‘Ollie the Owl’

By KIM UNDERWOOD – Winston/Salem/Forsyth County Schools
Caleb’s Creek third-graders Christina Mack and Keenen King met when they were in first grade. As they got to know each other and become friends, they discovered they have a lot in common.
“He is competitive, and I’m really competitive,” Christina said. “We thought the same way.”
Plus, both are chock-full of creativity. Both really like to dance. Christina likes to sing, and she likes to draw pictures of fashions she imagines. Keenen likes to draw all sorts of things. He draws so much that his mother has a box filled with his drawings.
And, when something inspires them, they stick with it.
That shared creativity and persistence – along with the whole-hearted support of their parents – led to them creating and publishing an illustrated book called Ollie the Owl, which tells the story of an owl who gets separated from his family.
The beginnings of the book were born at Caleb’s Creek Elementary last spring when Keenen’s picture of an owl got Christina thinking about a story.  
That could have been the end of it – fun for an afternoon and on to another creative project the next day. When Christina went home that day, though, she told her parents – Chris and Katina Mack – that she and Keenen were writing a book and they were going to get it published.
“I am impressed at her young age she didn’t see any limits to writing her book,” Katina Mack said.
As adults, she noted, it’s easy to fall into putting limits on ourselves.
When Keenen first drew his owl, he named it Hooty. But they soon decided that name was far too ordinary for the owl in their book. So, they changed his name to Ollie.
Christina’s parents and Keenen’s parents – Scott and Elaine King – already knew each other, and as Christina and Keenen continued to work on their book, their parents decided they would, indeed, make it possible for their children to have their book published.
“The families came together,” Chris Mack said.
The two families self-published the book through a company called Word & Spirit Publishing. The company provided the graphic image on the cover. Keenen’s pictures are inside the book.
Principal Rita McPhatter was delighted to see the book come to fruition.
“It’s a great way to showcase these young folks and what they can do,” McPhatter said.
Chris Mack made a point to say that the creative atmosphere at Caleb’s Creek had a lot to do with making this possible.
“You come into the building, and it’s high energy,” Chris Mack said.
Elaine King is a stay-at-home mom, and Scott King is a software engineer. Katina Mack is a paralegal for the Womble Bond Dickinson law firm. Chris Mack, who is working on his doctorate in public policy and public administration, is an ombudsman for the City of Winston-Salem.
Keenen’s older brother, Kenneth II, also went to Caleb’s Creek and is now a seventh-grader at Southeast Middle.
When the book came out, both students were eight years old. Keenen turns nine this week, and Christina turns nine in December, a few days after Christmas. And, yes, sometimes she gets combination Christmas/birthday presents, which may prompt her to say, “Where’s my birthday present?”
Although Christina definitely wants to write more books because it has been a lot of fun, she doesn’t see that becoming a career. Her long-term plans call for becoming a professional dancer one day.
Illustrating a book fits right in with Keenen’s long-term plans.
“I want to become an artist,” he said.
He clearly wants to become the best artist he can be, his mother said. As part of that, he looks for feedback.
“He is thinking,” she said. “He draws things and asks our opinion about it.”  
As an example of how focused he can be when it comes to his art, his parents cited a birthday painting that he created for Pastor Cherry Teal, their minister at Restored Faith Ministries. He wasn’t going to give it to her until it felt just right, and he kept working on it until it did.
Keenen’s artist genes come from both parents.
Scott King would draw superheroes when he was young, and someone once bought a picture he drew of the Hulk for a quarter. Elaine King paints, primarily abstract paintings, and she and Keenen have taken a couple of art classes together.
Katina Mack is also an artist.
Although Christina enjoys drawing things such as fashions she imagines, she thinks Keenen is the one with the serious talent.
“I will never be that good even if I try,” Christina said.
She focuses much of her creative energy on her dancing and singing. Christina sings in the youth choir at the family’s church – Union Baptist, where Chris Mack’s older brother, Rev. Sir Walter Mack Jr., is pastor.
Chris Mack and Scott King met back when Scott King was coaching a team at Union Baptist.
Christina enjoys writing quite a bit and wants to write a couple more books with Keenen. They’re already working on the next one.
Christina and Keenen don’t care whether they ever become rich from selling books. If they do, though, Christina wants to keep a bit for herself and give the rest to worthy causes such as her church and a children’s hospital.
Along with helping others, Keenen would turn some of his riches into dollar bills that he would use to would fill a swimming pool so he could hop in to see what it feels like to be “swimming” in money.
For Keenen’s parents, one of the joys of all of this is savoring how well he is doing. Keenen was born prematurely and spent the first four months of his life in the hospital. There was a time when his parents didn’t know whether he was going to make it.
“It was a miracle he came through,” Elaine Scott said.

Christina and Keenen will be selling and signing copies of “Ollie the Owl” at the school’s Trunk or Treat event on Oct. 24.

Athenean Book Club

The Walkertown Athenean Book Club is celebrating its 80th anniversary and the club is looking to expand membership
According to the Athenean Book Club’s history, the club was organized after a suggestion was made by Mate Morris on June 13, 1939 during a bridge luncheon given in her home. A few months later on August 3, 1939, the group met at the home of Mrs. Jack Marshall to organize the club and on August 17 of that year, club members voted to name it The Athenean Book Club and included 11 charter members: Mrs. Rex Bishop, Mrs. Bertie May Fussell, Mrs. Jack Marshall, Mrs. Wade Marshall, Miss Cora Mecum, Miss Fannie Mecum, Miss Jennie Mecum, Miss Kate Morris, Mrs. Reuben Morris, Mrs. P. L. Sapp and Mrs. Tommy Waggoner.
Although none of the founding members are still alive, the oldest former member still living is Nancy Garrett and the oldest current member is Lucille Ashburn.
During a recent meeting to discuss the 80th anniversary with current and former members of the club, as well as Mike Morris with the Walkertown Area Historical Society (WAHS), Peggy Leight from the Walkertown Town Council, and Walkertown Mayor Doc Davis.
After being introduced, Davis shared a resolution that was passed on August 22, and said the book club is one of the oldest organizations in Walkertown. Current club President Karen Dillon accepted the resolution.
Other current members include Vice President Mary Hutchins, Secretary Paula Davis, Treasurer Lucille Ashburn, Historian Janice Wall, and members Vickie Surratt, Carol Lackey, Heather English and Trish Cooke, ranging in ages from 36 – 91.
As part of the meeting, club members read research compiled by former member Josephine Walker about Athena, a goddess from Greek mythology, whom the club is named after. They also reviewed one of many scrapbooks that have been saved throughout the years.
“We have scrapbooks from 1939 to the present. I have the ‘39 – ‘69 here. There are pictures and newspaper articles. Apparently during this era, the Winston-Salem Journal came out and reported on the club quite often,” Dillon said.
Dillon added, as she thumbed through the scrapbook, that it looked like when the club first started, they met year round and later skipped the months of June and July. Now they also skip August.
“I think at first they started meeting at night perhaps, but now we are on Saturday mornings,” she said.
Former club member Sarah Rossi mentioned that in the earlier years the women dressed a lot different, often coming to the book club dressed up and wearing dressy hats.
As she continued looking, Dillon showed some small booklets that were like programs for each month, one of which had a large red V and was a booklet from 1944. It included the constitution for the club and the bylaws printed. She wondered if the V on the booklet had something to do with WWII.
“They were also quite poetic,” Dillon said, as she mentioned there were lots of quotes and poems in their booklets.
Further into the scrapbook, Dillon noted that the women had a Civil Rights talk in 1948 and discussed European travels.
“The subject of study in that booklet was ‘Good Literature,” she stated.
Several of the former members who were at the meeting shared their memories.
“It was a good group of people and they did a lot for Walkertown. A lot of them were also members of the Walkertown Garden Club or taught at the elementary school. There was a lot of community involvement,” said Rossi.
They also mentioned that some of the themes they discussed in past years included “Around the World” and “Around the Country,” where they would read books from around the world and different states around the country. They even had food during the meetings from around the world and around the country.
“We’ve always had a theme but in the past four to five years, we’ve been reading the same book and talking about it during our meetings,” said Davis, as she mentioned that previous to that, they were all reading different books and then presenting what they read to the group.
“We’ve had guest speakers and we usually have a leader to lead a discussion, taking turns and building the menu around our theme,” Dillon said, as she mentioned that last year’s theme was Strong Women in body, mind and spirit.
As they received scrapbooks from the past 80 years, Dillon said they always started their meetings with a collect (prayer).
To commemorate the 80th anniversary, this year the club is reading books that were read in years past from the 1940s to 1990s. The theme is “A Walk Down Memory Lane: Celebrating 80 Years.”
During their next meeting, which will be held at the Kernersville Library at 10 a.m. on Oct. 19 they welcome anyone interested in joining the group to attend. During that meeting, they will discuss the highlights of the Athenian Book Club in the 1940s and discuss some of the books members have read over the month from that era.
Davis noted that the club has continued because of the women in the club.
“They are like-minded and we just enjoy being together. So, I think what started with those 11 people 80 years ago, the atmosphere and attitude has continued. That part is still very special, the unique bond as we read and we grow intellectually, emotionally. We grow together as we read and share the books,” said Davis.
The Athenean Book Club will complete their 80th anniversary celebration on May 19 with the WAHS at the Walkertown Library at 6:30 p.m. with a special presentation and refreshments.
For more information about The Athenean Book Club, send a message to AtheneanBookClub@gmail.com.

Family is love

After adopting a white child, a local black family who said they have received some flack wants to spread the message that family is not just blood, it’s love.
“If we love each other, who cares what race you are,” said Keia Jones-Baldwin.
Jones-Baldwin explained that she and her husband, Richardro Baldwin, have four children, Zariyah, 15, Karleigh, 16, Ayden, 8, and Princeton, 2. She shared that of those children, Zariyah is her only biological child. Jones grew up with five brothers and sisters and had always wanted to have at least three children; however, after meeting Baldwin, they realized they weren’t able to grow their family biologically. That’s when they decided to start fostering children.
“We started out fostering and we adopted Ayden and Princeton when they became eligible for adoption while in our foster home,” she shared. “We didn’t know how it would work with our schedules, fostering and adopting, and we wanted to see how Zariyah would handle having siblings.”
Jones-Baldwin mentioned that it was Zariyah who brought Karleigh to them.
“They were friends in school, so it made it easy to transition to bring her in,” she said.
While there are challenges in every family, and especially in families with foster or adopted children, Jones said there have been a few extra challenges since adopting Princeton.
“Because we are a multicultural family where the roles are reversed with black parents and a white child, I think it’s been a shock to people,” she said. “We’ve gotten stares and people have taken pictures.”
Jones-Baldwin said they have even had the police called on them because someone claimed they kidnapped Princeton.
While Jones-Baldwin said she understands that when people aren’t aware of a situation, there might be judgement; however, she wants people to be more understanding and not to make accusations and assumptions without first asking.
“We’re open to educating people and we want people to know that families can be multicultural,” she said. “As long as a child is with a loving family that cares about them, there shouldn’t be an issue. It shouldn’t be a matter of race.”
Jones-Baldwin said that through this process, she has also learned about the political side of things when it comes to the foster system.
Despite the looks and comments she said they have received, Jones-Baldwin said she wouldn’t have it any other way and she wants more people to see that there is a need to foster and adopt children.
“I want more people to open their hearts and minds to fostering or fostering to adopt, especially if there is a challenge to have their own children,” Jones-Baldwin said, as she shared some statistics about the number of foster children locally and worldwide. “There are 600,000 children worldwide in foster care, and there are 4,000 right here in the Triad, so there is definitely a need.”
She added, “Not having a loving home might keep them from reaching their full potential.”
Jones-Baldwin said it has been a joy to be able to provide love and support to her children and getting their love in return. Jones noted how unique each of her children are.
“Zariyah has a heart of gold and is super smart and goal oriented; Ayden is super smart; Karleigh is artistic and very talented, and Princeton is a typical toddler, but he’s hilarious. I can tell he is going to have a sense of humor,” she said. “They have all these hidden talents.”

150th celebration

Morris Chapel United Methodist Church (UMC) in Walkertown will hold a celebration in honor of their 150th anniversary during a special service at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 21 followed by a covered dish meal.
Pastor Jeff Coppley said that although he has only been at Morris Chapel UMC for about three months, he is excited to celebrate the church’s anniversary.
“One hundred fifty years is a perfectly good run for a church,” he said, as he talked about how the church was born out of a brush arbor.
Coppley added that Fred Jordan, a retired United Methodist Church pastor who previously served at Morris Chapel UMC, will be speaking during the special service on Saturday.
“We’ve been working on doing this and looking at ways we can thank the community,” he said. “A lot of people in the community have had a connection with Morris Chapel over the years.”
Coppley said they are thinking of doing 150 acts of service in the community later on in the year.
“We want to do something in the present to prepare for the future. We have a food pantry, backpack program and missions, but we want to expand on those projects in the community,” he shared. “We want to be seen as making the community better.”
Coppley added that this Saturday, they want the community and surrounding areas to see that Morris Chapel UMC is a vital part of the community.
“We would love for our community to come out and celebrate and hear about what we plan to do for the future,” he said.
Harvey Dillon, co-chair for the 150th anniversary celebration along with Elaine Whicker, said he put together a booklet for the anniversary showing the church’s history from when it started under a brush arbor in 1869 to present.
“As a part of our 150th anniversary, it was my job to pull together our history from over the years and we’ve bound it together,” he said, noting that he found a lot of the history from various sources, including information from the late Jewell Stewart and the late Mary S. Swaim’s history, which she compiled in 1984.
According to the history Dillon found on Morris Chapel UMC, the church’s roots go back to the prayer meetings held in the home of Isaac and Jane Morris in the 1860s. The home was located on Hwy. 66 between Martin Street and Darrow Road. As more people became interested in the meetings, they came together to build a brush arbor located near what is the present site of the church’s cemetery.
Dillon noted that there will be another event on October 9 at 6 p.m. under a brush arbor they built specifically for the 150th anniversary with Rev. Dan Martin speaking during the service.
As the history states, in 1869 following the building of the brush arbor, a prayer group was organized and assumed the name Morris Chapel after its founders. Trustees were elected and plans were made to build a church building, though the deed was not officially recorded until 1873. The first building for Morris Chapel UMC was a one-room frame building covered by hand riven boards and kerosene lanterns provided lighting.
The first person buried at the church was a grandchild of the founders. Two acres were later donated and used as the site of the parsonage and cemetery plots.
A second church building was erected in 1886 for the 106 members of the church. It had three large swinging lamps with large shades attached to the ceiling to increase the lighting of wall lamps with reflectors. There were also two large wood stoves that provided heat for the building.
The church history stated that during that time, a pipe organ was donated by Amos Hulls. It also stated that at one time, area churches shared one pastor. Those churches included Morris Chapel, Antioch, Pisgah, Mt. Pleasant and Elm Grove. Morris Chapel held its one worship service on the third Sunday of each month for many years.
In 1900, the church’s membership increased to 117 and plans were made two years later for a frame parsonage to be built. It was completed in 1903 with Rev. C.F. Castevens as the first pastor to live there. Two more rooms were added on in 1912.
In May 1916, 13 women came together to organize the Ladies Aid Society, which was organized into the Women’s Society of Christian Service on September 13, 1940. In 1919, plans were made to remodel the church and build a vestibule and three Sunday school rooms. The structure was brick veneer and the roof was slate shingles. A coal furnace was installed and the Ladies Aid Society raised their dues from five cents to 10 cents and bought a Delco light system.
In 1926, six Sunday school rooms and a meeting room were built with funds received from the P.B. Campbell estate, and in 1930 a brick parsonage was built on Darrow Road.
Morris Chapel UMC became part of the Western NC Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1939.
In 1952, the educational building was added at the cost of $16,000, which was a two-story annex of classrooms. The fellowship hall was built in 1958 with a dedication on June 1, 1961. It was moved to its present-day location in the early 1990s.
In 1967, an electric organ was purchased under the leadership of Kate Morris.
In 1964, when George Martin died, he willed $1,000 to begin a building fund for a new sanctuary; however, it wasn’t until 1974 that a drive for pledges for a new church was initiated. Construction for a new sanctuary began on September 5, 1977. The first service was held on December 10, 1978. The new building included air conditioning, a sanctuary with a seating capacity of 280 with provisions for 100 more in an over-flow glass partitioned room at the rear of the sanctuary, a choir section and two massive stained-glass windows in the octagon-shaped sanctuary. There were also 17 classrooms, one choir room, a conference room with an efficiency kitchen, a pastor’s study and church office.
Currently, there is a chapel used as a classroom, which resembles the sanctuary of the former church. The stained-glass windows, the altar rail and altar furniture were lifted from the old church.
In the early 1990s, a long-range planning committee was formed to look into the possibility of adding more classrooms for the children’s department and a large fellowship hall/family life center, and a covered drive-thru. In 2002, a building committee was formed to look into the cost of renovating the sanctuary to increase seating capacity due to expected growth of the Walkertown area.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Sunday, January 14, 2007. The building project consisted of adding seven classrooms – two for children, one for youth and four for adults, centralized offices for senior pastor, associate pastor and administrative assistant, fixed stage and sound booth, three new storage rooms, family and handicap friendly restroom, youth office and storage room, music and instrument storage room, and the relocation of the crib nursery to its current location.
More recently, the church created another long range committee in 2012 to survey their Sunday school classes and future needs, creating impact projects, which included improved seating in the family life center, new busses, renovation of the children’s ministry classrooms and new playground, audio visual enhancements for the sanctuary and family life center, renovation of the conference room with kitchenette, new door for the family life kitchen to the hospitality room, a lighting technology upgrade and a new roof.
The church is located at 2715 Darrow Road in Walkertown. For more information, call 336-595-8101 or visit www.morrischapel.org.

Outdoor learning

After receiving $6,000 from the Lowe’s Small Toolbox for Education grant last year, Piney Grove Elementary School (PGES) has transformed their entire campus to make it more exciting for the children and to encourage outdoor learning that is tied to the curriculum.
Bonnie Adams, a science teacher at PGES, explained that Amie Snow, head of the grant writing committee, found out about the grant and applied for it last year. They received the grant in May 2018 and had to complete the project within a year.
After receiving some of their funding, Adams said they focused on outdoor learning centers. As Adams described all of the different outdoor learning and garden areas they created or updated, it was evident that they were sure to spread their funding throughout the school to give each and every student a chance for outdoor learning. With courtyards located in the middle of the school, and the many acres of land at PGES, there was plenty to work with.
In the fourth and fifth grade courtyard, Adams said they uprooted some old trees that were interrupting the pavement. Then, they added more shade by building a pergola that was large enough to seat a whole class with benches on three sides. This, Adams said, would enable students to read in a shaded spot or have a shaded outdoor classroom.
“On one side of the pergola, we have a double standing fossil pit, where fourth and fifth graders can do a lesson,” she said, adding that studying fossils is in the fourth-grade curriculum. “We also added flowerpots in that area because we spend a lot of time focusing on living things and organisms in kindergarten through third grades.”
Adams said they added windchimes, a bird bath and watering cans to keep up with the gardens.
Adams added that when it comes to the outdoors and gardens, students in all grades can benefit as kindergarteners learn about living things, first graders learn about organisms, second graders learn about the lifecycle of butterflies and animals, third graders learn about the lifecycle of plants, fourth graders learn about adaptations, and fifth graders learn about ecosystems.
“Our next step is to build a stone checkerboard as our surface inside the pergola, which will be done by Preferred Lawn and Garden, who have offered to do it for free,” she said. “This can be used for learning different strategies or team building. I like to create spaces that you can have multiple uses for.”
In the back-center courtyard, which was designed to be used by all grade levels, they added shade cloths, landscaping timbers and pine needles.
“We still have a large log to come that will be used for seating. We have flags and stands in that area,” Adams said. “We also have portable containers, which we have in several areas. We needed a more visible way for students to see the changes taking place in the lifecycle of plants instead of just going out to the garden beds once a week.”
Adams said the students are growing herbs and vegetables.
In the raised center courtyard, Adams said they refurbished the garden beds, which are getting a lot of use by the third graders because they have butterfly weeds out there with seed pods popping out that have beetles and pollinators flying around.
“We also added a garden for our EC students. For our EC students, we were able to make a Plants in your Pants project. They stuffed blue jean legs with soda bottles and put coco liners in the top with soil and plants such as succulents and marigolds,” she explained. “We also added lots of indoor plants around the building to help with air quality, and as an added visual.”
In the K1 courtyard, Adams said they added patio tables, chairs, umbrellas and three benches for each classroom, as well as watering cans.
“And we’ve added more shepherd’s hooks and windchimes out there to focus on curriculum – doing a sensory garden with three to four different types of windchimes,” she said, noting that they also added flags, a rain gauge, a root view area and perennials, all of which are great for learning about the weather and for beautification.
Adams said they added wildlife gardens near the car ride area, and chairs and seating areas.
Adams added that they refurbished the pollinator garden in the front of the school by adding new pine needles, flags, annuals, perennials, mulch and soil.
“We also built an outdoor platform for K1 for reading and weather watching,” she said. “We’re going to add a ramp to that to make it accessible,” she said.
Lowe’s Small Toolbox for Education grant program is funded by the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation, which has supported thousands of grassroots communities and school projects in the communities where Lowe’s does business. For additional information, visit https://newsroom.lowes.com/apply-for-a-grant/.    

Lending a Paw

After being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in April 2018, Morgan Clements and her family welcomed diabetic alert dog Iris into their home earlier this month.
Morgan, who lives in Oak Ridge and is in second grade at Colfax Elementary School, was diagnosed after her grandmother speculated there was something wrong when Morgan had extreme thirst and excessive urination. Morgan’s grandmother mentioned it to Morgan’s mom, Jessica. After they saw the behavior again while eating out a week later, Jessica said they took Morgan to the doctor, where it was confirmed that she had type 1 diabetes.
“The doctor came in and said it was more than likely that she had diabetes and told us to go to the hospital right away,” she said in an earlier interview, noting that her A1C was 10.7 and her blood sugar was 405.
After being diagnosed, the Clement family’s whole life changed, as they described it similar to having another child. Morgan’s dad, Scott, said they had to monitor Morgan and her blood sugar levels, including throughout the night. Jessica said they have to count Morgan’s carbs, making sure she stays between 40 – 70 carbs per meal, and she can only have two 15 carb snacks – one before lunch and one before dinner.
Jessica said Morgan has both an insulin device and blood sugar device, as well as a phone to track them. They, in turn, are able to see information from those devices from an app on their phones. Prior to having these devices, Jessica said Morgan had to prick her finger more than 20 times a day and had to have four insulin shots a day. The pump slowly gives Morgan insulin throughout the day.
Although Morgan has less freedom, she is still able to participate in sports and is very active.
Jessica explained that they started the process to get a diabetic alert dog in April of this year.
“We wanted to get her a diabetic alert dog after hearing from other people, and it’s an extra security blanket for us, especially in the middle of the night,” she said.
Iris arrived on Monday, September 9 with Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers (SDWR) Training Director Erin Gray, who is staying with the family for four days to help with training.
Jessica said Morgan spoke with all the second graders at Colfax Elementary School to tell them about Iris, the etiquette that is expected around a diabetic alert dog, and to answer any questions. She noted that when someone is around a service dog, they should essentially ignore the dog – don’t make eye contact, don’t touch and don’t talk to the dog.
“Since getting Iris, Morgan has been doing half days at school while she is training,” she shared.
Jessica said Iris has been going to Morgan’s sports and once Iris is ready to attend school with Morgan, she will go with her mom as the handler, first going to classes that are more challenging for a dog, such as gym, recess and lunch. Eventually, Morgan will be the handler at school.
“We’re trying to make them as independent as possible,” said Gray.
Morgan said she really likes Iris.
“She’s nice and she’s already attached to me,” she said. “When Iris is around, I feel good. I like to play fetch with her, brush her and her teeth, and she sleeps with me at night.”
“Their bond is very strong for four days,” Gray remarked.
Jessica agreed, “She won’t even eat if Morgan isn’t with her. Morgan is the one who takes her out, walks her and gives her a treat.”
Jessica said every morning, Morgan takes Iris out to play fetch before she gets ready to school.
“I like playing fetch with her and tug of war with the rope,” Morgan said.
Gray shared that there’s a lesson in playing games like this for Iris.
“It’s all fun stuff, but it’s all building to learn to do other tasks like tugging or pulling on a cabinet or getting juice, snacks, or her glucose monitor. It all depends on what we work towards,” she said.
Gray said Iris alerted to Morgan on the third day and when Iris goes up to a family member after alerting to Morgan, the family member who Iris paws gives her a treat so she learns who she can go to for help.
“She has to adapt to a new home and new people,” she said.
It’s also an adjustment for the Clements family as they have to learn all new commands, and the dos and don’ts.
“It’s a daily effort,” Jessica remarked.
After spending the initial four days of training, Gray said she will return every three to four months for the next 18 months to two years.
“They have a lifetime training guarantee,” she added.
In making sure that Morgan and her family received the right dog, Gray said the Clements family filled out an application and intake form about themselves and their lives, including how active they are, how often and where they go for vacations, pets in the home and other things.
“She needed a higher energy dog to keep up with her,” Gray said. “We match them with what they tell us about their life and the dog’s behavior.”
Along with Iris, the Clements have other animals in their home, including an English Bulldog, named Cinnamon, a Golden Doodle, named Oakley, and two cats, named Socks and Tarheel.
Gray explained that they use Labrador Retrievers because they are natural retrievers, making them great for going to get people or things that are needed, and they are non-threatening dogs.
She added that they begin training the dogs around seven-weeks-old with volunteer families that raise them. Once they reach the age of one or two, they are brought back to SDWR for training assessment to see what the dog would be good for and to fix anything that needs to be fixed in their training.
Gray said the cost for each dog from puppy to placement is $47,000 and each family must either make a donation or fundraise to make a donation of $25,000 before they can receive a service dog from SDWR. That cost includes puppy training, vet care, kenneling, food, access vests and breeding acquisitions, fundraising and marketing, administration and client support, and post placement trainers salaries and travel.
The dogs are used not only as diabetic alert dogs, but can also be trained as autism service dogs, seizure response dogs, and PTSD service dogs.
For more information about SDWR or to make a donation, visit www.sdwr.org or call 540-543-2307.

Fighting opioid epidemic

As part of the Town of Kernersville’s More Powerful Kernersville effort to combat the opioid epidemic and address its impacts on our community, Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill and Mayor Dawn Morgan met on Friday, August 30 to discuss current trends in the state and Forsyth County, and to view Kernersville’s pill drop box.
The pill drop box will be temporarily located in the Town Hall lobby, directly to the right of the front desk, for the next two months as the Town of Kernersville works to revamp the main lobby of the Kernersville Police Department (KPD).
The pill drop box will be temporarily available during business hours for the next two months. Once renovations are complete, the pill drop box will be moved back to the lobby of the KPD and will be located in a more prominent location, said Morgan.
According to Morgan, there were 60,000 children taken to the ER at any given time in the US last year because of an exposure to opioids.
“Fifty-three percent of people who misuse opioids get them from friends and family, and 57 percent of teens ages 12 – 17 who misuse opioids get them from friends and family,” she said, noting the importance of having the pill drop box available to Kernersville residents in order for parents to remove unused opioids from their homes.
Morgan added that once the pill drop box is filled, two officers take it to Charlotte, where the pills are incinerated.
O’Neill noted that addiction begins with a prescription or experimenting with other people’s prescriptions. Once someone is addicted to opioids and they run out, they often turn to something cheaper, like heroin, which he said is very cheap and readily available.
In response to the opioid crisis, Forsyth County is starting their second year of the District Attorney’s Treatment Alternative (DATA) Program, with a successful first year.
“We looked at the jail population and found that a lot of people there were heroin and opioid addicts,” O’Neill said.
Through research, O’Neill said he found that the pharmaceutical company Alkermes produces the drug vivitrol, which is a non-narcotic. He explained that it was developed for alcohol abuse; however, the company found that it can also be used for opioid addiction by blocking one’s ability to get high.
“That’s when I got the county commissioners to give us $250,000 to invest in DATA,” he said.
O’Neill explained that when someone is charged with a low-level crime, such as breaking into cars as opposed to crimes of violence, they go and talk to them to see if they have an addiction problem and then offer for them to take part in the program. He noted that the program is only offered to people with low level crimes and they must go through a screening process.
Once in the program, the person receives a shot of vivitrol once a month while they are in jail and then they are transported to Addiction Recovery Care Association (ARCA) for in-patient recovery so they can detox. While at ARCA, participants receive education, counseling and support. After being with ARCA, O’Neill said participants transitions to Insight, an outpatient program where they are monitored to help with relapse and change the way they think and behave. They are also assigned with a parole officer and continue getting a shot of vivitrol each month and are drug tested up to five times a week.
“If they successfully complete the program, which takes 18 months to two years, all charges are dropped,” he said.
O’Neill said they currently have 18 participants in the program.
“The success rate has been beyond what we ever imagined. All participants have a job, there are no new crimes, and they have tested clean,” he said, adding that one of the participants, who is now drug free, is going on to be a doctor. “If you get these people and put them on the road to recovery, you stop the revolving door to jail and the crime rate goes down.”
O’Neill said there is nothing like this program anywhere; however, the legislature took notice and is now trying to replicate it into other places around the state.
Morgan added, referencing getting rid of prescription drugs from one’s home, “It’s important to have access to a pill drop box, and it’s a very simple thing everyone can do or tell someone about it.”
According to the Kernersville Fire Rescue Department, just this year alone, they have responded to 58 overdoses.
Morgan urges the community to share information about the pill drop box and its temporary location.
“If you’re not using the pills, get rid of them,” she stated.
Town Hall is located at 728 E. Mountain Street. The pill drop box is available Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Main Street UMC groundbreaking

The community is invited to a groundbreaking ceremony at Main Street United Methodist Church on Sunday, Sept. 15 that will celebrate the start of construction on a new addition that will provide much needed connectivity, accessibility and security to the church campus and its facilities.
Sunday’s groundbreaking will begin at 9:45 a.m. in front of the Main Street UMC chapel, kicking off a building project that is expected to take at least the next year to complete and will greatly change the outer appearance of the long-serving church.
“The whole appearance of the church is going to change, including the parking lot and campus,” said Thomas Vaught, chair of the Main Street UMC Building Committee.
Main Street UMC has been looking at connecting its buildings, which include the main sanctuary building, the original chapel building and the building that houses the church’s preschool and fellowship hall, and improving the church parking lot for a number of years. After a major capital campaign and blessing from the congregation, the $3.5 million to $4 million project becomes reality when shovels turn dirt on Sept. 15.
What does the overall project involve?
According to Vaught and Main Street UMC Pastor Dr. Michael Gehring, the project will include construction of a clearly identifiable central entrance with a covered drop-off area. The new space will create a central gathering place where people will be able to “cross paths, connect, mingle, have some coffee or sit and talk, and build relationships.”
In addition, there will be a new central communications hub/desk where people can seek information, sign up for events or pick up resources. Elevators and ramps will be installed to provide greater accessibility to all the church’s buildings, especially for people with mobility issues, Vaught and Gehring said.
The interior connectivity of the campus buildings will also impact security, bettering it for those who utilize the church space throughout the week, including better security for children in the preschool program by connecting worship spaces to educational spaces with a single indoor gathering area while at the same time limiting the number of entrances to spaces used primarily by children, they said.
Vaught and Gehring said the creation of a central gathering place answers a need among people in today’s world to be connected.
“As people travel from worship to Sunday school or from one activity to another, their natural pattern of travel will take them through this “warm, inviting space where they will at least say hello, and might even sit down on a comfortable chair and spend some time together,” the two noted.
The community will also notice substantial changes to the existing parking lot, which includes a small space at the rear of the sanctuary and in front of the preschool building, then more parking across Tanyard Lane, which is only accessible from South Cherry Street.
“The whole parking lot will be leveled; the road will be gone and it will all be connected.” Vaught explained. “It will be completely different in how it looks.”
The new and improved parking lot will also have new outdoor lighting, something that is needed given how much the church buildings are utilized on weeknights.
“Currently, we have a dark parking lot. That will change,” Vaught said.
Vaught said he is excited about how the new addition will allow the church to provide even more meeting space to the community.
“If we have the space available, then the community will be able to use it,” Vaught said.
Pastor Gehring agreed and said he looks forward to how inviting the new space will be for the community.
“I am excited for the increased hospitality it will bring. As with all of our space, we want to leverage it for missions and outreach,” Gehring said.
Construction on the addition is expected to take around 300 days, which would be around June of next year, Vaught and Gehring surmised. After that, construction will begin on the parking lot, with it expected to take around 90 days to complete.
“That way, we don’t inconvenience the weekday school,” Vaughn said.

Pinnix building for sale

Downtown Kernersville’s iconic Pinnix building is for sale.
“Most people close to us knew we were going to sell it,” said lifelong Kernersville resident and current Mayor Pro Tem Joe Pinnix, Jr., who shares ownership of what has become a family legacy with his cousin, Johnny Pinnix of Charlotte.
Pinnix said coming to the decision to sell the building that his grandfather, John M. Pinnix, built on the southeast corner of Mountain and Main streets in the mid-1920s was a difficult one.
“To be honest, it’s kind of been an emotional rollercoaster for me,” Pinnix admitted.
The lot on which the Pinnix building sits was owned by the Sapp family when Pinnix’s grandfather, known throughout the Kernersville community as “Neighbor” Pinnix, purchased the property in 1904. At the time, there was just a frame building on the lot.
“It was part of the Sapp family. They had a dry goods store there, and my grandfather opened the pharmacy when he got licensed,” Pinnix said. “He moved the frame building in the mid-1920s and built part of the original brick building. It has been added onto since then.”
Pinnix’s grandfather, his father, Joe Pinnix, Sr., and uncle, John M. Pinnix, operated Pinnix Drug Store from the first floor of the two-story brick building. The building was also home to the telephone company when Pinnix was a young boy, as well as the town’s post office.
“The telephone company was upstairs and my aunt, Alta Pinnix Smith, ran that. She was Daddy’s sister,” Pinnix recalled, adding that it wasn’t unusual for his mother to tell him to call Alta to tell her goodnight. “I’d pick up the phone and she would say, ‘number, please,’ and I would say, ‘I just called to say goodnight.’”
Pinnix Drug Store closed in 1986. At the time, John G. Wolfe, III had his law offices on the right side of the building facing South Main Street. After the drug store closed, Wolfe moved his offices into the main space. The right side is currently home to a financial services business.
“When we closed the drug store, he (Wolfe) took over the whole downstairs,” Pinnix said.
Kernersville Mayor Dawn Morgan said the building is an important part of the town’s history.
“It’s historic and is very attractive to our downtown. It will be a big change not to be owned by the Pinnix family,” she said.
Pinnix said he and Johnny Pinnix have talked about selling the building for several years, but it just wasn’t on his heart to part with the property, so strong is his connection to the Kernersville community. That began to change more recently.
“I just decided it was time. We’re getting older. I tell people I’m the last Pinnix as far as the drug store goes,” Pinnix said.
The building has only gone on the market in the last few days. Allied Commercial Property has the property’s list price at $1.3 million, with Chris Frantz, realty company owner, describing it as “prime downtown property” perfect for restaurant or office space.
Forsyth County tax listings indicate that the tax value on the 10,574 square foot building and .12 acre lot is $445,800.
“Right now, the second floor is storage but it could be office space or apartments,” Frantz noted.
The property has always been in the Pinnix family so it is understandable that coming to the decision to sell the building was a difficult one for Pinnix.
“Johnny lives in Charlotte and he has wanted to sell it for years, but I resisted,” Pinnix said. “My boys aren’t coming back to Kernersville so there’s no one left but me.”
He does hope the future owner keeps the Pinnix name alive.
“I hope that whoever buys it keeps referring to it as the Pinnix building,” he said.

Get your pink on

Have fun while raising funds for a local resident fighting breast cancer during “Get your pink on for Melissa!” at The Empourium on Saturday, September 14 from 2 – 6 p.m.
Erin Williams, who is helping plan the event, explained that when she learned that her friend Melissa Roth was diagnosed with breast cancer, she reached out to two of Roth’ friends, Jacklyn Brendle and Janee Laws, along with Jimbo Williams who owns The Empourium, to put on an event to help with bills associated with Roth’ battle.
Erin mentioned that Roth’ diagnosis is just one of many battles she has had to face.
“They are really good people with big hearts and over the past two years it’s really been raining heavy on them,” she said.
Erin added that she works in the health care profession and knows insurance isn’t always great.
“When this happened, I said, ‘I have to do something to help this family,’” she said. “Melissa is just a beacon of strength and I just want to do as much as I can to help them. Everything made during this event is going to the family.”
Roth explained that she was diagnosed with breast cancer on her 40th birthday.
“I had promised a friend of mine that had been diagnosed a month before that I would not put off getting a mammogram and sure enough, I had cancer,” she said, noting that the official diagnosis was on June 18.
She noted that she was diagnosed with Stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma. While Roth said she didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy because doctors caught the cancer early, to prevent having to do so in the future in case the cancer spread, she opted for a double mastectomy, lymph node removals, and has now started the reconstruction process. Roth said she has also started the ovarian suppression process.
“My type of cancer is hormone fed and I still have more surgery to go. I was fortunate not to have to do chemo or radiation. When they found it, it was still in a solid mass and had not moved out of the breast area,” she said.
Making matters worse, Roth said this blow came only a month after her husband had been attacked by a dog, and also found that she had some skin cancers which she is going to see a dermatologist about.
“I didn’t know a lot about breast cancer. They bombard you with a lot of information and doctor appointments,” she said, as she shared that she had to take time off of work and has had to step back to working part-time due to the exhaustion. “My last surgery should be finishing the breast reconstruction and removing my ovaries. I just decided we were going to hit this head on and get it.”
When Roth learned that her friends were putting the event on for her, she said she was very grateful.
“It means everything to me. Those are my people. I love them,” she remarked. “It’s a very emotional and humbling experience.”
Roth also encourages everyone to get a mammogram.
“Don’t delay getting your mammogram, and men are not exempt,” she stated.
The event will include live music, raffles, silent auction, food truck, cornhole tournament, Italian ice cart and local vendors.
Silent auction items include Premier Custom Cornhole boards, Winston-Salem Dash tickets, Endure Beauty Products basket, Cleaning By Cat, Southern Sisters Boutique gift card, 4th Street Brow Studio package, Clark’s BBQ, day spa packages, automotive packages, photography packages, and gift cards to local businesses.
The Empourium is located at 734 East Mountain St.