The Share the Harvest YMCA farm is off to a good start, thanks to great volunteers, and suitable weather and soil conditions, as well as all the preparations that we accomplished last year. Roughly, about a quarter of the farm has been planted with another eighth going in on April 22. So far, we have planted onions, carrots, beets, beans, lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes and radishes. Cannot wait to see the fruits of our labor! The need for volunteers will gradually increase as weed control and more plantings continue for the next month. We are looking forward to the harvest that will start within a month.
I asked two young volunteers what they do for a hobby. Both said they watch TV. Kudos to their parents for getting them out to the farm. It is such a joy to see them working at the farm, having fun and accomplishing a goal. Watching TV is not a suitable hobby for a healthy kid. It will turn their brains to jelly. If this is normal, it should not be. Check with your kids and grandkids. If they consider TV a hobby, get them out to the farm for a Saturday morning in the fresh air and sunshine. We start at 8am and would love to have them join us.
Reign Watson enjoys a challenge; largely because he is driven to overcome every obstacle in his way. But one day, he realized that he still had not faced one large obstacle – his weight.
“I remember sitting on the side of my vehicle wondering what I did to let my weight get that out of control.” Reign had always been heavy but never noticed just how much that number had grown over the years.
At first, he walked for exercise and modified his eating habits with the help of a chef friend. “I was eating a loaf of bread every day, drinking at least two 2-liter bottles of Coca Cola daily with meals and I never passed on dessert. Now I have cut soda completely out of my diet and stopped eating bread.” Knowing that just diet and exercise wouldn’t be enough to make the lifestyle change he needed to, Reign saw a doctor and decided to have a duodenal switch (gastric surgery) performed. The surgery was a success but, for Reign, the battle was just beginning.
Kirk Angel did not know what the Y was, aside from a place to work out, until he and his wife Donna saw a series of advertisements around Harrisburg for the Y’s Youth Sports Program and decided to sign their oldest son up for soccer. Immediately, they loved everything about the Y. Kirk remembers the knowledgeable, talented coaches that had real playing experience, and notes that he and Donna are still close friends with some of their children’s earliest coaches. Kirk was especially impressed by the Strong Kids Campaign (similar to the Change Wars program), which helped to teach children and parents about other great things going on inside the Y, like the Open Doors Scholarship Program and the Empty Stocking Fund.
After a few years of working out and becoming increasingly involved at the Y, Kirk was nominated for the Corporate Board of Directors as a representative from the Harrisburg community. Several months later they voted to open the Harrisburg branch, which is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year. Even then, there were talks of expanding Harrisburg to better accommodate the growing population in the area, which is something Kirk has strongly advocated for since.
As a teenager, Alyce was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which is an endocrine system disorder that often leads to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. She struggled to balance her life with the additional side effects of PCOS, including depression and anxiety, until her doctor ultimately recommended that she stop working in order to focus on her health.
Now the mother of four children, Alyce and her family had been program members of the West Cabarrus YMCA for several years. She signed her sons up for soccer at the Y because she appreciated the safe, welcoming environment of Y Youth Sports. With only her husband working, and in need of some motivation to get healthy again, her friends at the West Cabarrus Membership Desk suggested she apply for an Open Doors scholarship.
Bobby Pickrel (known to many as Larry, or Bobby Larry) has been a member of the Kannapolis YMCA for most of his 77 years. Growing up in a two-room house, he notes that there was little to do but go to the Y after school. “Life was different when the mill was here,” he remembers. “Everybody came to the Y then. After work, after school – the Y was where everybody came together.” But despite the loss of Cannon Mills and much of his old lifestyle, Bobby still sees high school friends at the YMCA when he works out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Bobby was in the Army for three years, and later pursued a career in interior design and furniture sales in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After almost 20 years there, he returned to his hometown of Kannapolis to take care of his ailing mother. It was then that he returned to the Cannon YMCA. Despite being in excellent shape during his time in the Army, Bobby had put on a significant amount of weight and his own health was declining. Several years later, he suffered a stroke and had to undergo extensive speech therapy to regain full control of his speech. In addition to this, Bobby had to have a ligation procedure done on veins in his legs in order to relieve pain from walking and standing.
Thanks to a generous anonymous donor, you’ll be seeing a brand new activity bus around the Cannon YMCA this year. A white 2017 Thomas C2 72-passenger bus with “Cannon Memorial YMCA” painted on the side is the newest mode of transportation for our After School Program, as well as some association-wide activities.
Why do you work at the Cannon YMCA?
I really enjoy that each day, we as an organization, have the ability to impact the community and truly make a difference through Christian programs that promote a healthy mind, body and spirit.
What is your favorite memory on the job?
Last year, during one of our basketball games, I had an unforgettable experience. A kid who played basketball at the YMCA growing up had never scored a basket during his entire career. With two minutes left in his final game, this player received a pass right in front of the basket and threw up a shot. It bounced around for a while, and finally went in the basket. The player’s father, who was one of the coaches that year, was brought to tears of joy watching his son score. Both teams surrounded the player and lifted him up in the air to congratulate him.
Why do you work at the Cannon YMCA?
I work at the Cannon YMCA because I love the Christian atmosphere. It’s great to work in a place where I can share my beliefs with other people, and truly make people feel welcome and part of the YMCA family. I like that the Y is a place where everyone’s talents and personality are valued, which inspires us all to do our best work every day.
What is your favorite memory on the job?
There are so many little moments at the Y that are special to me. I love connecting with our members. We’ll see the same kids coming in to talk to us about school or their families and it’s great to be able to help them grow. I do remember developing a special relationship with one member who often had a negative attitude when she came into the Y. I got to know her name and started greeting her every day with a smile. She slowly opened up to me and began to enjoy her time at the Y. It meant a lot to her that somebody was taking the time to get to know her and I enjoyed making her days a little bit brighter.
Why do you work at the Cannon YMCA?
I believe in the cause of the Y. What got me interested in working here was that it is a Christian establishment, and that I am able to share my God-given talents openly here. Before working for the Y, I never realized how involved we are in the community and all the different things we do. The Y, as an organization, is very selfless.
What is your favorite memory on the job?
One of my favorite memories during my time working here is something that you don’t see in many other workplaces. One day, a female member came into the Harrisburg Y in tears. She needed somebody to talk to, so I asked her if she would like to join me in my office to pray. It was wonderful to be able to support her in a way that she needed, and in a way that brought us closer.
The farm is sending collards to various charities. When I gave my Community Supported Agriculture customers a choice of collards or kale, 100% of them chose kale. When I started asking why, the only reason was that somewhere along the line kale had hired a better public relations firm. I can do anything with collards that you can do with kale, and some of it I can do better. Collards and the rest of the brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and more) have similar nutritional profiles with excellent vitamins, minerals and cancer fighting phyto nutrients.
Earlier this month, the Cannon Memorial YMCA hosted Breakfast with Santa at the Kannapolis Y. Santa, played by Kannapolis Y member Dr. James Litaker, had many friends with him; including Spiderman, Princess Elsa from Frozen, balloon animal artists, a face painter and a magician. A tasty hot chocolate bar was available for adults and children and the Mott Club cooked hundreds of pancakes for guests to enjoy with their fruit and juice. All of the food and refreshments were donated by our local ALDI, which also sent a few of Santa’s Helpers to serve the pancake breakfast.
Thanks to many generous donations and sponsorships, this event raised over $2,500 for the Cannon YMCA Annual Support Campaign, which directly funds the Open Doors Scholarship Program. Guests were encouraged to bring gifts for the Empty Stocking Fund and many families donated toys, clothes and other items. Most importantly, over 250 children from Cabarrus County were able to participate in this memorable experience with their families. Keep your eyes peeled for Breakfast with Santa next December and join in the fun!
What healthy exercises will you do as you get older? Here are my observtions. In high school I played three years first string varsity football and dearly loved the game. After high school I played a few pick up games, but with no pads and no referees, you needed to be as good at fighting as you were at football. I quit playing football by age twenty.
Volleyball and running are less intense activities I learned in high school and college. I have seen plenty of people play volleyball and run into their 70s. In my experience, as people get into their 80s and 90s only two activiites predominate and those are dancing and gardening. The only person I ever knew who was active after age 100 was a serious gardener. At age 90 he married somebody he met at a dance. In any logical society there would be more high school gardens than high school football fields.
I've never been a runner, like EVER. That was until my husband and I decided that we needed to get in shape and eat healthy. This was also our chance to have some one on one time with each other as well. No complaining from me on that one!
So, earlier that year we began our journey of working out and eating healthy. It wasn't easy at all, but we stuck to it. About 4 months into our journey we saw results and grew closer in our marriage. About that time, sign ups began for the Y's Pumpkin Roll 5K. I did a daring move. I signed us up.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent food to grow for charity. It has a nutritional profile similar, but better than carrots. It is a good source of vitamin A, several of the B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron, fiber and antioxidants. The potassium content is slightly less than bananas, but will substitute if bananas are not in the budget or you happen to be a locavore. Plus, pound for pound, sweet potatoes have more calories than potatoes, which is enough to kick starvation down the road.
In addition to the nutritional benefits, sweet potatoes store easily. If you put them in a back room that stays above 50 degrees, they will last for several months. And, if you have an excess of sweet potatoes, you can easily can them for longer storage if you have a pressure canner. But wait, there's more. This long lasting super food is very versatile. Everybody has heard of sweet potato pie and sweet potato casserole, but there are a zillion more ways to serve up some sweet potato goodness.
September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and while the dangers of childhood obesity are well chronicled, many families need support changing their children’s habits with the ultimate goal of improving health. That’s why the Cannon YMCA — a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving health—wants families to understand the dangers of childhood obesity and ways to reverse course through improved eating habits and increased physical activity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in children and adolescents over the past 30 years. Today, obesity affects one in six children and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for a number of health problems such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some cancers.
As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.
Not doing any physical activity can be bad for you, no matter your age or health condition. Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none at all. Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical activity that you do.
If you're 65 years of age or older, are generally fit, and have no limiting health conditions you can follow the guidelines listed below.
Originally from Finland, with an educational background in Kindergarten teaching, she moved to North Carolina 22 years ago and now resides in the Concord area. She has two teenagers, one in high school and one in college. Johanna is very excited to be joining the Y team.
Her goal is to grow the Active Older Adults program throughout Cabarrus County’s three YMCAs in order to reach a wider audience.
She plans to continue programs already in place, as well as adding additional field trips for our active older adults.
We are pleased to introduce Yolanda Pitchford, who will assume duties as Executive Director at West Cabarrus beginning September 26. Yolanda has a great track record of success building teams and communities with 10+ years of experience in Virginia and Central Florida YMCAs. She is a graduate of the University of Richmond and earned an MBA from Strayer University.
Have you ever heard the question, “How do you cook okra?” On August 20, the question became, “How can’t you cook okra?”
Staff, volunteers and visitors to the YMCA farm took the opportunity to taste okra that was pickled, fermented, fried, deep fried or grilled. One even took the opportunity to eat okra raw. While there is nothing to dislike about fried okra, Brent Rockett, Executive Director at West Cabarrus was able to win several converts to the grilled okra with a super job on the grill.
Immunization, or vaccination, helps prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. To stay protected against serious illnesses like the flu, measles, and pneumonia, adults need to get their shots – just like kids do. National Immunization Awareness Month is a great time to promote vaccines and remind family, friends, and coworkers to stay up to date on their shots.
How can National Immunization Awareness Month make a difference?
We can all use this month to raise awareness about vaccines and share strategies to increase immunization rates with our community.
After years of planning, the YMCA Share the Harvest Community Farm planted the first edible crops on April 23, 2016. Harvest started on May 18 and as of July 24, over 2,700 lbs. of produce has been donated to Cooperative Christian Ministry. The farm is on track to meet the first year goal of 7,500 lbs.
A few more tomatoes along with a few more beans and some peas should take us to the 3,000 lb. mark. If all goes well, we are looking for 2,000 lbs. of butternut squash, 1,600 lbs. of sweet potatoes and 1,000 lbs. of cabbage. (The cabbage may be donated to Meals on Wheels, another partner for this effort.) We are also planting lettuce, collards, and carrots. Next year we will get started with early spring planting and our goal will be 10,000 lbs. for charity.
It is a blessing to be working with the children at the West Cabarrus YMCA. I have always known that I wanted to work with children; even be a teacher. However, I had no idea how much I would love them until I became a Camp Counselor. They have really impacted my heart. I learn every day how to care, love and have fun from the children that God created.
Children carry a sense of adventure with them and their imaginations are so big. Each week of Summer Camp has a theme. Superhero week gave the campers the opportunity to be whoever or whatever they wanted to be while playing superhero games, which encouraged creativity - a vital part of life.
It’s that time of year - school is out and many are taking vacations from work to take advantage of the summer weather and cookout and picnic season! While you can treat yourself to a treat occasionally, make sure not to overdo it at your next summer outing with these healthy tips:
Have a colorful plate! It’s farmers market season, enjoy all the wonderful produce we can get locally that provides us with all the “good” stuff (vitamins, minerals, fiber), and less of the “bad” stuff (sodium, added sugar, saturated and trans fat).
My name is Tara Larish and I am the new Aquatics Coordinator at the West Cabarrus Branch. I recently moved here from Minnesota where I was an Aquatics Coordinator for almost 2 years. I really enjoy seeing the children’s confidence grow as they swim during our open swim or through programs such as swim lessons. I am thankful to join such a great team and am excited about our aquatics program.
Each June we celebrate Men’s Health Month, especially the week leading up to Father’s Day, which is Men’s Health Week (June 13-19). The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems, and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.
My name is Rhoda Waters and I have been a Personal Trainer for 3 years. I have several certifications in Sports Nutrition, Yoga, Group Exercise, Cross Fit, Maximum Interval Training and SilverSneakers® just to name a few. My hobbies include, weight training, running, biking and competing, but most of all, spending time with my wonderful husband, granddaughters and children. I am a member of the National Physique Committee of North Carolina. I have competed in several Master bikini shows and have placed in the top 5 three times making me a National qualifier for the Sport.
Women tend to be great at taking care of others, but sometimes forget to take care of themselves. Very often women need a reminder that their health needs to be a priority in order to be able to take care of others. Use these strategies below to get a step up on your overall health:
1. Focus on a plant-based diet. Despite gender, you always want to focus on a nutrient dense diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, low-fat dairy and lean protein, but women do have some specific concerns during each phase of life:
2. Get Active & Stay Active! It is important to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week to maintain good health. As we age we tend to lose muscle and have an increase in fat mass, but if we incorporate regular cardiovascular and strength exercise we can prevent those less than desirable changes from happening. Maintaining lean mass can be even more challenging once women reach menopause, so start as early as possible and make exercise a habit!
3. Set Aside Leisure Time. Many experts have noted that women seem to be more susceptible to stress due to the fact that women are socialized to be caretakers. More women than men have both a career outside the home and continue to try to juggle traditional responsibilities after hours. Women are now more often trying to achieve the “male standard” at work, while trying to maintain the perfect wife and mother standards at home. Also, as women age and go through different life stages they are at risk for stress and depression related to hormonal changes. Go ahead and schedule some leisure time, and consider it a necessity, not a reward!
People often fight battles we know nothing about. Every day, people like 39-year old Pamela walk through a Cannon Y branch, not trying to create the perfect body, but just to make it through the day.
“Depression weighs on me really heavy so I need to get out and be around positive people and I find that at the Y. The staff and people there encourage me and pray for me. It means a lot,” said Pamela.
Four years ago, Pamela was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It took several office visits and second and third opinions before she could find a doctor to listen. “I knew something wasn’t quite right, but doctors thought I was too young to get a mammogram. I kept telling them and then, finally, one doctor listened and found 2 large masses.”
"My name is Bo Morrison. I am the Property Manager at the West Cabarrus YMCA. I lived in Kannapolis until I got married and moved to Rowan County. I have been married to my wife Lori for 27 years as of June 2016. I really enjoy seeing improvement being made to our facility to make our Y better for our members. In my spare time, I enjoy playing golf and going to the Outer Banks to fish and relax. I am very proud to part of the team here at our Y."
“I love working at the Y! It is such a welcoming place to go. The Y is a great place for families and its members are amazing. The Y feels like home to me. When I first joined the Y, I immediately felt welcomed and learned so much. I will forever feel indebted to them. That now motivates me to be the best instructor possible for our members. They really are the best!” Abby Manning, Group Exercise Instructor, Harrisburg Branch.
The photo is of Abby and her Couch-to-5K running club. They will be running the 9th Annual Harrisburg 5K on April 9. Based on this photo, we think Abby is not only teaching great skills, but that exercise is FUN! Thank you Abby for being a part of the Y Family!
Over 18 years ago, David Blackwelder was driving his Volkswagen when a tractor-trailer ran a red light, hit David and sent him through the windshield. His injuries were so severe that he laid in a coma in a Boston hospital for eight months. David woke up to a strange city, a strange state and a different body. Doctors told him it was doubtful that he would walk again but David was determined. “I didn’t want to come back to Concord in a wheelchair,” he said. David did return home in a wheelchair but slowly improved. He walked again but the mostly sedentary condition created other challenges such as weight gain and arthritis. In the midst of the discouragement, a friend recommended that David try the YMCA.