January 2017 Issue

  • Using God’s purpose to fight human trafficking

    A child goes missing every 40 seconds in the United States. That means by the time you finish reading the first paragraph of this article, another child will have vanished. However, reports of missing persons is not limited to children. Every day adult men and women also seem to disappear into thin air. Occasionally these stories have happy endings. Sometimes the victims are found safe. Sometimes they return home on their own. Sometimes, though, their bodies are found, bringing their families a form of closure, although an inconceivable measure of grief. However, for many that is better than not knowing the outcome; not knowing what became of a person you love. The harsh reality is that many of these missing men, women and yes, children, become victims of human trafficking.

    A child has gone missing.

    The State Department reports that globally between 600–800,000 people are trafficked each year. This means that right now there are an estimated 27 million adults and 13 million children around the world who are victims of human trafficking. A large portion of these victims are sold into the world of sex trade. The average price of a sex slave is $90, however the fee varies depending on age and physical appearance. A slave has the potential to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars for their owner in a years’ time. They are broken in by repeated rape, physical abuse and lack of food and water. This torture makes them grateful to their owner for even the smallest gesture, such as a meal. More often than not victims eventually become compliant, appearing to accept the life they have been forced into. Not all victims are used for sex crimes. Some are sold for organ harvesting, manual labor and even terrorism strikes. Pregnant women are often targets because they have the value as a potential sex slave while the baby can be sold on the black market.

    Another child has gone missing.

    Fully aware of the facts and statistics involving human trafficking, Lynchburg resident Kelly Galloway felt a pull to help. Her faith led her decision to travel to other countries to offer aid to people in need. In 2015 she partnered with her church, The Ramp Church International, to create Ramp Global Missions (RGM). RGM is a Christian humanitarian organization that focuses on spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ through serving. RGM has successfully established mission sites in India, Nepal and Brazil. Along with their work overseas, the organization also has much to offer locally. RGM provides free English classes to Spanish speaking individuals living in Lynchburg, along with a state of the art GED and job placement program. Taking a brief break from traveling, Galloway was back in Lynchburg recently, and shared some of her experiences abroad.

    And another child has gone missing.

    Q: What led you to begin missionary work?

    A: Originally I was the church administrator. Then I began to preach in 2006. I felt the call to preach in other places. Hence, the missionary work. At the time I didn’t know it was going to be such a different sort of ministry. I didn’t know that I would literally be preaching from village to village. People walk from miles away, some even following me from one village to the next just to hear the word. Sometimes I had to walk as well. There aren’t always the best accommodations. We weren’t staying in hotels. Sometime we slept in tents. We slept outside. When I felt the call to begin this work, I envisioned the glamourous side of it. I’ve learned that the Lord’s work isn’t always glamorous. There were times where we didn’t have access to electricity; times where we had to bathe in rivers. This isn’t for the faint of heart. You have to be called for this type of work.

    And another child has gone missing.

    Q: Did you ever have second thoughts once you realized your vision wasn’t necessarily the reality?

    A: No. Not at all. It was eye-opening. If you study the scripture, that is how they preached. I felt like this is how it’s supposed to be done. We took the word to the people. We do many things while in these countries. We offer the basics: food, clothing, education, shelter, a safe-haven and other necessities. But the common thread is our mission to spread the gospel – so we preach. We preach and teach of Jesus. It’s an honor.

    Q: I know you had the opportunity to meet victims of human trafficking. Having endured what they have, did you find them to be resistant to your message of faith and hope?

    A: Of course. I didn’t have to travel to find that. There are people like that here. People have lived hard lives and don’t understand. People don’t see why they should trust God. I hear the question: “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” all the time. But we preach a different message. Our message is that of hope. Yes, bad things happen, but God allows good to come from the suffering. The pain is temporary. Faith comes from understanding. We must understand that there is so much more to our stories than the chapters we have read.

    Another child has gone missing.

    Q: Have your work ever put you in a dangerous situation?

    A: Yes. Notably in Nepal. One night I was approached by two men. They invited me to a club. I declined. Then they began to yell at me. I ran and was able to contact some of the local people I was working with. I told them what happened. They told me that if I had gone with those men, I would have never seen my family again. That’s when I realized the image of a human trafficking victim was incorrect. There is no status quo. Anyone can be taken. I saw children. I saw senior citizens. Different body types. It can happen to anyone. It could’ve happened to me. Some people are abducted. But some people get tricked into it. They think they are applying for a job. A woman may think she is dating a man, then he ends up prostituting her. It’s not always the suspicious black truck scooping people up off the street.

    Another child has gone missing.

    Q: Do you think you and the mission are viewed as a target by the traffickers? I can’t imagine that they are happy about the work you do.

    A: Yes, I know we are. I think about that often. I told my family to take life insurance policies out on me before I started this. I knew the danger and I had to decide if it was worth my life. And it is. This is worth dying for. If I lose my life while serving God’s purpose, then it’s ok. It means I fulfilled God’s purpose for my life.

    For more information, contact http://www.therampchurch.com/missions

  • William Byrd sophomore excels in many facets of life

    There is no such thing as casual Friday for Rashard Stovall, a sophomore at Roanoke County’s William Byrd High School. Instead of dressing down, he requested permission from his teachers to wear a suit to school every Friday. “I just like looking good,” he said. It might be that looking good and feeling good help him in school, too. Rashard currently maintains a 3.8 GPA in William Byrd’s special education program while also enrolled at the Arnold R. Burton Technology Center. His favorite part about school is being able to learn something new every day. “Education is important so you can have a good future,” he said.

    Rashard has not been without challenges though. On the day he was born, doctors at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital learned Rashard had a congenital heart defect that required immediate attention. Within a few days, he was airlifted to the University of Virginia for open-heart surgery. A medical emergency of that magnitude during his infancy has given rise to health risks growing up, but Rashard has never let it slow him down.

    Last year he joined the track team with his twin sister, Rashanda, and they participated in the shot put competition together. “I had a lot of fun last year going to the meets,” he said. “I’ll probably try out again this year.”

    While he has fun in track, his favorite activity outside of classes is Junior ROTC. He dedicates many hours after school to practicing the color guard formations so that he can execute them perfectly during half time at football and basketball games. He also was honored to march beside his fellow cadets in this year’s Vinton Christmas parade. When he is not carrying the flag during half time, he is on the bleachers, cheering on the Terriers and his friends on the football team. He loves football no matter what division and is a die-hard Cowboys fan.

    Rashard is a stranger to no one. He loves socializing at football games and at Fifth Quarter, the after party hosted by Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church. Every Tuesday he goes to the bowling alley for some friendly competition with his special education teachers and classmates. “I’m not going to lie. I’m pretty good at bowling,” he said with a grin.

    Although he can be fairly competitive in bowling, he understands teamwork is the key to success. Math is his favorite subject because he finds that working in groups to solve problems is highly rewarding. His least favorite subject is P.E., but gives a shout out to “Mrs. Thornton for going easy on me.”

    At the Arnold R. Burton Technology Center in Salem, Rashard has been schooled on the application process for obtaining a job and given a glimpse at how life after graduation will be. Through the program at Burton, he also helps out at the Salem Veterans Medical Center, where he organizes and re-shelves books in the library, and cleans and restocks food in the cafeteria. He feels that this not only is a nice way to give back to his community, but also gives him an extra appreciation for veterans, especially as a ROTC cadet.

    He attends church every Sunday with his grandmother where he assists the deacons in taking up offerings. He enjoys listening to the pastor’s message and letting loose while singing hymns. And it is the perfect cause to dress up in a suit.

    First and foremost, among Rashard’s role models, is his mother. As he put his arm around her, he said: “She has always been there for me and has my back.” He also looks up to his older brothers, Romadon and Rahmir. They are a big family with big hearts. He has many aunts, uncles and cousins who love and support him, which he credits to his academic success.

    Of course, hard work and dedication to studying also have helped him maintain his grades. There are no shortcuts. “You just have to do it,” Rashard asserts. But he notes that it is beneficial to take breaks, too. When he feels overwhelmed with schoolwork, he goes outside for a while and take in nature to clear his mind.

    After he graduates from William Byrd, Rashard plans to go to college, although he has not definitively chosen where he wants to go. He is leaning toward the University of Mary Washington, where his older brother Romadon is a graduate. He has visited the campus many times and likes that they have sufficient resources for students with disabilities. The only downfall is that they do not have a football team for him to cheer on.

  • Stedman Speaks: Make your financial health a priority in the new year

    Stedman Payne is an experienced financial professional who serves as Member One’s Market Executive in the Lynchburg area. His financial educational series offers tips for making smart decisions when it comes to managing your finances.

    It’s a new year, which means it’s a great time to think about things we can do to improve our lives. And we’re not just talking about setting the usual health and fitness goals, but examining another area as well – your finances. Follow these tips to jump-start your year with a financial checkup.

    Q: A financial checkup seems like a daunting task. Where do I begin?

    SP: Start by looking at your overall financial picture. Take stock of your assets and debts and critically evaluate your monthly cash flow. Then create a household budget by making a list of your recurring expenses in order of importance. Compare your expenses to your income to identify areas where you might need to cut back on spending, or areas to which you could allocate extra funds more efficiently. The new year also is a great time to review your credit report, which you can obtain annually for free at www.AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling toll free 1-877-322-8228.

    Q: What are some quick things I can do right now to improve my financial health?

    SP: Commit to regular savings by having money from your paycheck automatically drafted into your savings account. You won’t even miss the money if it is drafted as soon as your paycheck hits. If you already do this, increase the amount by $10 or even $20. That extra savings each pay period adds up over time. Contribute to your employer’s retirement plan. Many employers offer to match your retirement contribution, which is literally free money. If your credit score is low, take steps to improve this number, such as paying your bills on time. Good credit means lower interest rates on loans, which could save hundreds of dollars a year.

    Q: Debt is holding me back from achieving my financial goals. What can I do about that?

    SP: Start by making a list of all your debts. Map out the amounts you owe, the interest rates and the time it will take to pay them off. Then determine which debt is costing you the most in interest each year and focus on paying that one off first. You still should make at least the minimum payment on the rest of your debts, but this strategy will help you pay off what you owe at the lowest possible cost in the long term. You also can look into transferring and/or consolidating debt into a lower-interest product, such as a credit card or personal loan. Just make sure to read the fine print and pay attention to the interest rate (i.e. whether it’s fixed and won’t change over time or is adjustable and could increase) to make sure it is a wise financial decision.

    Q: Are there any resources available that can teach me more about finances?

    SP: The ins and outs of personal finance can certainly seem like a different language. Commit some time to reading books and articles, listening to podcasts, signing up for regular email newsletters or even attending a class in your area. Consulting a financial professional also is a great way to get a better understanding of your overall financial picture, and determine ways to start growing your money through investing.

    Q: This all sounds great, but I just can’t find the time or energy to improve my financial health. What do you recommend?

    SP: I understand that everyone gets busy and it can be tough to make time to manage your finances, particularly if you don’t enjoy this task. But taking the time now to have regular check-ins with your finances could pay off big time in the future, especially if you discover ways to save and invest more, or pay off your debts more efficiently. Make the time, even if it’s just for an hour each week. Set a calendar reminder and ask your partner, a trusted friend or a family member to follow up and help hold you accountable. Remember that building your financial health is a long-term process. You can’t expect results to happen overnight. Do it regularly and it will soon become a healthy habit that’ll continue well beyond the new year.

    Watch out for Stedman Payne’s column in the next edition of ColorsVA for more useful financial tips.

  • At the Feet of our Elders: Constance Covington

    As we launch this series, “At the Feet of our Elders,” we take a look at three individuals, who in the words of President Obama, recognized a long time ago: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

    CONSTANCE COVINGTON

    When Danville native Constance Covington looks around her namesake community center, she can see her positive impact on the children whom she lovingly refers to as her babies. Grandma, as she is called by those who know her, is quick to recognize God, saying he has placed her in the Cardinal Village community for a “reason and for a season.” She sows seeds of love, which she teaches are to be tended to and spread around for everyone to experience. Once you step into the Constance Covington Youth Center, you automatically feel the passion for and commitment to not only the children, but for all who grace the center’s doors.

    Q. Who is Constance “Grandma” Covington, and what is it that you are undertaking here at 1004 Bonner Avenue? Why is this work important to you? Do you consider yourself a community organizer, or is your work even deeper for you?

    A. I grew up in a very supportive family. We recognized the importance of God, church and respect for others. It’s my job to pass that along. I want people to realize that their present circumstances do not have to dictate where they go in life. This all began years ago. I would catch the bus downtown to the library where I would check out books. Sitting under a tree, I would read to the children as they ate snacks. Sometimes I would even make up stories myself, and the children just loved that. What God blesses me to do is so much more than holding a position or a title. I love this community and its people, and I would not change where I am for anything.

    Q. What are some of the programs and activities children can enjoy here at the center?

    A. There are five public housing communities in Danville, and ours is the most active. We have a mentorship service that partners with the local chapter of the Boys & Girls Club. We operate a clothing closet for those in need, and we gladly accept donations on a regular basis. We offer homework assistance. Additionally, Monday through Wednesday, we feed about 40 children. Our boys and young men participate in the Brother-to-Brother Club, teaching them how to tie their neckties, table setting and conversation and overall dining etiquette. For our young ladies, there is the Pretty-in-Pink Club. My granddaughter, Ayanna Henderson, is the president of that club. She and her ladies take cooking classes and learn different types of etiquette. We also tend to our very own garden. This teaches the children responsibility and pride in a job well done. We even traveled to the White House to see First Lady Michelle Obama’s garden. That was a really special occasion.

    Q. Your work is geared toward youth. How do you incorporate others in the community?

    A. The goal is to properly instruct the youth because they are our future, but we do incorporate adult residents, too. Adults participate in parenting classes, which are held twice a month. They also take part in the tenants’ meetings held monthly. Here, there is always something constructive to do, and sometimes that includes an activity that both the children and adults appreciate. For instance, now that it’s getting colder, we have our coloring contests. It’s a simple idea, but everyone loves getting together for a little friendly competition all while showcasing some talent. We have the children and the adult categories, and our property management selects a winner from each division.

    Q. Over the years, what changes have you witnessed in the community, both beneficial and detrimental? What are your concerns and uncertainties?

    A. I’ve witnessed more unity and participation over the years. More residents attend meetings and volunteer because they realize this is their home. It doesn’t belong to anyone else. It’s up to them to be involved, to be aware and to take care of it and everyone here. Gun violence is the pressing problem. In our community when something unlawful occurs, it is usually perpetrated by someone who does not live here. I stress that we can’t let just anyone into our community, into our homes. We must be vigilant, and report suspicious activities, even if it means doing so anonymously. I tell my kids all the time: “If you see something, say something.”

    Q. Do you receive external support?

    A. We certainly do. Everything comes from donations, whether they are donations of time, clothing or classroom goods, or food for our post-homework dinners. People are willing to help when they see the positive difference being made. Students from Averett University participate in service-learning and are great volunteers while they gain knowledge about their fields. City council and board members take part in our awards programs. I have personal friends who volunteer by coming over and cooking full-course meals for the children while they’re getting homework done. You might smell peach cobbler or spaghetti coming out of here anytime.

    Q. What are your wishes for the future of your community? Building on that, what is your five-year vision for Cardinal Village?

    A. I want to see us continue to flourish and to be at peace. I have worked with youth who were mandated to community service. They got into trouble because of fights at school and truancy. Five of them got themselves together, and they returned to volunteer. So, we can grow together. We plan to have community murals that will showcase just who we are. One will be painted by an Averett student. The other will be painted by us, our family. It will tell our story and illustrate how far we have come. We also hope to be able to move into a larger setting because, as you can see, we have outgrown our current location.

    Q. Grandma, in closing, is there anything that you want to leave with ColorsVA readers?

    A. We all need to take advantage of the opportunity to bless a friend. Help where you can. Don’t wait until a crisis occurs. And always think before you react.

     

  • Peter Lewis and Claudia Whitworth

    For decades, Claudia Whitworth and Peter Lewis have served as leaders in the Roanoke Valley. Whitworth is editor/publisher of the Roanoke Tribune. Lewis founded Apple Ridge Farm, a non-profit organization aimed at improving the lives of children. We spoke with the two long-time residents about their experiences in Roanoke, the changes they’ve seen and their hopes for the future.

    SIGNS OF PROGRESS

    Lewis, a Washington native, moved to Roanoke in 1975. He arrived with a vision in mind.

    That vision: “To fashion a place where city kids could come to the country and get away from it all, and learn something about nature,” said Lewis. A few years later, Lewis established Apple Ridge Farm as a way to educate kids about the outdoors and expand the horizons of young people.

    “If you are in the same place all the time and don’t get to see anything different then you think the same thoughts,” said Lewis. “It’s so important for young people, to expose them to different things they could possibly get involved in and see things that are completely different from the things they are familiar with.”

    Lewis also served with the Roanoke City Public School system for 25 years. He has seen positive changes in the Roanoke Valley since he arrived four decades ago, he said.

    “Roanoke has grown. With the advent of the higher education facility, the medical school, the growth of the airport and different companies coming into the area, I’ve seen a lot of changes. Downtown has been revitalized due to some really forward-thinking people,” he added Lewis also points to the Center in the Square complex, as well as the increase in downtown living as signs of growth. “The number of young people downtown brings vibrancy to the city that wasn’t here when I came here in 1975.”

    Whitworth also has seen changes in various neighborhoods, such as the unique stores in Grandin Village and the positive impact Goodwill Industries has made on Melrose Avenue. “We have neighborhood groups taking ownership,” said Whitworth. “There are funds available to these organized groups who are involved in the community. I think that makes a big difference.”

    STILL A WAYS TO GO

    When it comes to making lasting changes, Whitworth said Roanoke still has a way to go. She began working for her father, Rev. F.E. Alexander, at the Roanoke Tribune in 1945. He established the newspaper during racial segregation as a way to raise awareness about stories in the African American community. Whitworth said it was about “trying to tap into the better part of the news. We never accentuated the negative.” While working at the Tribune, Whitworth has seen times change. The 89-year-old recalls efforts by state and local leaders, including former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton, to desegregate schools. While progress was made, Whitworth said parts of the city remain racially divided today.

    “It hasn’t changed except back in those days it was legally segregated,” she added. “They integregated the schools through incentives that worked quite well. but I feel since then it has fallen back into re-segregation.” Whitworth wants to see schools become more diverse. In addition, she hopes to see more support given to minority-owned businesses.

    The Roanoke Tribune remains one of the longest running African American newspapers still in publication. Over the years, Whitworth has received numerous honors, including induction into the Virginia Women’s Hall of Fame in 1992. In 2004 she was named “Citizen of the Year” by the City of Roanoke.

    MOVING FORWARD

    Whitworth has seen and done a lot over the decades. She continues to keep a busy schedule between working at the Tribune and taking part in community activities. She looks forward to turning 90 in 2017. She says investing in the education of our youth is important for the city’s growth. “The education part is so very important...getting children when they are young,” she said. “The school system is where you do your best work or your biggest damage with kids.”

    As for Lewis, after nearly 30 years as executive director of Apple Ridge Farm, he recently retired and passed the torch to his son, John. Schools and young people hold the key to a better future for the region. “I’d like to feel that with the school system making great strides in educating all youngsters and letting them reach their full potential that the whole economy is going to succeed,” he said. “Acquiring a good education and working hard is probably the best advice I could give anybody. Also, don’t be afraid to move away from things you are familiar with to try something new.”

  • Amputee proves positive attitude and faith perfect combination to walking again

    Milton Bayne never stops surprising people.

    The nurse in his hospital room. The addicts he counsels. The practitioner who fit him with an artificial limb. Even his own mother.

    Despite being faced with a number of personal challenges through the years, Milton always maintains an undeniably positive attitude and unwavering faith. He’ll tell you he doesn’t know any other way. Faith and attitude brought him this far and enabled him to not just rise above life’s challenges, but crush them, wherever and whenever they appear — even when he lost part of his left leg.

    “I lost my leg July 20, 2014,” Bayne explains. “I got an infection — VRS (Vancomycin-resistant staphylococcus) — in my hand and it went to my left foot. It was a pressure sore for a long time and then it went underneath my big toe and shot right across to my other toe.”
    With the infection raging in his left foot and after being evaluated at the hospital, doctors told Milton the only option was amputation, and on that summer day two-and-a-half years ago, they removed his foot just above the ankle.

    As scary as an amputation sounds, Bayne said that it wasn’t the scariest thing that happened to him around that time.

    “The scary part was, I was married and my wife left me a week before they took my foot off. It was a learning lesson for me. I had given up at one time, but I’m a strong believer in my faith — everything happens for a reason,” he says. “Sometimes we are walking too fast and God has to bring us back to do what he wants us to do.”

    Back in his hospital room, recovering from the amputation a few hours earlier, Bayne refused the pain medication that was offered. Instead, he awoke the next morning at six, hopped over to the sink, cleaned himself up, and dressed — all without assistance.

    “The nurse was very surprised,” Bayne explains with a laugh. “I don’t give up.”

    Even after the amputation and a four-day hospital stay to recover, Bayne’s challenges were just beginning. He couldn’t even recover in the comfort of his own home because home was an apartment reachable only after climbing 15 steps — a daunting obstacle for a new amputee just learning to navigate on crutches.

    Instead he went to his mother’s, who lives nearby, and stayed with her for three days until he was ready to tackle those stairs.

    “I took my crutches, went outside, set them down, and started by sliding up the stairs one by one, one by one,” Bayne explains. “The next day I started going up the stairs by hopping. And by the third day, I took my crutches and went on up there.”

    Once back inside his apartment, Bayne used his positive attitude, ingenuity and perseverance to overcome everyday tasks that others take for granted. He strategically placed a bar stool in his kitchen so that he’d have easy access to the stove, refrigerator and sink while seated. He did the same thing in the bathroom with a stool placed in front of the sink.

    “The first day, I fell,” Bayne recalls, “but I just kept on going and kept on going.”

    By the end of that year, Bayne was ready to receive his first prosthetic foot at Virginia Prosthetics & Orthotics’ Farmville location, and ready to surprise someone else.

    “Jeff [Bayne’s practitioner at Virginia Prosthetics] was so amazed because he gave me a starter foot and said it would take from three to six months to learn to walk,” Bayne says. “I did it in 10 minutes. It was that easy for me. I never give up. I have a strong faith and I am a determined person.”

    Jeff Pullen, a certified prosthetist, orthotist and certified pedorthist who works at Virginia Prosthetics’ Lynchburg and Farmville offices, says he clearly remembers that first prosthesis fitting with Milton.

    “It typically takes a couple weeks or more [for a new amputee] just to walk independently,” Pullen says. “The first fitting I did with him was to put a preparatory prosthesis on and told him to wait a minute while I went to get a walker. When I came back, he was walking across the room. That’s a very unusual scenario for a below-knee amputee because I was literally gone for three or four minutes and he was halfway across the exam room. He adapted extremely quickly.”

    Pullen also credits Bayne’s positive attitude as helping with his fast recovery.

    “Patient attitude is extremely important,” Pullen says, “and that’s never been a problem with Milton. There’s never been a second of depression. He doesn’t let it get him down and has no intention of letting a lost limb slow him down.”

    Bayne said it was an awesome feeling being able to walk again and that he was back at work, detailing three cars the day after he received his new prosthesis. With him every step of the way, encouraging him not to give up, was his friend Tonya.

    In addition to detailing cars and serving as a substance abuse counselor to others in need, Bayne also performs home improvements for senior citizens — many whom have trouble affording contractors’ services — and walks to his mother’s house approximately two miles from where he lives to help cook, clean and care for her several days a week as she receives dialysis.

    “I have a new prosthesis now because I do a lot of things they say I’m not supposed to do, like climb ladders,” Bayne says. “I fell off the ladder once and broke my prosthesis.” He also recalls the time he crawled under a house to do some work and left his leg under the house, forcing him to crawl back under to retrieve it.

    Bayne adds that with his prosthesis he does everything he did prior to his amputation, and more, including raising a garden and performing all types of work. “I’m ecstatic with it [the prosthesis] — people don’t realize that just because you lose a limb, you’re not dead, you can keep moving.”

    Through it all, Bayne says his advice to others facing an amputation or to recent amputees is simple. “Keep your faith and keep moving forward because once you give up, you gave up. Never, ever give up.”

     

  • A look at joint health

    Joints allow movement. They enable us to turn our head, bend our knees and wave our hands. Increasing strength and stability in your body promotes healthier joints, allowing you to be more mobile and enjoy life more comfortably.

    One of the most important decisions you can make to promote good joint health – especially during this time of New Year’s resolutions – is to maintain your weight within a healthy range. The more you weigh, the more stress your joints feel as your body works to support your body weight. Because of that, many overweight people have issues with their hips, knees and back. Small amounts of weight loss have big impacts on the stress your joints feel.

    When you have less muscle, your joints take on more pounding. Building muscle can be achieved through cardiovascular exercise, but strength training is an important element to include in a workout plan as well. You naturally lose muscle mass as you age, and lifting weights or doing resistance exercises will help to keep your body fat percentage from going up. Strength training also can reduce the signs and symptoms of some chronic conditions – including arthritis.

    Low-impact exercises such as swimming, yoga and bicycling combined with stretching exercises, increase strength and flexibility. Exercising contributes to better balance, which is important to maintaining independence and preventing falls as you age. What you put into your body also can impact your joint health. Eating a healthy diet nourishes joints by building strong bones. A joint-healthy diet means eliminating foods that cause inflammation in the body. Avoid eating saturated fats, trans fats and simple and refined carbohydrates, while increasing your intake of calcium through low-fat dairy sources, broccoli, kale, figs and salmon. Research also suggests including omega-3 fatty acids – found in fatty fish such as sardines and salmon and in some nuts – to reduce joint pain and swelling.

    Make sure to talk with your primary care physician before you start an exercise routine and to discuss a dietary plan that is right for you. When it comes to exercise, some activities may need to be modified to prevent joint pain. A trainer or physical therapist can provide modifications to help make exercise safe and manageable for you. You may experience joint pain from simply growing older due to an underlying condition such as arthritis or from an injury. When joint pain lasts for more than three days, becomes severe or is unexplained, contact your health care provider.

    With the new year, check out Carilion Clinic Wellness to speak with certified trainers and create a custom plan to help your joints. For more information, please visit CarilionClinic.org.

  • A taste of Jamaica awaits you in Roanoke County

    “If people are hungry, then I feed them.” The truth of this statement by Yvonne Henderson, owner of 876 Jamaican Grill, was like music to my ears because I was indeed hungry. My family and I stopped by Henderson’s restaurant after church for the Sunday brunch buffet from 11 a.m.–3 p.m.  Located at 4710 Starkey Road in Roanoke County, the restaurant almost is hidden in a strip mall containing a few clothing retailers. But let’s make it perfectly clear, Henderson’s food is not to be missed. When you step inside, your mouth will start to water from all the delicious smells.

    The restaurant has a welcoming vibe going — tables covered with black and yellow table cloths and live plants, framed posters featuring Bob Marley and Jamaica and a huge Jamaican flag on the back wall. While the regular menu is in effect on Sunday during brunch, why would you want to use it when you can try any of the following: jerk chicken and pork, seafood creole, curry chicken, brown stew chicken, apple candied yams, green beans, macaroni and cheese, rice and beans, ripe plantains, breakfast potatoes, vegetable soup, bacon, scrambled eggs, oatmeal and Yvonne’s potato salad. 

    Henderson is a native of Jamaica who relocated as a child to London, then to New York and finally ending up in Roanoke. While in the restaurant every day, she will tell you she did not always want to be a restaurant owner. “I was always cooking for friends and my kitchen is only so big...it can’t accommodate all of these people all the time,” she says. “Plus I noticed there was a lack of true Jamaican food in this area and I really wanted to share my culture with the people.” Henderson is a very “hands-on” business owner. During my visit, she was checking the buffet to make sure everything was full and hot, and also checking on customers to ensure they were enjoying everything.

    With no formal training under her belt, she learned to cook through trial and error. “Everyone in Jamaica cooks, it’s what we do. The first time I tried to make rice, it was like soup but that didn’t stop me from trying,” she says. The restaurant has been open for just over a year and she has been successful thus far, all the while looking for a stand-alone building to house her restaurant.

    Each person in my family is a fan of jerk chicken. We even had competitions at family reunions to see who makes it the best. This is the dish my family and I tried first and we agreed it was one of the favorites of the day. The chicken pieces offered include legs, wings, and thighs.  The chicken is a little spicy but not overwhelming. It’s moist, very tender and well cooked. If you want to cut the spice, have it with a bite of the rice and beans or even the yams.

    The apple candied yams were another item that crossed all of our plates, and some even came home with us. The yams are not too sweet and the addition of the tart apples offer a good balance. Henderson says she first cooks the apples in cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla and then adds this mixture to the yams. 

    My husband Kirk, ever the adventurous one, was the first to try the seafood creole. The stew-like mixture is packed with seafood including mussels that are cooked perfectly, chunks of imitation crab meat, squid, shrimp and scallops. Combine all of that in a tomato-based roux along with some green peppers and carrots and it’s almost like a creole gumbo without the heat.

    The jerk pork found a place on his plate as well. As with the chicken, the same jerk spices are used on a tender, thin cut pork. While his piece was a whole chop there were also some pieces on the buffet that were a different cut of pork – some thicker and some smaller. Kirk also liked the thick-sliced bacon – crisp and notably smoky and salty. “The bacon is a little more expensive, but if you are going to do something do it right.,” she said. My daughter Jaylen normally loves spicy, but this time she was a less heat-loving eater.

    If you are not a fan of spicy, then the brown stew chicken is perfect for your palate. It contains bones and a lot of flavor. When combined with the rice and beans or plantains, you have a foolproof meal. The curry chicken also is a good choice for those who don’t indulge in heat. The meat is stewed in a yellow curry, chopped into large pieces and is bone-in. I will admit that even though it was in a sauce, it is a little drier than both the jerk chicken and brown stew chicken.

    Another favorite was the green beans. Henderson tells me that they are not cooked in meat. She wasn’t aware that was a thing until she moved here because people were always asking if there was any meat in the beans. I was one of those people. If she offers a vegetable, then all she is giving you is veg, no meat. The beans are fresh and cooked in coconut oil, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.  

    Henderson’s personality is very open and friendly, and she takes the time out to speak to her customers. You quickly find yourself seeking her warm persona. Active in the community, she has played in a women’s soccer league, volunteered at the Salvation Army and enjoys creating floral arrangements for hospital and nursing home residents. There were no “to-go” menus available while we were there, but the menu is on the restaurant’s Facebook page. The restaurant is closed on Monday, but you can visit them any other time between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. I believe once you step inside 876 Jamaican Grill, you will want to stay and bask in the ray of sunshine and the delicious food Henderson offers.

  • Editor's Note

    On June 17, 2015, my heart cried for folks I’d never met. They had come together to study the Bible, to learn more about God. I’m certain the last thing they expected that day was their lives would end due to the color of their skin. But that’s exactly what happened. Dylann Roof waited until they closed their eyes to pray. Did you hear me? When they closed their eyes to pray, he shot them dead without exhibiting an ounce of conscience. On December 15 Roof was found guilty on 33 counts; sentencing will take place in January.

    Down the road in Franklin County, a white man who lives next door to a black family, hung a life-size black doll by a noose in his front yard the day of that church shooting in Charleston, S.C. He did so because in own words he didn’t like n_ _ _ _ _ _. He placed a handmade cardboard sign against his house that read, “Black n_ _ _ _ _ _ lives don’t matter, got rope.” Seriously? What’s going on? So being black provokes crimes of hate, still.

    As a mother and grandmother, I can’t help but tremble with incidents of this nature occurring throughout America, some real close to home. Race issues seem to be making headlines in the mode of pre-we-shall-overcome days. I find myself worrying about my family and friends of color just driving around town. I’m not attempting to analyze the causes of eroding relations among the races, but only to share my deep concern that race relations have taken a turn down crazy alley. What happened to treating people of races that differ from yours with respect and fairness? What happened to the golden rule — treat others the way you want to be treated — despite our differences.

    I know many of you remember Rodney King, the black man who feared his probation for a robbery charge would be revoked because of a traffic violation, who led police on a high speed chase through Los Angeles in 1991. When police finally caught King, they tasered and beat him mercilessly with their batons. The whole incident was captured on video. A year the four white officers who nearly killed him during the beating were acquitted by a predominantly white jury for their actions. That outcome led to the worst single episode of unrest in American history with 53 people dead and more than $1 billion in damages. King, who still showed signs from the beating, called for calm uttering the following: “Can we all just get along?”

    These days Rodney King’s words seem to roll off my tongue frequently, especially when I pray, asking for God’s intervention. CAN WE ALL JUST GET ALONG and stand up for fair treatment and justice so we may all cherish and respect our unique and special contributions to society as much as we do our common ground!

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