Child care on-line

For anyone with questions about local child-care options, help is now no further away than an Internet-ready computer. Thanks to a Smart Start project funded by the Buncombe County Partnership for Children, the Buncombe County Information Partnership’s Web page is now on-line, making a vast amount of state and local information easily accessible to the public.

Visitors to the Web site can find information about local child-care providers, guidelines for choosing child care, tips for raising children, and more. If you don’t have access to the Internet, computers donated especially for this project are available for use at various public-access sites, including the Black Mountain Family Center, Buncombe County Child Care Services, and the South Buncombe, South Asheville, North Asheville, East Asheville, Black Mountain and Enka branch libraries.

The project is a unique collaborative effort involving several local agencies. The Mountain Area Information Network upgraded the computers, connected them to the Internet, and created the Web pages; the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Agency helped choose locations for the public-access sites; and United Way’s First Call for Help and Buncombe County Child Care services will maintain the data base.

To learn more, call Ron Bradford at 285-9333. The Web address is:

In search of volunteers

Tired of complaining that our elected city and county officials aren’t serving voters as promised?

On Saturday, Aug. 8, you can get your revenge. The Look Homeward Volunteer Fair and Celebration, an effort to honor and involve more local volunteers, will kick off at 10 a.m. at Pack Place; later, the festivities will move to the Governor’s Western Residence, where such high-profile local officials as Leni Sitnick and Tom Sobol will serve up a free picnic lunch.

Created in response to a recent Volunteer Center study, which found that 69 percent of local agencies declared themselves understaffed, the festival will feature more than 50 Buncombe County nonprofit agencies. If they are to continue serving Buncombe Country’s rapidly growing population, a Look Homeward fact sheet asserts, more people must get involved. The agencies at the fair will be recruiting volunteers for a variety of projects, from packing food for the hungry to reading aloud to children.

The Hillcrest Highsteppin’ Majorettes and Drum Corps will launch the festivities. There will also be speeches by Sitnick, Sobol and Look Homeward Honorary Chair Bob Ingle, as well as music, storytelling, magicians and clowns. After that, members of the Buncombe County Commissioners and the Asheville City Council will cook and serve a picnic lunch. Transportation to the picnic will be provided.

For more information, call Cindy McMahon at 255-0696.

Spiritual news

On Monday, Aug. 3, the new Movement and Learning Center was opened on the second floor of the French Broad Food Co-op. Beginning with Yoga, Tai Chi and Feldenkrais classes, the environmentally safe room will be used for educational lectures, as well as classes for “enhancing and improving health,” according to a Co-op press release.

In addition, the Mountain Area Information Network has supplied a computer to provide free community Internet access.

In other spiritual news, ShantiMayi, a renowned master of India’s Sacha lineage, will be visiting Asheville for a public satsangh Aug. 3-6, and a weekend intensive Aug. 7-9.

Born in the U.S. to American parents, ShantiMayi is the first westerner allowed to teach from the Sacha line of gurus, a spiritual/religious sect within Hinduism going back thousands of years. ShantiMayi has since toured more than 20 countries around the world, to “support a spiritual awakening into the practical lives of all people.”

Both the satsangh and the intensive will be held at Jubilee Community Church, 101 Patton Ave.

For information about the Co-op Movement and Learning Center, contact Dawn Woodring at 255-7650. To register for ShantiMayi, call Mark Ferri at 299-3786.

Rare turtle at WNC Nature Center

Can’t get seem to enough turtles in your life?

The WNC Nature Center, a facility of Buncombe County Recreation Services, would like you to come and meet the rarest and smallest turtle in North America. Known as Clem the Bog Turtle (scientific name: Clemmys muglenbougi), the spunky reptile is a member of the third-smallest turtle species in the entire world.

The bog turtle — a small, secretive animal found only in isolated populations along the Appalachians, from New York to Georgia — makes its home in mountain bogs at elevations from 1,000 to 4,500 feet. An omnivore whose diet is heavy on slugs, earthworms and berries, the turtle spends much of its time basking, its shell barely exposed in shallow water.

The Nature Center is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $2 for children ages 4 -14, $5 for adults age 15 and over, and $3 for senior citizens. Children under 3, and Friends of the WNC Nature Center, are admitted free.

For additional information, call the center at 298-5600.

HIV and pregnancy

It’s no secret that HIV and pregnancy are a dangerous mix. Because the HIV virus threatens the fetus as well as the mother, it is crucial that pregnant women get treatment as soon as possible. A new brochure from the American Social Health Association, available in English and Spanish, offers valuable information.

Called “Pregnancy and the HIV Test” (“El embarazo y la prueba del VIH)” the brochure explains how getting tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can help a woman protect her baby. The chance that an HIV-positive woman will pass the virus to her baby before or during birth is about one in four; the odds are lowered significantly if the woman takes the drug AZT while she is pregnant.

To order a brochure, send $1 to the American Social Health Association, Dept. PR90, P.O. Box 13287, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709. Please specify the English or Spanish version.

Grants, grants and more grants

Black Mountain’s Presbyterian Home for Children was recently awarded a $300,000 “challenge grant” from the Kresge Foundation, a private foundation supporting higher education, health care, the arts and humanities, sciences and the environment. This is the second $300,000 challenge grant the Home has received since April of 1997.

The Presbyterian Home for Children admits boys and girls ages 5 through 21, of all races and faiths, focusing on children who have lost their family through tragedy, have been neglected or abused, or who, for other reasons, are unable to live at home.

Both grants were in response to the Home’s campaign to raise $3 million to construct four new houses, convert the main building to allow for program expansion, and build an addition to the gym. The $3 million goal, says spokesperson Tracy Schneider, must be met before the Home will receive the Kresge Foundation’s funding. To date, the campaign has raised nearly $2.2 million.

In other grant news, Thoms Rehabilitation Hospital, on Sweeten Creek Road in Asheville, has been awarded $100,000 by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust of Winston-Salem. The funds will support Project Uplift, a $1.3 million capital campaign spearheaded by the Thoms Health Services Foundation.

The Hospital, which was founded in 1938, is the only freestanding rehabilitation hospital in western North Carolina. Project Uplift is designed to fund improvements to the 70-bed inpatient living quarters, relocation of the pharmacy and several nurses’ stations, and a new room for patients’ families.

The Mountain Area Child and Family Center has also received support from the Reynolds Trust. Construction of the child-care/family-resource center and teacher-training facility in the Swannanoa Valley is slated to begin in the fall. The center will provide high quality day care to 100 children and will offer parent support/education services. It will also be a training site for early-childhood teachers and caregivers, and will provide a health-education/assessment component.

The $250,000 Reynolds grant brings the center’s present funding to $2.2 million, about two-thirds of the total goal. The Center is expected to open late in 1999.

For more information about the Presbyterian Home for Children, call 686-3451, ext. 29. To learn more about Thoms Rehabilitation Hospital, contact Angela Nicholas at 274-2400, ext. 4312. And for information on the Mountain Area Child and Family Center, call Danny Verner at 669-6629.

— surreptitiously compiled by Paul Schattel

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