Seeking friends and acquaintances of Thomas Wolfe

Did you ever meet or know acclaimed Asheville author Thomas Wolfe? Do you have a story to share regarding the Wolfe family? Do you remember anything about the scandal surrounding the publication of Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel in 1929? If so, the historians at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site would like to speak with you.

The Wolfe Memorial staff is conducting an oral-history project. They’re particularly interested in talking with anyone who met Wolfe, witnessed firsthand the reaction of his hometown to his writings, grew up in his neighborhood, or has stories to share about any member of the Wolfe family.

All interviews will be recorded on audio or videotape for inclusion in the permanent archives of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial.

For more information, call Chris Morton at 253-8304, or e-mail

UNCA wins high marks from U.S. News & World Report

For the second consecutive year, the University of North Carolina at Asheville has ranked fifth in the nation among public liberal-art colleges in U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings. The annual rankings are based on a range of criteria, including academic reputation, commitment to instruction, student abilities, and graduation and retention rates.

U.S. News also introduced a new ranking of schools offering outstanding academic programs that promote student success. UNCA ranked eighth in the nation among all colleges and universities and second among all public colleges and universities in the “Undergraduate Research” category. Begun two decades ago, UNCA’s Undergraduate Research Program gives students in all disciplines a chance to design and conduct their own research, guided by faculty mentors.

But that’s only the latest in a string of recent raves for the local school. UNCA ranked eighth in the “Best Academic Bang for Your Buck” category of the 2003 edition of The Princeton Review and also made the “Best Buys Among American Colleges” list in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for the ninth straight year.

Films honor Steinbeck’s novels

Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck (1902-1968) was known for his sympathetic humor and keen social perception. Though his popularity waxed and waned during his lifetime, Steinbeck has gradually become one of America’s best-loved writers. To celebrate his life and work on the 100th anniversary of his birth, the Asheville-Buncombe Library System is presenting the free film series “John Steinbeck: A Centennial Celebration.”

The series will present films based on Steinbeck’s novels on four consecutive Mondays, beginning at 6 p.m. Author and film critic Peter Loewer will lead a discussion after each screening. All movies will be shown at Pack Memorial Library (67 Haywood St.) in Asheville. The schedule is as follows:

Oct. 14, The Grapes of Wrath: A poor Midwestern family is forced off their land and travels to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless during the Great Depression.

Oct. 21, Of Mice and Men: Two drifters, one a gentle but slow giant, try to make money working the fields during the Depression so they can fulfill their dream of owning and operating a ranch.

Oct. 28, Tortilla Flat: The story of a gang of reckless but lovable Mexican-American misfits and their seriocomic attempts at conformity.

Nov. 4, Lifeboat: Several survivors of a torpedoed ship find themselves in the same lifeboat as one of the men who sank it during World War II.

For more information, call 255-5203.

Lifting the stigma from mental illness

Contrary to common assumptions, mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes or heart disease. And in observance of Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 7-11), the Mental Health Association in Buncombe County has released some other eye-opening statistics about mental illness:

• In any given year, more than 5 million Americans suffer from an acute episode of mental illness.

• One in every five families is affected by severe mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or major depression.

• The total price tag for mental illness in the U.S. is $148 billion each year, including both direct costs (hospitalization, medication) and indirect costs (lost wages, family caregiving).

• People who have lived with mental illness include Abraham Lincoln, Robin Williams, Patty Duke, Leo Tolstoy, James Taylor, Winston Churchill, Michelangelo, Cole Porter, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mike Wallace.

New treatment methods and medications have given mental-health professionals more and better options for helping their patients. Yet because of the stigma associated with mental illness, there are still many who are not receiving treatment. The Mental Health Association in Buncombe County hopes that with greater public awareness, those suffering from mental illness will be more likely to seek help.

For more information, call the Mental Health Association in Buncombe County at 285-0732, or visit the state MHA Web site:

The rights of nursing home residents

About 2.8 million people live in nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities nationwide. The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 guarantees individualized care, promotes quality of life, and protects the rights of nursing-home residents.

The law also requires that every state have a long-term-care ombudsman program to promote residents’ rights and resolve complaints, as well as providing information on how to find a suitable facility. The term “ombudsman” comes from a Swedish word meaning “citizen representative.” An ombudsman acts as an advocate or friend for residents of long-term-care facilities. There are now more than 8,000 volunteer and 1,000 paid ombudsmen in the U.S.

To increase awareness of residents’ rights, the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform has designated Oct. 6-12 as Residents’ Rights Week 2002. Across the country, residents, family members, ombudsmen and facility staff will commemorate the week by holding events that recognize all residents’ right to be treated with dignity and respect.

Our local ombudsman program — which serves more than 150 licensed facilities in Buncombe, Madison, Henderson and Transylvania counties — wants to acknowledge the 75 local community volunteers who work to promote residents’ rights, assist residents with complaints, and help those in need locate an appropriate facility. As part of this week’s celebration, area residents are also encouraged to visit someone they know in a nursing home or to make a new friend in a long-term-care facility.

For those who feel uncertain about what to do at a nursing home, a local training is being offered to help put them more at ease. Co-sponsored by the Buncombe County Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee and the Buncombe County Extension & Community Association, “Nursing Home Friends” will be held on Thursday, Oct. 31, 9-11:30 a.m. in the conference room of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Center (94 Coxe Ave.) in Asheville.

Conducted by Community Advisory Committee members Kathleen Griffin and Joanne Cate, the training will help participants develop a greater understanding of the aging process, including some of the sensory deteriorations that often accompany aging. In addition, participants will improve their communication skills for responding to nursing-home residents with different types of dementia. There is no charge for the training, but pre-registration is required.

The local ombudsman program is located at the Land-of-Sky Regional Council in Asheville. For more information, call 251-6622 or visit the Land-of-Sky Web site: To register for “Nursing Home Friends,” call the Cooperative Extension Center at 255-5522 by Oct. 28.

Mexican Consulate Office rolls into Asheville for the day

Mexican nationals living in the area who are in need of some type of consular service (such as updating passports and registrations) usually have to travel all the way to Raleigh — but for one day they need travel no further than Asheville.

As part of Hispanic Heritage month, Armando Ortiz Rocha, Mexican Consul assigned to North and South Carolina, will visit Asheville on Saturday, Oct. 12 in his “Mobile Consulate Office” to assist Mexican Nationals from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Asheville City Preschool (441 Haywood Rd.)

The event is sponsored by The Biltmore Estate, Asheville Sister Cities, Asheville City Schools, and the Asheville Latin Americans for Advancement Society (ALAS). It should be noted that some of the consular services will require same-day payment, official documents, and photos.

Additionally, volunteers are needed on the day of the event to help out with the completion of forms, general office duties, traffic/parking control, watching children on the playground and other jobs.

For more information, call Edna Campos with ALAS at 277-1797. To volunteer, contact Andrea Slusser at 277-0051 or

WNC Alliance turns 20

The Western North Carolina Alliance has a lot to celebrate. Not only does the grassroots environmental organization turn twenty this year, but the Clean Smokestacks Bill — a piece of legislation that has been the Alliance’s top priority for the past two years — has been signed into law.

To commemorate these major milestones, the group will hold a special Annual Meeting on Saturday, Oct. 12, beginning at 4 p.m. at the Taylor Ranch (off Cane Creek Rd.) in Fairview. The meeting includes workshops, a fund-raising auction, buffet dinner and a special appearance by local band Sons of Ralph. Non-members are welcome to attend and will receive six-month’s membership as a portion of the ticket price.

The workshops include “Working with the Media,” presented by Editor of the Smoky Mountain Times Don Hendershott, and “Effective Lobbying,” presented by N.C. Rep. Marge Carpenter. All state legislators from WNC have been invited to attend the dinner.

Tickets are $20 for WNC Alliance members, $25 for non-members, and $40 per couple, regardless of their membership status. Attendees may buy their tickets at the door but must RSVP beforehand — no later than Thursday, Oct. 10.

For more information, call the WNC Alliance at 258-8737 or visit their Web site:

Supporting Third World artisans — and feeding the hungry in WNC

If you haven’t heard about Ten Thousand Villages, it’s a unique nonprofit organization (founded in 1946) that provides vital and fair income to Third World people by marketing their handicrafts through 180 stores across North America. Ten Thousand Villages works with artisans in more than 30 Third World countries who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. The income these artisans receive helps pay for food, education, health care and housing. And consumers can be sure that they’re buying something that has been fairly purchased from sustainable sources.

The Asheville Ten Thousand Villages store (10 College St. ) across from Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville was started by Mabel and Joe Mullett in 1992. The store will celebrate its 10th Anniversary with events and special activities beginning Wednesday, Oct. 9, and continuing through Saturday, Oct. 19, including a food drive for MANNA Food Bank.

Anyone who donates nonperishable food items at the store during the 10-day celebration will receive a 10 percent discount on purchase of store merchandise. Items most needed include canned meats, fruits and vegetables.

There will also be an in-store display of videos, photos and letters presenting more information about the store’s history, the fair trade process and stories of some of the Third World artisans whose work is offered in the store.

Scheduled activities include:

Friday, Oct. 11, there will be international storytelling for kids and adults (4-5 p.m.) and world improvisational music (African drumming and song, Middle Eastern oud) from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 12, there will be international storytelling for kids and adults from 11 a.m.-noon; Middle Eastern folk dancing and belly dancing from 1-2 p.m., Latin music from 3-4 p.m.; and African drumming, flutes and assorted other instruments from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 16, on World Food Day, there will be a presentation of all food donations to MANNA Food Bank Executive Director Toby Ives at 3 p.m.

All the events are open to the public and free of charge.

For more information, call 254-8374.


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