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Community Thursday, October 17, 2013



Everyone deserves a sweet home in Alabama


Traveling down Gay Street, you may have noticed three shacks on the front lawn of the Wesley Foundation. These are not shacks, but homes. Lisa Pierce, founder and director of Alabama Rural Ministries (ARM), is living in a house made of plywood and scrap materials to raise awareness of poverty in Alabama. Pierce moved in Friday, Oct. 11, and will stay until she raises $50,000 as part of her No More Shacks Campaign. Approching the houses, one expects an endless regurgitation of facts and possibly a lackluster speech on poverty in Alabama, but that is not the case with Pierce’s campaign. Pierce brings people into her home and for a few, alltoo-brief moments, displays the poverty experience first-hand. “It’s also more of an awareness of the poverty housing and it’s a volunteer drive,” Pierce said. “We really want to get people hands-on with helping us in the community. It’s really to show what sub-standard poverty housing looks like.” So far, ARM has raised $13,000, which will help build four small houses, and $50,000 goal will go to repairing 16 houses. There are three houses on the lawn this year. Pierce is living in one, Wesley students built the second and the third replicates international poverty housing.

hard for families to live in these conditions and when they just don’t have the resources to hire somebody to fix the house.” Pierce asked a group of middle school girls what they would do if their grandparents had to live in a house like this, what happens when it rains or if it is cold outside. She recieved answers such as: “My grandpa would go off the deep end!” There are some families that do not have running water or electricity in their houses. Most of the families ARM works with live in their home, so the construction team tries to repair their home to make it better. When Pierce explained to the girls she sleeps in the “shacks” to raise awareness and fundraise $50,000. “Let me put (it) into perspective, how much do you think a small car would cost?” Pierce asked. The girls estimated thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. One girl asked if any of the houses Pierce lived in had bathrooms. “The first house I ever repaired, the family had been living in a bus ” Pierce said. “They had about nine kids about your age. The school system found out and gave them a portable classroom, which did not have a bathroom. So we had to help them with their bathroom. “ In Alabama, there is a shortage of 90,000 housing units and rapidly deteriorating homes in the area.

Alabama ranks as the nation’s third poorest state. Approximately one in five people live below the poverty line, and one in four children live below the poverty line.” —Alabama Poverty project


Pierce has been living in this shack since Oct. 11.

“For us, when we repair a home there are three things we look at.” Pierce said. “We are looking to make it warm, safe and dry.” ARM evaluates a home’s weatherization to see if the windows and doors are insulated, if the house is handicapped accessible and if the plumbing is in working order.

Pierce said she wants people to have a handson experience with poverty. Guests will feel the splintering wood underneath their finger nails, and the cool breeze flowing through the cracks of the house. “What we are trying to do is give a visual representation, be a little bit sacrificial in when we stay in it,” Pierce said. “Me and others are going to be susceptible to the elements, and engage the everyday person who might want to help out in some way.” She said, there are a lot of Alabamians that live in houses similar to the one she lives in for the week. “I’ve been in this when a tropical storm came through and I stayed in it,” Pierce said. “That helps people get a visual of what’s going on. It’s


Kimberly Sotelo, owner of Opelika’s Inner Sunshine Yoga and Wellness, practicing yoga.

Stretching, posing and balancing to health Chandler Jones COMMUNITY EDITOR

She can make herself parallel to the floor and balance her body weight on one foot. She can lull you to sleep and make you sweat through your shirt. She can teach you a vinyasa and tell you why it’s important. When Kimberly Sotelo developed health complications as an adult, she said she had to take action. In 2003, she joined Sivananda Ashram, a yoga community in Woodburn, N.Y., to learn not just gaining the muscle strength offered in yoga, but to achieve the holistic health and inner peace rooted in yoga. “I needed to heal myself,” Sotelo said. “It ended up being yoga was the answer.” The days tested Sotelo. Each morning began at 5:30 a.m. and didn’t end until 11 p.m. Sotelo said the day wasn’t meant

for aimless wanderings, but for practice, meditation, daily discourses and hard work. Sotelo said she spoke with interesting people, experts on astrology and horticulture, and all on the floor, because there, they didn’t have chairs. “It was not just physical practice, that just comes when you’re immersed in the philosophy, anatomy and physiology,” Sotelo said. “You’re in a yoga community, isolated from everything else. It’s lifechanging.” Now, Sotelo said she uses her knowledge for good. Her Inner Sunshine Yoga and Wellness studio, located at 705 Avenue D in Opelika, held its grand opening Saturday, Sept. 28, to offer lessons and holistic approaches Sotelo learned at the Sivananda Ashram. Inner Sunshine aims to transform lives through holistic health, individualized

attention and alignment-based vinyasa, an active form of yoga. “It gives people a whole lot more power,” Sotelo said. “Your energy and your mind are alive. It helps people avoid hurting themselves and works for the long term.” The facility boasts a large room for practice and a separate room for Thai yoga therapy, a type of massage and assisted stretching. Auburn students designed the facilities outdoors with a garden of edible, native and endangered plants. Sotelo said it’s often frequented by butterflies, lady bugs and lizards, which contributes to the comfort of Inner Sunshine. “I don’t know another way,” Sotelo said. “Being able to create a space where anybody is welcome to come and express their thoughts and ideas, to walk into the room and not feel judged.”


Rain came down on last year’s run, but didn’t deter runners from participating.

Freedom 21’s 5K run for human trafficking awareness Pierce Ostwalt WRITER

Freedom 21 will hold its second annual 5K run, Oct. 19 at 8 a.m., but with a twist. Freedom 21, recipient of the Davidson Bruce Foundation Grant in both 2012 and 2013, works as a Christian, non-profit organization raising awareness and funds to help end human trafficking. “We knew we wanted to have an annual 5K,” said Teresa Carden, Freedom 21 executive board member. “This will be its second year, and we were thinking, ‘What would be fun?’ We thought the Color Me Free 5K Run idea would be fun.” According to Freedom 21’s mission, their goal is to mobilize as one body, in an unified mission to wage war against the epidemic of human slavery in our nation, in our world and on our watch. “We want to focus on awareness in the community,” said Lori Sewell, president of Freedom 21. “A lot of people know about human trafficking; you ask them

what the definition is, and they’re knowledgeable about it. But they do not know what happens in Auburn.” This issue is not localized to Auburn. It is a major issue across the nation. In 2012, President Obama declared January as National Trafficking Awareness Month. An approximated $32 billion industry, the Department of Justice ranks sexual trafficking as the second fastest-growing criminal industry with a reported 2,525 cases in 2010. An estimated 1,000 of those cases involved children. Many organizations nationwide are fighting for this cause, including Polaris Project, which set up a national trafficking hotline to report cases. Polaris Project also established a nation-wide network of safehouses for victims to recover medically, psychologically and mentally, in addition to helping them find jobs post-recovery. Sewell said she hopes to open a similar type of safehouse here in the Auburn

area. Passion City Church in Atlanta also takes a stance on the issue. Passion holds a yearly Christian fellowship conference for college students focusing on major issues of the world and what can be done to help. Last year, the topic centered on the end of human trafficking and raised $3.3 million in donations. “I went to the Passion Conference last year and saw how lives can be affected by human trafficking,” said Jake Miller, freshman in business marketing. “I just want to do something to help people in situations like these victims are in.” The Color Me Run’s registration costs $50 and money goes to Freedom 21’s goals of raising awareness in the local area. For more information visit or their Facebook page. Sponsors included Chick-fil-A, Weichert Realty/Porter Properties, Prudential Realty and Charter Bank, among many others.


Loachapoka’s 42nd annual Syrup Sopping is this Saturday, Oct. 19.

Good old-fashion Syrup Sopping day Cat Watson ASSISTANT COPY EDITOR

Loachapoka’s community consists of 184 people, according to US Census Bureau. However, during Syrup Sopping Saturday, the town overflows with approximately 20,000 visitors. Saturday, Oct. 19, Loachapoka celebrates the 42nd annual Syrup Sopping and historical fair from 7 a.m.–4 p.m. Numerous festivities honoring the traditions of Creek Indians, as well as the old traditions of the community, will feature crafts, music and food. Vendors line up along the train tracks to demonstrate and display their own products, which might include weaving and cloth-making, bread-making, soap-making, period pottery and other oldtime crafts. Musical entertainment featuring hammered and mountain dulcimers, banjos and guitars will provide listeners with

a glimpse of the old, southeastern traditions. Tours of the Trade Center Museum, across the street from the fair, will be open and available to interested parties throughout the day as well. Of course, the famous syrup is usually accompanied by homemade sweet potato biscuits, camp stew, beans, collards and barbecue. The first fair occurred in 1972 when the Creek Indians settled in the Loachapoka area. The Creeks also provided Loachapoka with its name, which means “where the turtles gather.” Last year, a petting zoo was on site for the crowd to enjoy. Loachapoka is located approximately 4 miles outside of Auburn down Highway 14. Syrup Sopping day is free and open to all ages. Tickets to the museum tour cost $3 for adults. Children, ages 12 and younger, get in for free if accompanied by an adult.

Mark Your Calendar! • • • • • • • •

Oct. 17, 6 p.m.: Kate and Corey at Auburn Fall Concert Series at Kiesel Park Oct. 17–19, 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.: “The Successor to the Throne” at Auburn Area Community Theatre. Tickets $7, $5 children. Call 774-772-8849 for more. Oct. 18, 6 p.m.: On The Tracks at Railroad Avenue in Opelika. Call 334-737-1474 for more. Oct. 19, 8 a.m.: Freedom 21 Color Me Free 5K at Village Mall
 Oct. 19, 7 a.m–4 p.m.: Syrup Sopping and fair in Loachapoka on Highway 14 Oct. 24: Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors perform with The Saint Johns at Brown School Music Hall
 Oct. 24, 6 p.m.:
JW Young at Auburn Fall Concert Series at Kiesel Park Oct 25, 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.: Small Potatoes perform at AUUF with Sundilla. Free admission.

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