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The Search for Martin

June 30, 2016

missingThe Boone Police Department (BPD) continues its search for missing Kernersville teenager, James “Martin” Roberts, 19, who was last seen near Appalachian State University on April 21.
According to the most recent update on Roberts’ case provided by the BPD, a letter that was found in Roberts’ apartment indicated that he was leaving everyone behind, but made no specific mention that Roberts intended to harm himself. Both police and Martin’s family said they know from the content of the letter that Roberts was experiencing some challenges in life and may have wanted to escape from his circumstances.
BPD Chief Dana Crawford said that since the beginning of the department’s investigation into Roberts’ disappearance, the BPD has poured all its available resources in finding the Kernersville teen.
“We have looked for signs of life such as financial transactions, social media use and an extensive list of other investigative steps. We have also focused attention on the fact that he could be deceased,” Crawford said. “We have searched area lakes and many acres of wooded areas around where Martin lived and in areas that he was known to have visited. After two months, we still do not have any positive indicators as to his whereabouts.”
Roberts is the son of John and Abbie Roberts, of Kernersville. His father said Friday that the family is at a loss as to what happened to their son, but he wants to expand the search to include coastal areas.
“We decided to try to put some attention on the coastal areas because Martin loves the beach. For the last 55 years, our family has had a tradition of vacationing in Ocean Isle Beach,” John Roberts said.
It’s where the family is now. They have been active in providing updates on the case through the “Help Find Martin Roberts” page on Facebook and John Roberts posted there on Wednesday.
“Fast approaching 70 days since this all began. And we’re ½ way through our annual summer family gathering. Still no word from our boy. We are still hopeful that today will be the day we hear from or, even better yet, see our boy. There are 32 of us here waiting and hoping for that moment!” he wrote.
Earlier this month, the BPD employed the assistance of search dogs from the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to cover wooded areas surrounding specific locations in downtown Boone, near where Roberts lived. According to the BPD, the area had been searched on foot, but had not been covered with the help of trained search dogs.
At the time, detectives with the BPD said no concrete information led them to that area, but they wanted to rule out the location as a possibility as they continued looking for Martin.
Previously, SBI cadaver dogs were used to search Trout Lake in Blowing Rock and the Boone town reservoir after investigators received unconfirmed sightings of Roberts not long after his disappearance.
Additionally, the BPD issued an alert to property owners on June 15, asking any who have vacant homes or buildings to check their property or allow their local law enforcement agency to check for signs of inhabitation.
“In the interests of being thorough, we would like to know that we have covered areas that an individual could have taken up residence in the absence of the property owner and remain otherwise unnoticed,” said a red alert issued by the BPD. They asked that anyone who noticed any signs of unauthorized entry or occupation to contact the BPD or CrimeStoppers.
Roberts graduated from East Forsyth High School and was enrolled in classes at Catawba Community College. He was last seen at an intersection near the ASU Convocation Center at approximately 12:30 p.m. on April 21 and was wearing a black, short sleeve ASU windbreaker, khaki shorts, gray New Balance shoes and a white golf visor hat. Roberts is 5’10” and weighs approximately 145 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes.
The BPD is asking anyone with information concerning Roberts’ favorite hangouts, recent whereabouts leading up to his disappearance or people he might have been with to contact authorities. They also asked that anyone who might come in contact with Martin to ask him to contact his family.
“If you come in contact with Martin, please tell him to contact his family; they love him and want him back. Investigators and the Roberts family are appealing for anyone with information about Martin’s whereabouts to contact us immediately,” police said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the BPD at (828) 268-6900 or High Country CrimeStoppers at (828) 268-6959 / 828-737-0125. You may also submit a CrimeStoppers tip via its website at or Text “NCTIP plus your tip” to 274637 (CRIMES). A CrimeStoppers reward up to $1,000 has been offered for information that leads to Roberts’ whereabouts and safe return.

Prayers for Sophie

May 19, 2016

sophie1After thinking she had a typical childhood virus, Sophie Carter, 7 ½, woke up on a Saturday morning in February paralyzed from the waist down and has since received great support from the community, including a GoFundMe account, to help pay for medical bills.
Sophie’s parents, Josh and April Carter, explained that Sophie originally became sick in February.
“She had a few bad infections,” said April, as she recalled Sophie having a stomach virus and fevers. “The doctors treated her for pneumonia, though they couldn’t tell if it was bacterial or viral.
April explained that she picked Sophie up from The North Carolina Leadership Academy (NCLA), where Sophie attends school, and felt that she still had a fever, after she had already finished a round of antibiotics.
“I picked her up from school and she had a fever of 103. The next morning was Good Friday, so I had to take her to Urgent Care, where they checked her for the flu. They said they just thought she had a virus and sent her home,” she said. “She walked in and walked out. Then, on Saturday morning, she was paralyzed from the waist down. My husband picked her up to take her to Brenner (Children’s Hospital) and her legs just dangled in the air.”
April explained that once at Brenner Children’s Hospital, doctors examined Sophie, conducted an MRI of her spine, did a spinal tap and drew blood.
“They told us they were trying to stop whatever was happening,” she said.
“They told us that they were trying rule out Gillham Barre Syndrome verse Transverse Myelitis. However, after doing an MRI of her brain, they noticed lesions on her brain, which noted she had Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM). The ADEM caused her body to fight against its own immune system, which caused severe swelling all the way up to her spine and caused the lesions on her brain,” she said.
From there, Sophie underwent 10 days of steroid and plasma therapy, before being transferred to Levine Children’s Hospital, where she has been undergoing weeks of intensive rehabilitation.
One month after starting her treatments, Sophie’s lesions are almost gone.
“The lesions are mild and most of the swelling in her spine is gone, but because of the swelling on her Myelin Sheath, her brain can’t send the signals to tell her legs to move,” April explained. “Only time will tell after her body heals what she will be able to do.”
Although she is still unable to walk, April said Sophie has some movement in her lower legs.
“I don’t think she can feel temperatures yet, but she is starting to get feeling back. She cannot walk yet. She just actually just started moving her toes about two weeks ago in her right foot. She can move the bottom part of her lower leg if we take away gravity,” she said, noting that started on Thursday. “But, that’s how it all begins, so she is making progress. It’s just going to take time.”
As part of her therapy, Sophie has to do various exercises every day including stretching, core strengthening four times each day, aquatics therapy, outpatient physical and occupational therapy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, as well as using functional electrical stimulation, which is done through something called a MOTOmed, with one of the closest locations offering it in Mooresville.
April said Sophie has to wear stints on her feet at night, and they also have a Stander at their home that keeps her weight bearing around her hips to ensure that her muscles continue to develop.
“We are doing all of the physical therapy we can, and you have to keep on top of it. If we don’t she won’t move forward,” April said. “This is the best chance we have to maximize her chances to get back to her previous function.”
For having gone through as much as she has, April said Sophie is doing really well.
“It’s an adjustment because she was very active. She was an ice skater and had just started playing soccer. We belong to a community pool and we love swimming and going to the park. We are a very outdoor family and are always on the go,” she said. “I think she is handling it really well. There are days that she gets down, but we have faith and we pray. That helps us get through it.”
While insurance has helped to cover much of Sophie’s medical bills, it doesn’t cover everything, such as physical or aquatic therapy.
Thankfully, Sophie and her family have had help from family and friends at Sedge Garden United Methodist Church and preschool, where Sophie attended and where her brother, Brodie, currently attends, as well as The NCLA.
“I don’t think we could make it without them. All the prayers and support from everybody, I think has gotten us through it,” she said.
In honor of Sophie, Sedge Garden UMC Preschool is raising money through a school walk.
“Ever since Sophie was at the school, they have had the Walk for Life. They do a 30-minute walk around their parking lot and cemetery and dedicate it to different people,” she said, noting that one of the preschool teachers contacted her and said they wanted to do the walk this year in honor of Sophie and raise money. This year’s walk is entitled, “Sophie’s Super Hero Walk.”
Also, Sophie’s fellow students at The NCLA are working hard to let her know they are thinking of her. The school’s Girl Scout Troop 02817 sent her a care package and fourth grader Shaun Kawalec created a coloring book featuring various animals and bugs, which is being sold for $5 at the front office at The NCLA to support Sophie.
To contact The NCLA, call 336-992-2710. The school is located at 4353 High Point Rd.
There has also been a GoFundMe account set up for Sophie to help pay for medical bills. To help support Sophie, visit
“We want to thank everyone for all of their prayers and support. We can never express how much that has meant to our family,” April said.

Settlement Reached

April 21, 2016

policeTown settles federal lawsuit filed by Surry County couple

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the March 19 & 20, 2016 edition of the Kernersville News. On Tuesday, April 19, monetary details of the settlement were made public, including that the Town of Kernersville agreed to pay the plaintiffs $30,000 and another $80,000 in the plaintiffs’ attorney fees.

The Town has settled a federal lawsuit filed in 2014 in which a Surry County couple alleged that Kernersville police officers illegally seized $20,000 in cash and assaulted one of them.
The exact amount of the settlement has not been made public.
“The (Town) has agreed to settle the case and although we have settled on a monetary amount, not all the terms have been settled and we still have paperwork to do,” said Clarke Dummit, one of the attorneys who represents plaintiffs Teresa Blackburn and Adrian Martinez-Perez.
Dummit said a request to dismiss the lawsuit will be filed in the next few weeks. He also said the couple is happy with the result.
Last month, a federal judge ruled that the lawsuit could move forward in a case where Blackburn and Martinez-Perez accused several officers and the Town with violating their civil rights.
The incident occurred on May 22, 2014 after several Kernersville Police Department (KPD) officers responded to Chalarka Tax on South Main Street following a report of a man with a gun.
In addition to the Town, five officers were named in the lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Biggs denied a request by the officers for a summary judgment in their favor. She also ruled that claims against the Town had not been substantiated and that a search of the couple’s vehicle was legal.
On the day in question, the couple said they were at Chalarka Tax to set up two businesses. For that purpose, court papers say Blackburn had $16,000 in her purse and Martinez-Perez had $4,000 in his pocket. Another man, Leonardo Lopez Garcia, was reportedly with the couple.
At some point, the lawsuit says a Chalarka Tax employee called the KPD for what was described in court papers as a situation in which Garcia allegedly had a gun and threatened one or more of the businesses’ employees.
Upon arrival, the lawsuit says the KPD officers spoke with the employee and Garcia, but when Martinez-Perez offered to translate for Garcia, the lawsuit claims the officers ordered him to “put his hands in the air.” Martinez-Perez says he complied with the order, but after saying he had a pocketknife in his pocket ,Martinez-Perez claimed the officers rushed him, “took him to the ground, shoved a foot in his face, twisted his arm behind his back, and arrested him.”
After searching Martinez-Perez, the lawsuit says the officers reported finding cocaine on a five dollar bill that had fallen from his pocket. It was also reported that a subsequent search of Blackburn’s vehicle did not produce any drugs or weapons.
Martinez-Perez was reportedly taken to the Forsyth County Detention Center, charged with resisting and delaying an officer and possession of a schedule II controlled substance. Blackburn was not charged with any crime. A state court entered an order returning the seized money to the plaintiffs and charges against Martinez-Perez were later dropped.
In the lawsuit, Martinez-Perez asserted a claim for false arrest and excessive force, and both he and Blackburn claimed unreasonable search and unreasonable seizure. They also each claimed intentional infliction of emotional distress and slander, as well as discrimination against the Town.
The KPD and the Town filed a motion for dismissal of the lawsuit, but a judge denied that motion in December 2014.
In Biggs’ ruling last month, she concluded that officers had no probable cause to arrest Martinez-Perez and that the search of his person was unconstitutional. She also ruled that the seizure of the couple’s money was illegal and that, on those findings, the case could move forward in the courts.
In looking at the plaintiffs’ argument that they were racially discriminated against because they are Hispanic and that the Town of Kernersville has a policy of targeting minorities, Biggs found no evidence to support the claim or that officers violated their federal equal protection claim. She also did not find that officers slandered the couple.

Hush Rush Decision

April 14, 2016

editorialA recent decision by the Kernersville Board of Aldermen to help fund the start-up costs of the new executive director position at the Kernersville Museum, while noble, seemed rushed and unplanned.
During last week’s Board meeting, the aldermen approved a four-year deal worth $116,000 to provide financial support to the Kernersville Museum Board of Directors as they look to expand their operations. As part of the agreement, the Town agreed to give the Board of Directors $50,000 during the 2016-2017 fiscal year to pay the $44,000 salary and spend up to $6,000 purchasing furniture and office supplies. Then, in the second year, the Town would contribute $33,000 toward the salary, $22,000 in the year three and $11,000 in the fourth and final year. This would be in addition to the $20,000 the museum currently receives as part of the Town’s support to local non-profit organizations.
We appreciate the efforts of the community to support the new Kernersville Museum and the Kernersville Depot, and would even agree that some of that support should come from the Town. However, we question the manner in which this decision was made and the rationale behind hiring a full-time person.
The request to provide financial assistance to the new staff person was made as part of the Kernersville Museum’s annual report to the aldermen early on in the Board’s regular meeting. But the motion to approve the financing didn’t come until the very end of the meeting and included very little discussion. Instead, the motion to include the $50,000 in the budget being proposed by Town staff next month was made as part of the closing remarks by Board members and unanimously approved. That decision gave the Kernersville Museum Board of Directors the green light to immediately start the hiring process, even though the budget hasn’t even been finalized and the money would not be available until the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.
Would it not have made more sense for the aldermen to tell the Kernersville Museum Board of Directors that they would take their request under consideration when deliberating the annual budget and report back to them once the budget work sessions were complete? Yes, it takes time to conduct a complete and thorough search for the ideal candidate and waiting until the approval of the budget in late June to hire someone the first week in July would be too late, but a decision could have been made over the next few weeks instead of in a single night, allowing more citizen input.
Further, the Kernersville News would be interested in learning more from the Kernersville Museum Board of Directors about how this new executive director will be using their time. We realize there is plenty of work to be done behind the scenes before the museum can really open its doors to the public on a regular basis, including fundraising, organizing artifacts and establishing a variety of programming, but maybe a better option at this time would have been to hire a part-time person or even two part-time people so both locations can be staffed at the same time. A second option could have been to partner with the Kernersville Parks and Recreation Department by adding a full-time staff member to their roster and giving this person the responsibility of managing the museum and depot in addition to working with other downtown projects.
This way additional staff members could be assigned during peak event times.
Don’t get us wrong, we are in full support of the Kernersville Museum and believe it, along with the Kernersville Depot, are welcomed additions to the downtown landscape. We see these locations thriving during community events throughout the year and are excited to see what the future holds for them. We just would have liked to have seen the aldermen take more time to properly deliberate and execute its plan. We feel that many more questions should have been asked by the aldermen and the public of the Board of Directors before committing taxpayer money to the project. $44,000 is a decent amount of money, and the citizens deserve to know more about what that money will be used for.

Jump Rope for Heart

March 24, 2016

jump?In their seventh year participating in Jump Rope for Heart, Cash Elementary School (CES) raised $8,727.60.
According to Beth Graves, PE teacher at CES, the money raised goes to help kids with heart disease.
“We had a jump rope party for anyone who raised $50 or more. We had 31 students who raised $100 or more,” she said. “Those students qualified for one hour of free jumping at Airbound Trampoline Park on April 26.”
Graves noted that Mrs. Patti’s third grade class, which had two of the highest fundraising students, was the top fundraiser, having raised $1,231.94.
“They won a recess basket with balls, jump ropes and a t-shirt for their teacher,” she said.
The top six fundraising students shared why they participated and what they enjoyed about helping others.
Third grade student Brett Blevins raised the most of any student at CES since the school began participating in Jump Rope for Heart. He raised $706.94.
“I have been the top fundraiser for two years. I was in second place my first year, when I was in first grade,” he said.
Blevins, who shared that he has a heart problem, said he has participated in the fundraiser for the past three years to help other children like himself.
“I want to help other people to get better from it,” he shared.
Blevins explained that he was able to raise the money with the help of his mom through a bake sale.
“Me and my mom baked and sold cookies at her work,” he said, adding that they had other cookies donated to them to sell, and they also sold sausage biscuits. “One guy came up and gave us a $100 bill because he was so hungry.”
Third grade student Landon Burleyson, who raised $350, said he decided to participate because he wants to get rid of heart disease.
“I raised money by asking my family, my grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents,” he said, noting that helping raise money makes him happy.
Fourth grade student Ariah DeLilly raised $275. She said this was the first year she has participated in Jump Rope for Heart.
“I wanted to help because my great grandmother and my mom’s friend died from heart disease,” she said. “My mom posted a picture of my great grandmother on Facebook and asked people if they would help us raise money, and then three people at church donated some money.”
DeLilly said she hopes the money her school raised helps to find a cure for heart disease.
Fifth grade student Joseph Barrett, who raised $200, said this is the fourth year he has participated in Jump Rope for Heart.
“I feel like people with heart disease deserve to have a chance to live and get help so they can spend time with their family,” he said as he shared that both his mom and grandmother donated money to the cause.
Second grade student Miranda Barrett, who also raised $200 alongside her brother Joseph, said she wanted to participate this year to help others.
“I wanted to help because it’s not fair for the kids and their parents who have heart disease and I wanted them to be able to have more time together,” she said.
Second grade student Amelia Cooke, who raised $195, said she wanted to get involved because she has learned about heart disease from her mom.
“My mom is a cardiologist and people who have to be in the hospital don’t get a lot of attention, and the money can help them get back to their families,” she said.
Cooke noted that she was able to raise money from her feuding grandparents, who had a playful competition on who loved their granddaughter more.
“My grandmother and grandfather got into a ‘fight’ about who loved me more and tried to out donate each other,” she said. “My grandfather won.”
Cooke said her mother made a donation as well.
For more information about the American Heart Association, visit

For the Animals

March 18, 2016

dogsCindy Dezern, a local animal advocate, is looking for community support in hopes of starting a no-kill shelter for cats and dogs in Kernersville.
Dezern explained that she is planning to start small as she works to gain a non-profit 501(c)3 status.
“On Facebook, I have a model of a state of the art facility,” she said, noting that it was built in another county. “The community came together to help build it with no debt. Something like this would put Kernersville on the map for animals.”
Dezern works as a rescue for cats and dogs at the Carolina Veterinary Assistance and Adoption Group in Reidsville.
“We go around to high kill shelters in the surrounding counties and rescue animals on death row. We then take them out to adoption events at PetSmart to try to get them to a safe home,” she shared. “There is nothing like taking a shy dog that has been abused and seeing them wag their tail for the first time or lick your hand. When they get matched up with a perfect family, and they send you pictures, there is nothing like it.”
As a rescue worker, Dezern said she really listens to her customers.
“I really listen to my customers when they tell me about their past experiences,” she said. “I want to use the feedback from some of their experiences when building the procedures and policies, and I want to make the shelter both people and animal friendly.”
In making the shelter user friendly for both parties, Dezern hopes to make the adoption process easier, while also ensuring that both the animal and pet parent(s) are a good fit for each other. She also hopes to offer fostering through the shelter.
Currently working on earning her master’s degree in social work, Dezern feels she is good at assessing people when it comes to looking at whether they would be a good fit for a certain animal.
“I also think it will help me to work with pet parents on certain issues they might be having, so they can work them out,” she said, when referring to possible issues pet parents might run into when adopting a new cat or dog.
Dezern shared that her love for animals began at an early age.
“I was born on a huge farm in southern Virginia with lots of animals. When I got into rescue, I began to see the huge need,” she said. “I also know the joy, passion and therapy I have received from my two dogs, Junior and Sierra.”
Dezern said she feels it is time to put the animals first.
“I want animals to be the number one priority in this project,” she said. “There is a need because millions of animals are being slaughtered every year and because of the inhumane practices in shelters.”
One business Dezern said has committed in helping her with the venture is SEO Rockets – Search Engine Optimization.
“They are helping me build social media accounts and a website,” she said.
As for the need for building the no-kill shelter, Dezern said she is looking for people interested in helping in anyway, whether volunteering, fundraising, donating, or anything.
“We need more business and community support,” she said. “I want to get people together to see what we can do. I want this to be Kernersville’s community shelter.”
Dezern has started a group page on Facebook, Project “No-Kill” Shelter of Kernersville, where she invites people to join and share both suggestions and comments.
For more information or if you have an interest, contact Dezern at or 336-817-6140.

Mission to Uganda

March 18, 2016

ugandaDuring a trip to Uganda, Beth Gianopulos, a member of Project:Re3, had the chance to empower girls and deliver much needed supplies and hope.
Having returned just last week, Gianopulos was still recovering from the eight-hour time change, but was full of drive and eager to share about the need in Uganda.
“I went with three women from our church: Jessica Church and her mom Penny Apple, and Melissa Edwards,” she said, noting that they went through Fields of Dreams Uganda, a mission that works closely with schools in Uganda. “Mike Warneke, the executive director of Fields of Dreams Uganda, had shared with us about his organization at our church a few years ago and what struck me the most is that girls in Uganda do not have feminine hygiene products. They don’t have stores they can go to find these things. They only have outdoor markets.”
Gianopulos explained that the girls often use whatever they can find, and often only own one pair of underwear (knickers) or none, and only have one dress to wear to school.
“Because of this, they miss school. They miss 20 percent of the school year compared to boys,” she remarked. “I feel like I am a pretty informed person having gone on other (mission) trips, but I never thought about this.”
Gianopulos explained that during each trip made by a group, Warneke looks at the skills of the group and then uses that to help the people in Uganda.
“The purpose of our trip was a girls’ empowerment trip, boosting their confidence and doing workshops on human trafficking and sharing with them that they are valued,” she said. “We also gave out hygiene kits, which will last each girl a year.”
Gianopulos explained that each kit includes five washable feminine pads, a bucket, two long bars of soap, a drying rack, three pairs of underwear and a bag to hold everything.
“We had a huge campaign to raise over $17,000. I raised $1,500 just to fund the kits, because each kit is $17,” she explained.
Gianopulos explained that the girls she visited were part of partner schools with Fields of Dreams.
“Fields of Dreams has nine partner schools in two places. They have five in Gulu, a very rural part of Uganda and four in Kampala, a bigger city. Fields of Dreams’ mission is to change the lives of K-6 primary school students through the avenues of education and soccer,” she said. “The kids in Uganda love soccer. They love soccer so much that they will make a soccer ball out of about anything.”
Gianopulos noted that Fields of Dreams carefully selects the schools and gives each one a $3,000 grant each year, which they can use for whatever they need, if they promise to pay their teachers on time, so that they don’t leave, and take care of the things that are given to them, such as soccer equipment, instead of selling it and so it will last.
“One school used the money to buy two pigs in hopes that they would make baby pigs they could sell,” she said.
Gianopulos noted that all partner schools also receive a paid education advocate who visits each school once a week to check in on them, which is important since they have exams in primary schools. They also get two social workers in each city since the children have many problems at home whether violence, rape, or hunger, or kids raising each other. The schools also get both a boys’ and girls’ soccer coach.
While Gianopulos was in Uganda, she said they put on a soccer tournament, something Fields of Dreams often does, which is where students can receive scholarships for secondary school since many students often cannot afford to attend. Gianopulos explained that although the schools are government schools, the students must pay to attend and secondary school is three times the cost of primary school.
Also while she was there, they went around to all of the schools in Gulu and passed out hygiene kits and put on a soccer tournament. She also painted moms’ and girls’ fingernails and spent a lot of time just talking with the girls.
Gianopulos said she struggled seeing the hunger the kids had to endure.
“There is no lunch at school and some of the students may have to walk at least three miles to get to school without shoes. Since school is from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., they are often going about 12 hours with no food and the temperature is 100 degrees,” she said. “The location of the school is also where the city well is, so families are always there.”
Another thing Gianopulos said was a struggle to learn was that many of the children are orphans due to the Lord’s Resistance Army, HIV and AIDs, or malaria.
“A lot of these kids are probably orphans because their parents were killed or they were a product of rape during wartime,” she said. “Everything is stacked against them; it’s such a harsh place and everything is hard.”
Even though these children and adults live in such a harsh world, Gianopulos said they are genuinely nice people.
“They are so genuine in their caring and they have so much hope, despite their hardships and what they have been through. They have resilience and love,” she remarked.
Gianopulos said she and the three other women from Project:Re3 spoke as many words of life into the girls they spoke with .
“We would tell them they are loved, that they are important and that they control their future,” she said.
Now that she has returned from her trip, Gianopulos said her priorities are to figure out how to get lunch for the students in the partner schools, since it is their most important meal, and spreading awareness to the people around her.
“I want to raise awareness that these children aren’t just statistics on the other side of the world. They are actual children who want people to love them and want their basic needs met,” she said.
For more information about Fields of Dreams Uganda, visit For more information about Project:Re3, visit or visit them on Facebook.

Unite the Triad

March 11, 2016

tiffanyWith a goal of uniting the community, Tiffany Capparelli came up with the idea for Unite the Triad.
“That is the ultimate goal, to unite us as a community and as a people,” she said. “I’ve just had a heart to want to help people and reach out.”
Capparelli explained that in the beginning her thoughts were more focused on one avenue for helping people, but now she feels it should be limitless.
“It can be environment, animals, children or the elderly, and it doesn’t matter the person’s background,” she said. “I know in the religious community there is a lot of outreach, but there are probably some people that feel intimidated to seek help. I am hoping for this to be a lasting solution.”
Capparelli said she was in a dark place about 10 months ago.
“If not for a really strong support system, I’m not sure where I would be right now and that’s another area where people might need help; people battling depression,” she shared.
Capparelli noted that the group is all encompassing and anyone is welcome.
“I’m a firm believer that in your life, if you step out of your comfort zone to help others, you are happier and whatever chaos you are dealing with, you will find a solution in helping others,” she said.
As for the people they will be helping, Capparelli said there are numerous people in the community who need help, whether it’s that they need help paying a light bill or something else.
“If we help people, I want to make it so they will be required, also, to give back and be a part of this,” she said. “I also want to look at the long-term solution as to why they might be struggling to pay their light bill and help them with that as well.”
Capparelli said while the group is all encompassing, the first two projects she wants to focus on are food waste and music therapy.
“The former CEO of Trader Joe’s opened a store called Daily Table. Whatever community they are in, they purchase food that is considered expired from the grocery store, but isn’t actually expired, usually perishable food and sell it,” she said. “I thought the concept was amazing. I had a friend who worked for (a grocery store) and she told me that even if they break one egg in a carton, they have to throw away the entire carton.”
What Capparelli wants to figure out is how to redistribute that often wasted food, and give it to people who might need it.
“There are so many people who are hungry in the world and we are wasting so much food, just in our hometown,” she remarked.
As for music therapy, Capparelli said she has heard of nursing homes using music therapy to help patients, such as those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“We have a really strong local music scene. I know a good amount of the artists, and I want to gather some of those people and get them into some nursing homes and let these people relive their happy days. I know music will bring them alive again,” she said, noting that she would hope the artists would play some music from the residents’ past.
Capparelli explained when there are other organizations that are already doing things in the community, she would like the group to work through those organizations instead of starting over on their own.
“We’ll just connect and go, and be the hands and feet for some of these organizations,” she said.
Capparelli hopes others will bring their interests and then facilitate a cause that is important to them.
“I think everyone has considered doing for others, stepping outside of themselves and lending a hand and for one reason or another over thought the entire process or weren’t sure where to start, but this will be a place where you can come and there will be a place for your particular interest and skill set,” she said. “I hope to see all forms of skills sets including artists, construction foreman, or anything. I want it to be quite broad and just invite people with compassion and willingness to step outside of themselves.”
The meeting for Unite the Triad will be held on March 8 from 6 – 7 p.m. at Eclection, located at 221 North Main Street in downtown Kernersville.

Joyful Notes

February 16, 2016

dawn“He who sings frightens away his ills.” – Miguel de Cervantes
People who sing with others experience a wide range of joys and benefits. Members of singing groups enjoy meeting new people and feeling more alert and emotionally uplifted. Singing provides a direct and immediate sense of happiness and takes your mind off the stresses of the day. It’s an ageless enjoyment; you’re never too young or too old.
The Joyful Notes, led by Dawn Larkins, is a community choir that was founded in 2005, boasting 22 members whose age ranges from 40 to 100-years-old. Larkins isn’t just the adult senior choir director at Main Street Baptist Church and choir director for the Joyful Notes, she is also a pianist, vocalist, mom and entrepreneur.
The group meets every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. in the common area at Robinwood Senior Living, located on Hopkins Road.
“Being a member of Joyful Notes is inexpensive and brings a real sense of camaraderie, togetherness and happiness. It also helps you to listen, be focused and builds your confidence through teamwork,” noted Phillip Thompson, a Joyful Notes choir member.
Sandy Hunt, a Clemmons native, has been living at Robinwood Senior Living since 2010, and that’s about the time she heard about the Joyful Notes singing group.
“Some of the residents told me about this gleeful singing group, so I took a chance, met everyone at practice one Tuesday morning, and I never looked back,” recalled Hunt. “What I love most about being part of this singing group is the feeling I have. We are all family, everybody knows everybody and we all love being around one another, we just love to have fun and sing.”
Priddy Manor Assisted Living in King is one of their favorite senior centers where the group enjoys performing.
“The Alzheimer patients really respond to us when we go there and sing to them. It is truly remarkable. They join right in just like they know the songs we are singing,” said Hunt. “When we start singing, everyone’s eyes just light up and smiles happen all around.”
Larkins, whose father was in the Navy, was born in Morocco, Africa and moved to Kernersville 33 years ago when she married her husband, Jack. They have three children together.
Music has always played a role in her life. She sang in the church choir as a child and comes from a family with a rich musical background. “I was always drawn to music,” she said.
The theme for their upcoming May show is centered on uplifting Gospel music. Larkins drew from her own experiences as a child. Her father and others started a church in the country when she was a young girl. Her love of music stemmed from her humble church beginnings. She started taking piano lessons at the age of seven. She eventually majored in piano while attending Winthrop University in South Carolina.
“Our group members are very fun loving, and we have a very relaxed atmosphere here. We meet early about once a month to have breakfast together,” said Larkins. “This year we are going to try and write a cookbook together.”
Larkins continued, “The choir seems to be a sanctuary for most of the women. It’s a place to heal, to meditate, to sing about something greater than themselves and to connect with others. They leave refreshed, happy and wanting more in their lives than sitting in their apartments alone.”
Thompson has been singing with the group for two years, and looks forward to coming to their weekly rehearsals. He began singing as a young man, and loves sharing his voice with others in the community.
“I would have to say what I love most about being a part of this singing group is the fellowship and friendship. The joyful notes that others receive from us makes you feel good inside. Everyone that comes to sing here wants to be here and is dedicated to Dawn. They really love Dawn,” shared Thompson.
The Joyful Notes provides a choir experience for all adults, regardless of their talent or experience, by creating a choir open to all in the community who self-identify as lovers of music. No prior singing experience is required. You do not need to read music or audition. The emphasis is on singing for the “joy” of it. The only requirement for joining the Joyful Notes is a desire to sing.
Another member of the group, Cathy Stockman, explained, “Joining the community choir has given us excitement, harmony and a new appreciation of how singing is good for the soul. Being in the choir just lifts our spirits.”
Larkins encourages anyone who loves to sing to come out and join the group at Robinwood Senior Living on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Robinwood Senior Living is located at 230 Hopkins Road.

Archer’s Rest

February 16, 2016

farmWith passions in gardening, sustainable homesteading and competitive archery, Lorelei Elkins encourages others to get out, get their hands dirty and grow something.
Elkins explained that while she didn’t grow up on a farm, she and her family always had chickens, ducks and a goat.
“We only had about an acre of land, but I had friends that had a farm and I’ve always had an interest of the back to earth lifestyle,” she explained.
Elkins noted that she currently has 26 chickens, with another 10 on the way, mostly raising the chickens for their eggs. She also has a pair of Emden geese, all on two acres of land.
“They are organic free range and I close them up in their house at night to roost,” she said about the chickens. “The geese are great watch animals. You can’t get too close to my house without them warning me.”
Elkins noted that her chickens, which are Black Copper Maran, Cuchoo Maran, and Araucana, lay really dark eggs. As for her geese, they lay greenish blue eggs.
“They taste the same as regular eggs. Most people think that the dark eggs taste different, but they don’t,” she said, noting that she gets about four chicken eggs to one goose egg. “We usually let the geese sit on their eggs and we get goslings in the spring and sell those.”
Of all the birds they have, Elkins said her favorite is a chicken named, Clucky.
“She never shuts up and is always underfoot asking for food. She is very broody (wants to sit on her eggs) and gives me a little attitude when she wants to sit on the nest. She has a little personality,” she said, noting that Clucky is a Buff Orpington, the only one of its kind at Archer’s Rest.
When giving advice on raising chickens, Elkins said they are easy to raise.
“I have 26 chickens, but you don’t need to start with that many. If you have two chickens, they provide a lot of fertilizer for the garden and a few eggs,” she said. “You have to make sure you have an area to protect them from predators like red tailed hawks and dogs. It’s a great way to connect with the earth a little bit.”
When it comes to making a connection with the earth, Elkins noted that in today’s society, there is often a big disconnect in that department.
“If you ask a kid where their food comes from, most of the time they won’t say the garden or farm, they will tell you it comes from the grocery store,” she said. “We as an ever increasing urban society are distanced from the process of growing our own food and animals. I think it’s a skill all kids should learn and if the economy gets bad again, it offers a means to supplementing what we buy at the grocery store. I suppose they call it food security. Secondly, I think it is important to maintain our rural atmosphere in Kernersville, and in the Triad region. Our agricultural land is quickly disappearing into commercial development and housing units. Family farms are quickly disappearing and with that, we lose a lifestyle of resilience.”
In her pursuit to connect with the earth, Elkins said that she does a little bit of everything.
“We do everything organically here,” she said, noting that along with the birds, they also have gardens and a beehive. “Same with the bees – we do everything naturally, and we have rain barrels.”
Although she has a full time job, along with a garden, canning, caring for bees, and raising chickens and geese, which she noted is a lot of work, she said she enjoys every minute of it.
“It’s good work. I don’t watch TV, other than Netflix, for about 13 years now and we don’t miss it,” she said. “We do other things and our time is usually spent outside doing something. It’s, I think, worth the reward.”
Along with raising geese, chickens and bees, Elkins is also passionate about gardening and sustainable homesteading as well as competitive archery. She noted that when doing archery, she uses a long bow and a re-curve (hand bow).
“I belong to a group that does archery reenactment. It is The Society for Creative Anachronism. We have archery practice at our house and it’s all traditional,” she said. “We have a variety of events and practice about once a month. You can find a local group at, but we’re always happy to have more people at events.”
Elkins noted that she is an environmental educator, always promoting people to get outside.
“I’m an environmental educator and work for Forsyth County,” she shared, noting that while she is no longer active in it, she is also a Forsyth County Master Gardener. “I participated when my son was young and I fully support their program. It is through the cooperative extension. I try to support people getting their hands dirty at every opportunity.”
At her home, Elkins said they have an edible landscape, where they are able to grow enough food for themselves, as well as the animals that come through their property.
“I have a great neighbor that lets me use some of his property if I want to grow something bigger,” she shared. “I try to use as many native species as possible; it’s more food for the birds and wildlife habitat.”
On their property, Elkins said they have about three or four different varieties of blueberries.
“They seem to like the Triad soil. If anyone wants to start gardening, I recommend trying to plant a blueberry bush,” she said. “We also have an asparagus perennial bed. You plant the roots about two feet deep and they come up every year and supposedly they can last about 100 years. We also have blackberries, raspberries, four apple trees, two peach trees, and pear, plum, and cherry trees. We have grapevines too – once we figured out how to prune them the right way. We get about 100 pounds off of two vines.”
Elkins noted that they were able to make a couple gallons of wine this year, as well as jam. They have one vine with Concord grapes and one with Catawba.
“We also get enough berries and fruit (from our landscape) to do quite a bit of canning and pickling,” she said, noting that they do lacto fermentation style pickling. “That’s the traditional way. You use salt instead of vinegar.”
Elkins recommends for everyone to get back to tradition and planting something in their garden.
“I recommend that even if you have never done gardening before, to consider planting some edibles in a raised bed,” she said. “Nothing beats the taste of fresh tomatoes off the vine or strawberries picked fresh that morning, opposed to having them come from across the country from California. It cuts down on food miles and we live in an area that has a bountiful variety of fruits and vegetables. If you go to one of our local farmers markets you’ll see the diversity of products available. They are healthier and taste better.”
She added, “I just really want to encourage people to get their hands dirty, get outside and grow something you love. You won’t be sorry.”
Elkins noted that with the eggs they have left over, they do sell them for $3/dozen. If interested in eggs, visit “Archer’s Rest” on Facebook.
Elkins noted several classes available in February at the Forsyth County Cooperative Extension including Seed Starting on February 17, Forks on Friday: Plan and Plant Your Spring Vegetable Garden on February 19, Community Garden Mentor Training on February 20 and February 27, and First Aid for a Healthy Yard on February 20.
For more information about these classes, call 336-703-2850 or visit