Doula power

Recently, 35 women from the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee spent a weekend attending a “Labor Support Course” at Park Ridge Hospital, seeking training as doulas.

Doulas are individuals (usually women) who are trained and experienced in childbirth, and who provide physical, emotional and informational support to women giving birth. Besides providing encouragement and reassurance — and a practical knowledge of comfort measures — doulas can reduce the anxiety and pain for laboring mothers, as well as the rest of the family. Far from taking the place of the woman’s partner, a doula helps the partner participate at the level at which he or she feels comfortable; and doula and nurse often work side by side to meet the changing needs of a woman in labor.

The doula training at Park Ridge was co-facilitated by childbirth educators (and certified doulas) Cheryl Orengo of the Buncombe County Health Center and Ann Tumblin, whom Orengo calls, “one of the most respected doula trainers in the country.” The local doula group, Mothercare Network, also participated in the training. The network includes seven certified doulas, who are available to attend the labor and birth of any woman in the Asheville area.

The presence of a doula (from the Greek: “to give service”) can greatly improve obstetrical outcomes, according to a BCHC press release. Recent studies have shown that having doulas present at births has resulted in a 50 percent reduction in Caesarean births, a 60 percent reduction in epidural anesthesia, a 25 percent reduction in the length of labor, and a 30 percent reduction in the use of forceps. Many hospitals are now recognizing that using doulas can not only save them thousands of dollars, but also increase their market share, as women seek more personalized care at this crucial time in their lives.

To learn more about doulas, or to find a doula in your area, contact Cheryl Orengo at 255-5040.

The year of the WRATT

The Land-of-Sky Regional Council’s Waste Reduction and Technology Transfer (WRATT) program is helping western North Carolina businesses and communities save money — and reduce the environmental impacts of their operations. To help spread the word, WRATT has developed two brief presentations that are available to tell your club or group about the free program’s benefits to communities.

The first presentation gives a general overview of the waste-reduction program, which enlists the expertise of retired engineers and scientists to conduct waste-reduction assessments for business and industry. The presentation outlines the program’s history, the savings achieved and other relevant information.

The second presentation focuses on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Lights program, which promotes the use of more-efficient lighting products by business and industry. Both presentations emphasize the technical assistance available to businesses and institutions through WRATT; the assessments are confidential and performed at no charge to the client. The presentations can be given together or separately, and speakers are also available for meetings.

For more information on the presentations, or the WRATT program, contact Don Hollister or Gordon Moore at 251-6622.

Thermodynamics ain’t cheap

With winter coming on, low-income families may be relieved to hear that North Carolina will again be providing heat assistance, in the form of payments to help cover energy costs during the heating season. The payments will be made in February of 1999, through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

In Buncombe County, any resident is eligible to apply for the one-time cash payment; certain income-and-asset guidelines must be met, however: The maximum monthly income for a family of four, for example, is about $1,508. “The program is designed to provide a one-time supplement for winter energy costs for low-income individuals,” explains Community Outreach Manager Jim Holland of the Buncombe County Department of Social Services, “and we want everyone who is eligible to receive this help.”

As of Sept. 30, all food-stamp recipients had been evaluated for the program; some will receive a notice confirming that they will receive a payment in February; others have received applications to complete. All other food-stamp households, plus Medicaid recipients and those in the Work First program, must apply in person at the Buncombe County Department of Social Services, between Monday, Nov. 9 and Monday, Nov. 23.

For more information, call Jim Holland at 250-5726.

Scottish Highlands west

Western North Carolina pipers and drummers are stepping out: The Highlands Pipes and Drums, a locally-based Scottish pipe band, took second-place honors at the Eastern United States Pipe Band Championships, held at Stone Mountain, Ga., in mid-October. The Highlanders arrived in force, with nine pipers and six drummers — the largest corps they’ve ever fielded at a competition — and emerged victorious over six other bands, including groups from Raleigh and Atlanta. Only a Charlotte band scored higher than the Highlands group.

“This is the best day the band has ever had,” said Drum Major Walter Taylor. Band Director and Pipe Major Michael Waters was also pleased. “We’ve had a difficult time putting up a first-class band in a small town with no big sponsors,” he observed. “That we can go up against the big cities in these competitions and win is extraordinary.”

Waters had help in teaching the band its music, this past summer. Four men from Scotland — Davy Anderson, Jim White and John and Tom Stewart — teamed up to help teach piping and drumming. They’ve since returned to Scotland, but their hard work clearly paid off: Not only did The Highlands Pipes and Drums win big at the competition, the group also recorded a CD with the Scotsmen, titled Hands Across the Water: Champions of Scotland with The Highlands Pipes and Drums of North Carolina. The work includes several original compositions, as well as the band’s winning arrangements of traditional Scottish tunes. The recording will be available for purchase in Highlands next month.

To learn more, contact Michael Waters at 293-7463.

Poetry in motion

Nationally recognized Black Mountain poet Glenis Redmond has played to standing-room-only audiences in poetry festivals and classrooms on two continents. Now, she’s about to be featured on an upcoming half-hour video called “Mama’s Magic.”

The video will contain several segments, showing Redmond performing her work — including her poem “Mama’s Magic,” a moving tribute to her mother — as well as discussing her personal approach to the form.

Produced by Debra Roberts for Heron Productions, under the guidance of the Western Carolina Coalition for Social Concerns, the film will be marketed not only to PBS and HBO, but also to individual stations, for use as public-service announcements.

The producers, however, need your support: Producing a first-class video — complete with professional video and sound production — is not cheap. Heron Productions, hoping to wrap things up next month, is seeking funding from nonprofit groups, companies, community organizations and individuals. All donations are tax exempt.

For more information, call Debra Roberts at 645-4834. Donations should be made out to WCCSC, and sent to Debra Roberts, Heron Productions, P.O. Box 8641, Asheville, NC 28814

Athletes and violence

Do sports teams create a climate of violence that spills over into the athlete’s social lives?

That’s the question posed by Kathy Redmond, founder and director of the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes.

Redmond will be speaking in Asheville on Thursday, Nov. 5, from 7:30-9:30 p.m., in the Swannanoa Room at the Radisson Hotel Asheville. She will address concerns about incidents of physical and sexual violence perpetrated by both college and professional athletes, including how to connect victims of this type of violence with adequate support systems, and how to educate the community about this issue.

Admission is free, and the event is cosponsored by the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Chowan College Center for Ethics.

For more information, call (888) 737-2272.

— collusively compiled by Paul Schattel

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