A Rising Star

July 5, 2018

Young actor Braxton Alexander from Oak Ridge enjoyed being featured in his first comedy, Tag, now playing in theatres.
Known as Braxton DeFosse by his friends, Braxton began his acting career at the age of six. Now 11, he has been featured in a number of films. In 2016 he was featured in JonBenet: An American Murder Mystery, where he plays the role of Burke Ramsey, and The Dear Hunter – Gloria where he plays the role as a child hunter. In 2017, he was featured in Mr. Mercedes as young Brady Hartsfield and this year, he was featured in Tag, where he plays the role of nine-year-old Bob Callahan.
Braxton’s father, Michael DeFosse, said Braxton is also featured in some independent films, including Cotton Tail, Compulsion, and The Valley, and is playing the lead in a film that will be released sometime in July, called Pastime.
Michael explained that in Pastime, Braxton plays the role of a Little League Baseball player who travels through the journey of his own death.
“My wife, Kathryn, who is also an actress, plays his mom in that film. It’s a really funny show with a star ensemble cast,” Michael said.
Michael explained that Braxton’s management firm is Bohemia Group, a worldwide firm headquartered in Los Angeles, and his agency is Marilyn’s Agency in Greensboro. Michael has been in the business for 19 years as an agent and producer.
Although Braxton attended public school at Oak Ridge Elementary School, with his work schedule getting heavier, he is now being homeschooled by his mom using Classical Conversations and taking classes through Duke TIP at Duke University, which is a gifted program.
“It’s going really well and gives him the opportunity to do what he loves,” Michael said.
With having a busy schedule and often on the road traveling to different sets around the country, Braxton has also had to put a hold on participating in sporting activities.
“He loves baseball and played soccer and basketball every season up until last season,” Michael said.
Although his acting career has taken off, Michael said he and Kathryn originally didn’t want him to be an actor; however, when Braxton was six years old, they put him in acting lessons to grow his confidence, to think on his feet, and to look at people when they are talking to him.
“We didn’t think that he would audition, but when he was eight-years-old, he came home and asked why he wasn’t auditioning,” he said.
Michael explained that from there, Braxton continued training and started auditioning.
Braxton explained that what he enjoys most about acting is telling stories.
“I like telling stories and fulfilling characters that I would not be able to in real life. I also like exploring my emotions, figuring out what triggers everything and working with people around the world,” he said.
Of all the places Braxton has traveled to during his acting career, he said Malibu was his favorite.
“It’s a really beautiful place,” he remarked.
Braxton noted that he has worked jobs in in NC, Atlanta, New Orleans, Los Angeles and others.
“He’s been in Los Angeles for two out of the last six weeks, and he’s up for some really great roles there right now,” Michael added.
When Braxton does travel for work, Michael said the family often goes with him, especially Kathryn.
“It’s something they love to do together and be on set together. Sometimes I travel with them, but I don’t usually go to set with them,” he said.
Of all the films that he has been in, Braxton said his favorite has been Tag.
“It was really cool, and I met some amazing actors and some great people,” he said. “It was very funny and I had my first kiss on a big budget movie screen. That was an experience that I will never forget.”
Although he enjoyed playing in the comedy, Braxton said he seems to generally lean toward dark and drama films, but he’s open to doing anything.
“I think I just have a lot of fun with these roles and connecting with my emotions,” he said, noting that his agent usually chooses a film and submits him for an audition.
While his favorite movie has been Tag, Braxton said the actor he has enjoyed meeting the most was Harry Treadaway in Mr. Mercedes.
“I play the young version of him in the film. He’s a really cool guy and I can’t imagine him being like that in real life. He’s incredibly nice and he is nothing like his character,” he shared. “He has amazing talent.”
As for Tag, in theaters now, Braxton said he enjoyed acting in a comedy and meeting the young cast.
“They are my friends today and we are very close,” he said. “I’ve never really experienced a comedy film before. It was very interesting to see how jokes play out.”
In any movie he has played a role in, Braxton said getting to see himself in the finished product on the big screen is extremely satisfying.
In the future, Braxton said he hopes to be able to continue to act.
“I just hope to be able to do what I love, tell stories and just have other great experiences like these for a long time,” he said.

Red, White & Belews Farm

July 5, 2018

With a patriotic name, Red, White & Belews Farm features chickens, ducks, llamas and goats. The farm was started after Rebecca and Jason Meyer were married three years ago on the Fourth of July and purchased land in Belews Creek.
“We purchased the land three years ago,” said Rebecca. “It used to be a tobacco farm and when we purchased it, there were old buildings on the property.”
When they first started out, Jason said they got some ducks as pets and the farm has slowly grown since.
“We have a pond and the goal was to put the ducks on the pond, but they never really made it,” he said. “We took them down there one day and they were afraid and ran back to the house and we’ve been protective of them as well.”
After they got the ducks, Rebecca and Jason said they got the goats.
“We have 27 acres and 19 of that is wooded. The goats have really helped clean up the property, which is why we initially got them,” Jason said.
“They’re all named after country music singers,” Rebecca added.
The goats include Johnny, June, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dolly, Reba, Patsy Cline, Naomi, Wynonna and Waylon.
“They are all dairy goats (Nigerian Dwarfs) and earlier this year, two of our goats had kids, which allowed us to milk them for roughly four months,” Rebecca said, noting that with the milk they made soap and cheese. “We sold a lot of the milk, but we still have a lot of soap, which is both scented and unscented. We have some of them for sale on Etsy.”
Rebecca explained that goat milk has a really high butter fat content, which is why it’s so good for making cheese.
“It also tastes really rich,” Jason added.
Rebecca explained that one of Wynonna’s kids, which they named number three so they wouldn’t get attached, had to go to work with her at Emergency Responders Credit Union one day because Wynonna wasn’t producing enough milk for all of her kids.
“My co-workers loved it,” she said.
Jason noted that they will eventually also breed the goats to sell.
Although they like all of their goats and enjoy sitting out listening to the sounds they make and watching them jump around, they each have a favorite.
Rebecca said her favorite is Jerry, while Jason said his favorite is Patsy.
After the goats, Jason and Rebecca decided to get chickens for their eggs, while also still consuming the duck eggs. The breed of chicken they chose are White Leghorn.
Rebecca said they chose White Leghorn chickens because they lay white eggs and are easy to care for.
“We let them free range when we’re home,” she said. “They are great at eating mosquitos and ticks.”
After losing some of their ducks to a fox, Rebecca and Jason purchased two llamas.
“After we had some casualties with our ducks from some fox, we decided to get some llamas,” Jason said. “Llamas are herd protectors used to scare away other animals.”
Jason said they chose to go with llamas instead of donkeys because they are better with goat kids.
“Llamas have a more nurturing personality,” he said.
Although they didn’t have time to figure out what to do with the llama’s fur last year, Jason said they may look into doing something with it in the future.
Not long after Rebecca and Jason got their llamas, Rebecca said one of them spit on her, so she hasn’t really fallen in love with them.
“They’ve gotten used to us now, and they are good at what they do,” she said.
Jason and Rebecca also have a vegetable garden. This year, they are growing corn, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, jalapenos, and cantaloupe.
“Last year, Rebecca pickled 120 pints of cucumbers that we sold and made 50 – 60 pints of both salsa and pasta sauce,” Jason said.
Jason and Rebecca said they love living on a farm.
“I love the animals, bonding with them and taking care of them,” she said.
“I love the work. I like that accomplished feeling at the end of the day – the manual aspect of it,” Jason said.
Now with animals on their farm, Rebecca and Jason will be adding two new kids to the bunch, though these (twins) are not the goat type.

Adding Surgery Space

June 14, 2018

Cone Health has submitted a certificate of need application to develop a new surgical center on its Hwy. 66 South campus.

The application was submitted to the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation Health Planning and Certificate of Need Section on May 15 and is currently undergoing the review process.

If the application is approved by state regulators, the $12.7 million project proposes a new, free-standing ambulatory surgery facility in Kernersville with two operating rooms, one gastrointestinal endoscopy room and one procedure room. Estimated completion time for the 15,500-sq. ft. center would be April 2020.

“We’re actively pursuing a certificate of need for new operating room capacity in Forsyth County,” said Jim Roskelly, executive vice president of strategic development for Cone Health.

The surgery center would be built on the southeast corner of the Cone Health MedCenter Kernersville’s 13 acre campus. Roskelly said the facility would enhance the already existing services provided at the location.

“The surgery center would be a nice way to augment a well-established program,” Roskelly said of the MedCenter Kernersville campus.

Services provided by the surgery center would include orthopedic and general surgery, urological procedures, otolaryngology and gastroenterology services, Roskelly added.

Roskelly said the proposal demonstrates Cone Health’s commitment to providing a growing community the services it needs.

“It’s an indication of Cone Health’s commitment to serve in an area that is growing. There has been a lot of medical development in the area and Cone Health has been prominent in that growth,” said Roskelly. “We have a commitment to that community.”

Roskelly said a public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for July 16 at Kernersville Town Hall.

“Once that has been held, we would expect a decision sometime in November,” Roskelly said.

Cone Health MedCenter Kernersville, located at 1635 N.C. 66 South, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in the community. The campus offers both primary care and urgent care services and held a community day on Tuesday, June 12 to celebrate its 10-year milestone.

In addition to Cone Health’s request, state regulators will review several other certificate of need applications during the same July 16 public hearing at Town Hall, all seeking to add operating capacity in Forsyth County. They include the following:

· Triad Surgery Center has submitted an application to develop a new ambulatory surgery facility with two operating rooms and three procedure rooms. The project would cost $7.1 million.

· Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center has submitted an application to add two operating rooms for a total of 35 operating rooms on the hospital’s license. The project would cost $4.1 million.

· Novant Health Clemmons Outpatient Surgery has submitted an application to add two operating rooms to a previously approved ambulatory surgery center for a total of four operating rooms upon completion. The project would cost $3.1 million.

· North Carolina Baptist Hospital has submitted an application to add four operating rooms for a total of 51 operating rooms upon completion. The project would cost $9.9 million.

The public hearing will begin at 12 noon.

Founders Park

February 20, 2018

After months of discussion and revising the conceptual design, members of the Kernersville Board of Aldermen are ready to transform the former School Tools site into a relaxing community park.
As you may recall, the former slate of aldermen reviewed an initial rendering of the park back in November that would have included a statue in the center of the park, rod iron fencing on the sides of the park that front Main and Mountain streets and benches throughout the area. It was going to have brick pavers, a 3D waterscape that dumped into a pond area and enhanced landscaping on multiple sides of the park. The rendering also included the option of adding a mural to the side of the existing building, which would have been completed by local artist Richard Hedgecock.
That group of Board members, which included former Kernersville Police Chief Neal Stockton, who filled a vacant seat for just a few months, loved the overall concept of the park but was on the fence about adding the mural for a variety of reasons, including a concern that it would make the park look too busy. Those Board members decided instead to table the decision about the mural until after the election so the newly seated Board could make the final decision. They knew there would be at least one new person joining the Board, and they didn’t want to make a final decision in case the new group felt differently about the mural.
As it turned out, the newly seated Board agreed with their former colleagues in their decision to not include the mural, but they did discuss the possibility of working with local artists to decorate the picnic tables at a later date. They said they like the idea of incorporating local artwork into the new park and thought this would be the perfect compromise. However, they would like for Kernersville Parks and Recreation Director Ernie Pages to further research their options and gain a better understanding about how to protect those images from vandalism and inclement weather.
“Board members have not ruled out the option of having local artists paint or otherwise decorate the various picnic tables that are going to be installed, but that is something that can be done at a later date,” Town Manager Curtis Swisher said. “The group is eager to get started, and our goal is to begin construction in April.”
“It will take us a few weeks to finish the construction documents, put the project out for bid and make our final selection, but I don’t think the project will take long once we get started,” added Pages, who just met with the architect on Thursday. “We know this is a tight deadline, but everyone is on the same page.”
Pages said the final rendering looks very similar to the November rendering, including the fencing, water feature and other aforementioned elements, but they did make minor changes to the landscaping. He said they decided to thin out some of the landscaping to create a more open look from all vantage points instead of having a solid row of trees on various sides of the park. The design team also widened some of the walkway to make room for circular picnic tables, moved the water feature closer to the corner of the park and plan to add stepping stones near the water feature so guests can grab a quick bite to eat at one of the downtown restaurants and relax by the water.
The more open concept will also give passersby a better view of the featured statue, Pages said. The statue is entitled the “Clockmaker Statue,” and Board members have decided to use the version of the statue that does not include the beard. Funding for the statue is being provided by the same community organizations and area businesses who donated money to install the three statues at the public safety memorial in Fourth of July Park.
Funding for the remaining section of the park is coming through grants from the State of North Carolina. Swisher explained that these grants have a combined value of $194,000 and will cover most of the expenses associated with the park. Swisher said the first grant was awarded in 2016 and was used to demolish the former School Tools building and to help purchase the building at the corner of the park that will be transformed into a public restroom. The second grant, which was awarded in the summer of 2017, is worth $100,000 and will be used to construct that bathroom and to install the various elements of the actual park.
Pages said the Town is trying to use that money as efficiently as possible. He said the bid application he sends out will, of course, include the site plan, rendering and list of design elements they want to include, but he also plans to list the bathroom project as an “additional alternative” to see what companies have to say about that. He believes that it might be cheaper to do that portion of the project as part of the main construction, but he will also send the bathroom out as a standalone bid for comparison sake.
“If people are already going to be at the site pouring concrete, adding power to the park and doing the other necessary work, I would think that cost sharing measures would be more efficient, but we will see what happens,” Pages said. “My goal is to use our grant money as effectively as possible.”
One other topic of discussion that took place Tuesday with regard to the new corner park involved a possible name for the park. Up to this point, the aldermen and Town staff have been referring to the new park as “Founders Park,” but the Board voted last Tuesday to change the name to “Founders Körner Park” in honor of the Town’s namesake.
Pages explained that the sign in the park will say “Founders Körner” but they are using the word park to reference the site in all printed materials to make sure people know what kind of destination it is.
“It was actually April Lancaster (manager of Fitz on Main) who suggested the name to Alderman Jenny Fulton, and we all agreed it was the right name,” said Dawn Morgan, Kernersville mayor. “It is going to be a beautiful park when it’s finished.”
“I think the new park will serve as a landmark and will be a great beautification piece for our downtown,” added Pages. “I think it’s a great use of that space, and I am really excited to see it come together.”
He continued.
“We’ve made a number of changes to the design in recent months, but I think the final version is a great compromise and will be something that citizens of all ages are able to enjoy.”
The park is expected to be finished by the end of June 2018, weather permitting.

Winning at Relay for Life

February 20, 2018

Students at Kernersville Elementary School (KES) have been busy raising money for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society. As they well know, even pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters can add up quickly when it comes to the fight against cancer.
The recent winter weather was particularly similar to one unique fundraising effort, where the school sold cotton balls for 25 cents each to build a cotton ball snowman for each grade level.
According to Kathi Amrich, data manager at KES, the students raised more than $1,000 a day ahead of the competition to see who could raise the most money during the fundraiser. The last day was Friday, Feb. 9.
Overall, fourth grade raised the most money while building their own snowman. In addition, they took the fundraiser one step further.
“They built a family of snowmen, added snow and created a blizzard,” Amrich said.
Kindergarten wasn’t too far behind, Amrich continued.
“This generation knows the cancer word. The children would talk about someone they knew who had or has cancer,” Amrich said.
KES student Mikayla Morris, 10, wants cancer to go away.
“I want people to not be sick and cancer to go away. It’s like a bully to kids,” she said.
Another student, Blaine Thompson, also 10, said raising money was to help people who need it.
“There are people who don’t need this (cancer),” Thompson said. “We raise money so they can have a better life.”
Chandler Flynt in Beth Green’s third grade class donated every week and said he is going to find a cure for cancer.
James Ford in Leonia Fox-Smith’s kindergarten class had the largest donation made for the contest. They were given by his two aunts and helped make his class the class that raised the most money in the snowman contest, said Amrich.
Making cotton ball snowmen is just one of the ways KES raises money for Relay for Life. The school hosts a baked potato bar on one of the district’s early release days for staff. The bar usually raises more than $500 each year, Amrich said.
KES also sells sun cards for $1 in the spring to honor survivors, in memory of those who have lost the battle and in support of those currently going through the battle along with their caregivers.
“It’s amazing to see all the names of family and friends of the entire KES family represented,” Amrich said. “That shows you how much this disease has affected so many people right here in our community.”
Another fundraiser includes selling luminaries that the students decorate.
“This year, we may put them around our track for the children to walk around and honor, or maybe put them in the gym and turn off the lights to see the glow sticks light up the bags,” Amrich continued. “They symbolize hope, remembering those who are fighting the battle against cancer, those who have survived and those who have lost their lives. They let people know they are not forgotten and to show your support.”
Amrich said that anyone who would like to donate to the KES Relay for Life team can do so online on the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life page or at the school.
“If anyone wants to make a donation to our Relay team, they could do it online and choose our school’s name or by check, made payable to the American Cancer Society and drop it off at the school,” Amrich said.


December 10, 2017

After fighting a long battle with addiction, through the help of others, Kernersville resident Brad Iddings helps others through his slogan, #Iamhope.
Iddings explained that having moved around throughout his childhood, he used drugs to fit in with people.
“I went to 11 different schools in 10 years because my parents were moving around to make ends meet,” he said.
Iddings said he had been using for 12 years before he became clean.
He said he overcame addiction once in 2006 from the use of cocaine, but relapsed in 2010 with pain pills. Iddings said he has now been clean for over six years. He explained that he was forced to detox from the pain pills after he was incarcerated for 13 months in June 2010 on drug related charges.
When Iddings was released from jail, he said he lived with a friend in recovery. Iddings explained that he also joined Narcotics Anonymous, which is held at Kernersville Moravian Church on Wednesday nights at 7:30 p.m. and later moved into an Oxford House, which he said is a recovery house where recovering addicts can live for $100 a month as long as they don’t use drugs.
“I had the resources to go into recovery and surrounded myself with people who could help me keep on track,” he said.
Iddings said his love for service started during his time living in the Oxford House.
Following getting clean, Iddings said he worked in construction for about four months until he was given the opportunity to buy a transportation business from a friend, where he drives a minivan seven days a week to deliver truck parts in VA and NC. During many of his deliveries, Iddings said he would see homeless people holding signs on exit ramps.
Iddings explained that he and his fiancé, Catherine Smith, also started attending Shady Grove Wesleyan Church in Colfax. Shortly after joining, Iddings said the church began passing out hygiene packs.
“I would take them and put them in my car to hand out,” he said.
On one delivery, Iddings said he met a guy in Gibsonville.
“I’d give him a pack, and one day I asked him if I could pray for him and if he needed anything else. He’d been sleeping in the woods and said he needed a tent and some clothes,” he said. “A lot of these guys don’t know there is another way to live.”
At that point, Iddings said he sparked #Iamhope.
“I went and bought 20 t-shirts, which I sold before I received them. Then I used that money to buy 50 more t-shirts,” he said, adding that doing that has continued to fund helping people in need.
With the money he raised from t-shirt sales, Iddings said in 2015, he and 13 of his friends were able to feed 58 homeless people in Greensboro for Thanksgiving by driving around to different locations.
“We kept selling t-shirts and then stickers. Then, that Christmas in 2015, we did Heating the Homeless,” he said. “We bought 1,800 blankets, socks, hats, and gloves and put together a care package and delivered them the same way.”
In 2016, Iddings said they also started collecting hygiene items, and had collected about 22,000 – 23,000 hygiene items and food by April 2016.
For Thanksgiving 2016, Iddings and his friends went to Elementary School Academy (ESA) in Winston-Salem, a small title one school, and fed both the students and the faculty.
“Most, if not all, of the kids’ parents are incarcerated or are addicts,” he said. “I met one kid who only had one outfit. I asked him what he wanted for Christmas and all he said he wanted was a dinosaur. So, for Christmas that year, we decided to adopt seven kids in three cities, one of them being that kid.”
This past Thanksgiving, Iddings said they were able to feed 49 children at ESA.
Along with all that he has done so far to give back to others, Iddings continues to come up with more ideas. He decided to have Haircuts for the Homeless at the Interactive Resource Center in Greensboro with the help of certified barbers. During the event, they also passed out hygiene items.
“We have done this three times now,” he said. “All of this has been funded through the sale of our #Iamhope t-shirts, but we have also received some monetary donations and items for Christmas.”
Iddings said helping others is just one way he can give back to others and give people hope that there is something better out there.
“For me, from where I was to where I am today, if anybody feels like they cannot change who they are, there is hope,” he said. “You just have to be willing to put in the work.”
Iddings also enjoys giving back because there were so many people who were there for him when he was in need and coming clean.
“I give back because there were so many people that helped me, such as putting a roof over my head when I was homeless, which was almost for a month the last time,” he said.
#Iamhope t-shirts are $20. If interested in purchasing a t-shirt, sticker, hoodie or hat or making a donation for #Iamhope, contact Iddings at 336-420-5950.

Brain Aneurysm Foundation

November 2, 2017

Corie Maffett, a teacher at East Forsyth Middle School, is thankful to be alive and tell her story to help others as the NC representative for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (BAF).
According to the BAF, a brain aneurysm is a weak bulging spot on the wall of a brain artery. Over time, the blood flow within the artery pounds against the thinned portion of the wall and aneurysms form silently from wear and tear on the arteries. As the artery wall becomes gradually thinner from the dilation, the blood flow causes the weakened wall to swell outward. This pressure may cause the aneurysm to rupture and allow blood to escape into the space around the brain. A ruptured brain aneurysm commonly requires advanced surgical treatment.
It is estimated that six million people in the US have an unruptured brain aneurysm, or 1 in 50 people.
Maffett explained that she had a brain aneurysm six years ago in October 2011. She was working out at the gym when she felt a radiating pain up the back of her neck that stopped her cold.
“The pain was like nothing I’d ever experienced,” she said.
Doing what she encourages others not to do, Maffett drove home. She explained that when her husband, Guy, arrived at the house he immediately knew something wasn’t right.
“Guy came home. My car was in the driveway and the car door was still open,” she said. “There were wet footprints on the floor from where I’d taken a shower and I was laying on the couch.”
Maffett said her husband asked her if she was okay, and she told him she just wanted to take some Tylenol and go to bed, but luckily, he wouldn’t allow her to do so.
“Guy said, ‘No, let’s go to the hospital,’” she said, noting that she went to Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center. “I got there and they handed me a tray in case I got sick.”
While in the waiting room, Maffett said she was in so much pain she got up and went back to the ER.
“I told them I was having the worst headache of my life. I guess that is a code phrase because a doctor said to get me a scan right away and then ended up transferring me to Forsyth Medical Center,” she said, noting that she spent 11 days in the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit. “I had an aneurysm that ruptured, and when they found that one, they found three more.”
Maffett said if she had gone to bed that night instead of going to the hospital, she probably wouldn’t have woken up.
Maffett went back in January 2012 and underwent endovascular coiling of the larger aneurysm.
“I still have two of them, but they are pretty small and are being watched,” she said. “I go every five years to have them checked.”
After getting out of the hospital, Maffett said she joined the BAF and their Facebook page, both for support and as a resource to gain more information.
Maffett said the foundation reached out to her this summer to see if she wanted to be the representative for the state of NC and to tell her story.
“I wanted to tell my story, because if I can save one person, it’s worthwhile,” she said. “If one person reads my story, and has a headache like I did, it might get them to the hospital.”
Maffett said she is thankful that she doesn’t have any lasting symptoms from the ruptured aneurysm.
“If that first aneurysm hadn’t ruptured, the larger one would never have been detected, and I probably wouldn’t have survived if it had ruptured,” she said. “And, if my husband hadn’t insisted on taking me to the hospital, I’m sure I wouldn’t have lived through that night, as the bleed was substantial.”
Through her experience, Maffett also gained a lasting friendship with one of her ICU nurses, Danielle. Maffett’s daughter was also inspired to become a nurse.
In telling her story as a representative for the BAF, Maffett urges everyone to become aware of the warning signs of a brain aneurysm and to not brush off any unusual symptoms like she had attempted to do.
“Listen to your body and get help if something seems wrong,” she said. “It could save your life.”
For more information about brain aneurysms and the BAF, visit www.bafound.org.

The Arson Project

October 12, 2017

The Arson Project is looking to raise $3,000 for their first fundraiser to help kickstart the organization, which is a Christian-based organization that offers hands-on assistance to Triad area homeless and poverty-stricken individuals.
With a relatively long beard, Kernersville resident and founder of The Arson Project Jordan DuBois is aiming to raise $3,000 before he is willing to shave his beard.
DuBois said he felt compelled to start the organization because it was something that had been weighing heavy on his heart for many years.
“Over the years, as I’ve been driving around and seeing these folks on the side of the road and hearing that discussion, ‘Should you help them or should you not help them?’ It’s just something that I have wanted to get involved in,” he said.
As a member of Sedge Garden United Methodist Church and a previous employee of the Kernersville YMCA, DuBois said his faith is naturally built into wanting to help these individuals.
“Going to Sedge Garden United Methodist Church and working at the YMCA, I had different opportunities to serve the community, and since I have left (the YMCA), I’ve wanted to get more involved,” he said. “One thing I feel strongly about is that our Christian faith should be built into our daily life.”
DuBois said when he sees individuals who are homeless, he sees human beings.
“These are human beings. I don’t really care if it’s addiction, mental illness, PTSD or why they are on the street. They are adults and human beings, but that should not have any bearing on how we treat them,” he said.
Over the past six to seven years, DuBois said he has wanted to help in a more concrete, tangible way.
DuBois explained that The Arson Project is an out-in-the-open, personal and visible entity, aiming to deliver resources and services directly to those in need; The Arson Project is working to build rapport and develop relationships with Triad-area homeless and poor on a personal level, with integrity and compassion, but without judgment; and use all donated funds locally, within the Forsyth and Guilford counties footprint.
He explained that there are a lot of organizations in the Triad that work to help get homeless individuals and families off the street, but that there is less of an effort from people going out to the streets and meeting the homeless where they are.
“A lot of this population have their reason to be out there – they are down on their luck, they lost their job and home, and they would happily come back in, but they don’t have a lot of trust and like the freedom to do whatever they want,” he said. “There are usually beds available if they wanted it, but a lot of them don’t trust these organizations or other people who are homeless, so a lot of them aren’t ready to take that step.”
While DuBois is aware that there are homeless individuals living in Kernersville, he said there isn’t the visible presence of people standing on the street and living under bridges.
“Most of the homeless in Kernersville are probably living out of their cars or on the couches of friends,” he said. “Often, people who are homeless make their way to larger cities with more traffic and more resources like soup kitchens and homeless shelters, and where they can panhandle. Those are the people I am keying in on.”
DuBois noted that while there are organizations such as Crisis Control that can help people, he said he is not aiming to duplicate organizations such as these
DuBois said part of his knowledge of what homeless individuals in the Triad need and want comes from speaking with overflow shelters and actually sitting down and talking to homeless individuals, as he wrote on Facebook on October 2.
DuBois shared the details of conversations he had with several men, which gave him great feedback.
“The biggest single need for these people is socks,” he said.
DuBois said The Arson Project’s three main objectives are to provide durable, heavy-duty backpacks stuffed with supplies and equipment vital to survival on the streets; regularly host pop-up meals and provide meal distribution complete with backpack refills, conversation, and smiles; and to develop a rapport with individuals in an ongoing attempt to make them feel loved, wanted, and cared for, and hopefully building trust that can be leveraged to connect them to services and assist in bringing them back into society.
DuBois said the backpacks he would like to supply to homeless individuals will cost $100-$125 and he plans to fill them with various supplies including sleeping pads, socks, reusable water bottles, journals, pens, lighters, ponchos, playing cards, a Bible, as well as some food and personal hygiene items.
“We’d like to have less food and toiletries and more things they would need to survive on the streets,” he said. “We want to buy them good durable stuff, stuff they can use and that will last.”
DuBois would like to be able to start out with purchasing 25 packs, but said if they only raise $1,000, then they’ll start with that and buy as many packs as they can.
DuBois said in the packs they will also have a list of resources of organizations for the homeless.
“For those individuals that aren’t quite ready to seek help, they might be on the road toward that. We just want to help them with their immediate needs, but we also want to hook them up with the resources that can help them down the road,” he said. “The long-term goal is to get them help and get them off the street, but we have to start small and with a basic relationship and that’s where the backpacks come in. This allows us a way to start that conversation with them and work toward getting them off the street.”
DuBois said some people may be hesitant to give to the homeless, but as Christians, that’s not the point.
“I am not a theologian, but it seems to me from the Christians’ perspective we don’t do enough. People assume when they look out the window and see someone that is homeless, that if they give them $5 they are going to go buy booze, pay their cell phone bill, or buy something other than food. But, the purpose is to reignite that fire,” he said. “Maybe they are going to spend that money on things they shouldn’t or maybe they are getting away with it and fooling me, but that’s not what Jesus said in the Bible, He said, ‘Go out there and do it.’ Maybe these people will feel loved, accepted, gain a sense of belonging and maybe a sense of hope for their own lives. And from that point, then maybe they will want to seek help.”
As they get more involved DuBois said The Arson Project will post pictures and more information online. The hope is that they can raise the $3,000 this month.
“In the future, we’ll have hands-on opportunities to pack the bags, deliver the bags in the community and then we’ll do some feeding days where we’ll do some pop up tents and grill some burgers and have some salad and other food and get the word out,” he said. “That will be a chance where we can sit down and have a meal with people that wouldn’t normally have that type of conversation.”
DuBois said his goal is to distribute the backpacks before winter this year.
DuBois said the idea to raise money by shaving his beard just sort of happened. He said even though he hasn’t been clean shaven in about seven to eight years, his beard has never been as long as its current length.
“The beard just kind of started out naturally and I thought, ‘Let’s see how far this can go, and along the way I just kind of got into it,” he said.
DuBois said he had initially thought to shave his beard during Saint Baldrick’s to raise money for kids of childhood cancer, but ended up being out of town that day.
“So, I figured that since this has been on my heart for some time, I would use the beard as one of my initial fundraisers,” he shared.
When asked what his wife, Taylor, thought about his long beard, DuBois said she likes a little shorter and well-kept beard, but she has adjusted well to him growing it out.
“I think she is excited about seeing it go,” he replied.
While they do not currently have a 501(c)3 status, DuBois said they aim to pursue that status by 2018 and are looking to form an advisory board of about five to six individuals in 2018 in order to open additional opportunities and to ensure they adhere to their mission and primary objectives.
DuBois explained that there are several ways the community can get involved, whether it be volunteering their time or making a donation.
For more information about The Arson Project, send a message to TheArsonProject336@gmail.com or visit www.facebook.com/ArsonProject/ or www.thearsonprojectblog.wordpress.com. To make a donation to The Arson Project, visit www.gofundme.com/the-arson-project-launch.

Mogollon Monster 100

October 12, 2017

Working toward competing in three different 100-mile races, Dr. Darian J. Smith placed second in the Mogollon Monster 100 Mile Race in Pine, Arizona on September 16.
Smith noted that this was his third 100-mile race and he has been working to earn points to qualify for the Ultra Mont Blanc. He said along with Ultra Mont Blanc, he would like to apply for two other 100-mile races, including Western States and Hard Rock.
Smith said he chose the Mogollon Monster because he needs to earn another six of 15 points for Ultra Mont Blanc and because it was a qualifier for the Hard Rock 100 Miler, which is a high altitude 100-mile race in Silverton, Co.
To train for the race, Smith said he just worked on building miles and peaked at 120 miles per week. Smith also had to qualify for the Mogollon Monster 100, which only had 80 – 90 runners.
“I had two races between (the training runs). One was a 50-mile race called, Burning River 50, and the other one, the Grand-Further Mountain Run, a 25k in Banner Elk,” he said. “The cool thing about trail running is that you’re just moving through the trail and it’s not so much about your pace.”
Although he trained a lot by himself and with his dog, Scout, Smith also trained with other local ultra-runners.
Smith explained that there was aid provided during the race around every 9 – 10 miles and his family also crewed him during the race, meeting him at miles 12, 24, 42, 75, 87, and the finish.
Smith explained that the course started out on the Arizona Trail, which runs from Utah through the Grand Canyon south through the Mogollon Rim and all the way to Mexico. From the Arizona Trail, they climbed up to the Highland Trail in Arizona, where the trails meet, and then took the Donahue Trail all the way to the top of the rim.
“This was a big climb not even a half-mile into the race,” he said.
Once at the top of the rim, Smith said they descended back down to meet up with the Highline Arizona Trail and then to an aid station called, Washington Park, where they did another climb to the top of the rim where the Arizona Trail splits from the Highline Trail.
“This made for a spectacular view,” he said, as he explained how different the top of the rim is compared to the bottom. “The bottom of the rim has cacti and the top has ponderosa pine and the temperature changes from hot to cold.”
Throughout the race, Smith said the runners also had to run in and out of slot canyons, ponderosa pine forests and mountain meadows.
During their run back toward the finish, Smith said they had to do a 1,000-foot climb over less than a mile.
“It was so steep that I had to pick up two sticks to use as trekking poles,” he said.
While running, Smith said first place runner Mike Versteeg was laid out at mile 54, but about 10 miles later Versteeg passed him in the dark running about a seven-and-a-half-minute pace.
“It sounded like a bear was coming at me,” he said of Versteeg’s pounding feet and adding that he came in about 40 minutes behind Versteeg at the finish.
Smith said when he passed Brett Maune, a two-time Barkley winner (the hardest ultra-marathon in the US), in the middle of the night on the Highline Trail, he knew he had to be toward the front of the race.
When Smith realized he had placed second overall in the Mogollon Monster 100, he was surprised.
“I was surprised because I was just there to complete it,” he said.
Smith started the race at 6 a.m. on Saturday and finished the race around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, with a total time of 20 hours, 56 minutes and 40 seconds.
After completing each 100-mile race, Smith said he learns something new.
“I learn something new from each race, such as nutrition and training specs,” he said. “I went out a little too fast in the first two races and ran steadier during this one.”
During the race, Smith said he had to make sure he was eating 100 calories about every half hour, making sure he was hydrated throughout the race, and paying attention to the terrain.
“When you’re doing something like this, you’re in the moment, and when you’re at altitude, you have to make sure your breath is controlled,” he shared.
Smith said it is also important in a race such as this that his crew knew where everything was and helped to remind him of the things he needed.
“Every time I saw them, they had a caffeine drink and bacon waiting for me,” he said. “Seeing them and knowing what they had for me was part of my motivation.”
Smith said his favorite part about running the Mogollon Monster 100 was how beautiful it was.
“The sheer beauty of the Mogollon Rim, the blue sky and just seeing the progression of the light changing throughout the day; and having my family there,” he said. “It was cool having my niece there, too. She was a lot of fun.”
Smith noted that this was the first time that his niece, Dawn, had ever seen him compete in a 100-mile race.
Smith explained that even though he will be applying for three 100-mile races this year because of their popularity, he will only compete in one of them in a year’s time.
After the race, Smith and his family drove up to the Grand Canyon and camped on the rim for three days.

Successful Year of Eye Screenings

October 11, 2017

The Kernersville Lions Club will finish up with the 2017 vision screenings for local schools and daycares this month.
Lions Club member Debbie Warren noted that they will have screened 3,180 children in the Kernersville community.
“The yearly screening takes lots of pre-planning and twenty-five volunteers per screening. The Kernersville Lions Club has supportive volunteers from the Walkertown Lions Club, the Kernersville Woman’s Club, church volunteers from Love’s United Methodist, Morris Chapel United Methodist, Bunker Hill United Methodist, Main Street United Methodist, First Baptist and Union Cross Moravian churches,” she said.
In addition, Warren said PTA members volunteer from the schools that invited them in to screen their students. Those schools include Walkertown Elementary, Walkertown Middle, Kernersville Elementary, Kernersville Middle, Sedge Garden Elementary, Union Cross Elementary, Southeast Middle and Caleb’s Creek Elementary schools, as well as The North Carolina Leadership Academy.
“We hope to include other local schools next year,” she said.
Warren said the vision screening includes a $10,000 Pedi-Vision computer machine for those who are not able to read the vision chart.
“This computer machine screens for seven different problems and prints out a bar graph on the problem and how severe the issue is,” she said. “We send a letter, which is in both English and Spanish, to parents with the information highly recommending that they see a doctor.”
Warren said they also use the Pedi-Vision with local children at Triad Baptist, Main Street Baptist, First Baptist, Holy Cross Catholic, Fountain of Life Lutheran, Main Street United Methodist, First Christian and Sedge Garden United Methodist church preschools.
“Dr. Patrick Hageman, an ophthalmology doctor in Kernersville, researched and found the Pedi-Vision computer machine used for those children needing more direct screening. Dr. Amy Harper, an optometrist in Kernersville, works with the Kernersville Lions Club for financial assistance for parents if needed for exams for glasses,” she said. “Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools’ school nurses are starting a partnership with us this year with an extra level of service in a couple of schools. We hope the school nurses are available to partner with us for all the schools next year.”
Warren noted that the Kernersville Lions Club buys all supplies for the screening, supports the parents with financial needs with doctors’ visits and/or glasses if needed, updates the software for the computer and gives each participating school $400 just for allowing them to serve the children of the Kernersville area.
For more information about the Kernersville Lions Club’s eye screening, email Warren at dbwarrenchris@gmail.com or, if interested in joining the club, contact Marvin Bare at mbare@triad.rr.com.