In Honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The cover of "The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister."

The cover of “The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister.”

With Jan. 27 being set aside for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I wanted to share my 2015 Chester County Independent piece on the the importance of the holiday and what we can learn from the tragedy it memorializes.

Jan. 27 has been observed as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a day when the world pauses and reflects on one of the most horrific times in history. The Holocaust was the annihilation of not only six million European Jews, but untold millions of eastern Europeans –including those with mental or physical handicaps, religious groups and others by the Nazi regime.

In reading memoirs and biographies of survivors and children of survivors, each person, basically offer this advice: “Always remember the Holocaust: Never forget. Tell children and young people to never forget this horrible time in history.” This day is set aside to urge every nation of the U.N. to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and to encourage the development of educational programs about Holocaust history to help prevent future acts of genocide. This day, Jan. 27, 1945, was when Auschwitz-Birkerau, was liberated by Soviet troops.

As Germany’s Hitler conquered country after country, conditions became unbearable. Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, whose memoir The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister, represents one family’s plight. Continue reading

Holly Frew: International aid worker ‘built’ in Alabama

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Holly Frew (Photo courtesy of CARE)

Meet Holly Frew, a communications officer for the humanitarian group CARE. I chat with her about her missionary and disaster relief trips in my latest piece for The Alabama Baptist.

Assisting with recovery efforts in Haiti following the destruction created by Hurricane Matthew is just one of the latest disaster areas in 37-year-old Holly Frew’s life.

The former Alabama Baptist serves as the emergency communications officer for Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), an international humanitarian organization based out of Atlanta. She attributes the preparation for her life’s work to her upbringing at home and as part of Gardendale First Baptist Church.

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Fall activities abound for young families

veronica-matthew

In this piece for the Chester County Independent, I give some fun ideas for autumn activities with your family:

It is that magical time between summer and winter when the sky is the color of a robin’s egg and leaves range in shades of orange, brown, red and crimson. Darkness comes early and nights have a nip in the air—but days remain sunny and somewhat warm. During this brief season, plan time for family activities. Use these suggestions for building family relationships and making memories for your clan.

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Bates Turkey Farm: A tradition at Thanksgiving and year-round

Bates Turkey Farm

Turkeys at the Bates farms are raised as free-range birds, which the family believes produces a higher-quality product. (Michael Cornelison)

Here’s my Alabama Living feature on Greenville, Alabama, mainstay Bates Turkey Farm:

After flying countless bombing missions in Europe during World War II, Bill Bates returned home and declared, “I never plan to stand in another line or ask anyone for a job.” Instead, he had one purpose in mind: To produce the finest turkeys ever to grace a table.

Many Alabamians are familiar with how the turkey farm business was started by Bill’s parents. In 1923, W.C. and Helen Hudson Bates, Bill’s mom and dad, received nine turkey eggs from his Aunt Mamie Bates as a wedding present. In 1935, with the Great Depression taking its toll on small farmers, this small gift became the source that saved the farm as the bank allowed the turkeys to be used as collateral. When Bill returned from the war, his parents needed help with the growing industry. He stayed, and the turkey business has grown significantly from those original eggs.

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Storytelling With Photography

The cover of "Bootcamp for Christian Writers 8: More Secrets to Getting Published -- Again and Again and Again! "

The cover of “Bootcamp for Christian Writers 8: More Secrets to Getting Published — Again and Again and Again! “

In this article I wrote for the Chester County Independent, I discuss using photography to tell stories:

While writers use words to inform, entertain, educate, and encourage readers; photographers depend on cameras. When these two mediums are combined, you create a winning combination. For writers, photos can sell your story. For speakers, photos connect with your audience. Both can make a difference in your success for either. Continue reading

Bader Farms: Just Peachy

Bader Peaches

Bader Peaches

Check out an excerpt from my profile of Bader Farms from Missouri Life:

Missourians take pride in many things. There are the beautiful Ozark hills that gradually fade into the distance; clean, sparkling rivers that weave through the countryside like a ribbon fluttering in the wind; and rustic old mills that tell of a lifestyle generations ago. And then there are Bader peaches.

Growing up in the northwest edge of the Bootheel, Bill Bader stared working in the peach orchards as a high school student in 1970 to earn money to buy his school clothes. This part-time job changed his life.

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Making the Difference: Entrepreneur helps volunteers find local outreach opportunities

Samantha Blyn with some of the Junior Achievement kids she works with through her nonprofit organization, Making the Difference Outreach.

Samantha Blyn with some of the Junior Achievement kids she works with through her nonprofit organization, Making the Difference Outreach.

I interviewed Samantha Blyn, the founder of nonprofit volunteer organization Making the Difference Outreach, for Florida Currents:

Samantha Blyn donated items to charity and wrote checks to support nonprofits. But she says she did not really view volunteering as a need in the community until age 39, when she signed up to help with Habitat for Humanity.

She not only felt a sense of fulfillment in helping others, but discovered what would become her life’s mission.

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