Favorite # 89: National Volunteer Week

Teaching the future generation ...

Teaching the future generation …

Serving the Community

As I was driving by a church, recently, I saw a sign that said celebrate National Volunteer Week. With our economy and government stretched to the limit, people are finding new ways to fill in the gaps. One of those ways is a national movement encouraging people to volunteer.

While this is a wonderful idea, of course, it’s not new. Volunteer fireman have been filling in the gaps for years in rural communities without asking for anything in return. These men and women didn’t need a national movement, they just saw a need and responded. 

Throughout the years, in addition to responsibilities of home and careers, firemen have served their community without pay, doing it because of a love of helping others. Today, they are constantly being trained, keeping up-to-date with current trends, including learning about hazardous materials in homes and new designs or features on cars. This training keeps not only the firemen safe, but others as well.

Even women have been a part of that story going all the way back to the late sixties and early seventies. During those years, men had jobs that didn’t allow them time to volunteer as much, so women volunteered out of necessity. Just like the men, they had to go through training, climbing ladders and even rooftops with a hose on their backs. Communities often worked together to raise money for buildings and trucks through fundraisers such as hot dog dinners after church on Sundays.

America’s spirit and history has been one of volunteering, evident all the way back to pioneer days when wagon trains moved west. Without people volunteering to help each other, that history would never had happened.

For information on how to be a volunteer fireman, check out the following link. If interested in learning more about National Volunteer Week and how you can serve in your community, check out the Points of Light website. There you will find inspirational stories as well as suggestions of ways to volunteer on an individual and corporate level. Why not give it a try today?

Do you have suggestions for ways to serve in your community? Leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com

Thanks,

Dicy

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com/blog

 

 

Favorite #88: Communities in Schools

Having fun at Koontz Elementary School

Meeting the Needs of Children

Communities in Schools is a wonderful resource for providing opportunities and programs some children might not otherwise experience. A partnership, this far reaching program serves students throughout the nation in approximately 27 states.  Assisting students in becoming the best they can be, that sometimes means providing food for a long weekend, a ride to the doctor or even a much anticipated ball practice.

Other times that means jump starting an interest in reading through an onsite book club. These book clubs are a wonderful way for children to connect not only with each other, but books they read, even at times having opportunities to meet a real author. When given a chance to meet an author children often get a sense they can become one, too.

I had the opportunity, recently, to participate in a second-grade book club at Elizabeth Koontz Elementary School in Salisbury, NC. Beth Foreman, the Communities in Schools Site Coordinator, invited me to share my books, asking that I read, Tired of Being Different. Told through the viewpoint of a puppy, the message in the story teaches children it’s okay to be different. After the presentation, we took a group photo, as you can see above. The children thought hiding behind their books was cool.

A few weeks later, Beth sent the following report to the local newspaper, the Salisbury Post … Monday, March 10, 2014, 106 second grade students at Elizabeth Koontz Elementary were treated to a special book club guest, Dicy McCullough. Dicy is a local author of children’s books, who spoke to our students about the importance of reading and writing, sharing how she finds topics to incorporate in her books. She  models book characters after real life people and animals, even using artwork and ideas suggested by students! Dicy read her book, “Tired of Being Different.” All students received a copy for their personal home libraries. Teachers received a classroom copy of the free book. Books were purchased using grant money from Target Early Learning LIteracy Foundation. (If interested in writing a grant for this year, the Target Foundation is taking applications until April 30th.)

The first and second grade book clubs at Elizabeth Koontz Elementary School are sponsored by Communities in Schools of Rowan County and Target Foundation Early Literacy Grants. Community in Schools is a Rowan County United Way Agency. To learn more about Communities in Schools click here. To learn more about Rowan County’s program, click here.

Congratulations, Beth Foreman and the Communities in Schools program at Elizabeth Koontz Elementary School. For inspiring a love of reading at such a young age, perhaps preventing future dropouts, you are my favorite organization of the week.

Do you know an organization in your community who is going above and beyond in meeting the needs of children? If so, leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com/blog

 

Favorite #87: Cotton Ketchie in Love Valley

Cotton at a book signing in Love Valley.

Cotton at a book signing in Love Valley.

Preserving the Past through the Written Word

 A couple of weeks ago I shared about Cotton Ketchie’s expertise as an artist and photographer in blog post Favorite #83. Although I’ve known him for only a few months, he’s so warm and friendly, writing about him is like writing about an old friend.

Cotton has always loved to draw, but it wasn’t until 1975 while taking lessons through Mitchell Community College at the War Memorial Center in Mooresville, NC, that his work as an artist began to mature. Encouraged by his instructor, the late Don Chapman, and fellow art students to give watercolors a try, Cotton discovered not only a love for the art form, but a talent. After much practice and a growing fan base, Cotton eventually opened the Landmark Galleries on N. Main St. in Mooresville. Always taking photos for his sketches, he didn’t become a professional photographer until everything went digital.

There’s no doubt being talented as an artist and photographer would be enough for most people, but Cotton’s talent doesn’t stop there. Also gifted as an author, writer and musician, before Cotton took up painting, unknown to many, he used to write songs. Some of those songs have been sung in years past at local churches.

As an author, Cotton has published two autobiographies and two novels. Based loosely on a fictional artist from Mooresville, his latest novel centers around the town known to many as the Cowboy Capital of NC, Love Valley. By contrast, his autobiographies are steeped in truth and honesty of what it was like to grow up as a country boy in rural NC, during the middle of the 20th century. Born in 1944 and named after his dad, Millard Vincent Ketchie, by the time Cotton was three, he already had a “cotton top,” so thus his nickname. Preferring Cotton to the given name of “Millard,” Cotton said, “That name was too much of a burden for any little boy to carry.”

North Carolina is lucky to have a talented man like Cotton who cares about leaving a legacy behind of preserving landmarks and everyday events through photographs, art and the written word. Knowing he’s blessed, Cotton sprinkles references to his faith throughout his work, including a reference to one of his favorite poets, Robert Frost, and his poem, “Birches.” About climbing trees, the end of the poem especially speaks to Cotton’s heart reminding him even on bad days or when having to make difficult decisions, that God is in control. A willing vessel, just like the canvas he paints on and the blank page he writes on, Cotton knows he’s still a work in progress.

To learn more about about Cotton Ketchie and his many talents, check out the Salisbury Post hyperlinks above.

Congratulations, Cotton Ketchie! This makes twice I’ve chosen you as my favorite person of the week. Chosen several weeks ago as my favorite for preserving landmarks through art and photography, this week it’s for preserving the past through the written word.

Do you know someone in your community who cares about preserving the past? If so, leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com

Thanks,

Dicy

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com/blog

 

 

 

Favorite #86: Friends Helping Friends

Charlene Fero, facing life with a smile and a positive attitude.

Charlene Fero, facing life with a smile and a positive attitude.

In Need of a Kidney Transplant

This week I actually had planned on writing about a local school, but plans changed when one of my friends, Norma Thomas, sent me a message on Facebook. Norma said one of our mutual friends, Charlene Fero, had posted a request on her Facebook page for a kidney donor. Norma asked if I had seen it. Telling her I had, it sparked the idea that maybe I should pass the info along. If you follow my blog, you probably read about Charlene last fall. The blog was titled Favorite #64: Kidney Transplant Donors.

Always enjoying life to the fullest, Charlene has lived her entire life with a condition she knew eventually would lead to kidney failure. Although I’ve known Charlene for about five years, I guess because she was always upbeat and happy, I had no clue until she shared with me last year. Surprised, I soon learned she was born with a genetic condition known as Polycystic Kidney Disease, otherwise known as PKD. This condition eventually leads to kidney failure due to cysts that grow on the kidneys. Symptoms include headaches, back aches, hip pain, blood in the urine and high blood pressure.

Knowing I write a human interest column for the Salisbury Post, Charlene asked if I would write one about her and the need for a kidney donor. Since that column ran last October, Charlene’s condition has progressed to the point she’s now on dialysis. The doctors say because of her age it will probably take 3 to 5 years to find a donor match and that her best chance would be to find a live donor. As a result, Charlene posted the following heartfelt message on her Facebook page …

I am in desperate need of a donor kidney. If you are in good health, between the ages of 18-60, have blood type B or O and think you might be interested please message me as soon as possible. I have all the contact info, or you can call Carolina’s Medical Center in Charlotte, NC or Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC, asking for the donor number for kidney transplant patients. They will send you a donor package with all the necessary information. REMEMBER this will cost you nothing. My insurance will pay everything. Thank you for taking the time to read my post. God bless.

To learn more about Charlene or her condition, click here for the Salisbury Post link. If interested in being a donor or giving Charlene words of encouragement, send her a message on Facebook or call Carolina’s Medical Center (800-562-5752) or Wake Forest Baptist Hospital (336-713-5675). Even if you’re not a match for Charlene, there’s always a possibility you’ll be a match for someone else. Charlene, along with her family and friends will be forever grateful.

With this week’s blog being about friends helping friends, it was refreshing to see another post on Facebook this morning about that very thing. The entire state of North Carolina was hit hard a few weeks ago with an ice storm and High Point in particular suffered major damage. Since then different volunteer organizations have been helping with the clean-up. Here’s a link to one story that touched my heart, I hope it will yours, too. Called the Storm Before the Storm, it’s about the financial and emotional storms that were brewing, even before the ice, and how families in need have been helped in ways they never imagined.

Do you have stories of friends helping friends in your community? If so, leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.

Thanks,

Dicy

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com/blog

 

 

 

Favorite #85: Richard’s Coffee Shop

Richard's Coffee Shop: Veterans Are Welcome

Richard’s Coffee Shop: Veterans Are Welcome

A Haven for Veterans

Even though the sign out front says, “Richard’s Coffee Shop,” anyone passing by will get the first hint there’s more since everything in the large display window is related somehow to the military. Having enough artifacts for a different theme every three months, Wayne Agee, a veteran and regular, is proud of that window since he’s in charge of the display.

Richard’s Coffee Shop in Mooresville, NC, was started by and later named for Richard Warren, a Huey helicopter gunship pilot who flew 29 missions during the Vietnam war. Originally named for his wife, Pat, with business not doing as well in the early years as he had hoped, Richard often stood on the sidewalk, talking to people as they went by. Asking if they were a veteran, he then would invite them in for a cup of coffee.

As word spread Pat’s was a great place for veterans to hang out, not only did they come in for coffee, but they came in for companionship and a chance to take their mind off their troubles, if only for a little while. Before long, some of them began bringing in military memorabilia such as photos and uniforms, finding a place for them on the walls of the shop.

With the collection of memorabilia and patrons continuing to grow, after a period of about 14 years, it became obvious Richard needed a larger place. It was also about that time a non-profit group formed called, “Welcome Home Veterans.” Ironically, a few months after the group formed, Richard passed away. Becoming even more dedicated to making sure veterans would have a place to meet and carry on Richard’s legacy, through generous donations of individuals and businesses, the non-profit group moved to the current and much larger location at 165 N. Main St. in Mooresville, naming it Richard’s Coffee Shop.

Wayne said Saturday mornings are especially fun with guitar, fiddle and banjo “pickers,” playing blue grass, gospel and crowd favorites in a large open area. If you play a stringed instrument, bring it along. You don’t have to be a veteran to join in, but you do have to know how to have fun.

To learn more about Richard’s Coffee Shop in Mooresville, NC, stop by for coffee, a sandwich or a tour, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., or check out their website at Welcome Vets. com. If interested in learning more about the behind the scenes stories of a few of the regulars, like Wayne Agee, check out this Salisbury Post link.

Congratulations to Richard’s Coffee Shop. For continuing Richard Warren’s vision of a much needed place of refuge, relaxation and restoration for veterans, you are my favorite place of the week.

Do you know a place in your community where veterans feel appreciated and accepted? Leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com

Thanks,

Dicy

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com/blog

 

 

Favorite #84: Rocky River Elementary School

A day of reading at Rocky River

A day of reading at Rocky River

Creative Ways of Learning

Rocky River Elementary School in Mooresville, NC is one of those schools where you feel welcome the minute you enter the door. Perhaps the bright and colorful halls contribute to that perception, but mostly it’s the bright and cheerful smiles of everyone from the principal to the teachers, with the brightest smiles coming from the students.

As a children’s author, I often get invitations to speak at schools and was happy to accept an invitation from media specialist, Ms. Gina Crippen, as part of a nationwide Read Across America celebration. With music and a puppet included, as I shared my books and gave tips for writing, all the students from the youngest to the oldest seemed to enjoy our time together. Some even asked questions like where do I get my ideas and how long does it take to write a book. I couldn’t help but laugh when one student wanted to know my age. Much to his surprise I didn’t give a number, but just answered, “I’m old.”

The students were celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday as part of the event, which fit perfectly since my books are also written in rhythm and rhyme. When Ms. Crippen expressed appreciation to the children for wearing red, white and black in honor of Dr. Seuss, I felt happy to fit in with the color scheme wearing a red, white and black sweater.

Having a wonderful time at Rocky River didn’t end when the school bell rang because  family book night was scheduled in the media center that evening. With different activities planned, parents and students had many options such as making book marks, reading, watching a presentation on the computer and visiting with a local children’s author, which just happened to be me. The participation and enthusiasm of everyone who came was exciting to see.

Thanks to media specialist, Ms. Gina Crippen and principal, Mr. Chuck LaRosso, for the invitation to read and share my books as part of the Read Across America initiative. Sponsored by the NEA and encouraged by President, Barack Obama, if you want to learn more about this nationwide event, click on the link here.

Taking every opportunity to promote learning and family involvement in a creative way, it’s no surprise Rocky River Elementary School is an Honor School of Excellence. For encouraging innovative and creative ways of teaching children, Rocky River is my favorite school of the week.

Do you know a school that is going above and beyond to educate students in a positive learning environment? If so, leave a comment, message on Facebook, or email dicysm@yahoo.com

Thanks,

Dicy

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com/blog

 

Favorite #83: Cotton Ketchie: author, artist, photographer

Cotton, enjoying a day at the Landmark Galleries.

Cotton, enjoying a day at the Landmark Galleries.

  Preserving Landmarks through Art

There are people in this world who seem to be talented in almost everything they  do. Cotton Ketchie is one of those people. Even with his amazing talent as an artist, photographer and author, Cotton is very down-to-earth and approachable, appreciative of his talents and the blessings bestowed on him for a purpose.

Having the desire to preserve landmarks through his watercolors, he named his gallery in Mooresville, NC, the Landmark Galleries. Meeting him for the first time in January, although it was cold outside, the warmth I felt from Cotton and his wife, Vickie,  made the wintry day seem a little less cold.

In between assisting customers, Cotton began to tell me a little about himself and how he started to draw. He said as a child, he always had his pencil sharpened and loved sketching, but even so, never really thought of himself as an artist. Wanting to improve his technique, he enrolled in a class at a local college in 1975. After about the fourth or fifth night, a breakthrough came when Cotton grasped the concept of shading. Along with that breakthrough, his confidence soared when the teacher took notice, asking him to help other students.

Encouraged by friends and admirers to try watercolors, Cotton wanted to, but couldn’t afford the materials. It was only after the owner of a craft store loaned him brushes and paper that he gave it a try. His first painting sold for $35.00. Loving the medium more and more, he began to buy brushes and materials as he could afford them. Never having a lesson in watercolors, it just seemed to be a natural gift.

Always desiring a place of his own, in 1987 Cotton borrowed the money and started Landmark Galleries. Loving to paint watercolors of landscapes, he’s traveled across the country taking photographs, with some of his favorite spots being in his home state of North Carolina. His lighthouse prints, especially popular, sell in National Park outlets along the Outer Banks there.

Although Cotton has always taken photographs to use in his sketches as he’s traveled, he didn’t become a professional photographer until 2006. Continuing his quest to preserve landmarks, he’s now able to reach that goal not only through his watercolors, but through his photography as well, with photography a large part of his business today.

Having many distinguished honors including featured artist at the NC Governor’s Conference on Tourism in 2004, as well as recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award, Cotton is not only a state treasure, but a national one as well. Preserving history visually and through the written word in novels, poetry and Facebook postings, Cotton has ensured future generations will have a better idea of the way things were during the old days.

To read more about Cotton Ketchie and his work, check out the Salisbury Post link here. You can also follow him on Facebook, his website at http://landmark-galleries.com/ or visit the Landmark Galleries at 212 N. Main Street in Mooresville.

While it’s true Cotton is talented as an author, I chose him as my favorite person this week because of the difference he is making in preserving landmarks through his watercolors and photography. Do you know someone who is making a difference in the world through their chosen profession? Leave a comment, message on Facebook, or email dicysm@yahoo.com.

Thanks,

Dicy

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com/blog

Favorite #82: Snow

Fun in the Snow!

Fun in the Snow!

                A Child’s Delight

Is there anything more delightful than watching a child play in the snow? Well, I’m sure there’s probably something, but I’m not sure what. A child wrapped up in three layers of clothing can play in the snow for hours without ever getting tired.

Just look at my grandson’s face with delight and fun written all over it. The memories and fun he is having playing in the wintry white wonderland will last long after it has melted.

Sure adults are glad when the snow’s gone and they can get back to their lives of work and responsibilities, but I’m convinced snow was made for kids anyway. Then again, maybe God made it for the purpose of slowing down a hurried world. There’s no doubt pretty much everything and everybody shuts down when it snows-covered in a blanket of peace and tranquility.

Anyway, with that said, some of the things my grandson enjoys in the snow, in addition to falling down, is riding on a sled pulled by his dad, making snowmen, snow balls, snow cream and snow angels. Oh, and yes, touching the falling snow with his tongue. Those kind of memories can’t be bought.

The next time it snows, if you’re looking for something to entice kids to come inside,  making snow cream is the ticket. Food.com has an easy to follow recipe you can check out by clicking here. The recipe is titled Southern Snow Cream. With only three ingredients, even kids can make it. Another fun thing to do indoors would be a snow scavenger hunt. Katrena Allison’s blog has fun activities, no matter the weather, so click on the hyperlink for details on the scavenger hunt. If that’s not enough to keep kids busy, Pinterest is always a great place for creative ideas.

What activities do you and your family enjoy when it snows? Leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.

Thanks,

Dicy

 

Favorite #81: True Love

Wade and Dorothy still enjoying each other's company.

Wade and Dorothy still enjoying each other’s company.

Married 70 Years

 While there’s no denying men and women have been looking for true love down through the ages, one can’t help but wonder if there really is such a thing? Dot Troublefield believes there is and believes what she and her husband, Wade, have is a perfect example. Meeting in 1943, when she was only 17 and he, 18, they married after knowing each other for only six months.Looking back now, Dot says they were just kids.

She explains they met when her dad, Lindsey F. Barbee, was stationed in the Air Force near Sumter, SC. During those years, Wade often stopped at a local sandwich shop near the base to talk with the servicemen and that’s where he got to know Mr. Barbee.

After finding out Mr. Barbee had a daughter in North Carolina, Wade asked permission to call on her and that’s exactly what he did, literally. Sometimes singing to Dot over the telephone, Wade made such an impression on her, even before she saw him, Dot began falling head over heels in love. Soon they began writing back and forth, even sending pictures.

After meeting, Dot knew Wade was the one for her because she had never met anyone like that before. He didn’t drink, cuss, smoke or chew tobacco. He also had a sense of humor, loved children, loved to sing and was a church going man. With someone like that, Dot knew she couldn’t go wrong and the evidence shows she was right because their marriage has lasted for 70 years.

She said although they had some rough times, they stayed true to each other and when things did get tough, they not only held fast to their faith in God, but made a pact never to go to bed mad. If you have been looking for love, don’t be discouraged because it may be just around the corner, or in Dot’s case, on the other end of the telephone.

Although today Wade is a man of few words, all you have to do is listen to Dot speak about the man she loves and watch Wade’s reaction. It’s almost as if right before your eyes, he’s 18 again.

To read more about Dot and Wade and their love story, check out this Salisbury Post link .

What’s your definition of true love? Have you experienced it or know someone who has? If so, leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.

Thanks,

Dicy

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com/blog

 

Favorite #80: First Birthdays

It's fun turning one.

It’s fun turning one.

                A Time of Celebration

What a difference a year can make. It’s hard to believe a whole year has passed since the birth of my second grandson, Garrett. Wearing his fireman hoodie, with a number one on it, as you can see in the photo, Garrett is happy to be held by his older brother, Carson.

Born with a rare genetic condition known as galactosemia, this time last year we weren’t sure if Garrett was going to make it. With only two children born each year in NC with this condition, it’s so rare, most people, including doctors and nurses, have never heard of it.

Hearing the term “galactosemia” for the first time last February, our family soon learned it is a genetic condition where the body does not break down sugars. Although most people have two genes for this purpose, some people like my daughter, Kristin, and her husband, Brian, only have one. Having one is not a problem, but having none is. Unfortunately, Garrett inherited from each of his parents the one gene that doesn’t break down sugars, so he has none, thus galactosemia. Through asking questions and doing research, my daughter, Kristin, has learned how to best meet Garrett’s needs and as you can see in the photo he looks both happy and healthy.

With both Carson and Garrett having birthdays only two days a part, they had a combined birthday party this year with a theme of fire trucks. Everything at the party was red, including table cloths, plates, napkins, and the large containers that held the food. Table decorations of fire trucks, dalmatian dogs and fire hydrants graced the table. Fire hydrant sippy cups, fire hats, and red candy were favors to take home.

With about thirty adults and kids in attendance, it was great fun watching all the little kids, running around having a blast. Although it was noisy, that was okay because we were celebrating the lives of two little boys we’ve come to love. After all the presents were opened and Carson’s cake was cut, then it was time for Garrett to enjoy his first birthday cake all by himself.

Finding a recipe for white icing and red velvet cake that Garrett could eat, Kristin was especially happy when he stuck his face in and came up smiling all covered in icing and cake. With cameras everywhere, Garrett seemed to know he was the center of attention and put on quite a show. What a special time this first year has been.

When Kristin was asked where she found her cake recipe and decorating ideas, she said she often uses pinterest in planning for parties and get togethers. If you have never used pinterest, you should give it a try. Once you are member, just type in what you’re looking for and right at your finger tips are loads of awesome ideas. For some great birthday party ideas from pinterest, click here.

What special memories do you have of your child or grandchild’s first birthday? Leave a message, comment on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.

We as a family want to thank everyone for your prayers and support during this past year. We indeed are blessed.

Thanks,

Dicy

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com

www.dicymcculloughbooks.com/blog