Food Truck Festival fundraiser at The Brewer’s Kettle.
“We hope it’s a beautiful day. As a family and a group we are so thankful to have the support from the community and we are so thankful to Andy for all the hard work he put into this event. Everything he has done for us is a big deal,” he said.
The food trucks that will be featured at the event include: Bandito Burrito, Tipsy’z Tavern, Wright Up Ur Galley, Camel City Grill, Food Freaks, Munchie Wagon, Urban Street Grill, Jalapeño Truck, Rollin’ Sol, The Great Escape, Small Potatoes Mobile Kitchen, D’s Cakes in a Cup and More, King – Queen Haitian Cuisine, Mystical Sunshine Caribbean Food, Happy Plates Catering, Empanadas Borinquen, Mike and Mike’s Italian Ice, and more.
Bands for the event will include Turpentine Shine, Nitrogen Tone, and Disco Lemonade.
There will be various vendors including Peace Out Vapes, Lab Tattoos, and multiple craft vendors.
Water will be available and individual food trucks will serve non-alcoholic beverages.
Kennedy said attendees should bring cash for the food trucks. Tickets are $5 at the gate and beer and wine tickets will be sold for $5/drink. Beers will all be from North Carolina breweries.
A portion of the sales from the event will be donated to the Belle Raisers. There will also be a raffle for a guitar, donated by the Guitar Center.
The Brewer’s Kettle is located at 308 East Mountain St. For more information, call 336-992-3333, visit their website at or find them on Facebook at: The Brewer’s Kettle Kernersville.

Heart Health

September 24, 2015

runKernersville resident Bill Haps has undergone a drastic change over the past year resulting in a healthier lifestyle, thanks in no small part to a series of heart attacks he suffered last October.
Last week, Haps was recognized at the Bank of Oak Ridge as one of three winners of the American Heart Association’s Guilford Heart Ball Healthy Heart Challenge. The other two winners were Diana Lewis of High Point and Lee Schloss of Colfax.
Haps thought he was living a relatively healthy lifestyle. Even though he had been diagnosed with high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure, along with borderline type II diabetes, Haps managed his condition with medication. He was physically active, practiced good nutrition and balanced stress well.
An avid outdoorsman and active Scoutmaster for a local troop in Kernersville, Haps camped, hiked, backpacked, mountain biked and participated in other outdoor activities with his Scouts. He also participated in the same activities with his family and friends. He never considered that he was ever at risk for heart disease.
That all changed October 11, 2014 when Haps began experiencing shortness of breath on what should have been a simple walk from his house to his parents to wish his father a happy 75th birthday.
“On the walk up, I was a bit short of breath. It was a cold, damp night, so I thought I was just getting a cold or something insignificant,” Haps said.
Throughout the rest of the night, Haps said he woke up short of breath and feeling anxious with his blood pressure elevated. He told himself that he would go to an urgent care the next morning after church. What he didn’t know was that he was actually suffering from several small heart attacks.
In church waiting for mass to start, Haps said he had a “big” heart attack. Even then, he didn’t realize what it was. At Kernersville Medical Center, he was admitted to the ER and given aspirin and glycerin.
Things appeared to improve and Haps’ wife, Anne, sent the couple’s three children, ages 19, 17 and 14, home.
“The fifth and final heart attack came when I was in the ER,” Haps recalled.
He was rushed in an ambulance to Forsyth Medical Center.
In his essay to the Healthy Heart Challenge, Haps said for the first time in his life, he felt alone and truly scared.
“I was faced with my mortality which is a profoundly lonely experience. At that moment, in the ambulance, I let God know I can’t do this on my own,” Haps wrote.
Haps said he put it all in God’s hands and credits the peace and inner strength he received from that with his eventual recovery.
At Forsyth’s cardiac center, Haps was found to have blockages of 80 percent or worse in all four major arteries feeding his heart muscles. He was immediately scheduled for a quadruple bypass surgery the next morning.
The surgery went better than expected. Surgeons only had to do a triple bypass because they were able to open one artery with a catheter. The work of recovery started right there in the hospital, Haps said.
“I was told I had to do 10 laps around the cardiac wing before they would let me go home. By Thursday, I had completed 25 laps. At home, Haps walked in his neighborhood with the help of a walker. In December, he began a cardiac rehabilitation therapy at Forsyth.
The therapists there asked Haps what his goal was. Haps responded, “I want to run.”
That’s exactly what he was doing by February.
The success Haps had there spread out. He joined a beginner’s running class through the wellness program at his work.
“I haven’t run for exercise in over 20 years,” Haps said in his essay.
Last June, Haps ran his first 5K run, a culmination of the running class. He also signed up for a 5K mud run with his Scout Troop and works out two to three days a week at a local gym.
Haps’ family came on board, as well. They’ve all committed to living healthier lifestyles themselves, which includes cutting out processed foods like their father and motivating him to work out. Anne even attended Haps’ cardiac rehab therapy classes and learned just as much as her husband about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The lifestyle choices Haps is now making have made a difference. He has lost about 40 pounds and feels better overall.
“I noticed the changes right away. I have more energy – a lot more energy – and am getting better sleep. I am also a lot more aware of what’s going on with my body,” Haps said.
Haps’ transformation has been so impressive that he has begun to inspire others. His coworkers started asking questions when he would leave for lunch then return soaking wet. They’ve even started their own running teams, Haps said.
Ron Black, president and CEO of Bank of Oak Ridge, said the bank was proud to recognize Haps and his fellow 2015 Healthy Heart Challenge award winners.
“We are proud to recognize these three individuals who have made major changes in their lifestyles to prevent heart disease. Their stories are truly inspirational,” Black said.
The Healthy Heart Challenge was designed to recognize local men and women in the Triad who have made lifestyle changes to prevent heart disease and stroke. Heart disease is the No.1 killer of both men and women in the U.S., and stroke is a leading cause of death and permanent disability. However, 80 percent of heart disease and stroke incidents are preventable through heart-healthy lifestyle changes.
For more information on heart disease and stroke prevention, visit To become involved with the American Heart Association’s Guilford Heart Ball, visit or email

Community Mourns

September 24, 2015

mournThe Kernersville and East Forsyth High School communities were reeling Monday from separate tragedies involving two former students, Riley LaRue and Bobby Furmage, both of whom had been standout athletes at the local high school during their times there.
LaRue, 19, a 2014 graduate and the son of Wake Forest University basketball legend Rusty LaRue, died Saturday in a car accident in Richmond, Va. Throughout the weekend, former classmates, friends and family posted their shock, sadness and condolences through social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.
On Sunday, several of LaRue’s teammates and East Forsyth staff met men’s basketball coach Mike Muse at the school’s gym to talk about the loss and remember their friend. WFMY News 2 was there to film the gathering, which included a moment of silence in honor of LaRue. A makeshift memorial was set up nearby.
Coach Muse had to fight back tears as he talked to the area television station about LaRue and what he meant to the school family at East.
“He’s going to be one who is deeply missed in my life and in this community of East Forsyth basketball,” Muse said Sunday.
The tears and hugs flowed freely as Muse admitted how hard they were all struggling with the loss.
“Father, right now we’re struggling, each one in a different way. Father, we know there’s no sorrow on this earth that you can’t heal in Heaven,” Muse said with closed eyes as he led a group circle in prayer.
“On and off the court, that was my best friend and, you know, I’m going to miss him, and I just want him to know I love him,” said Avery Wood, a teammate of LaRue’s who drove 90 minutes from Boone to be at the impromptu memorial.
Muse was still shaken on Monday, his voice hesitant but sure as he talked about his former player.
“Riley was a coach’s dream. He was awesome in the classroom and always did well. He was a leader among leaders and the ultimate teammate. He made everyone around him better and was always positive and always looking to help someone else,” Muse said.
Muse said LaRue also supported the other sports programs at East, always in the student section of the stands for Friday night football and at soccer games cheering his fellow students on.
“In this profession, you want to impact kids, but Riley was the kid who impacts you. He was one of those special kids who leaves a mark on your heart,” Muse said.
Muse said it was a rough weekend for all those who knew and cared about LaRue. Although LaRue graduated in 2014, there were still several players on the men’s basketball team who played with LaRue. He’d also been in touch with members of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 teams.
“We’re consoling each other. That’s how we will get through this. We’re all family, and for them it’s like losing a brother. For me, it’s losing a son,” Muse said.
Muse said he will retire LaRue’s number 32 and locker for the remainder of this year’s basketball season.
A memorial service celebrating LaRue’s life will be held Wednesday evening, September 23 beginning at 7 p.m. in the East Forsyth High School gymnasium, located at 2500 West Mountain St. The family will hold a private graveside service at a different time, Muse said.
LaRue is survived by his parents, Rusty and Tammy LaRue; two brothers, Cooper and Maverick, and a sister, Clara; paternal grandparents Bob and Linda LaRue; and maternal grandparents, Ronnie and Cindy Watson.
The family asks that memorials in LaRue’s honor be made to Special Olympics of Forsyth County or to the East Forsyth Booster Club. Pierce-Jefferson Funeral Service is in charge of arrangements.
In an unrelated but equally devastating incident, Robert “Bobby” Giles Furmage, IV, 28, passed away while on an extended hiking trip on Saturday from an apparent heart attack. The cause of death has not been officially confirmed.
Both LaRue’s and Furmage’s deaths were especially difficult for the Main Street United Methodist Church (UMC) congregation, where the two had strong family ties.
“We had planned to start a five-part sermon on Sunday on human emotion,” stated Main Street UMC Pastor Claude Kaylor. “We had planned on the first part to be about joy. But I heard about Riley on Saturday, and on Sunday before church, we heard about Bobby. We explained what had happened and we changed the sermon to be about grief, what it means to grieve and how to help people who are grieving. A lot of people were appreciative that we were flexible. We thought it was the right thing to do because a lot of people were directly or indirectly affected.”
Kaylor knew Furmage mostly through association with his parents, Robert and Susan Furmage, although Bobby was still a registered member of the church. Susan has been the business manager at the church for several years. Kaylor has heard many stories about the kind of person Bobby was.
“Everyone said he had a big heart. I have heard those words many times during the past two days. One story that I can relate I heard from his mother. Bobby had a friend who was in a band, and someone broke into his apartment and stole all the band equipment,” Kaylor said. “Bobby organized some people together and they bought the band new equipment. That is the kind of person he was, and some, or at least one of the band members, will perform a song at his funeral.”
The passing of Furmage was also disconcerting to former East students and current teachers and coaches. Eagle head football coach Todd Willert had the privilege of coaching Furmage and will miss him.
“He was one of our team leaders and he played tackle for us. He played everywhere on the offensive line. He was a great kid. I saw him at church recently,” Willert said. “He looked good and he had lost a lot of weight. It is a tough time losing him and LaRue. It puts things in perspective as a coach and for everybody at East Forsyth.”
Furmage was a 2005 graduate of East Forsyth and a standout offensive lineman who received a football scholarship to Western Carolina University (WCU). He graduated from WCU in 2009 with a degree in biology. He started studying anthropology at N.C. State University in 2010, according to his Facebook page. Furmage’s parents said Bobby enjoyed theater and music, was one course away from graduating with his second degree and had plans to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant. He was currently working as a dispatcher, they said.
In addition to his parents, Furmage is survived by sisters Audrey Wells, Becca Bell and Hannah Meyer. Kaylor stated that according to Bobby’s mother, one of his favorite things was being an uncle.
“His mom told me he said he had been called a lot of things, but his favorite was Uncle Bobby,” Kaylor said.
A funeral service for Furmage will be held Friday, Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. at Main Street UMC, subject to any changes.