This week you may have seen teams of teenagers hard at work in the community more so than usual. Three churches —Torre Fuerte, VerticalLife, and Woodlawn of Newton-Conover — have joined youth ministries to serve the community for a common cause in what they’ve titled, “Got Work? Youth Mission Week.”

The churches have been planning for several months to form a partnership in order to host an at-home mission trip to make a difference in the local community.

Associate Pastor Justin Zinn of VerticalLife Church said, “We want to give our students an opportunity to serve in Newton, Conover and Hickory with the kind of effort we would have if we served on a mission trip in a third-world country.”

The group was divided into three teams and will have served the elderly, Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, Safe Harbor, Hickory Soup Kitchen, Hickory Pregnancy Care Center, and more.

The churches are hoping to do another event like this next year with more churches and volunteers in order to grow its effectiveness in serving others locally.


Hickory police officers lead summer youth leadership academy

HICKORY — School may be out for the summer, but the City of Hickory’s school resource officers have been busy preparing for an action-packed two weeks with area youth.

Since 2009, the Hickory Police Department has offered the Junior Law Enforcement and Recreation Training Academy (JLERTA). Sgt. Ericka Heath started the program to provide safe and educational activities for at-risk middle-schoolers during summer break. The program grew and became so well known that many more young people wanted to join and face the challenges and excitement of the academy.

The structured program allows the kids to participate in a range of positive activities, from touring a crime lab and learning about vehicle stops, to outdoor adventures on Lake James.

“Our school resource officers connect with young people and mentor them throughout the school year. JLERTA gives these officers the ability to continue building that positive relationship with the youth in our community,” said Lt. Scott Hildebrand, who oversees the city’s Community Services PACT and school resource officers. “The goal of the program is for our officers to help set these kids’ lives on a positive course.”

Two dozen students started attending this year’s youth leadership academy on July 22. The program offers daily activities Monday through Thursday for two weeks. On the last day of the program, the participants graduate from the academy and celebrate with an awards ceremony and special movie screening at the Carolina Theater in downtown Hickory.

In addition to the hard work of the city’s school resource officers, this program is made possible by strong support from the community and local business partners. Krispy Kreme provides doughnuts for breakfast and lunch is provided daily by local businesses. Special thanks to this year’s lunch sponsors: Backstreets, Jimmy John’s, Olive Garden, PDQ, and Walmart. Pepsi Cola and Coca-Cola bottling companies donate beverages for the two-week program. Additional support comes from Village Inn Pizza, Crosswinds Café, and Premier Screen Printing. Hickory Regional Airport and Hickory Recreation and Sports Tourism provide vans for the academy to use for transportation.

The City of Hickory has four dedicated school resource officers on staff and an additional D.A.R.E. officer that visits the local schools. A school resource officer is assigned to each middle and high school in the Hickory Public Schools system and regularly visits each elementary school.

For more information about JLERTA, ontact Lt. Scott Hildebrand at 828-261-2644 or via email at, and follow the Hickory Police Department Facebook page.

Caldwell Hospice to offer Virtual Dementia Tour

HUDSON — When their mother was diagnosed with dementia they did not know anything about how to care for her, said sisters Lois Hunt and Barbara Jones. As a result, they basically did everything wrong that first year, they said.

The sisters recall the frustration their mother felt as she realized she was changing. She feared and continually asked the doctor if she had Alzheimer’s disease. When the diagnosis finally came it was devastating for all of them.

“We devised all kinds of systems so she could match her clothes, use the phone, and read the clock—but they didn’t work,” said Hunt.

When a Caldwell Hospice staff member shared some dementia care resources with them, they realized that there were better ways to provide care and resources available to help. “You know, we just didn’t know!” said Jones. “We thought we were helping.”

They cared for their mother until her death at 87, and when Caldwell Hospice began to offer the Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT) the sisters knew they had to be a part of it. Both Hunt and Jones, along with other Caldwell Hospice staff and volunteers, completed the specialized training to facilitate VDT opportunities for the community.

“When VDT participants come in saying ‘I just don’t know what to do’ and searching for help, we can say we understand — because we do,” continues Jones.

“Even today, we look at each other and say ‘If we had only known then what we’ve learned now,’” says Hunt. That sentiment drives the sisters to honor their mother and provide resources for those on that same journey.

The Virtual Dementia Tour is an original, ground-breaking, evidence-based, and scientifically proven method of building a greater understanding of dementia. The truth is that when dementia strikes, it strikes the whole community, not just the individual. Thanks to the VDT, health care professionals, family caregivers, business leaders, consumer advocates, first responders and educators are experiencing for themselves the physical and mental challenges facing people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

The VDT uses patented sensory tools and instruction based on research conducted by P.K. Beville, MS, a specialist in geriatrics and the founder of Second Wind Dreams. During a VDT experience, trained facilitators guide participants outfitted with patented devices that alter their senses while they try to complete common everyday tasks. The VDT enables caregivers to experience for themselves the physical and mental challenges those with dementia face, and use the experience to provide better person-centered care.

“The solution to Alzheimer’s disease today and in the foreseeable future is in developing a better and more personal understanding of the day-to-day challenges facing those with the disease,” says Beville. “The VDT program is the tool that makes that understanding possible.”

Caldwell Hospice recognized the need and created its dementia care program in 2011 to better serve patients with dementia and their families.

“Dementia affects an increasing number of Caldwell Hospice patients and their families, not to mention others in our community,” says Martha Livingston, BSW, one of only five VDT Certified Trainers in North Carolina and 67 in the world. “It is important that we educate and encourage caregivers, families, and friends so they don’t give up in frustration and desperation.”

Caldwell Hospice will offer the following Virtual Dementia Tour opportunities to our community:

  • Thursday, Aug. 22, 1-3 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 6, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Each event will be held at Caldwell Hospice’s McCreary Family Professional Center, 526 Pine Mountain Road, Hudson.

The Virtual Dementia Tour is not appropriate for people diagnosed with dementia.

Participants are led through the 45-minute experience in 10-minute intervals and only need to be present for their appointment time. Appointments are required and space is limited. To reserve your space or learn more about the Virtual Dementia Tour, call 828-754-0101 or email

Meditation: Where are the real Christians?


Morning Star First Baptist Church

The psalmist David in the 27th psalms was saying to the believers that he has come to the place where he was content with his relationship with the lord. It didn’t matter what the enemy tried to do to him, how the enemy tried to attack him. He was looking forward to being, seeing, and basking in the presence of the lord. He realized that even if his father and mother forsake him he would be satisfied in the lord.

When I was a little boy this great nation had that same air about her. We were proud to be a Christian nation, one that honored God and respected the scriptures. Our television shows had moral content and values. They reflected goodness and love towards our fellow man.

Children were taught to help the old ladies to cross the street, say yes ma’am and no sir, appreciate the police and firefighters, and give reverence to adults. We looked forward to going to school and saying prayer in school and the pledge of allegiance to the flag. We heard things like God is not pleased with that and God is looking at you. We understood that God was the head of our lives and that we were not just here but that there was a purpose for us.

Then we started changing everything to satisfy one or two people and then special interest groups and now we are going to hell in a hand basket. In God we trust. Do we?

Everybody is right but Jesus, yet it’s his breath that we breathe every second of our lives. It is he who made us, it’s he who created us and we have gone completely in another direction from his word.

But I, like the psalmist David, am not afraid to stand for my lord and savior Jesus the Christ, for truly in God do I trust. Where are the real Christians?

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