Jesse Lewis, Executive Director of Peacemakers of Rocky Mount. After seeing for himself the poverty in Guatemala, Jesse left the banking world and stepped aside from his own video production company to focus on helping his own community. He's committed to working with people to make long-term changes that create opportunities for kids and the families for generations. Jesse understands the complexity of the issues, but he is a man passionate about making a difference in the lives of his neighbors - in housing, education, and job readiness... and he certainly knows his music!
Tessa Wilson is a fairly recent high school graduate whose mother is currently undergoing treatment for stage 2 breast cancer. in recognition of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we'd like to share a daily caretaker's perspective on a disease that unfortunately many of us are familiar with. Tessa's gentle strength comes through loud and clear when she talks about chemotherapy, her love for her family, and the value of a support system grounded on long-term relationships. Her upbeat outlook on Life and her mother's diagnosis is encouraging and inspiring.
Nancy Ruppert is a former nurse who took up beekeeping on the side some years ago. Changes in the healthcare industry and her love of bees and beekeeping led her to make a career change, and she now is one of six apiary inspectors in the state of NC - and the first and only female inspector. Nancy is knowledgeable and insightful about all things environmental, and especially about the challenges facing pollinators. She is gracious and warm - thanks no doubt in significant part to her close relationship with her seven siblings and their single mother.
Megan Williams is a mother of 3 young boys. Motivated by personal experience, she and her army husband have become NC certified foster parents and fostered 8 kids. She and two other local foster mothers have started "Roots and Wings" - an organization with a mission to help fill the gaps in the foster system, to enable prospective foster parents to say "YES" to taking in children. Megan's own road has not been easy, and her husband's assignments have made for a transient lifestyle, so her motto is to "plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit." Her outlook on life is undeniably positive and uplifting.
Pete Saunders certainly has his stories... and many of them revolve around either his good wife, Dottie, or his connections with people he's met in a lifetime career in radio. Pete's experience ranges from growing up in a sharecropper family to emceeing a POW/MIA celebrity golf tournament to learning from Dale Carnegie the power in relationships of admitting mistakes.
Jim Haston can be described as a lover of life - and five special women. He and his wife have been married for sixty-two years and they have raised four daughters together - one of whom was born deaf. He served in the navy for a decade between the Korean and Vietnam wars, and his work experience seems to have touched virtually every business category in the economy. Even in his eighties, Jim does his best to stay active, and recently left the regional senior games with six gold medals. Jim's outlook is upbeat and refreshing, and his music takes us back to the golden age of radio.
Maurice Barnes - a North Carolina native grateful for the support and encouragement of the community in which he grew up. Maurice has made it his mission to translate those values of an earlier generation for the benefit of black youth today in that same community. In one of North Carolina's more forward-looking city school systems, he coordinates a program called "The Gentlemen's Agreement," and his passion and his perspective on freedom and the human spirit, are inspiring.
A special Father's Day edition of Grace Notes, featuring our own Buddy Michaels – actually, Buddy's dad more than Buddy. You may know Buddy as the host of our Saturday Morning Bluegrass Show, "Hometown Festival," and, storyteller that he is, after hearing him talk about his father, we persuaded him to join us in the studio on the other side of the mic to share some of those stories. Buddy's dad grew up on an Indian Reservation in Minnesota, joined the Navy during World War II, fell in love and started a family, and eventually came to own his own welding business. He taught his four sons what it means to work hard but also how to have fun and the value of doing what you enjoy and what you're good at. Although he's been gone some nine years now, his influence on Buddy is as fresh as ever.
Sandy Hatley is a retired school teacher from Stanly County with a passion for bluegrass music and a contagious zest for life. As a girl, she fell in love with the banjo and not long after that became a member of one of the first all-female bluegrass bands. She met her husband at a fiddler's convention and they still perform as members of the Hatley family band. Sandy is also an ambassador for all things agricultural, and her spiritual perspective is genuine and inspiring.
From an early age, Aaron Landry learned about stewardship and the importance of leadership from his parents, and he has made those values a priority in his adult life - within his community, in his church, in his career, and as a husband and father. Encouraging other men to take leadership roles in their personal spheres of influence is Aaron's passion, and he has been instrumental in establishing and leading local nonprofits grounded on that mission.
Jim Prim is honored to have spent much of his career working for NASA - particularly in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. He'll share stories of American Heroes like Alan Shepard and John Glenn whom he worked closely with in simulators and training situations, as well as his family's personal relationship with Neil Armstrong and his family.
Laura Layton is a social worker for whom her employment has always been more than just a job. Raised in Illinois, Laura was on track to get a business degree when the hospitalization of two family members opened her eyes to the need for qualified and compassionate social workers. Laura has worked on behalf of people of all ages and circumstances, and has for some years now served kidney dialysis patients. Her insight on their struggles and her personal investment in their lives is thought-provoking and inspiring.
Pamela Peterson-Dickens, a mother, business owner, and the founder and director of a non-profit organization, Help Make A Difference Outreach, whose motto is "Don't Cry, But Try." When Pamela sees need in her community, she tries to help - from providing women a place to share and discuss common problems, to assisting families and children with Special Needs, to a little extra pampering at the beauty salon for Cancer Patients.
Ted Beemer, an orthopedic surgeon, recently retired (for now at least), who for many years followed a somewhat traditional professional path, but who later in his life decided that there might be other ways he could contribute. He and his wife have now taken countless mission trips - short-term and long-term, to every corner of the globe, from Honduras to Ethiopia to China, and places in between. Ted's reflections on parenting, life choices, immigration, and things spiritual, are inspiring and challenging.
Bill Myers' passion for music has characterized his life for more than eight decades - first as a young boy in the 1930s, and later during his time of service in Korea, and then back in NC where he settled down and became a music educator and school administrator. In 1957, he founded a band, The Monitors, which is still going strong. He saw segregation and integration up close, and serves as the Executive Director of the "Round House and African American Museum" in Wilson. Bill's stories - and his upbeat outlook on life - are just plain inspiring, and fun.
Trish Bradshaw is a woman whose love of dance blossomed early, through her mother in New Jersey, and has flourished for some 25 years now in North Carolina, where she has choreographed countless stage production at all levels and owned and operated a theatrical dance studio in Wilson. Dance is how Trish nurtures kids, mentors adults, and gives back to her community. She refuses to measure her success in financial terms, saying it's impossible for her to turn away a child who just wants to dance. Her enthusiasm is contagious.
Donell Collier, founder of a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to help recovering substance abusers and former prisoners. Now a maintenance supervisor and pastor, he is candid and humble, and having seen his own life transformed, he has turned his own personal experience into a ministry to those most in need of transitional assistance.