It's A Wrap

Published 2:29 pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's wrap-up time in the newsroom again – out with the old and in with the new!

Before I turn the page on 2012, I like to take a few minutes to review the year just past. The stories I've collected from the Social/Lifestyles pages never fail to inspire me – and 2012 was no exception.

The year started on a somber note with the search for a local disabled veteran's service dog. Tia, a German Shepherd trained to alert her owner of impending seizures, failed to return after an evening walk around Karren Cooper's farm in Meherrin. “I don't care if I have to look at a thousand dogs to find her,” Cooper stated. “Tia allowed me to trust. She took my little dark world and poked a hole in it.” (For the rest of the story, see August.)

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February Farmville's ReStore took Valentine's Day to heart in offering Habifest, a Valentine concert featuring 20 performances all within walking distance on High Street. All the performers donated their time and talent to benefit Habitat for Humanity. “We've got everything from Christian rap to classics and jazz,” stated ReStore Manager Janet Green who organized the event. Also this month, Farmville native Angus Wall received his second Oscar in a row at the Academy Awards for film editing in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

March Good news was in the air this windy month of March for women in the Piedmont Health District. A two-year Cancer Assessment Study under the direction of Justine Young netted a grant of $50,000 to provide free mammograms for uninsured or under-insured women at Centra Southside Community Hospital. “In this area we have so many women who don't get mammograms, who can't afford them,” Young said. “With the grants I've brought here I feel like I'm starting to have an impact on the community and its health concerns.”

April This month featured the inspiring story of Dr. Helen Marshall Caldwell who began her teaching career at the Moton School in Farmville. In March Elizabeth City State University dedicated the Dr. Helen Marshall Caldwell School of Education and Psychology to honor Dr. Caldwell for 44 years as teacher and administrator at the University. “Teaching impacts lives,” Dr. Caldwell stated. “Teaching is what I always wanted to do.” While cold winter winds were becoming a distant memory, a group of local churches partnered with the Salvation Army and HOPE Community Services to organize a Local Rescue Mission to provide shelter for Farmville's homeless. “There are homeless here,” stated the Rev. Dr. Kitty Smith, HOPE's executive director. “People are living in abandoned buses or outbuildings in this area.” The Local Rescue Mission is ready and waiting to help.

May The traditional month for celebrating mothers offers a different slant on motherhood in Patti Blanton's newly released book, Through a Mother's Heart. The first chapter, “Life's End,” describes the day the author's 19-year-old son took his life. Page by page, Blanton shares the stages of grief common to all who have lost a loved one. “I felt led to share my experiences,” Blanton explained. “Losing a child is a life-long healing process.”

June The start of the summer season featured the revival of an aging building on Main Street and a new center for the arts in downtown Farmville. “All along I've been interested in a place to hold artistic classes,” stated Pam Butler, owner of Mainly Clay. Butler recently renovated a two-story brick building on Main Street built in the 1920s by local businessman Emanuel Weinberg. Mid-June Mainly Clay, featuring pottery studio downstairs and meeting room with kitchen and catering service upstairs, opened for business. “I've been blessed every step of the way with this,” Butler said. “It's been an awesome experience.”

July The first week of July offered a warm welcome to the Hope for Tomorrow Counseling Center during a ribbon cutting in the former Farmville-Prince Edward Library building. The Center, offering counseling to both children and their families, is a mission of Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Homes which provide group home care in six locations. “We not only want to care for our children, we want to use counseling as a preventive to keep these children from coming to our homes,” stated Executive Director Robert Day. “Our goal at Patrick Henry is making a difference – one life at a time.”

August A front page headline in this month's Herald reports a happy ending to January's story on Tia the missing service dog: Incredible Journey Ends – Veteran and Service Dog Reunited. With the help of a host of Facebook friends of owner Karren Cooper, Tia completed a 5,000-mile journey from California to Missouri and back to Virginia. “You have to have faith,” stated Tia's owner. “Without prayer I would never have met the people on Facebook who helped find my dog. Tia has some battle scars, but she's home!”

September This year Farmville's Good Neighbor Day lived up to its name. Over 2,000 local “neighbors” visited Carter's Flower Shop and Rochette's Florist on Sept. 5 to receive 15,000 free roses provided by 77 local sponsors. The donations collected that day, over $4,500, were presented to Ralph Crawley, a local firefighter awaiting a kidney transplant.

October Longwood University recognized longtime professor of anthropology Dr. James Jordan this month when the Board of Visitors named the James W. Jordan Archeology Field School in his honor. “Dr. Jordan is a legend at Longwood,” stated Dr. Brian Butler who now chairs the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice. “His love of learning and concomitant love of teaching has impacted untold lives in ways that he could never imagine.”

November Christmas was already in the air at J & J Treeland in Prospect. The family business has provided locally grown tress, wreaths and garlands for the past 34 years. On this farm, preparing for Christmas is a year-round job. “In the spring you plant trees,” stated John Young, owner. “In June, July, and August you shear trees, and in the fall you tag trees and mow the fields.” With seasonal good cheer Young added, “I've had people come out Christmas morning to buy a tree. We're always here – right up to the end.”

December The year ended with the inspiring story of the Farmville VFW Post 7059 and Walmart joining forces to help homeless veterans. Spearheaded by Tom Hicks of VFW Post 7059, the Homeless Veterans Clothing Drive resulted in generous donations from the local community. Walmart also joined the effort, with stores from Danville to Emporia packing 400 care bags that were added to the distribution to homeless veterans Dec. 12 in Richmond. “Most people don't know what to do to help a veteran until someone like me comes along,” Hicks stated. “The generosity at this year's event was unreal.”

As each year ends the Herald's slogan – “Honor for the Past. Help for the Present. Hope for the Future” – shines forth from its pages.

I can't think of a better inspiration for starting the New Year!