By NEAL EMBRY
From leading a championship soccer team to learning to weld to representing the state of Alabama on the national stage, the Class of 2023 in Homewood has an impressive resume. In honor of this year’s senior class, The Homewood Star is featuring two Homewood High School seniors and one senior from John Carroll Catholic High School.
Maddie Massie has been playing soccer since she was 3 years old.
Now, as she wraps up her time at Homewood High School, she’ll finish as a two-time captain, two-time state champion and one-time runner up.
By NEAL EMBRY
A Girl Scout camp might have changed Veronica Walker’s life.
When she was 11 years old, Walker, now a 16-year-old John Carroll Catholic High School sophomore, attended a camp and chose archery as one of her activities. After the camp ended, she told her mom she could not wait a whole year to pick up a bow again.
So Walker joined the Hoover Archery Club, which allows anyone 9 years of age and older to join. The club shoots twice a week, which allowed her to learn more about the sport she had fallen in love with.
“I recognized it was a very mental sport,” Walker said.
See GRADUATES | page A30 See WALKER | page A28
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STEPS Local seniors reflect on high school careers, future plans
by Erin Nelson. Right on target: John Carroll’s Veronica Walker excels in archery Veronica Walker, 16, a sophomore at John Carroll Catholic High School, practices at the Hoover Archery Park. Walker has been selected to be part of the Southeastern Regional Elite Development Team through USA Archery. Photo by Erin Nelson.
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Editor’s Note By Neal Embry
This month, hundreds of students will walk across the stage and graduate from John Carroll Catholic High School and Homewood High School, stepping into the next stage of their lives.
On this month’s cover, we feature three of those graduates, Stanley Stoutamire, Bryce Sims and Maddie Massie. Massie will be heading to Furman to play soccer and pursue a medical career. Sims will head to Shelton State Community College, where he will continue his education as a welder, which began at the Academy of Craft Training. Stoutamire has no shortage of top schools to choose from, and hopes to also pursue a medical career. Good luck to these three outstanding
We also feature Veronica Walker, an outstanding student at John Carroll Catholic High School, who has competed on the national archery team. It’s been a delight to tell her
story as well.
We have an update on improvements to 18th Street and the townhomes being built on the northern end of the street.
In one of this month’s features, we tell the story of the McClung family. They will be traveling to Poland this month to help Ukrainian refugees and train Christian missionaries.
As summer kicks into high gear this month, I hope you and your family can enjoy the sunshine, maybe take a vacation and enjoy all that Homewood has to offer.
As always, thank you for reading!
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Maggie Winslett, 6, tests out her new toy Jeep at United Ability’s Hand In Hand Early Learning Program on March 24. Students in Spain Park High School’s engineering academy engineered the electric car so that Winslett can drive the car using hand controls, since she does not have use of her legs. Photo by Erin Nelson.
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Work on 18th Street, townhomes continues
By NEAL EMBRY
Construction on eight townhomes on 18th Street South in Homewood is continuing, along with work to improve the street, which serves as a gateway coming into the city from Birmingham.
John Abernathy is the developer of the townhomes, which are located on 18th Street approaching Valley Avenue. He said the townhomes are all three levels, with a first-floor garage and storage, second-floor living space and third-floor bedrooms.
The goal is for the project to be completed by the end of May. Ingram Homes will be renting the townhomes, which will vary in price, but all will be above $3,000, Abernathy said.
Several of the townhomes also have chargers for electric vehicles. The location offers convenience to Birmingham and other nearby areas, and Abernathy’s team is also replacing sidewalks to link the homes to the rest of downtown Homewood.
Aesthetically, the townhomes will not be “cookie cutter” and will each have different square footages and layouts and most of them have second-floor patios in the back, Abernathy said.
Although there was some initial opposition to the townhomes, Abernathy said he has not heard any complaints since work began.
“We’re pretty excited about them,” he said.
As Abernathy and his team continue constructing the townhomes, the city of Homewood continues efforts to beautify and improve 18th Street, said City Engineer Cale Smith.
The contractor, Bulls Construction Group, is currently adding a right-turn lane onto the street from Valley Avenue. The rest of the work includes restriping and cleaning up from previous work. The city will also install a pedestrian signal crossing between the post office and
Rob’E Mans, Smith said.
The finished work features sidewalks constructed on the east side of the street to match sidewalks previously installed on the west side, along with the addition of 26 angled parking spaces. The third lane on 18th Street was lost, however, with the far right lane becoming a
right-turn only lane at 28th Avenue. Previous plans to remove a left-turn lane were scrapped, with the left lane now allowing drivers to turn left or continue straight.
The city also made aesthetic improvements to the street.
“The work is part of the city’s efforts to have
‘complete streets,’ suitable for pedestrians, drivers and cyclists,” Smith said.
The total cost of the project was $1.7 million, with the city responsible for 20%, or around $340,000. The rest was covered by a Transportation Alternatives Program grant, and the work should be finished by the end of June.
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Construction continues on new townhomes on 18th Street South in Homewood on April 13. Photo by Erin Nelson.
By Patrick McClusky
We Love Homewood! The annual celebration for our wonderful city is upon us, and it is one of my most cherished events that we host.
Homewood has so much to be proud of, and as we approach our centennial in 2026, we get to celebrate these accomplishments together with a wide variety of gatherings and events. As always, we will begin with the We Love Homewood Day 5K on Saturday, May 6. This event takes residents and visitors on a morning run through Edgewood, where the streets are usually lined with neighbors cheering on the runners and walkers alike. The vendors will be set up in Central Park in the morning, and residents can visit these booths to chat with local businesses, the many nonprofit groups we have here in the city, as well as purchase items for sale. There will be plenty of food trucks in attendance as well, so come hungry! The We Love Homewood Day parade will begin at 7 p.m., showcasing multiple neighborhoods, business, local sports teams and city related floats, as well as the Homewood High School Marching Band. The parade will culminate
in the Edgewood business district, where we will host the street dance beginning at 7 p.m. with live music, children’s entertainment and the announcement of our community awards. We look forward to seeing you and your family on May 6 to help celebrate our wonderful city of Homewood!
The city manager study is close to completion, and we look forward to hearing from the study group at one of our June council meetings.
As we get closer to this date, we will be updating everyone through our website and social media. This will be an important step for the future of Homewood’s leadership, and we hope that you can attend to hear more about this option as we work to build a better Homewood for all.
In closing, I want to express my deepest congratulations to all of the Homewood High School seniors who will be graduating this month! Your city is so proud of you, and we look forward to seeing your accomplishments in the years to come! We hope that you will find your way back to Homewood in the near future! Go Patriots!
Outdoor fitness court coming to Homewood
By NEAL EMBRY
The city of Homewood is partnering with the National Fitness Campaign to bring an outdoor fitness court to the corner of Central Avenue and Oxmoor Road.
Construction will begin Oct. 1 and shouldn’t take long, Councilor Jennifer Andress said.
The National Fitness Campaign installs outdoor fitness studios across the country, Andress said, and has made their way to the state of Alabama. As Homewood boasts a large number of sidewalks and walking trails, the city is appealing to those seeking a healthier lifestyle, she said, making it a natural fit for the outdoor court.
The court is “designed to provide a full body workout in only seven minutes,” according to the campaign’s website. The equipment helps users accomplish seven movements for “everyday health,” which they define as “core, squat, push, pull, lunge,
ability and bend.” Equipment includes rings, boxes and more, Andress said.
The outdoor gym will be a centrally located resource, she said. Being near Central Park will allow parents to exercise near their children, who can play in a fenced-in area, she said.
“We think it’s a great resource for the city,” Andress said. “I think it’s a really neat project.”
The city received a $50,000 grant and is also pursuing sponsorships to pay for the equipment, which costs a total of $120,000. Andress said the city is confident they can make up the difference in sponsorships.
The gym will also include public artwork and a Homewood-centric logo, Andress said. The campaign seeks to “build a world class gallery of public art across the country,” according to the website.
Users can also use “The Fitness Court” app in conjunction with the court, Andress said.
For more information, visit nationalfitness campaign.com.
When I first came to TherapySouth in March of 2020, I had been out of running for five months due to an injury. Within one month of working with Phil, I was back on a limited, but regular running program. When the next season started, I began running the same times as before my injury and continued to run faster than ever! Now, I still come to TherapySouth every week for strength training. My times have become some of the best in Alabama, and Phil is one of my biggest supporters and a huge role model in my life!
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TheHomewoodStar.com May 2023 • A7
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Robert House, a fitness instructor for the Hoover Parks and Recreation Department, demonstrates how to use one of the stations at a new fitness court at Veterans Park. A similar outdoor studio will be installed at the corner of Oxmoor Road and Central Avenue. Photo by Jon Anderson.
Paul Rogers has Homewood schools to thank for recent Oscar, mom says
By SOLOMON CRENSHAW JR.
Melissa Springer remembers her son having severe attention-deficit disorder as a student in Homewood schools.
Paul Rogers didn’t get great grades but he was smart, Springer told the Homewood City Council on April 10.
“The thing that I loved about his teachers is they saw him and they let him use the way he could learn,” she said. “The way he learned was making movies. A lot of times, they would let him do reports where he made the movies.”
Rogers has earned many awards and acknowledgments for his filmmaking, including the 2023 Academy Award for film editing for “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” one of seven Oscars won by the film. Rogers’s latest acknowledgment was a congratulatory resolution from the city of Homewood.
Springer was on hand to receive the document on behalf of her son.
“Homewood schools had so much to do with both my children’s successes,” Springer said, mentioning her daughter Taylor, who is two years older than her son. “I chose Homewood because of the diversity and the Blue Ribbon Schools. I felt that it was a great place to raise children. It ended up being one of the best decisions as a mother that I have ever made.”
In council action:
► Todd Minor was reappointed to the park board. The vice chair of the board will take over as board chair when the term of current chair Michael Murray expires.
► The council sent an indemnification agreement for work performed in the rightof-way at 610 Broadway back to the public works committee, which previously voted 3-2 to deny permission.
► The council authorized Mayor Patrick
McClusky to sign an agreement with the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority.
► The council also agreed for the mayor to sign the Central Avenue TAP grant project, and to agree to transfer ownership and maintenance of the road segment along Forest Brook Drive.
► The council agreed to accept an outdoor shading grant from Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Ammons and approved a budget
amendment to install shading at the West Homewood Park tennis center during fiscal year 2023.
► A police grant was also approved with a budget amendment.
► The council decided to restore the intersection of Morris Boulevard and Sterrett Avenue to its previous alignment.
► The council approved the installation of a
crosswalk on Valley Avenue at Beckham Drive.
► A sign variance was granted at 600 University Park Place for Dash Solutions to have a sign at the top of the building. The sign ordinance calls for signs to be at ground level but since that building is surrounded by trees, a ground-level sign would not be visible to motorists.
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Homewood Mayor Patrick McClusky presents a resolution honoring Homewood native and Oscar Award winner Paul Rogers to Roger’s mother, Melissa Springer, at the April 10 council meeting.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Andress.
Council amends Mecca Avenue sidewalk contract
By NEAL EMBRY
The Homewood City Council voted to amend its contract with CB&A Construction for the Mecca Avenue sidewalk project during its March 27 meeting.
The amendment will eliminate previously proposed plans to stripe the road to reduce its width, as well as remove the previous plan to install raised pavement markers. The move will save the city about $28,000.
In other projects, the council agreed to alter traffic on Kenilworth Drive at Primrose Place for a Jefferson County sanitary sewer rehabilitation project. The county is finishing up repair work on sanitary sewer services in the area as part of a $2.25 million project. County engineers agreed at a previous committee meeting to place barriers around this area in order to keep children safe while walking to and from school, and they also said there would be quiet pumps to limit noise levels
in the area.
The project should be finished by the end of June.
In other business, the council:
► Authorized Mayor Patrick McClusky to sign a uniform contract with Cintas
► Authorized McClusky to sign a contract with United Way and Meals on Wheels and to pay the city’s fiscal 2023 appropriation to the organization
► Approved a request for permission to work in the right of way adjacent to 924, 926 and 930 Oxmoor Road
► Authorized SoHo Social and Social Taco to use SoHo Plaza
► Authorized McClusky to sign the stormwater management plan
► Authorized the use of First Horizon Bank as a bank depository of the city and authorized the signatures of several city leaders to replace IberiaBank
► Approved vouchers
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The intersection of Mecca Avenue and Highland Road in the Edgewood neighborhood of Homewood. Photo by Erin Nelson.
Archivist helps preserve Homewood history at library
By NEAL EMBRY
The Homewood Public Library is working to ensure that the city’s history remains available for all who are interested.
The library recently received a $10,000 grant from the Library Services and Technology Act, which, along with $2,500 in funds provided by the city, paid for the archival work of Robin Dunn. Through the end of July, Dunn will be digitizing historical documents and archives in the library and uploading them onto AlabamaMosaic, a free website that makes historical documents and archives from across the state available to everyone.
The idea came about during the COVID-19 pandemic, said library Director Judith Wright. The library has a small collection of archives and Homewood memorabilia, but patrons could not access it during the pandemic, as it is only available for viewing in the library. Wright looked into obtaining a grant to digitize the archives and was successful. Having a trained archivist like Dunn is essential so that the work is done properly, she said.
There are old pamphlets reassuring Homewood residents of the city’s plans after World War II ended, past Homewood High School yearbooks, newspaper archives and more. While she is in town, Dunn will also train library staff on the process so they can do it once she leaves, Wright said.
The materials located in the library’s archives have been collected in the roughly 80 years since the library opened, Dunn said. A small room in the library will serve as the archival room, allowing patrons to read and do research. While the materials cannot be checked out, they can be used within the walls of the library, she said.
Dunn began her work in February and has already spoken to members of the public during a community event, and she also helps retrieve requested items as patrons request it, she said.
Yearbooks are “a big deal,” Dunn said, as
everyone wants to go back and reminisce on their high school days. Each yearbook takes about eight hours just to scan, she said, then another five hours to upload.
Dunn is here in Alabama by way of Florida, where she grew up and went to school, first at the University of Central Florida in Orlando for her undergraduate work and then at the University of West Florida in Pensacola
for her master’s degree. She has a focus on museum history and enjoys talking about why preserving local history is so important.
“History itself is so important to learn about. I think local history [is important] because you better understand your community and it helps you understand how things grow,” she said. Historical records can be important when purchasing a home, starting a business or
looking into family genealogy, Dunn said.
“I know people say history repeats itself. I don’t say it repeats itself because everything has to be exactly the same. I say it rhymes. … It might not be exactly the same, but it goes together,” Dunn said.
While the library is not taking donations at this time, the public can demonstrate their support by showing interest, Dunn said.
On May 11 at 6 p.m., members of the public can come meet Dunn and hear her talk more about the work she is doing.
A10 • May 2023 The Homewood Star
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Above: Robin Dunn, the archivist at the Homewood Public Library, talks about a Homewood Monopoly game that is one of the artifacts in the library archives. Right: A scrapbook dating back to the 1930s from Hall-Kent School is one of the artifacts in the Homewood Public Library archives. Photos by Erin Nelson.
Neighbors Ice Cream has recently reopened at 715 Oak Grove Road under the new ownership of the Walker family. The West Homewood ice cream shop closed earlier this year but held a grand reopening on April 15. neighborshwd.com
JP Morgan Chase has started construction on a new Chase Bank branch on the corner of Green Springs Highway and Oxmoor Road. The other Alabama locations are in Auburn, Tuscaloosa and downtown Birmingham as well as another new location currently under construction in Hoover. chase.com
RELOCATIONS AND RENOVATIONS
McAlister’s Deli, a leading fast casual chain, has moved its Homewood location after nearly 20 years — the new location opened Friday, April 14. The relocated restaurant will introduce several upgrades, including window side pickup for digital orders and a reimagined interior. Located three blocks away from its original location, the new Homewood McAlister’s Deli is at 169 State Farm Parkway, Suite 104. mcalistersdeli.com
NEWS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Samford University recently held a groundbreaking for the forthcoming Campus Recreation, Wellness and Athletic Complex. This historic project will provide students and employees expanded opportunities to improve physical fitness and mental wellness as well as new spaces for recreation, events and community gatherings. The complex will also provide new practice and training spaces for the school’s Division I athletic teams. samford.edu
Evernest, a national, full-service real estate and property management firm, announced recently that they have acquired Colorado-based ParkSide Property Management. The acquisition adds approximately 170 homes to Evernest’s Denver portfolio, and boosts the firm’s overall properties managed to almost 16,000 nationwide. evernest.co
ity. Before assuming the position as interim CEO in November 2022, Carlisle had been vice president of clinical operations for UAB Hospital since 2017. Prior to joining UAB, Carlisle was chief operating officer, vice president of patient care services and vice president of operations at Brookwood Medical Center. She has more than 30 years of experience in nursing management and health care operations in medical facilities throughout Alabama and Florida. Jennings has more than 35 years of experience within the healthcare industry serving in a variety of roles focused on organizational financial health and strategic financial decision-making. Her responsibilities include financial reporting and budgeting for the Health System and UAB Hospital, as well as overseeing any debt/financing initiatives across the enterprise. She joined UAB in 2006. Prior to being named interim CFO of the Health System, she had been CFO of UAB Hospital since November 2018. Before that, she spent 21 years with Ascension Health in Birmingham, serving in several financial roles that culminated as vice president of Seton Health Corp.
Chef Timothy Hontzas has been named a finalist for the second year in a row for the James Beard Awards for Best Chef: South. Hontzas is the chef and owner of Johnny’s Restaurant on 18th Street. The James Beard Awards annually recognize the top chefs and restaurants in the country. 205-802-2711, johnnyshomewood.com
The University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System, which includes the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital Clinic in Homewood, has filled two senior positions in its leadership team. Brenda Carlisle was named CEO of UAB Hospital, and Susan Jennings has been named the chief financial officer for the Health System. Both had been serving in their respective roles in an interim capac-
Storyteller Overland, an industry leader in the class B RV and adventure vehicle manufacturing space, has promoted Mike Austell to Vice President of Engineering. Mike joined the Storyteller team last April with more than 10 years of experience in the automotive industry. He spent two years as a mechanical engineer at Honda and four years as a mechanical design engineer at FitzThors Engineering, where he gained high-level design skills.
Little Donkey, with locations in Homewood, Montgomery and Greystone, is celebrating 11 years of business this year.
Our dedicated doctors, nurses, researchers and sta are committed to ﬁnding a cure, so kids like Adrian can live their healthiest life – cancer free. We never give up hope of a world without childhood cancer and blood disorders, and that’s why we are here.
TheHomewoodStar.com May 2023 • A11 Business
Business news to share? If you have news to share with the community about a brick-and-mortar business in Homewood, let us know
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Cahaba Cycles celebrates
By NEAL EMBRY
Forty years ago, Faris Malki’s father, Kal, went to a bike shop to purchase a bike for Faris’s sister.
That day, Kal made an agreement with a salesperson, Norman Lowrey, to open up what became Cahaba Cycles, with its first location in the Cahaba Heights neighborhood of Vestavia Hills. The store opened in an old Western Supermarket, run by Lowrey and the Malkis.
The store moved to its current location on Cahaba Heights Road near Satterfield’s in 2008, said Faris Malki, who now runs the shop.
In the last 40 years, the store has expanded to include locations in Cahaba Heights, Gadsden, Oak Mountain, Trussville and Homewood.
Malki grew up working at the store over the summer before taking a job in the IT world. He can still remember the “super sale” the store would have in the late 1980s and early 1990s. There would be a line out the door and around the block. While it was “really hectic,” it was worth it. The store would make as much money that weekend as they normally would in two or three months, he said.
Around 2002, Malki moved back and began helping his parents run the business. He knew he wanted to eventually own a business of his
bought the business in 2016.
The bike shop offers a level of service and hospitality not seen in much of the retail world, Malki said. They don’t just sell bicycles, but also service the bikes and offer one-on-one consulting. There are a “lot of hands” on customer service, he said. Employees are able to help customers find a good place to ride and outfit them with what they need.
Malki wears a lot of hats, he said, in the running of Cahaba Cycles. He oversees the company’s technology, finances and more, but he isn’t alone.
“I have a really good team at every store,” he said.
Each store has its own story, Malki said.
In Homewood, Cahaba Cycles bought what was previously Homewood Cycle and Fitness. The store enjoys a noticeable spot on the busy 18th Street and also puts on the Tour de Cahaba every July. The race is a multi-distance bike ride that begins at the Homewood store and visits each Cahaba location. Distances include a 64-mile, 45-mile, 35-mile, 20-mile, 10-mile
draws about 800 participants, who also participate in an after-party and cook out, Malki said.
The internet has changed every business, including Cahaba Cycles, since it came into existence around 40 years ago, Malki said. The store has experienced all of the changes that have come with it, moving from physical catalogs to online shopping pages.
“The internet has presented a lot of challenges, but it’s provided us a lot of opportunity as well,” Malki said.
The bikes offered by Cahaba Cycles have also changed over the years, Malki said. When the store first started, there were two or three kids’ models and 10-speed bikes. Now, there’s roughly 30 different categories of bikes sold by the business, he said, from road bikes to fitness bikes and more.
“It’s just a lot more to manage now,” he said.
The biggest growth area in the bicycle world is for electric bikes, or e-bikes, which includes a lithium battery and small motor to allow cyclists to get up hills quicker, Malki said. It
can double or triple power and takes away barriers to cycling, he said.
Being at Cahaba Cycles throughout the years has been a joy, he said. Coaching other team members and leaning on them lends itself to great camaraderie, he said.
“I just love the team environment that we have,” Malki said.
During the pandemic, the store was one of few that may have benefited. With many seeking new activities outside, the bike business was booming, Malki said.
“The volume we encountered was just off the charts,” he said.
In the future, Malki said the store is “doubling down” its focus on customers, growing its e-commerce business and pushing to be the premier e-bike provider in the state of Alabama.
Forty years later, biking is an easy sell for Malki.
“It’s such a worthwhile product,” Malki said. “It’s good for your health, good for the environment.”
A12 • May 2023 The Homewood Star
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Right: A customer shops at Cahaba Cycles in Homewood. Cahaba Cycles is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Below: Ron McCurdy talks with Joe Dice about a new mountain bike. Photos by Erin Nelson. Mr. Handyman is taking care of Homewood’s “To-Do” List ® like us on follow us on 205-606-0800 Give us a call! Independently owned and operated franchise.© 2022 Mr. Handyman SPV LLC. All rights Reserved MrHandyman.com Visit mrhandyman.com to learn more about our services All of our technicians are full-time employees and all of our workmanship is guaranteed. Honest. Transparent. Easy to work with and e cient. We humbly aspire to earn your business. Thank you!
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Food For Our Journey
By JON ANDERSON
It was the fall of 2018, and Kelly Greene was attending her usual 5 p.m. Sunday mass at Prince of Peace Catholic Church when she felt God telling her she needed to start a food truck to serve people who are homeless or hungry and disadvantaged.
She and her family for years had volunteered at shelters and food pantries, but when she and her husband, Joe, became empty-nesters, they started praying for God to show them the path to take for the next chapter of their lives.
Greene said God clearly spoke to her that Sunday evening that He wanted them to start a food truck.
While homeless people can get meals at shelters and food pantries, they’re not always able to get to those places when the meals are served, Greene said. Many lack transportation, and sometimes it’s hard to get out of makeshift shelters if it’s cold or stormy, she said. if they can’t get to the shelter kitchen at the right time, they go without food, she said.
“I thought if we could take the food to where they are, then it would help to ensure they won’t miss,” Greene said.
She and Joe spent months investigating what it would take to bring the idea to fruition and by April 2019 had secured 501(c)3 nonprofit status and begun raising money.
Initially, she thought they would be cooking food in the food truck to give out to people, but she quickly learned after talking to friends with restaurants and catering companies that there is so much food already out there that is going to waste that she didn’t need to make more.
Instead, Greene and her nonprofit, called Food For Our Journey, partner with restaurants, catering companies, grocery stores, churches and individuals to collect leftover food and other donated food for distribution.
That meant she didn’t need a vehicle equipped with a full kitchen. Instead, she and her nonprofit were able to obtain a cargo van equipped for catering purposes. McSweeney Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Pell City gave the nonprofit a discount, so they only had to come up with $10,000 for it, she said. “It was a huge blessing.”
400 MEALS A DAY
In the beginning, Food For Our Journey had about 10 regular food providers, such as Vecchia Pizzeria and Mercato in The Preserve, the Redmont Hotel, Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa, Black Market Bar & Grill and Dave’s Pizza. They were serving 40-50 people a day, Greene said.
Now, four years later, there are about 20 regular food providers and many more that provide food occasionally, Greene said. The nonprofit serves about 250 people a day, giving out about 400 meals during breakfast and lunch, she said. In 2022, Food For Our Journey served 144,760 meals to homeless and hungry people, according to the nonprofit’s website.
The Food For Our Journey van goes out seven days a week, starting to make rounds about 9 a.m. and going til about 3:30 p.m. each day, Greene said. The nonprofit targets areas where homeless people stay and has several specific stops it makes at the same time and place every day, she said. The service area is downtown Birmingham, from Lakeview to Interstate 65 and from the Vulcan statue to the Interstate 20/59 area, she said.
Greene, who is the nonprofit’s executive
director, typically mans the van herself on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, while her assistant director, Christine Golab, goes out on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Part-time drivers cover weekend deliveries, and there is almost always a second volunteer in the van, Greene said.
There are about 25 regular volunteers and about 150 other occasional volunteers every year, she said. Volunteers can sign up to serve on the nonprofit’s website. “We get new people every day.”
However, drivers are fully trained and know where to go and what to do, Greene said. The training is not difficult, but no volunteer is ever sent out without a trained leader, she said.
Catherine Moore, a retired teacher who lives in Hoover on Shades Crest Road and who has known Greene since their college days, has been volunteering with Food For Our Journey for about three years.
She said she didn’t have any idea what she was getting into when she started, but the experience has been life changing. Homeless people can be somewhat invisible to a lot of people, but serving with Food For Our Journey has really opened her eyes to see them. “It’s like taking a film off a window,” she said.
She feels honored and privileged to be able to see into their lives and hear their stories, she said. “There are so many different reasons why
someone might wind up on the streets,” she said. And while some people might view her volunteer work as her helping them, she sees it as them helping her, too, she said.
“It’s increased my world,” Moore said. “They’re beautiful people, and they’re so grateful and thankful. … They are grateful to be alive. It just makes you reassess your priorities. … It makes some of what we fuss about seem really inadequate.”
Volunteers come from all over, but many are affiliated with churches such as Prince of Peace, Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, Church of the Highlands, Independent Presbyterian Church, Temple Emanuel and Temple Beth-El, Greene said.
WHAT KIND OF FOOD?
Before the food can be delivered, it must be picked up. There is a wide variety of providers, from places such as Arby’s, Jack’s, Dave’s Pizza, Flying Biscuit Cafe, Shiki, Shipley Do-Nuts and The Heavenly Donut Co. to Vecchia and Moss Rock Tacos & Tequila.
Benard Tamburello, the owner of the latter two restaurants, has been a strong supporter of Food For Our Journey since its inception, Greene said. Some days, he’ll provide leftover meatballs marinara; other days it might be basil marinara or chicken alfredo and garlic bread knots, she said.
Christine Golab and Kelly Greene, founders of Food for Our Journey, stand beside the delivery van at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church as they prepare for the afternoon Food for Our Journey deliveries to individuals in need in Birmingham.
Restaurants are not the only providers. Publix provides 40 chicken salad sandwich bags once a month, in addition to other items, Greene said. Also, many catering companies, churches, businesses and community groups will call with leftover food from events, parties, corporate meetings, weddings and other get-togethers, she said.
And there are a slew of churches and individuals that prepare food especially for Food For Our Journey. Each Sunday, a different Catholic church prepares a big, hot meal. Prince of Peace takes two Sundays each month, while Our Lady of Sorrows takes two and St. Peter’s Catholic Church takes the fifth Sunday when there is one. The Sunday dinner always involves greater portions — just like many families often have bigger Sunday dinners, Greene said.
Two individual volunteers — Nancy Heck of Homewood and Priscilla Davis of Birmingham — also each Sunday get together and prepare 40 bag lunches for distribution by Food for Our Journey on Mondays. Each bag contains a ham and cheese sandwich, chips and/or crackers, yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit, snack cakes or cookies for dessert, chocolate milk or Gatorade, napkins, hand wipes and mints.
A few people give them items to put in the bags so it doesn’t all come out of their pockets, Heck said. But for them, it’s not a burden, she said. They just love serving the poor and doing for other people like they would do for Jesus, she said. “We’re trying to live the gospel.”
In November, the Vulcan Park Foundation gave Greene its Servant Leadership Award for her work with Food For Our Journey.
Greene is quick to point out that she does not do the work alone. While she is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit, Golab is out on the streets just as much as anyone, she said. Their husbands serve as chairman and vice chairman of the nonprofit’s board of directors, and the entire board plays a vital role, she said.
There is an army of volunteers, donors and food providers and a multitude of agencies and community groups who partner with Food for Our Journey to help people on the streets, so it’s truly a community effort, Greene said.
Before Greene launched the nonprofit, she asked Golab to give up her 16-year teaching career and join her. Golab, who lives in the Wine Ridge community off Caldwell Mill Road, said she knew immediately it was her calling, too.
NOT JUST FOOD
Food For Our Journey doesn’t just serve food. Greene, Golab and the other volunteers hand out personal hygiene items and clothing
A14 • May 2023 The Homewood Star Community Have a community announcement? Email Neal Embry at firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.
Nonprofit fills gaps to nourish stomachs, spirits, souls
Photos by Erin Nelson.
Kelly Greene and Walter Kirkland, a manager at Jack’s in downtown Homewood, pack a box with plain biscuits and sausage biscuits as Greene prepares for a morning food delivery.
and help connect people on the street to agencies that can help them in other ways.
It may be one of the shelters in town, or it may be Community on the Rise (which helps people get ID cards and birth certificates and move out of homelessness). It might be the Jefferson, Blount Shelby Mental Health Authority, Alabama Regional Medical Services or Recovery Resources (which helps people battling addictions).
People who are homeless have a lot of needs, but sometimes it’s hard for them to figure out what to do about it when they’re hungry, Greene said. Food For Our Journey wants to address that basic human need for food and build bridges with people to address the other needs in their lives, she said.
“We want to minister to the whole person — physically, emotionally and spiritually, and we want to value the person within,” Greene said. “When you’re alone and in trouble and it seems you have no one to help and to work with you and assist with these problems, we want to be that group.”
Food For Our Journey wants to not just do something for people, but walk with people, Greene said.
Taevon Smith, a man who lived on the streets for a while until he was able to move in with his aunt in downtown Birmingham, said he has benefited from Food For Our Journey for a long time and still gets food from the group.
“I think it’s great. It’s a blessing,” Smith said while getting some lunch near St. Paul’s Cathedral recently. “They could be at home doing other things, but they take the time to feed all these people who live on the streets and people in the community. They’re some good people.”
Anthony Burrell, another man who has been living out of his Chevrolet Trailblazer since he fell on hard times, said Food For Our Journey had been helping him for four to six months, and he very much appreciates the generosity.
“If it wasn’t for them, there ain’t no telling,” Burrell said. “The crime rate would be going up if they weren’t out here.”
People would be committing crimes to get food or money for food, he said. He just wishes
there were more places to take a bath or change clothes, he said.
Karen Turnbow, a retired child psychologist who volunteers with Food For Our Journey, said Greene is an absolute angel when it comes to helping homeless people.
“She brings tears to my eyes,” Turnbow said. “She treats every single person with dignity and respect.”
Greene said it’s humbling to have people who are going through scary times trust you enough to share their stories with you. There are many reasons why people become homeless and hungry, and you can never know what might be in store for yourself in the future, she said.
“All of us are walking this journey together. We might be in different places or facing different circumstances, but we’re called to be there for one another, to love one another. We’re called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, providing not just physical food, but spiritual food. We’re here to provide whatever nutrients you need, whether that’s a plate of food, an ear [to listen], a hug or a shoulder to cry on.”
Golab said the ministry work sometimes can be a test of patience. She’s a planner and a structured person, and she sometimes panics trying to figure out how to get everything to work. But God always delivers what they need to help people, and he always does it in a big way, she said.
“To be out there in it, not every day is a fantastic day full of rainbows and lollipops, but every day, you get to be a part in the hope for those who are seeking hope and those who have lost hope,” Golab said.
Greene said she doesn’t think the problem of homelessness will ever be eradicated, but she plans to keep Food For Our Journey going until God calls her elsewhere.
“As long as there are people who need our help and we’re in a position to do that, it’s such a blessing, and it’s such an honor,” she said. “We feel we are called to help our brothers and sisters in any way we can. … As long as we can make a difference, we’ll continue to do so.”
To find out more about Food For Our Journey and how to volunteer or donate, go to their website foodforourjourney.org.
TheHomewoodStar.com May 2023 • A15
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Left: Kelly Greene picks out a donut for a person as she provides them with fruit, water and other necessities during a morning delivery route. Right: Christine Golab hands Kelly Greene a tray of biscuits at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church as they prepare for the afternoon deliveries.
Homewood native moving to Poland for mission work
By NEAL EMBRY
Homewood native Joshua McClung and his family will move to Poland this month for Christian missionary work, helping both Polish citizens and Ukrainian refugees who have fled their homeland.
McClung and his wife, Meg, and their two children have been involved in mission work for a long time. Eight years ago, after working for Alabama Power, McClung said he realized he and his family wanted to do long-term mission work. So they sold their home and began training in Tyler, Texas, at Youth With a Mission, which prepares parents and children to live on mission.
There was a three-month lecture phase, where the family learned to hear God’s voice, about intercessory prayer and more. While the next step is usually two months of outreach overseas, the COVID-19 pandemic kept that from happening, so they instead traveled to New Orleans, Denver and Minnesota. They eventually did go overseas to Lebanon.
McClung later joined the staff at YWAM and was there for two years. The family first went to Poland on a short-term trip with their church, Shades Valley Community Church. The nation also has a role in their family life, as Meg’s sister married a Polish man and lives in the country, McClung said.
While they were preparing for their trip to Poland, Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine. So, while in Warsaw, he said the group ministered to Ukrainian refugees and helped pioneer a new base for training missionaries there. There are people housing and counseling refugees, he said.
The experience was “heartbreaking,” McClung said. Borders were backed up for hours and hours, he said. Refugees have all they can fit into a couple of bags. Women
and children are navigating their new lives without their husbands and fathers, as males ages 18 to 60 have been told they must fight. There were people sleeping on cots in bus and train stations, he said.
“Many [refugees] won’t be able to return. … How do you start a new life in a country you didn’t plan on living in?”
Part of the work Youth With a Mission is doing involving their bases in Poland and Ukraine is rebuilding homes outside of Kyiv, McClung said.
When the McClungs make Poland their home this month, they’ll continue working with those refugees, along with the missionary base in Poland. There will be a “lot of work” in learning the language, as well.
“Our goal is to be available,” McClung said.
The family will also hire a translator to assist with their work, he said, because “Google Translate takes a while.”
In addition to serving refugees, their work will also include serving families and training students who come to be future missionaries, McClung said, preparing them for the mission field.
The city they’ll be in, Ustron, is in the mountains, a popular winter vacation spot, McClung said.
“It’s really a beautiful part of Europe,” he said.
While the kids are excited, they are a little sad as well, McClung said. While the transition won’t be easy, the family is looking forward to their new adventure, he said.
Growing up in Homewood helped McClung appreciate diversity and taught him to find common ground with others, he said. They’ve also benefited from seeing other missionaries sent by their home church, he said.
The McClungs were scheduled to fly to Poland on May 2.
A16 • May 2023 The Homewood Star
Homewood native Josh McClung and his wife, Meg, and their two children, will soon be leaving to be full-time missionaries in Poland. Photo courtesy of Josh McClung.
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Lakeshore Lakers win national wheelchair basketball championship
By NEAL EMBRY
The city of Homewood is home to a national champion.
The Lakeshore Foundation’s Lakers wheelchair basketball team recently won the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s Junior Division Varsity National Championship, defeating the Kansas City Kings 52-45 in the title game in Kansas.
The title is the first for the Lakers since 2006, the foundation said in a news release. The team includes players aged 14 and up.
Coach Savannah Gardner, who played wheelchair basketball at the University of Alabama, said she was optimistic about the team’s chances following an early-season tournament where they finished second. Following that tournament, the team went to work, practicing chair skills, cardio and more, she said.
“While it was a little too close for comfort, I had no idea how much that would prepare us for nationals,” Gardner said.
Lauren Perry, a team manager and head coach of the foundation’s prep team, said the team worked hard and “battled a lot.”
Perry said wheelchair basketball provides those with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries or multiple sclerosis the opportunity to play the game. The game is played on an NCAA-regulation size court and with a size 7 ball. Players can only push their wheelchair twice before they have to pass, dribble or shoot, Perry said. Other rules, including what constitutes a foul, have to do with chair positioning, Gardner said.
Perry said sports are important for all individuals, especially those with disabilities, as it gives them an opportunity to stay active and learn important life lessons.
Unable to beat Charlotte in the regular season, the team faced them, albeit without one of Charlotte’s top players, in the conference championship game. They earned that win, the first conference title for the team in more than a decade, Gardner said.
The national tournament was played around the same time as March Madness, so although the team had the top seed in that tournament, Gardner got nervous as she watched Fairleigh Dickinson University’s men’s team take out 1-seed Purdue in the men’s college tournament.
But the Lakeshore team would not be denied, advancing past their first opponent before beating Atlanta on a buzzer-beat in the quarterfinals. The Lakers dispatched Charlotte again in the semifinals, advancing to the championship game against the Kings.
“It’s just an amazing feeling,” Perry said of being in the championship game. “You walk through the door and just get chills.”
Last year, the team came up short of their goal of a championship. Gardner said while the team has had talent and a competitive nature for years, the mental fortitude wasn’t there until this year. As the team gained experience and
gelled together, it made it easier to deal with the lead changes, swings and challenges presented by tough opponents and the pressure of a national tournament, she said.
“You have to be able to work through that and trust yourselves and your teammates,” Gardner said. “We didn’t get in our heads too much.”
As the final buzzer in the championship game sounded, Gardner said there was “so much joy and happiness for them [the players], who reveled in their triumph.”
“When you’re 15 and you’re an athlete, that really is one of the main things you’re living for,” Gardner said.
Perry said it was “surreal” to see the excitement and tears of joy in the eyes of the players.
While Gardner also works as a speech therapist at Children’s Hospital, basketball is a huge part of who she is, so it was a special moment
for her as well.
shoot during the national tournament. The Lakers went on to win the national championship.
“I love the game of basketball and I love those kids,” Gardner said. “It’s one of the happiest moments I’ve ever experienced.”
While it was not always easy for her players, their hard work paid off in the end, she said. While she’s seen the kids have their struggles, basketball has been the “glue that keeps us together,” she said.
Several players won individual awards. Ja’Karius Kemp was named Championship Game MVP and was also named second-team all-tournament. Jah’Kyra Daniels was named Female Tournament MVP and first-team all-tournament. Jian Jackson was named to the Female All-Tournament Team as well.
All three of the team’s seniors have signed to play collegiately, Gardner said, at the University of Alabama, Auburn University and the University of Arizona.
A18 • May 2023 The Homewood Star
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OUR TREE CREWS ARE WORKING TO KEEP THE DEPENDABILITY YOU EXPECT.
At Alabama Power, we work hard to provide the dependable service our customers expect and deserve. We give 100% to achieve 99.98% dependability. That means regularly inspecting and trimming trees as a way of preventing potential outages.
About 45% of outages experienced by Alabama Power customers are due to trees and plant life.
Overgrown branches can brush against power lines and cause outages. They also make power lines more accessible to wildlife.
We use technology and data analytics to help identify areas in need of tree trimming to protect the electrical system.
Keeping you aware of upcoming work is a priority to us. Scan the QR code to see the neighborhoods tree crews will be working in.
If you have any questions, please call Alabama Power at 205-257-2155 and request to speak with a member of our utility tree care team.
To learn more about how we safely maintain our system or for recommendations on planting the right trees in the right place, visit AlabamaPower.com/trees.
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Ukrainian soldiers learn new sports, activities at Lakeshore
By NEAL EMBRY
To anyone unaware of their identity, Misha Varvarych and Andrii Nasada looked like any other players in a pick-up game of wheelchair rugby taking place in early April at The Lakeshore Foundation.
The two young Ukrainians, both of whom lost their legs in the war in their home country, were learning the game from staff members like Joon Reid and retired U.S. Paralympian Bob Lujano. Noticing that Nasada seemed uncomfortable ramming his wheelchair into others, Reid told Varvarych to tell him that it was okay to hit. Minutes later, Varvarych playfully stole the ball from Lujano, threw his head back and laughed.
It hadn’t taken long for the pair to make friends at the foundation, despite the language barrier. Thousands of miles from home, they were safe and having fun. It was a stark contrast to the horrors of war they had experienced just months before.
DAVID AND GOLIATH
In the early days of 2022, Nasada spent his days repairing houses and supporting his parents.
First drafted into the Ukrainian military in 2014 when Russia invaded and later annexed the Crimean Peninsula, Nasada was discharged a year later.
Varvarych, now a sergeant, was drafted into the military in 2016 and chose to stay, moving up in rank to the position of commander of the 80th Airborne Assault Brigade. He was set to be discharged Feb. 25.
But on the morning of Feb. 24, the “black morning” began, Varvarych told The Homewood Star through a translator. Russia had again invaded Ukraine. Varvarych and others who had previously been discharged had made a promise to come back and fight should another war break out, as it was long anticipated that Russia would launch an invasion, he said.
Varvarych kept that promise and returned to fight in the brigade, alongside Nasada, who
fought in a different battalion within the brigade.
The morning of Feb. 24, Ukrainians woke up to the sound of missiles and rockets exploding nearby, Varvarych said. Civilians didn’t know how to react, he said.
“It was the most frightening day in the history of Ukraine,” he said.
As Varvarych put it, the battle of David and Goliath had begun.
Ukraine has remained resilient in its fight against Russia. While it may have surprised foreign policy experts, Varvarych knew his country would stand tall.
“The whole world predicted that Kyiv [the Ukrainian capital] would stand only three days,” Varvarych said. “I knew we would fight until the end.”
Ukrainians share an agreement “in their blood,” Varvarych said, that it is better to die in battle than to die a slave. And it’s not as if this is the first time Ukrainians have been forced to defend their country. It is the country’s “modern history,” he said.
More than a year after the first missiles crossed the Ukrainian border, Varvarych is confident in the outcome.
“Yes, we will win,” he said. “No doubt.”
Still, the cost is high.
“It’s so sad the price we pay for our freedom is so high,” Varvarych said. “So many have died.”
LOSING THEIR LEGS
On May 29, 2022, at 6:42 p.m., Varvarych
Supported by aquatics specialist Windy Lujano, left, Sgt. Misha Varvarych, a commander with Ukraine’s 80th Airborne Assault Brigade who lost his legs last year during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, floats on his back after flipping his canoe in the pool during a game of canoe basketball with fellow soldier, Andrii Nasada, right, in the pool at the Lakeshore Foundation. Varvarych and Nasada are participants in the Revived Soldiers Ukraine pilot program, based in Orlando, Florida.
was leading his team inside a Russian outpost, with a mission to destroy a Russian vehicle, he said.
As they made their way into enemy territory, a mine blew up, killing one soldier and wounding two others, including Varvarych. He waited an hour for evacuation and another two hours to arrive at a hospital in Bakhmut, where doctors amputated his legs.
A little more than a month later, on July 12, Nasada was sent to bring food and communication devices to his fellow soldiers. But on the way, the truck he was in ran over a landmine, causing an explosion that cost him his legs and one eye and caused scarring to the rest of his body.
Nasada said he’s not sure how to feel about
A20 • May 2023 The Homewood Star
Photos by Erin Nelson.
Far left: Nasada, center, gets into a canoe with support from Mary Teresa Knight, Ira Botvynska in order to play canoe basketball.
Left: Varvarych plays canoe basketball.
what happened. Each day is a challenge as he adjusts to his new reality.
Varvarych said he has no reason to be disappointed or sad, and is happy to be alive.
Both men have family remaining in Ukraine, with Nasada’s brother still serving in the war. Varvarych’s fiancee, Ira Botvynska, has traveled with him to the United States and been with him every step of the way.
While the pair plan on having a small ceremony to formalize their marriage, there won’t be a large wedding. Many of Varvarych’s best friends have already been killed, he said.
“When it’s a war, you just don’t want to celebrate anything,” he said.
ROAD TO RECOVERY
Varvarych and Nasada’s journey brought them in early April to The Lakeshore Foundation, where they learned wheelchair rugby,
swimming, pickleball and more.
After being injured on the battlefield, Varvarych and Nasada came to the United States as part of Revived Soldiers Ukraine, a nonprofit based in Orlando that provides rehabilitative services and prosthetic limbs to Ukrainian soldiers.
Lakeshore is partnering with the organization to help the men learn new physical activities and sports so they can stay active despite the loss of their legs, said Jen Allred, CPO at Lakeshore.
The men met with health coaches and learned workouts and games they can participate in, such as wheelchair rugby, Allred said. The foundation has a long history of supporting American soldiers, she said, so this was a natural fit.
Jeff Underwood, a former member of the Homewood City Council and former CEO of The Lakeshore Foundation, spoke to the city of Homewood’s finance committee about the city financially supporting a recreational rehab camp
for more Ukrainian soldiers in the future. The proposed camp will have six, perhaps as many as 10 participants. The one-time request for $5,000 was sent to the full council before the April 24 meeting; it will include verbiage that the event benefits the city, which is required for the use of municipal funds.
Ukraine neither has the money to fund prosthetics nor the facilities to meet the needs of soldiers like Varvarych and Nasada, Varvarych said. The pair left Homewood April 11 and
went back to get their new prosthetics, which will have to be adjusted every six months or so, requiring travel to the United States.
Varvarych said he wants to compete in Orlando’s Warrior Games and wants to start an organization like The Lakeshore Foundation back home.
“Maybe in the future, we’ll be Paralympic champions,” Varvarych said.
– Solomon Crenshaw, Jr. contributed to this report
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Homewood illustrator talks new book, career
By NEAL EMBRY
Michelle Hazelwood Hyde has always loved drawing.
In second grade, her grandfather bought her a guide to drawing “Woody Woodpecker and Friends,” she said. She took to it instantly, falling in love with drawing characters and cartoons and making Christmas cards for friends and family.
“There was so much joy in that,” Hyde said.
Hyde grew up in Philadelphia before going to college in Sarasota, Florida. She got a job in Alabama at the TimesDaily in Florence. She spent many years in the newspaper business in the Southeast, but it wasn’t what she wanted to do long-term.
“I got tired of doing locator maps,” Hyde said. “My husband and I wanted to start our own thing.”
The Hydes quit their jobs and moved to Birmingham, as her in-laws live in Northwest Alabama, she said. She spent two years doing advertorials at The Birmingham News and enjoyed it, taking part in the short-lived launch of the magazine Lipstick.
While pregnant with her daughter, Hyde was laid off by the News, but looking back, she knows it was needed at the time.
“I needed that push to do children’s books,” she said.
Her first book, “Night, Night Birmingham,” came out 11 years ago. Little Professor in Homewood was one of the first bookstores to approach her about carrying the book, she said. It has become a go-to baby book for Birmingham residents and natives, she said. Over
the years, Hyde illustrated books for the National Center for Youth Issues, focused on helping children learn important life lessons.
In 2019, celebrated children’s author and fellow Homewood resident Charles Ghigna contacted Hyde about illustrating his book on the Alabama bicentennial, “Alabama My Home Sweet Home.”
“It was pretty special, especially since my kids were born here,” Hyde said. “It was an honor.”
Hyde now has a new book out, “Up Where the Stars Are,” written by Ryan Jacobson. The book “showcases the positive power of imagination and celebrates every child’s unique gifts,” according to a release
from the book’s marketing agency.
“It also introduces children to nine constellations, complete with instructions for finding them in the night sky,” the release said.
The book follows the adventures of a boy with Angelman Syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting the nervous system. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Angelman Syndrome Foundation.
Hyde said illustrating the book was “a little intimidating.” It offered her a chance to learn more about the disorder and about constellations, which are explored by the main character.
Hyde said she tries to create her own style with each book she
illustrates, avoiding looking at how others may draw different subjects.
She’ll get out a sketchbook and doodle ideas, start playing with characters and then, about 20 pages later, come back to circle what she feels is working. From there, she starts considering the layout and design of the page and then puts the drawings into Photoshop.
Wherever Hyde may be, she always has her sketchbook with her.
“I’ll draw anything,” she said. “I just love grabbing my sketchbook and going out and observing. It gives me an appreciation for everything around me. There’s so much inspiration happening all the time.”
Her children have been key to her
inspiration, she said.
“They are amazing,” Hyde said. “I am so lucky.”
Homewood has been good to her in the 19 years her family has lived here, Hyde said. They have embraced her books and her family.
“It’s like Mayberry,” she said. “This is a bubble, and I’ll take it.”
Hyde, who has illustrated more than 20 children’s books, is working on a project for herself at the moment, a thank-you note to her kids, she said.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without them,” Hyde said. “I always wanted to do children’s books, but didn’t have the knowledge until I had kids.”
“Up Where the Stars Are” is available from major retailers and at Little Professor, where there will be a book signing May 6 from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
A22 • May 2023 The Homewood Star JODY BRANT Office: 205-942-9696 Cell: 205-305-4348 NMLS: 189545 JRBrant@FirstLenders.com Since 1988 NMLS 189527 firstlenders.com 205-859-2275 MAKE YOUR DREAM HOME A REALITY Whether purchasing a new home or refinancing one, First Lenders can provide the path to the perfect mortgage plan for you. CONVENTIONAL •FHA (HUD) VA •JUMBO •USDA A message from Gaynell Hendricks, Jefferson County Tax Assessor CALL 205-325-5505 VISIT jeffconline.jccal.org Four Offices: Hoover | Gardendale Center Point | Downtown Birmingham Open Mon.-Fri. 8-5 Attention Jefferson County Homeowners Ask about the special senior tax exemption Scan with your smartphone camera to access the portal or visit www.jccal.org Homeowners 65+ are eligible for exemptions on property taxes. If you have news to share with the community about your brick-and-mortar business in Homewood, let us know! Business news to share? Share your business news with us at thehomewoodstar.com/about-us
Michelle Hazelwood Hyde, a local children’s book illustrator, sits at her dining room table with the artwork for a new book she illustrated for author Ryan Jacobson titled “Up Where the Stars Are.” Photos by Erin Nelson.
Homewood Parks & Recreation
Classes & Activities
Tuesday 6:15am / Wednesday 5:15pm
Saturday 8:15am at Homewood Community Center
Central Barre is a small group fitness class incorporating barre, core, cardio, balance, strength training and stretch to give you a complete workout in 55 minutes. We use a variety of small equipment such as weights, resistance bands, balls and sliding discs to increase variety and provide real results. Email email@example.com for more information.
Class Fee: $50 per session
Contact Nuriyah: firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn the ancient art of belly dance with Aziza’s School of Middle Eastern Dance. Each session is 4 weeks long at the Homewood Community Center.
Tuesday & Thursday 5:45pm-6:45pm
Monday, Wednesday & Saturday 9:30am-10:30am
Homewood Community Center
Dance Trance is a high-cardio, high-energy dance fitness experience that leaves participants soaking wet! It is a non-stop workout that feels more like a party than an exercise class. www.dancetrancefitness.com
Fun For All Line Dancing
Beginner and Beyond Beginner line dance instruction encompassing a variety of music genres, e.g., pop, country and R&B. You will learn line dance terminology, line dance steps, and, of course, line dances to specific music. Homewood Community Center - Studio 2
Tuesday 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM
$5.00 per person per visit
For more information contact email@example.com
North Star Martial Arts
North Star Martial Arts primary focus is to make a life lasting impact on our students, and their families. Classes range from beginners to adults. For detailed class listings and times please visit the park’s website or www.northstarma.com 205-966-4244 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Bench Aerobics Step & Line Dance
Tuesday: 4:15pm – 5:15pm (Step Aerobics)
Thursday: 4:15pm – 5:15pm (Cardio Line Dance)
All classes in Fitness Studio 2 @ Homewood Community Center Cost: Classes are FREE (with donations) For more information contact Rosa at 205-253-9344 or email@example.com
Royce Head Personal Training
Affordable personal training available to members in the Fitness Center at the Homewood Community Center. Workouts are fast, fun, safe, and effective and each person is started with a program to fit their fitness level. Call Royce for more information: (205) 945-1665
Vinyasa yoga classes in an energetic environment using upbeat music at Homewood Community Center. All levels welcome.
Friday: 8:00am-9:00am - Basics Class
Friday: 9:30am-10:30am - Regular Class Contact Marla: 205-223-8564 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Confi.Dance is a dance class in a small group setting to teach you the secrets of looking good on the dance floor and having more fun than you thought possible. Class Meets: Wednesday 3:00pm – 4:00pm at Homewood Community Center For more information: Jackie Tally email@example.com
Fast Track Line Dance
We learn the current and classic intermediate-advanced line dances. This class is not for beginners. Fitness Studio 2 the Homewood Community Center.
Jackie Tally firstname.lastname@example.org (or) Helen Woods email@example.com
FIT4MOM Birmingham provides fitness classes and a network of local moms to support every stage of motherhood. From pregnancy, through postpartum and beyond, we serve our community by offering our fitness and wellness programs to help keep moms strong in body, mind and spirit. View our website for Membership Plans, Passes and Schedule. https://birmingham.fit4mom.com/
Intro to Line Dancing
This class is for those who have never done line dancing. We will start from scratch!!! See you there! Be sure to contact the Senior Center (205-332-6500) to sign up, so that Jackie will how many to expect.
Wednesday 9:30 – 10:15am
Instructor: Jackie Tally
DanceFit’s is easy-to-mimic dance moves with enough repetitions so that participants have time to “catch on.” Includes linear traveling moves, occasional turns, and arm movements so it does have a light cardio element.
Instructor: Galina Waites
45minutes will be dedicated to the simpler-yeteffective Tai Chi for Arthritis & Fall Prevention while the last 15 minutes will offer a more challenging level of Tai Chi. This class is easy on the joints, helps to calm/focus the mind, and is great for developing better balance.
Instructor: Galina Waites
We Love Homewood Day 2023
Saturday, May 6, 2023
Save the date & come celebrate Homewood! More information available at www.homewoodparks.com
Summer 2023 Pool Information
For all your summer pool information: membership, hours of operation, swim team, party rentals, swim lessons, etc. Please visit: www.homewoodparks.com
Homewood Youth Football and Cheer
Register now for the Fall 2023 Season. Homewood Youth Football and Cheer oversee youth tackle football and cheerleading for the Homewood community.
TheHomewoodStar.com May 2023 • A23
Follow us for athletics, community centers programming and event updates
@homewoodparks @homewood.parks @homewood_parks
Motherwalk 5K to celebrate 20 years of helping women fight ovarian cancer
By LOYD MCINTOSH
The Motherwalk 5K and 1-mile fun run will commemorate 20 years of helping women with ovarian cancer. For two decades, the annual event, benefiting the Norma Livingston Ovarian Cancer Foundation, has raised awareness and millions of dollars toward the fight against a disease that affects 21,000 American women each year.
“This will be our 20th anniversary year, so we’re really excited about it,” said Ashley Thompson, executive director of the Norma Livingston Ovarian Cancer Foundation.
We Love Homewood Day set for May 6
By NEAL EMBRY
This year’s We Love Homewood Day will take place early this month.
The annual event is set for May 6 and has different festivities taking place throughout the day, according to the event website, homewoodparks.com/wlhd.
The We Love Homewood 5K begins at 7:30 a.m., with proceeds benefiting the Homewood High School band’s upcoming trip to Ireland in 2024. The cost is $30, with prices increasing after May 4. A kids fun run is $15 and begins at 8:40 a.m. Registration for that race ends May 6 at 8 a.m.
For another fun way to participate, the event will also include a “Scoop and Scurry Ice Cream Fun Run.” All race finishers will earn a free scoop of ice cream at the end of the race, according to the website.
Attractions include rides, bounce houses, slides and more.
There will be a festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m at Central Park, with a parade to begin at 6 p.m. The parade will begin at the Homewood Library and travel west on Oxmoor Road. The parade will conclude after making a right on Evergreen Avenue.
From 7 to 9:30 p.m., there will be street dancing in Edgewood to finish out the evening.
“Ovarian cancer is often called ‘the silent cancer’ because by the time you have symptoms of ovarian cancer, chances are it’s already in stage 3 or stage 4,” Thompson said. “So, the purpose of Motherwalk was to get out and inform mothers, daughters, sisters and friends about those silent symptoms.”
“Motherwalk has gotten so big over the last several years that we have been able to fund research and our Just A Need program with the proceeds from this race,” she said.
Much of the proceeds from the race and from the Drive Out Ovarian Cancer car tag are dedicated to ongoing research into the disease.
“During this race, we also present a check to UAB for their research award for the year,” Thompson said. “We are very closely aligned with UAB and Dr. [Trey] Leith and Dr.
[Warner] Huh and all the researchers there to help fund some cutting-edge work that’s going on there.”
Starting at Homewood Central Park on Oxmoor Road, the 2023 Motherwalk will include the traditional 5K race and a 1-mile fun run but will also feature some new events such as the Virtual 5K, allowing supporters to participate in the race from home.
Additionally, the event will feature a dove release and The Memory Mile, a stretch of Homewood Central Park lined with images of women who have battled ovarian cancer or in-memoriam photos of those who succumbed to the disease.
“It’s very moving and just serves as a reminder of all the women that this horrible disease has impacted,” Thompson said.
The Motherwalk is child-friendly and petfriendly and gets underway at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 13. Register online at cureovarian cancer.org/events/motherwalk.
A24 • May 2023 The Homewood Star
The 20th annual Motherwalk 5k is scheduled for Saturday, May 13, at Homewood Central Park.
Photo by Lloyd Beard.
People browse the numerous tents for local businesses during the We Love Homewood Day festival at Homewood Central Park. Photo by Erin Nelson.
Cavs’ Thomas named to all-state team
By KYLE PARMLEY
John Carroll Catholic High School guard Kalib Thomas was recognized for his strong season leading the Cavaliers, as he was named to the Class 5A all-state second team, compiled by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.
Thomas was the top player for the Cavs, which enjoyed an upstart season. They rose to the No. 2 spot in the ASWA 5A rankings at various points throughout the season.
Thomas went for 16.9 points per game, as the Cavs notched 20 wins. They were defeated by eventual state runner-up Ramsay in the sub-regional round.
Earning first-team slots in 5A were Austin Cross of Charles Henderson, Cam-Ron Dooley of Valley, Brandon Fussell of Guntersville, Jalen Jones of Ramsay and Dasean Sellers of Wenonah.
Thomas, a 6-foot-1 senior, was joined on
the second team by Vigor’s Terrel Johnson, Ramsay’s Kerrington Kiel, Scottsboro’s Tyson Sexton and Valley’s Brandon Thomas.
JB Beaty of Jasper, Troy Buchanan of Central-Clay County, Milton Jones of Wenonah, Kobe Payne of Fairview and Jayden Spearman of Charles Henderson were named to the third team.
Joe Brown of St. Paul’s, Josiah Jones of Fairfield, Jamarious Martin of Valley and Brittney Reed of LeFlore were named honorable mention. Valley’s Marshon Harper was named Coach of the Year.
Three other John Carroll players notched double-digit points throughout the year. KJ Beck scored 13.2 points per game, Braylon Bernard averaged 12.4 points and Aden Malpass went for 11.1 points per game. Bernard and Malpass both grabbed more than 5 rebounds per game, while Bernard led the way with 6.1 assists per game.
TheHomewoodStar.com May 2023 • A25 Sports
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John Carroll’s Kalib Thomas (13) shoots the ball in a game against Fairfield at John Carroll Catholic High School on Jan. 18. Photo by Erin Nelson.
Opinion Sean of the South By Sean Dietrich Graduating against the odds
The Northwest Florida State College parking lot is swarmed with cars. Families are hurrying toward the gymnasium, dressed in their Sunday best. I pass a man wearing denim. There are grease smudges on his jeans. Holes in his work shirt.
“I’m gonna see my son graduate,” he tells me, lighting a cigarette. “I can hardly believe it.”
Tha man’s name is Danny, he drove here from DeFuniak Springs to see his boy walk across a stage to receive a degree.
“My son’s the pride of our family,” he says. “I love that boy so much.”
Inside the arena is a huge crowd. In the center of the basketball court are hundreds of students in black gowns and square caps. Their faces, happy. Their smiles, blinding.
I stand in the nosebleeds beside Danny. He uses his phone to capture this moment.
Danny tells me his bossman didn’t want him to leave work today. But Danny said, “I’m gonna see my boy walk, sir, and if you don’t like it, that’s too bad. I’ll be back after lunch.”
When we sing the national anthem, Danny removes his cap and holds it over his heart. He sings louder than anyone.
Then he waves at his son. But his son doesn’t see him.
“There he is,” Danny says, pointing. “See him?”
“I see him,” I say.
When I first attended this school, it was called Okaloosa Walton College. It was about the size of an area rug back then.
This was the only place that would take an adult dropout like me. And it is the only alma mater I have ever known.
It’s funny. I was afraid to enroll here as an adult. I was worried everyone would think I was stupid. I was embarrassed on my first day of class. But I got over it. It took me less than a week to fall into the gentle rhythm of academia.
I took math with Miss Bronginez — the woman was as downhome as a crop of peanuts. She knew how to explain the Pythagorean theorem to a man who still counted on his fingers.
And Doctor Schott, who sometimes delivered world-class lectures in the back of a double-wide trailer for night class.
And Miss Lopez. I loved her Spanish classes. I took every course she offered until there were none left to take.
I took music with Mister Domulot, who remains one of my closest friends. And Mister Latenser, who still helps me when I have car problems. And
Mister Nida, who lets me play in his band sometimes.
That’s the kind of small-town institution I attended. It was home to me, the kid who had no home. A place where I learned what it meant to study something in earnest.
It was here that a faceless blue-collar man once sat in an English class with a teacher who said, “You really oughta consider a career in writing.”
Last week, I was in my office. I was writing. When it was lunchtime, my wife knocked on the door. She presented me with a turkey sandwich and a small gift bag.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Turkey on rye,” she said.
“I meant what’s in the bag?”
“Oh, I don’t know, it came for you.”
There was a card attached. It read: “Northwest Florida State College.”
Inside the bag was an award. A heavy one. When I saw it, I had to sit down.
The statue was made of crystal. There was writing on it. The trophy read: “Sean Dietrich, Distinguished Alumni, Against the Odds.”
It’s the only award I’ve ever received — unless you count the prize
I won for safe forklift driving.
But the inscription on the trophy is only half correct. Maybe the odds were against me, but they’re against everyone. All you have to do is ask the kids in black gowns.
Or better yet, ask Danny. He’ll tell you. Life is bone hard. And just when you think it can’t get any harder, it raises your insurance premiums.
Still, somehow education found me. And it wasn’t because I was determined, or smart, or because I pushed myself. It was because I was pulled. By good people who stand quietly in this arena.
The ceremony begins. My new friend Danny is all ears. We watch the candidates take the platform.
When they announce his boy’s name, Danny starts cheering so hard I can hear his voice break. Soon, the two of us are clapping and hollering for a kid I’ve never even met.
The boy walks across the stage.
“That’s my son,” Danny says to me. “That’s him, do you see him? That’s my little boy.”
I certainly do see him.
Every time I look in a mirror.
Sean Dietrich is a columnist and novelist known for his commentary on life in the American South. He has authored nine books and is the creator of the “Sean of the South” blog and podcast.
A26 • May 2023 The Homewood Star
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Ordinary Days By Lauren Denton
Clay pots and comfort zones
I walked into the studio and immediately felt out of place.
All these people hard at work, hunched over big bowls with spinning plates in the middle, their hands coated in creamy clay. Others stood around a large work surface chatting and laughing, their hands moving skillfully over a variety of small tools scattered on the table. Everyone looked like they knew exactly what to do and how to do it. I stood in the doorway, holding a small hunk of plastic-wrapped clay and a hand towel, fighting the urge to turn around before anyone saw me. I didn’t, though, and when the instructor noticed me standing there, he pointed to a machine. “Pull up a stool.”
On a whim, I’d decided to take a pottery class. Well, it wasn’t exactly a whim. It was my first real attempt at an artist date. Last spring, I was in the middle of the “break” I’d been talking about for at least a couple of years — the pause I needed to take to get my feet back under me, to refill my creative well and to give new ideas the space necessary to bubble up in me again.
In her book, “The Artist’s Way,” author Julia Cameron recommends a weekly artist date for anyone who is trying to reclaim his or her creativity. It could be as small as sitting outside and listening to the birds or taking a walk, or as big as a trip out of town — anything you find creative and enjoyable. For me, I’d been thinking about taking a pottery class for a while, but I didn’t have the space in my life to devote to it. Once that space opened up, I searched for nearby pottery classes and found one right here in Homewood.
I didn’t touch the clay on that first day of class. Instead, I watched as Scott cut off a hunk of clay from the block with a wire cutter, showed me how to slap it into shape, then took it over to the wheel and sat down.
Proper position at the wheel is crucial, he said — where your knees go, your elbows,
keeping your back straight and using your whole upper body to shape the clay, not just your hands. And water is important, but just the right amount applied with a sponge or fingers. Not too much or too little.
He wet the surface of the wheel, then smacked the clay onto the center and showed me how to secure it so it wouldn’t sling off when I pressed the pedal with my foot to start the wheel rotating. After that came a complicated (to my eyes) process of squeezing, shaping, pressing, pulling, raising and thinning, all while keeping the wheel spinning at the appropriate speed, with the appropriate amount of water, and making sure to rest the elbows against the knees and keep the back straight. The list-maker and note-taker in me practically had to sit on my hands to keep from grabbing a pen and a piece of paper from my bag to jot all this down. I had a gut feeling that might be a little too nerdy in this case, so I tried to play it cool.
As he went through each step, the clay between his hands on the wheel transformed from a blobby ball to a simple and beautiful pot. He showed me how to sign the bottom, where to sit it on the shelf, and what would happen to it next: over the week, it would dry, then we’d file off any rough spots, then glaze it, then into the kiln it would go, and if all went well (as in, if it didn’t explode in the kiln), it would come out lovely and shiny.
Despite what looked like a complicated process, I couldn’t wait to try it myself. He’d made it look so easy, my mind was off and running with the cool pieces I’d make on my own. Once I got started, I quickly learned there was a good reason he began with such a simple pot, just
like there was a good reason for all the rules he set in place, even down to where you put your knees and elbows and the amount of water to use.
Over the course of the sixweek session, as the regulars in the studio hunkered down over their wheels with poise and determination, I strove to hit the exact middle when I smacked the clay down onto the wheel. I struggled to line up my fingers just so to be able to pull the sides of the pot up without leaving bumps. I experimented with how much water to sponge onto the clay, I coated the knees of my jeans with clay splatters and, yes, I watched as one of my pots wobbled, then collapsed into itself.
But in the end, I had five or six simple pots to show for my work. Speckled with brown and glazed with vivid blue, a couple are short and squatty, a couple are taller, one has ridges spanning the sides and one flares out a little at the top. Right now, one of my pots holds spare change in the kitchen, one is holding spoons, another holds toothbrushes in our bathroom, and Sela has one in her room holding odds and ends. They’re not exceptional or extraordinary, but every time I see one, I’m reminded of what can come from taking a step out of my comfort zone and not being afraid to try something new.
When I’m not writing about my family and our various shenanigans, I write novels and go to the grocery store. You can find my books in stores, online, and locally at Little Professor Bookshop. You can reach me by email at Lauren@LaurenKDenton.com, visit my website LaurenKDenton.com, or find me on Instagram @LaurenKDentonBooks or Facebook ~LaurenKDentonAuthor.
TheHomewoodStar.com May 2023 • A27
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On the first day of class at the Hoover club, an instructor passed out a pamphlet titled “10 Steps to Success.”
“I thought it went too slow,” Walker said with a laugh.
Archery helps improve concentration, she said. And while the sport is often competitive, those who compete are also usually very friendly, she said. It is not uncommon for competitors to make sure they have followed one another on social media before leaving a tournament.
“This is my passion in life,” Walker said. “And it’s really amazing to meet people with the same passion I have. It’s wonderful to meet other archers who are as serious as I am.”
When she first started, Walker said she thought she was “decent.” Years later, “decent” would be an understatement.
Walker has competed for the past three years with USA Archery’s Regional Elite Development (RED) Southeast team, and she traveled to Colombia in November 2021 to compete in the World Archery Continental Qualifier Event. She finished 15th in the world in her division, the compound bow. That was after she thought an airline had lost her bow, as it had been scanned in as a firearm and traveled separately.
During her visit to Colombia, she was able to shoot all day and then take walking tours and see the sights and sounds of Medellin at night.
Joining her was her mother, Jennifer, and her coach, Dee Falks, owner of World Class Archery.
“She’s dedicated,” Falks said. “She has a tremendous amount of self-motivation and discipline.”
Falks first encountered Walker at a national tournament in North Carolina, where he encouraged her after a loss. Six months later, the pair ran into each other again, with Falks agreeing to coach Walker.
Walker has also been able to travel to California, where she trained at the national training center in Chula Vista. She has competed in an ice rink, at a gun range and more, she said.
While John Carroll does not have an archery team, the school has been really supportive of Walker, she said. She’s been able to make up work missed due to traveling for tournaments and the school routinely tells of her achievements.
The sport itself is dependent on whistle commands, making it a universal sport, Walker said. When she starts shooting, she sets her stance, makes herself square to the target, loads, focuses on the target and then aims and fires.
Being on the RED team allows Walker to attend camps and shoot alongside the other five women in the compound division.
Walker hopes to compete in this year’s World Archery Youth Championships in Ireland. She also plans on competing in archery in college, she said. While the Olympics do not have compound-bow archery, she is hopeful they add it one day.
She does have other interests, such as studying veterinary medicine, but she hopes to turn archery into a career, she said.
Falks said Walker is a “super young lady, very coachable” and has a “magnetic personality.”
Shooting in front of a thousand people, sometimes with only one other competitor standing with you, can be nerve-wracking, but Walker has been able to learn how to perform in those moments, Falks said.
Jennifer Walker said it has been “incredible” to see her daughter grow.
“As a parent, you hope your child finds their passion,” Jennifer Walker said. “It’s really exciting to be able to support her dream.”
She has seen her daughter’s confidence level continue to grow with each event.
“Every time she does something, it adds this shell of, ‘Yep, this is what I’m supposed to be doing,’” Jennifer Walker said.
205-879-7681 or 205-879-3433 sikesshoesandjacknjillshop | sikesshoes.com 2719 19th Place S | Downtown Homewood The Homewood Star A28 • May 2023 WALKER
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Veronica Walker practices at the Hoover Archery Park. Walker has been competing in archery since she was 11 years old. Photo by Erin Nelson.
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“I’ve loved it,” Massie said. “It’s a way for me to be competitive.”
Although her time as a Patriot is ending, Massie will continue her soccer career at Furman University in South Carolina.
Serving as a captain for the high school team has taught Massie what it takes to get the team ready, how to navigate relationships and the importance of having fun. Rather than just focusing on the next opponent, Massie said the most important part of playing the game is to have fun.
While learning the lesson may not have been enjoyable, Massie has also learned from soccer through the hard times. The year that Homewood finished as a runner-up, they lost the state championship game on penalty kicks, helping her learn how to persevere. Reflecting on her time at Homewood High School, Massie said winning a state title is her favorite memory.
“I absolutely loved that team,” Massie said.
Furman is a “really beautiful place” that presents great opportunities both academically and athletically, Massie said, and she is excited to see where soccer takes her. Her competitive streak extends to the classroom as well. Just as she followed her two brothers onto the soccer pitch, she also followed them in her pursuit of academic excellence. Outside of her SGA period, all of her courses are AP classes, presenting a challenge. While it can be hard at times, Massie said there are people and resources to help her.
“Homewood is amazing,” Massie said. “All of my teachers have been so encouraging and motivating to me.”
Homewood offers a diversity of both people and ideas, Massie said. Leaving Homewood will be sad, she said, but she is excited to meet new people and be pushed academically.
In addition to her prowess on the pitch and pursuit of greatness in the classroom, Massie has been committed to serving others as well. She is currently the vice president of the high school’s student government association, serves on a local philanthropy council and has also been a peer helper. In her spare time, she also has worked as a tour guide at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute for the past two years.
“That really altered my perspective on things,” Massie said. “I got to meet some amazing people.”
Serving on the Youth Philanthropy Council has made Massie aware of pressing issues such as food deserts, she said, while being part of SGA has helped her improve the lives of her classmates. That desire will carry over to her next steps, as Massie said she wants to work in the medical field and pursue “different types of endeavors” to help her community.
“I want to help other people,” Massie said. “I want to know I made a difference in someone else’s life.”
Music has always been a major part of Stanley Stoutamire’s life.
So when the opportunity came up for him to serve as drum major for the John Carroll Catholic High School marching band for his junior year, he jumped on it.
This past fall, under his leadership, the band competed in the state’s marching band competition for the first time in several years, earning superior ratings and best in class. It served as an affirmation of the band’s work, Stoutamire said.
In addition to his leadership of the band, Stoutamire has served as a state ambassador for 4-H, served in the school’s student government association, coordinated a food drive and was one of two state representatives in the U.S. Senate Youth Program,
a weeklong learning event in Washington, D.C.
“I have this desire to push myself and see what I can accomplish,” Stoutamire said.
That is accompanied by a strong desire to help others, something he has been able to do through the food drive and representing his fellow students on SGA.
“I want younger students to see me and know they can do it, too,” Stoutamire said.
The Senate Youth Program gives talented students an opportunity to travel to D.C. and engage with senators and staff. They discuss public service, leadership and more, Stoutamire said.
The night he found out he would be going was “one of the most exciting nights ever,” he said. Being in D.C. around the nation’s leaders taught him to not limit his view on what leadership looks like. Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado, told the students not to think of leadership as some sort of set path, which was a relief to Stoutamire.
“Everything feels like we have to decide who we’re going to be for the rest of our lives in three weeks,” Stoutamire said.
Contrary to what the headlines or social media might imply, Stoutamire said he saw bipartisanship in the Senate and met with other public servants like librarians and the archivist.
Stoutamire is not 100% sure what he will do next, but is considering going into pre-med or chemistry. He has been accepted into the University of South Alabama’s Early Acceptance program, the University of Alabama’s Honors College, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Princeton and Harvard.
Being at both John Carroll and Prince of Peace prior, Stoutamire has been afforded opportunities to grow as a person and focus on becoming a community leader, he said. Having a built-in community allows him to not only focus on academics, but also on his mental and physical health, he said.
Stoutamire said as a physician, he would want to help create a culture of political advocacy in healthcare, as some studies have shown doctors vote at much lower rates than other professions.
No matter what the future holds, Stoutamire said he wants to remain someone “who is invested in their community,” and to make sure he is a positive force for good in whatever community he is in.
Bryce Sims knew he wanted something other than a four-year degree as he got into his studies at Homewood High School.
After talking with a counselor at the school, Sims began participating in the Academy of Craft Training, which trains high school students in various hands-on work. Sims began on the building construction path but wasn’t sure if that’s what he wanted to do, either.
So this past year, Sims switched paths to welding and fell in love with it.
“It’s always a challenge,” he said.
Sims said welding offers him a chance to improve and be the best he can be. Every day for two hours, he learns how to weld from teachers who “do a fantastic job,” he said. While Homewood High School is a “heavy college prep school,” he said, it is a great school that has provided him with a great education.
Sims will be attending Shelton State Community College for further training in welding, which will allow him to get a certificate and get into the workforce quickly. With welding jobs in high demand, Sims said he isn’t worried about finding a job.
Sims’ dad and others in his family also work “blue-collar” jobs, he said. From an early age, he learned the importance of working hard for family.
“To provide for the people you love, you have to work for it,” he said.
Sims said he is excited to get down to the campus and learn new skills so he can begin welding.
Maddie Massie, a senior at Homewood High School and five-year member of the girls varsity soccer team, bounces a ball on her knees at the turf practice field at Homewood High School. Massie is attending Furman University to continue her academic and athletic career.
The Homewood Star A30 • May 2023
Left: Stanley Stoutamire, a senior at John Carroll Catholic High School and 2022 Cavalier drum major, stands in the bleachers at Pat Sullivan Field. Right: Bryce Sims, a senior at Homewood High School, stands in the welding bay at the Academy of Craft Training in Birmingham. Sims plans to attend Shelton State Community College to study under the Welding Technology program. Photos by Erin Nelson.
TheHomewoodStar.com May 2023 A31
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