Rotary Club’s Knox Rocks 2014 a Major Success!

(Article appeared in June 2014 Village Voice)

_MG_3834b6x9The Rotary Club of John Knox Village was pleased to announced it raised another $10,000 from the annual two-night Knox Rocks concerts, which were on Thursday and Friday, April 24-25.

All the proceeds benefit our new health center, The Woodlands at John Knox Village. This state-of-the-art skilled nursing center will be the first of its kind in Florida to adopt The Green House model of care. The Village plans to break ground this summer on the project, which is expected to be complete and open by the end of 2015.

Since the inaugural Knox Rocks in 2011, The Rotary Club of JKV has contributed more than $40,000 toward our Health Center.

Both evenings of Knox Rocks 2014 welcomed a full crowd in our Village Centre Auditorium. The headline act again was our Villagers Men’s Chorus under the direction of resident Ron Davis.

The group, which now has 52 members, performed some of their well-known songs, including “There is Nutin’ Like a Dame” and “Aura Lee.” However, Knox Rocks showcases new songs by the Villagers, such as “Walk Like a Man” (Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons), “What a Wonderful World” (Louis Armstrong), “I Can See Clearly Now” (Johnny Nash and later, Jimmy Cliff) and “Shut De Do,” which was written in 1982 by gospel singer-songwriter Randy Stonehill.

Between the opening and closing Villagers’ sessions, there were a number of fun specialty acts. Anita Ferguson took center stage with her “Gershwin Prelude” piano number. She joined fellow resident Norm Liedtke during “Ballin’ the Jack,” which also included a dance routine by his wife, Phyllis, and Murray Hunter.

Master of Ceremonies Herschell Lewis added his “Pighead Pete” act “Eefin.” Eephing is an Appalachian vocal technique that is often described as a kind of hiccupping and rhythmic wheeze that began in rural Tennessee more than 100 years ago.

Several of the Villagers, The Villager Harlequins, appeared in the comical “Black and White Mystery” – based on an optical illusion YouTube video. Also “The Half Tones,” JKV’s own barbershop quartet entertained the attendees. Finally, the guest performer was soprano singer Elizabeth Sjoberg. The niece of resident Jeanne Mills, Elizabeth sang “O Mio Babbino Caro” and “One More Kiss.”

The dates for next year’s Knox Rocks have been set for Thursday and Friday, April 23-24. More photos can be found on our Website (www.JohnKnoxVillage.com) and on Facebook.

250 Teddy Bears Made With Love

(Article appeared in June 2014 Village Voice)

IMG_3200When it comes to giving to others in need, the residents and employees at John Knox Village always prove to have tremendous hearts. A worthy cause is recommended, and the caring abilities of both groups shine, as The Village strives to make a positive impact in our surrounding community.

Often, there is outstanding collaboration toward a project that truly exemplifies JKV as “One Community Sharing Life.”

This truly was showcased on Tuesday, May 6, at the “Teddy Bear Dedication Party” in our Auditorium. The inspiring event recognized the efforts of The Rotary Club of John Knox Village, our Sharing and Caring Program and numerous individuals who contributed toward the making of 250 teddy bears that are being donated to Victory Junction, a camp for chronically ill children located in Randleman, NC.

Victory Junction (www.victoryjunction.org) was founded for kids in honor of former NASCAR driver Adam Petty, grandson of famous driver Richard Petty and son of Kyle Petty. In 2000, while practicing for a race in New Hampshire, Adam was tragically killed in an accident. Five months after his passing, the family partnered with movie star Paul Newman and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to begin Victory Junction.

Since it first opened in 2004, Victory Junction has enriched the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses by providing life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun and empowering, in a safe and medically-sound environment. There is no cost for the campers and their families to attend.

Some of the variety of activities at camp include arts and crafts, a woodshop, adventure course, archery, swimming, boating, fishing, horseback riding, a 55-foot climbing tower, a zip line, music and theater and a special NASCAR-themed area complete with race cars, simulators and racing gear. Counselors and medical personnel assure that each child is safe in whatever event the child attempts.

It was last summer when Village residents David and Twylah Haun discovered Victory Junction while visiting family in North Carolina. Their granddaughter was in college and volunteering at the camp, which welcomes 128 campers, ages 6-16, each week during the summer. Victory Junction caters to children with a variety of medical conditions, such as burn survivors, those battling cancer, Cerebral Palsy, heart disease, physical disabilities and more.

During their visit, the Hauns noticed that each camper receives a blanket and teddy bear that he or she is able to keep at the end of the visit.

“We discovered there was a need for teddy bears, and originally, we were going to work with our daughter to make 100 bears,” David said. Then, he approached the Rotary Club of John Knox Village, which agreed to contribute $800 toward the materials for this project.

“The next thing you know, our Rotary Club members volunteered to help make the bears,” he said. The Rotary Club of JKV has been on campus since 2008. Today, there are more than 50 Rotary members, mostly residents of The Village. The group has fun together socializing, as well as organizing three fundraising efforts each year – one for a community charity, one benefitting an international cause and the third is a two-day Knox Rocks concert that raises funds for our Health Center

Finally, the Hauns approached The Village’s Sharing and Caring Program for a donation. Our award-winning social accountability initiative maintains vital connections to social organizations in the community that depend on financial and volunteer support to keep their programs running. Sharing and Caring provided an additional $800 for the purchase of materials to create another 100 bears, bringing the then new total up to 200.

In addition, numerous residents and employees, especially our Home Health Agency nurses, helped sew, stuff and finish the bears. “This was a true Village effort,” said Kathryn Viau, Director of Residents Services and Sharing and Caring Program Chair.

The May 6 ceremony included a presentation of Victory Junction by the Hauns, a dedication prayer for the bears and children recipients and recognizing the efforts of everyone who contributed.