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Wagging Wednesdays

December 15, 2015

dogVisitors, patients, and staff at Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center (KMC) will now have the chance to feel more comfort when greeted by a four-legged friend on Wednesday afternoons.
On Wednesdays from 10 a.m. – 12 noon, with their first day having been last week, volunteer Jerry Grubbs and his therapy dog, Rusty, a six-year-old golden retriever, will have the chance to help visitors, patients, and staff feel a sense of comfort and calm as they walk into the hospital, wait in the lobby to see a doctor, or be visited in their own room.
According to Susan Parks, manager of volunteer services with Novant Health, PMC (Presbyterian Medical Center), PMC has been doing pet therapy for over 20 years, but they are starting the Pet Greeter program across all of the Novant Health hospitals.
“Pet therapy volunteers provide visitation for patients, guests and Novant Health team members on patient floors, in patient rooms and various departments throughout the hospital,” said Parks.
Parks shared that they got the idea from the Cleveland Clinic.
“Because of our affiliation/partnership with the Cleveland Clinic, several of our leaders visited the clinic. They learned of a pet greet program having dogs as greeters stationed in their lobby and loved it. It is in alignment with our vision of creating a remarkable patient and guest experience,” she said. “We recognize that not all guests are animal lovers so we have our greeters stationed in areas that allow folks not wanting to pet or engage with the dog to walk around him/her.”
Grubbs shared that Rusty has been a therapy dog for four-and-a-half years, having gotten his certification just before he turned two-years-old.
Grubbs decided to turn Rusty into a therapy dog having seen how helpful they can be to patients in hospitals.
“My wife’s father was in the hospital and he got a visit from a therapy dog. He talked about that until he passed away, and I thought it would be a good thing to do,” he said.
Having had a Golden Retriever/Collie mix, named Junior, previous to getting Rusty, Grubbs knew they were great dogs and decided to get another Golden Retriever, though Rusty is full bred. Junior passed away at the age of 18.
“Rusty has a good personality and is a great dog, so coming up to getting him, we thought it would be good to do (therapy dog training) with him,” Grubbs shared, noting that he has always enjoyed volunteering to help people. “We just enjoy doing this with the dogs and meeting people.”
Grubbs noted that he retired as a district fire chief and now volunteers at Beeson’s Volunteer Fire Department.
Grubbs and Rusty aren’t new to visiting hospitals as they visit two other hospitals throughout the month, giving others their time and offering comfort.
As a therapy dog, Rusty does several things.
“He goes around and greets people in the lobby and people can come up and meet him,” he said.
Grubbs explained that when visiting with children, who are often in need or want of exercising some energy, Rusty will play ball or play hide-and-seek with a toy or ball.
“If they can’t get up or aren’t mobile, he will visit with them,” he stated. “We put a sheet down, and he can jump up in the bed with someone or sit up and they can pet him.”
Grubbs shared one story of a young boy who had a broken neck that wasn’t able to move much and so, as to not cause further harm, Rusty sat in a chair next to the bed and put his paws and head on the boy’s bed so that he could pet him.
Grubbs noted that Rusty is certified through Therapy Dog International (TDI) and shared that in order to get certified, he had to undergo several months of training and take a test that included 17 stations, twice since both he and his wife are handlers.
“He has to be trained to go up to all types of people and equipment. He is trained not to eat off of the floor and to ignore food, and he is trained not to lick those that do not want to be licked and because people in hospitals often have IVs,” he said. “He has to behave and be polite when visiting somebody’s room.”
Grubbs laughed as he shared that one thing that Rusty really enjoys is being petted.
“He will go from one person to the other and it doesn’t matter who you are, he just loves to be petted,” he said.
Through their volunteer work, Grubbs shared that they have met a lot of people.
“It’s a good way to meet people. There are a lot of good stories that we come across, and from time-to-time you really know you have made someone’s day,” he said. “It’s kind of a hobby that we enjoy doing. I wish we could do it more, but there are only so many hours in the day.”
Parks noted the many benefits therapy dogs offer to patients.
“Dogs have forever been called, ‘man’s best friend,’ providing companionship to people in need. In hospitals, they provide moments of companionship, joy, comfort, distraction, and they are soothing to patients. But they are not just a benefit to patients. They are also a benefit to family members and staff at all levels, from our doctors and surgeons on down.”
Parks noted that the pet therapy volunteers visit many different areas of the hospital.
Parks urges anyone interested in being a volunteer with their therapy dog, to contact Novant Health.
“Just call the Volunteer Services Department here at Presbyterian Medical Center or any Novant Health hospital for more information,” she said. “Therapy dogs are in many places, like public libraries and schools, but being in the hospital is the most demanding place for dogs (hence the special training here). Some dogs can’t handle the smells, the noises, the elevators. It takes a special dog to be a TDI dog. It takes a remarkable dog to be a hospital pet therapy dog.”
Rusty and Grubbs are at Novant Health KMC on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
For more information, contact Novant Health KMC at (336) 564-4000 or visit

Rabbit Hopping

November 25, 2015

bunnyA sport called rabbit hopping has long been popular in Scandinavia, originating in the 1970s. Now, decades later, the rest of the world is catching on. For the first time, this year’s N.C. State Fair featured a competitive rabbit hopping event. The five velvety, long-eared animals of various breeds competed against one another, wowing crowds with their agility and jumping abilities.
Paige Smith, a Kernersville teen, knows a bit about this up and coming sport. Smith, a 19-year-old certified nursing assistant, rabbit breeder/trainer and co-owner of Narrow Gate Farm, won first place in 2014 with her Rhinelander bunny “Hybusa” at the American Rabbit Breeders Association hopping contest.
“Paige has been involved with rabbits at the youth level since she was about six-years-old. She has been involved in all aspects – the raising of the rabbits, the showing of the rabbits and handled the organization of everything as well,” noted Brenda Smith, co-owner of Narrow Gate Farm. Brenda, Paige’s mother, is also president of the N.C. Rabbit Breeders Association.
When asked where her love of rabbits came from, Paige recalled, “When I was about five-years-old I rode horses and loved riding all the time, but I kept getting injured. I remember my family taking me to the Dixie Classic Fair. My sister (Kylee) and I started talking to the rabbits in the Expo area and immediately fell in love with them. From there, we kept bugging our parents about adopting a pet rabbit. Our mother agreed to the rabbits on two conditions, if we were going to have rabbits, we would have more than one rabbit that we keep in a cage and we would show them competitively. We got the greenlight from my father to adopt, and we came home that next weekend with six Holland Lops.
Thirteen years later, the farm boasts around 120 rabbits, including Jersey Wollies, Rhinelanders, Flemish Giants and Holland Lops. In general, Holland Lops are the most popular breed, where the Rhinelanders are the most active breed, making the Rhinelander the popular choice for rabbit hopping.
Paige has been involved with rabbit hopping since the fall of 2011.
“I saw someone doing it, and I thought, ‘That is so cool,’” said Paige, who shows and hops rabbits competitively on a regular basis. Soon thereafter, Paige and “Izzu,” her prized Rhinelander, started training. Within three days, he was ready for his first obstacle course.
The roots of rabbit hopping come from Sweden, where the sport began in the 1970s. Rabbit hopping (sometimes called rabbit jumping) is very popular in Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and Germany where competitions can be found about every weekend and may have as many as 200 participants. Since the 1980s, rabbit hopping has slowly been gaining popularity in the U.S.
Rabbit hopping is a novel sport in which rabbits hop over barriers on a course that resembles that of a horseshow event, scaled down for bunnies. The long-eared animals of various breeds are led around by a leash through a gauntlet of 12 jumps.
The activity is a healthy way for rabbits to interact with their owners beyond the confines of the cage, said Paige.
“Owners and rabbits take the competition very seriously. Traditionally, it was a children’s sport, but increasingly adults are getting involved too,” said Paige.
While rabbits are natural-born hoppers, hopping over barriers around a course surrounded by spectators takes training and a lot of practice, say the sport’s proponents.
The first step, Paige said, is to get the rabbits comfortable wearing a harness and walking on a variety of surfaces. Once a rabbit gets used to the harness, the jumps are introduced.
Common mistakes of the novice rabbit hopper are trying to get the rabbit to jump before it is comfortable running in the harness and getting in front of the rabbit instead of allowing it to take the lead. By the time a competition rolls around, a well-trained rabbit is ready for action.
Rabbit hoppers stress that just about any rabbit will do when it comes to selecting a bunny for competitive jumping, but certain breeds make better hoppers than others. According to Paige, “Any rabbit that enjoys jumping can compete in the rabbit hopping competition.”
The sport, they say, is more about the fun of the experience for the rabbits and the owners than winning a trophy.
“We look for rabbits that are highly social and also enjoy agility,” said Paige. The rabbits aren’t motivated by treats to jump over hurdles, so they must naturally be interested in taking part. “Owners can help to gently coax them along the course by softly patting them with their hand. People who use force like kicking are immediately disqualified.”
While the sport may seem taxing on the little animals, rabbit hoppers will be quick to point out that not only are rabbits naturally adept at these sorts of skills, they also thoroughly enjoy them. In fact, most are naturals.
“We do train our own rabbits, but the rabbits really do their own training,” said Paige. A rabbit’s instinctive tendency is to run in zig-zags, attempting to confuse any predators. The rabbits will learn by example, however, eventually becoming excited enough to get out on the course.
As far as the joy of rabbit hopping, the owners seem to enjoy it as much as the rabbits themselves. “It’s lots of fun. I get to spend time with my rabbits and they get plenty of exercise, when they are not being stubborn,” said Paige. “This is a sport where the more you do it, the better your rabbit will respond.”
Paige said while training rabbits for competition, the focus should always be on the safety and happiness of the rabbit. She said a trainer first needs to have a rabbit that is energetic and naturally wants to hop.
“This is like a brand new sport. It came to the United States in the 80s, but it has suddenly gained more and more momentum. There are not many nationally sanctioned rabbit jumping events, and competitions are mostly organized by independent groups and private rabbit owners. However, streamlined national regulations for the sport are being developed by the American Hopping Association for Rabbits and Cavies, an organization chartered by the American Rabbit Breeders Association,” added Brenda.
Rabbit hopping is fun for children and grown-ups alike. Who says horses should have all the fun?

Relay for Life Award

November 25, 2015

teacherThe American Cancer Society gave Kernersville Elementary School (KES) Data Manager Kathy Amrich an Appreciation Award for being an Outstanding Volunteer after the school raised $6,750.84 this year during Relay for Life.
“This year, we were the first place fundraising team in Kernersville and our team got an award for ‘Pack the Track.’ That means Kernersville Elementary had the most team members on the track at the end of the event,” Amrich said.
To date, KES has raised over $100,000 to bring awareness to the different cancers and to raise funds to fight the battle against cancer.
“We’ve had so many folks here that have had so many different kinds of cancer,” Amrich remarked.
Amrich noted that they are gearing up for another year of participating in Relay for Life.
“A letter was sent out to parents on Friday, November 6 to let them know about our kickoff fundraiser for kids,” she said. “We usually raise roughly $2,000. This year’s theme is ‘More Happily Ever Afters.’”
During the student kickoff, which started on November 9, the school sold smiley faces for $0.25. The homeroom that sold the most smileys will be awarded with a treat party.
Amrich said they had a bake sale during the school’s annual Fall Carnival to raise money for the Relay for Life kickoff.
“We raised over $200,” she said.

Riding the GAP

November 25, 2015

fallingwaterAfter having completed the C and O (Chesapeake and Ohio) Trail in 2011, Wade Hampton and his daughter, Kate, decided to complete the second part of the trail, known as the GAP.
The GAP (Great Alleghany Passage), which runs from Cumberland, Maryland to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a 150-mile rail-to-trail conversion with several trail towns along the route. The C and O Trail is 185 miles and runs from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C. Both trails together equal 335 miles.
“When we finished the C and O, we knew we wanted to bike the GAP,” Hampton said. “We’d done things like the Virginia Creeper Trail, which is (roughly) 20 miles, and the New River Trail several times and we enjoyed riding in nature and being out in the woods.”
To train for the 150-mile bike ride, Hampton said he rode his bike around Salem Lake and the Salem Creek Greenway off of Salem Lake and by participating in Bike MS: Tour to Tanglewood.
“Kate lives in Washington, D.C. and she used the bike share program to train,” he said. “I rode a Trek hybrid and Kate used a mountain bike. They both worked well. The rail-to-trail was mostly hard packed gravel, while the toe path on the C and O was muddy with rocks and gravel at times.”
Hampton said there are a lot of supporting materials for both trails, including books and maps, as well as other information that tell how long the ride will be, what to bring and where to stay.
Hampton explained that he and Kate were on the GAP trail this year during the second week in October, which allowed them to see some great fall color. They spent four days and three nights on the trail, staying at bed and breakfasts (B&B) along the way.
“My wife and mother-in-law would follow us along and meet us at each B&B. The first night we stayed in Cumberland at The Inn on Decatur. Small trail towns like this have really started to cater to hikers and cyclists,” he said, noting they hiked between 30 – 40 miles each day.”
Each day, Kate and Wade took time to stop and see the many sights along the way.
“Both trails have a lot of historical aspects, so there was a lot to see and do,” he said. “On the C and O, we saw the Antietam National Battlefield, Harpers Ferry, where we stayed in a lockhouse one night. On the GAP, we saw Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater (house), built in the 1930s. It was amazingly modern looking. We went over the Mason-Dixon Line and went through a number of tunnels and trestles. One was 3,700 feet long. In Ohiopyle State Park, there were a lot of natural things with lots of kayaking, canoeing and camping in the area.”
Hampton said while they met people along the way, they also had times of solitude.
“There is a lot of solitude on the trail. You can go miles without seeing anyone, and then it can be crowded (on the greenways) in cities,” he said. “We talked to a couple that was on their second thru ride and another couple that had biked quite a bit. They told us about Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, South Carolina. Learning about other trails from riders is always fun.”
Hampton said while a majority of the trail was fairly easy, the first day was a little challenging.
“It was raining on the first day and that’s when we did most of the climbing, but the rest of the time was fairly easy. Having a good pair of bike shorts is important,” he shared.
Hampton said his most memorable moments were crossing the Continental Divide and riding beside the rivers for miles.
“We saw a lot of trout fishermen and a lot of natural beauty,” he said.
Hampton is a member of the Kernersville Cycling Club and was a member of the Pedestrian and Bicycling Committee for the Town of Kernersville before the cycling club was formed.
“I have been cycling all of my life, but I have been seriously cycling for 20 years,” he said.
Hampton enjoys cycling for many reasons.
“It’s easy on the knees and you can see more territory (than on foot),” he said.

Oaklawn Baptist Pastor

November 25, 2015

pastorHaving wanted to be a pastor since he was a young boy, Jay Boyce’s dreams have been fulfilled as he takes over as lead pastor at Oaklawn Baptist Church.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Boyce attended Lake City Baptist Tabernacle, where he developed his interest in becoming a pastor.
“It’s all I have really ever wanted to do,” he said. “I think my mom even has cassette tapes of me preaching when I was young.”
After high school, Boyce attended Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville, Florida, where he met his wife, Samantha Swift Boyce. There, he also took courses in church ministries and music, concentrating more on vocal training. Boyce graduated from Trinity Baptist College in 1995.
“My wife is a Kernersville native, so that is how we ended up back here in Kernersville,” he said.
The Boyces have two sons, Grady and Judah, who both attend Triad Baptist Christian Academy.
Boyce found his first position in the ministry at Tabernacle Christian School, a Christian school in Alabama. After that, they moved to Kernersville, where Boyce worked in a secular job for six years and attended Gospel Light Baptist Church and got involved with the youth ministry.
“My first full-time church job was in 2001 at Trinity Baptist Church in Asheville,” he said, noting they were there until 2009 before moving back to Kernersville. “I was the college and career pastor and the music minister there.”
Once they moved back to Kernersville, Boyce was hired to work at Oaklawn Baptist Church as the worship pastor (music minister), and in 2011 he took over as the youth pastor as well.
“In July of this year, I took over as the lead pastor,” he said noting that he continues to lead the music ministry. “When people come here, they’ll see that I wear two hats, but while I am thankful for the gift of music, pastoring has always been my first love.”
Boyce said one of the things he enjoys most about being a pastor is visiting with people.
“I love the people, which is important for a pastor’s role. I also enjoy doing pastoral care and visiting people. Our challenge here is that we want to reach people with the Gospel and be known as the church that loves and cares for people,” he said. “This area is becoming diverse and that’s also what I want us to be. I want us to care for all people and I want our congregation to be diverse.”
Boyce said within the church there are several groups and ministries, but their main goal is to preach.
“We want to preach Christ to the world and be known as the church that cares and loves people. That is very important to me,” he remarked.
When it comes to his style of preaching, Boyce said he has been told he is very animated.
“I preach expositional, explaining the scripture verse by verse,” he said. “It’s not about opinions and I don’t get into politics from the pulpit. I just keep it biblical, preaching truth and love.”
Boyce noted that of the ministries at Oaklawn Baptist Church, there are three fairly new ministries, including their mobile soup kitchen, clothing closet, and food pantry.
Boyce said they held their first mobile soup kitchen recently by taking food to downtown Winston-Salem on the corner of Northwest Boulevard and Patterson Avenue, where they fed about 100 people.
“Whoever came by, we fed them. There were several people who were homeless that came by and we fed them and prayed with them,” he said. “We fed so many people that we ran out of food. We are doing another mobile soup kitchen on December 5.”
As for their food pantry, they will be holding their second one today from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
“We basically fill 30 – 40 bags of groceries that will feed a family for three to four days,” Boyce said. “Last month was our first time doing this and it was a great success.”
He said they are still in the process of getting the clothing closet together and are still collecting items.
“We are still in the process of getting that rolling, but we would like to provide coats for kids and things like that,” he said. “We have a mission team that has been community driven to help families in need.”
Oaklawn Baptist Church is located at 3500 Kernersville Road. For more information, visit

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.