Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Write Touch

The lathe hums quietly as a HopeTree Academy student carefully presses a cutting tool to a small piece of wood. With a steady hand, patience, and gentle pressure, he soon coaxes a curved, elegant cylinder from a simple block of wood. The cylinder is destined to become the barrel of one of the gorgeous customized ink pens the HTA woodworking class has been producing since March.

The pens are just one of many projects Vocational Instructor Jeff Young has devised to serve as teaching situations for his classes in woodworking, welding, and mechanics. The classes are designed to give students a basic introduction to tool usage and safety, then allow them to expand and develop their skills at their own pace. Quite often students discover they have surprising levels of aptitude they never expected. The pens began three month ago as a simple project to give the students a change of pace from building working on larger items like the Corn Toss Games and wooden patio furniture. However, the pens have turned out to be so popular, the class has produced over 500 of them for distribution to friends and supporters of the Agency. A wid assortment of oak, walnut, pine, and other woods have been used to create the body of the pens. Young and his students have also experimented with different types of acrylic material. Between the variations in wood grain and the artistry of the students shaping the pens, no two of the writing instruments are identical.

Throughout the process, the students learn valuable, marketable skills as well as enhance their own feelings of self-worth. Coupled with other ‘real world’ skills students learn in the Vocational Program, these students are definitely putting themselves in position to ‘write their own tickets’ to successful futures once they leave HopeTree.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Smiles in their Hearts

   Every May, HopeTree Family Services' Developmental Disabilities Ministry conducts Camp Coley/Keaton. This Camp experience originally began through the efforts of a parent who was one of our earliest supporters of our efforts to assist adults with intellectual disabilities. Named Camp Keaton in her honor, this was a great opportunity for 'the guys' to have a few days of fun and relaxation and fellowship with their peers and friends from other locations. A few years ago, the name was changed to Camp Coley/Keaton in honor of Wayne Coley who had worked tirelessly on behalf of adults with intellectual disabilities for the Baptist Mission Board and HopeTree Family Services.

   Should you ever have the opportunity to attend one of these camps, please do. The absolute joy exuded by the men and women who attend is unrivaled by anything else you will experience. Their comraderie, their enthusiasm, their compassion, and their unbridled excitement will give you a wondrous new outlook on life. One must see the spring in their steps and feel the joy beaming from their faces to appreciate how much these men and women enjoy life. Behind the smiles and laughs and joyful banter live questing minds, loving hearts, and searching souls filled with a committment to their faith that must be experienced to be appreciated.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Fin Good Time

Probably one of HopeTree’s greatest, but most over-looked, assets is the large fishing pond nestled under the hill between the main campus and Interstate 81. Beautiful in any season, the pond restores, relaxes, and offers recreation to all residents and many friends. Such was the case on Saturday, May 14 when HopeTree hosted its annual Fishing Rodeo, an event that has served as part Open House, part Thank-You party for the Salem Community and HopeTree’s supporters for nearly 20 years.

Thanks to the efforts of Activities Director Larry Hicks and donations from the Roanoke Kiwanis Club and Hall Community Services, the pond was stocked the prior week with nearly a thousand Rainbow trout. In addition, two former residents have been instrumental for many years in helping maintain the pond. Fred Brownley keeps the brush cut back and Matt Willard maintains the large rocks which protect the pond’s banks. HopeTree’s Staff Trainer Lisa Assad and her son Zach contributed a great deal of weed-eating labor before the rodeo.

Although Saturday dawned darkly overcast and threatening, the environment around the pond was welcoming and the faces bright with smiles as residents and friends alike circled the water to cast their lines. Nearly everyone was rewarded with a fish (or five or more). More importantly, the fellowship and the spontaneous way Children’s program residents came to the aid of our Developmental Disabilities Ministry residents was truly heartwarming.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Swarming into Spring

   A couple of days ago, staff looked out the window of one of our buildings on the Salem campus and saw a very strange thing. There was a huge brownish blob on the sidwalk near our Chapel. Strange. Even stranger, this blob seemed to vibrate and shift. Upon closer inspection, it was discovered this undulating, earth-toned mass was a swarm of honeybees.
   Most people probably don't realize it, but there have been at least three very active hives of bees living in the walls of the Carpenter Cottage for roughly 20 years. Its quite entertaining to watch the bees come and go through cracks in the mortar between the bricks comprising the old buildings walls. From time to time when the building still hosted our on-campus school, bees would find their way through cracks in the plaster and come out in the classroom. Students and staff often said they could smell honey. Each Spring the bees would swarm and a fair number of them would take off into the surrounding community to find a place to establish their own hive. This week, for whatever reason, the bees only made it about 30 feet before halting their journey.
   Fortunately, one of our DDM area coordinators, Wayne Craig, happens to be a beekeeper. Quickly donning his gear, he gathered the bees into an extra hive box to protect both the bees and any residents or staff passing by.
   Perhaps there is a good lesson here for us. When the time has come for our residents (or our own children) to set off into the wide world on their own, there will probably be occasion when they'll need a little help to make sure they find safety and security.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reading, reading, more reading....

Just as Spring is trying to creep back into our lives, HopeTree Family Services offers a couple of new reasons why you can sit snugly inside for just a little while if you want. First, our March magazine will soon be hitting mailboxes across the country. It is already available on our website for those of you who like to view it electronically.

The second reason you can curl  up with a warm monitor, would be to read a note posted on our Facebook page. This 'note' provides some spectacular perspective on the need to begin now planning for the long-term care of an adult with intellectual disabilities. This document provides three different examples of families who took care to begin their planning well in advance of the day when care by someone outside the family would be needed. As you read their stories, you will see why planning needs to take place as soon as possible so that the family can have all their resources and desires addressed when the time comes for their loved one to take up residence in a new environment. This article also contains some important financial and legal considerations that should be carefully investigated. that you have some good reading to do, off you go....the wonderful world of words awaits. You can always smell the flowers when they finish blooming.

Of course, if reading really isn't your thing, please call HopeTree Family Services at 540-389-2112 and we can answer your questions.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In times of trouble

   The catastrophic situation in Japan seems more like a horrific Hollywood script than a series of real events. Seeing millions of people's lives completely devastated by conditions so far beyond their control as to be unimaginable leaves even the stoutest heart trembling.
   "What if that happened here," we ask ourselves. "There, but for the grace of God, go I," we say.
   "How can God allow something like this," we ask. "God doesn't give us more than we can handle," we say.
   Those same questions and statements have often been used when discussing the many, many different individuals HopeTree Family Services cares for each year. The challenges our residents, clients, and charges face seem to pale compared to the obstacles, dangers, sorrows, fears, and trauma faced by those in Japan in the foreseeable future. While the world turns it's attention and compassion toward this devastated island nation that must begin completely rebuilding itself for the second time in a century, please don't let your attention completely stray from the care and support those in our care need. Yes, the tragedy in Japan needs, deserves, requires response from all those who can offer some sort of solace, compassion, or relief, but we ask that the very real needs of our ministry, and others already in motion, not be completely abandoned. In meeting the needs of ALL those who call out for support, we must all seek new methods, ideas, procedures, and yes, sacrifices, in providing that support.

May God bless us all.

Friday, March 11, 2011


There are lots of different ways you can support HopeTree Family Services that don’t require a lot of heavy lifting or tedious legwork on your part. Here are just a few to consider.

1) Make your online purchases through Good Search and designate HopeTree as your charity of choice. A portion of the money you spend will be contributed to us.

2) Contribute to HopeTree through the United Way campaign at your place of employment. We are a Write In Participant.

3) Grocery Store Shopping Cards - Most major grocery chains now offer Shopper’s Cards you can link to a charitable organization. A percentage of the money you spend on groceries is donated back to the charity of your choice. Consult your local grocer for details.

4) Matching Gifts from your employer. Many companies will match their employees’ contributions to charitable organizations. Check with your Human Resources or Business Office personnel to find out if your company provides this service.

5)Make a contribution on our web site and you can choose to have it automatically renew each month.

6) Share the word about who we are and what we do with your family, friends, and neighbors. You can find HopeTree Family Services on Facebook and Twitter.