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Soup Kitchen.......................2 Providing food boxes for clients

Unicoi Farmers Market.......2 Opening July 7

Sunday Stories J u l y 5, 2 0 2 0

A S p e c i a l Ed i t i o n of t h e J o h n so n C i t y Press a n d K i n gs p o r t T i m es N ews

Bronze Award......................3

Time to get your ducks in a row

Kingsport Public Library.....3

Event brings hope for region’s hearing impaired

Honoring Girl Scout Troop 1083

Offering virtual summer reading programs for all ages

Sunday Scrapbook..............4 Sharing reader photos

Editor’s Note: Sunday Stories may be a little thinner than usual right now, but the Sunday Stories team is still working to bring you the content you love every week. We appreciate your continued patience and support. If you would like to discontinue receiving Sunday Stories, please call our customer service department at 722-1330

By Carmen Musick Just when it appeared the COVID-19 pandemic would leave them up a creek with no place to paddle (so to speak), organizers of the popular “Dancing, Dining & Ducks” fundraiser realized the stars of their show don’t need an audience — or dancing and dining, for that matter — to serve their purpose. After all, the thousands of rubber ducks deployed for the annual summer fundraiser are there for two reasons: to raise funds for Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center — and to, perhaps, turn their sponsors into ‘lucky ducks’ themselves. And, though the event will look a bit different this year, neither of those things have changed. In fact, the need for funding may be greater than it’s ever been in the center’s 46-year history. “A lot of what we do is provide scholarship dollars for families who don’t have the ability to pay for the services they need. With unemployment like it is and all of the challenges people are facing, we feel like it’s about to get a lot worse,” said Karen Dale, finance manager and special events coordinator at Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center. “We’ve never turned anyone away for inability to pay, and we don’t want to start now. Children still need what they need.”

N OPE FOR DINE IN!

A non-profit organization, the center was founded in 1974 by the Junior League Club and Sertoma Club of Kingsport. The mission of the center is to provide speech and hearing services to residents of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

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2019 KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE

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“That’s what these fundraisers help us to do,” Dale explained. Last year, the event raised a little over $22,000 and 2,800 ducks were sponsored. This year, Dale hopes to match that. She will need the community’s help to make it happen.

This year’s ‘Dancing, Dining & Ducks’ fundraiser will be more of a virtual event, but that won’t stop five lucky winners from cashing in on big prizes. Duck sponsorships are available online and winners will be drawn July 22. Proceeds benefit Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center. to sponsor their ducks. “The more ducks you sponsor, the greater the chances to win,” Dale explained. Five lucky duck sponsors will walk away with one of the main prizes — three of them cash this year. Grand prize will be $2,500, with $500 for second prize and $250 for third. Two fourth-place winners will also enjoy sweet rewards: one with a gift basket from Chick-Fil-A and one with a ‘tea a week’ for a year from Pal’s. “In addition to our main prizes, we’ll also have some smaller ones and we’ll draw however many ducks it takes to give away all of the prizes,” Dale said. All proceeds from the virtual duck race fundraiser still benefit the Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center. That means each duck represents the hope of hearing and speech to people right here in this region. “Unfortunately, in our region, we have a lot of children who need help,” Dale said. “Imagine not being able to communicate with your child. Communication is everything. If you can’t communicate, your quality of life goes down, even for a child. It’s important they get the treatment they need.”

“We can still sell the ducks online, but we won’t be able to have the big party we usually have with food and dancing,” said Dale. “So, we’re going to put the ducks in a private pool and our master of ceremonies, Preston Ayres from WCYB, is going to draw the winning ducks. We’ll stream it on Facebook Live.”

Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center has been working to provide that for 46 years. Even during lockdown, the center’s staff members hustled to get the equipment and training they needed and, within two weeks, were serving patients through tele-therapy.

The big day is Wednesday, July 22, and community members have until noon that day to visit the website at www.kingsportducks.org

To learn more about the fundraiser, contact Dale at (423) 246-4600 or visit www.kingsportducks.org. To learn more about Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center, visit www.mrshc.org.


2 • SUNDAY STORIES • JULY 5, 2020

Soup Kitchen provides daily meals to nearly 1,000 residents Contributed In times like these, everyone can use a serving of kindness and some nourishment for the soul. In response to hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bristol-based Soup Kitchen is pausing its daily soup delivery, and instead providing food boxes for existing clients during the months of June and July. One box provides each recipient with enough food for one meal per day for an entire month.   Located on the campus of the former Sullins College, the Soup Kitchen began serving approximately 50 people per weekday in 1998, and now serves 990 individuals. Despite its long-term operation and status as one of the largest free kitchens in the region, not many residents know the extent of its outreach.   “Lots of people say, ‘Oh, I’ve seen your van, but I don’t know what you do,’” says Michelle Booher, executive director of the Soup Kitchen. “When they find out how many people we serve, they’re surprised at the scope of need in the community.”   For more than two decades, the Soup Kitchen has prepared and delivered soup, crackers and milk five days a week, 52 weeks per year, to Bristol, Virginia, residents in need. Funded and operated by The United Company Foundation, the Soup Kitchen works in collaboration with area churches and volunteers to prepare and distribute the meals. The service was expanded earlier this year to include residents of Bristol, Tennessee, and currently provides meals for up to 1,000 individuals each weekday. On average, the service provides 200,000 meals per year.   “Our recipients include children, the elderly, adults who are out of work, and others who may not be covered by other area programs,” Booher says. “Folks rely on this service. It is such a worthwhile investment of our time, and it makes our hearts feel good to know we’re making a difference in our community.”   Booher says that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic made staff more aware of food preparation practices and also deepened the need in the community.   “We’ve always been careful about the way we prepare and deliver meals, and we’re being even more so now,” Booher says. “Fortunately, the way the food is packaged, it’s like getting takeout, and since some of our recipients are older and challenged in their mobility, having these meals brought to them during this time is an increasingly essential service.”   “For the soup distributions, we make everything from scratch with fresh ingredients every day,” says Peggy Littleton, executive director of The United Company Foundation. “We have 25 different meals we rotate through, with a different one each day. We also make lasagna, spaghetti and chili, along with vegetable, chicken

Michelle Booher (left), executive director of Soup Kitchen, and April Hayes help load a shipment of food boxes for June’s distribution. (Photo courtesy of Soup Kitchen) noodle and potato soups, and numerous others — all healthy, hearty and filling. “It’s a big program,” Littleton adds. “Along with our own employees, we rely on numerous volunteers from 12 different churches. Many of our volunteers have been with us a long time, they love what they are doing, and they are all so faithful and diligent. The church deliveries are made directly to the doors of the recipients, so the volunteers have gotten to know their contact person. After seeing them every day for years, they have become quite attached. Sometimes, the volunteers are the only people those folks talk to that day.”   The United Company Foundation is a regional nonprofit that has advocated for the care, education and edification of individuals throughout Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee since 1986. The foundation partners with a number of community organizations to support education, the care, feeding and clothing of children and adults, the flourishing of the arts, and the promotion of wellness throughout the region.   To learn more or to volunteer with The United Company Foundation Soup Kitchen, visit www.unitedcofoundation.org/soup-kitchen or contact Nancy Kiser at npkiser@charter.net.

Unicoi Farmers Market opens July 7 in new home at visitor center Submitted by Ashley Shelton The Unicoi Farmers Market and Community Yard Sale will open July 7 in its new home under the Buffalo Pavilion at the Unicoi Visitor Center. The market was originally scheduled to open in June but was delayed because of a spike in COVID-19 cases within the county during that time. The market will be held every Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Tourist Information Center at exit 32 (off I-26), as long as coronavirus cases remain at a minimal level. New COVID-19 regulations will be in place to protect the public. COVID prevention measures include required

masks, hand sanitizer at the entrance, one-way traffic, disposable food gloves for testing ripeness of produce, additional space between vendors and customers, and request for exact or small change. “We’re glad we can finally open the market safely,” said Town of Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch. “But we will continue to monitor the COVID crisis and adjust our plans as needed throughout the season.” The market will include fresh fruits, vegetables and baked goods, as well as local craft vendors, and yard sale bargains. Picnic tables surrounding the complex will be spaced more than 6 feet apart so visitors can browse the booths, grab some fresh food, then enjoy lunch with a view.

Vendor pricing is based on categories. Farm products, prepared food and handmade crafts require a $5 annual market fee. Yard sale booths and demonstration spaces are free, but an application must be submitted. Only one application per season is required and vendors may then call each week to reserve their space by phone. Booth spaces are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Tents, tables, chairs and other equipment will not be provided, so please make necessary arrangements prior to the market opening. To learn more or to become a vendor, email recreationaide@unicoitn.net or contact Patricia Bennett at (423) 735-0517. Vendor applications are available online at unicoitn.net under the event tab.


JULY 5, 2020 • SUNDAY STORIES • 3

Virtual summer reading programs continue at library Submitted by Emily Griffey Kingsport Public Library’s Summer Reading Program — “Imagine Your Story” — has gone digital and runs through July 24. The library is offering activities, prizes and online events for all ages throughout July. Calling all bakers… The Kingsport Public Library is holding a bake-off and wants to see your delicious creations. The Cake Decorating Challenge is accepting photo submissions of “Imagine Your Story”-inspired cakes until July 17. Voting will take place online July 18-23 and winners will be announced on July 24. Are your little ones missing storytime? Then join Kingsport Public Library on its Facebook page for Virtual Storytime every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. Mrs. Kyndra is bring-ing her favorite picture books straight to your phone or tablet. Visit www.facebook.com/kingsportlibrary to tune in. The Kingsport Public Library invites the young and the young-at-heart to an online performance of “Once Upon a Time” presented by Bright Star Theatre on July 8 at 4 p.m. Zoom meeting information is available on the library’s event calendar at www.kingsportlibrary.org. Kingsport Public Library’s Teen Summer Reading program has also gone virtual this year. Online events and activities include “Hamilton” Trivia on July 9, Would you Rather? on July 16, and a Mario Kart Tournament on July 23. For more information about those events, visit the library’s Instagram account dedicated to Teen Services (@KingsportLibraryTeens).

The Kingsport Public Library and publisher Big Small Town Books also invite folks to join “A Conversation with Bekah Harris,” author of the upcoming Young Adult novel “The Subtle Art of Standing Still.” The online event will take place on July 7 at 6 p.m. Space is limited, so guests are encouraged to register for free at www.bigsmalltownbooks.com/events. Think you can paint with all the colors of the wind? From Snow White to Moana, we’ll test your knowledge of all things Disney during the library’s Disney Trivia Night at 6 p.m., July 21. This event will be held virtually, with a link posted on the library’s event calendar at www.kingsportlibrary.org and on the library’s Facebook on the evening of the event. Call (423) 224-2539 or visit www.kingsportlibrary.org to learn more.

Girl Scout Troop 1083 Earns Bronze Award with Garden Project at Roosevelt

Submitted by Charlie Franklin Girl Scout Juniors Holly Franklin, Emily Lawson, Destiny Pierce and Laura Johnson, all fifth graders, took over an abandoned garden and fixed up an old bench at Kingsport’s Roosevelt Elementary School. While everyone at Roosevelt is welcome to enjoy the garden, the girls really wanted to make a place for the Functional Academic students to enjoy. They made sure the walkways were wide enough for wheelchairs. There is also a variety of flowers and painted rocks with uplifting quotes. They also released butterflies in the garden.


4 • SUNDAY STORIES • JULY 5, 2020

PHOTO OF WEEK Bird’s Eye View Submitted by Suzanne Manis Sam Manis of Church Hill, Tennessee, enjoyed a bird’s-eye view from Twin Pinnacles Trail. Share your photos with us at sundayscrapbook@timesnews.net

Senior Prom 2020

Bays Mountain

First Bloom

Submitted by Jennifer McDavid

Submitted by Hannah Speaks

Submitted by Trudy Swan

A fun day at Bays Mountain with the kids.

The blooms are beautiful this year.

Drew Carter, Marlee Archer, Raegan Povlich and Jackson McDavid before the ‘unofficial’ Dobyns-Bennett senior prom at The Dugout in Kingsport. At right, Drew Carter, Marlee Archer, Jackson McDavid, Raegan Povlich, Derek Thurston, Kennon Cook, Aaron Farley and Abby Fannon gather for a group photo before the senior prom.

Butterfly Beauty Submitted by Nancy V. Knight Finally, butterflies! An Orange Sulphur butterfly (left) rests on Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and a Great Spangled Fritillary (right) sits on milkweed.

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