Just hangin’ out

April 15, 2009

Conrad Kelly, 5, enjoys a day at the park after a spring rain shower. Published as a stand-alone photo on the front page of the TRURO DAILY NEWS on April 14, 2009.

Conrad Kelly, 5, enjoys a day at the park after a spring rain shower. Published as a stand-alone photo on the front page of the TRURO DAILY NEWS on April 14, 2009.

TRURO – Roxanne Beavers of Lower Onslow said she’d like to nurse her seven-month-old son for at least a year.
Medically, she’s golden. But statistically, she’s going against the grain.
Many moms are choosing to stop nursing their babies sooner than they perhaps should, despite increasing breastfeeding rates for 20 years.
A recent survey by Maternity Experiences Study Group, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada, showed 90 per cent of women planned to breastfeed their babies longer than six months – but only 14 per cent of those women actually did so.
“A lot will depend on work, and a lot will depend on him,” Beavers said, referring to her son Oliver.
Many women have to stop breastfeeding earlier than planned for health reasons, too.
“Usually it’s a physical as opposed to an emotional choice,” Beavers said.
Communities – and hospitals in particular – need to be more supportive of breastfeeding, Beavers said. A ‘nurse-in’ was staged in February at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax after a woman was told to “cover up” while breastfeeding her baby.
Beavers said she tries to cover up in public while nursing but wishes she didn’t have to worry about not exposing anything.
“But what does it matter? It’s food – the original fast food.”
Workplaces, too, need to be more supportive of breastfeeding and allow mothers to pump milk at work.
“Pumping will keep your supply up,” said Beavers, 32. “If you’re only nursing a few times a day, I think it’s harder to keep going.”
Janet MacNeil, mother to eight-month-old Georgia, said the statistics of women breastfeeding long-term are discouraging but she understands why some women can’t do it.
“Some people have to go back to work or they just feel the baby is ready to move on,” said MacNeil, 35.
The Onslow Mountain resident said starting out nursing can be daunting. “If you make it to six weeks, you’re doing good.”
Kathie Sutherland, a parent educator and co-ordinator at Maggie’s Place in Truro, suggests more support groups and more information for new mothers are the keys to improving duration rates.
“The goal is that every baby be breastfed, exclusively for six months, and continue breastfeeding for two years, as the World Health Organization recommends,” said Sutherland.
She cites negative connotations and myths about breastfeeding as some possible reasons why women choose not to breastfeed long-term.
“In North America and western cultures, that’s not the norm,” she said. “There’s still lots to be done to inform people and to advocate for babies and mothers.”
The health benefits of long-term breastfeeding can do wonders for a baby, Sutherland added.
“The longer babies are breastfed, the stronger those benefits are and the longer they last.”
But the health benefits of breastfeeding don’t only benefit baby – but mom, too.
“Many people think of breastfeeding as being hard on a woman’s body but while you’re breastfeeding, you absorb calcium and other nutrients very efficiently,” Sutherland commented. “Most women don’t know about these things.”
Unfortunately, Sutherland said, the longer you breastfeed your baby, the less community support you’ll probably get.
“The challenges of breastfeeding change as the baby gets older.”
Maggie’s Place is a support centre for families with young children and babies. The next breastfeeding support group at Maggie’s Place is scheduled for Monday, May 4 at 10-11:30 a.m. For more information on breastfeeding, visit the La Leche League of Canada’s website at http://www.lllc.ca.

(This was published in the April 13, 2009 edition of the Truro Daily News.)

Busy Easter weekend

April 11, 2009

Local church attendance expected to increase for Christian holiday

(The first photo was featured in colour on the front page with the cutline “Katie Cameron found the inter-church service at the First Baptist Church on Friday in Truro inspiring. The second photo was featured on page 3 with my story, above the headline: ‘C and E’ Christians’ help fill church pews.)

TRURO – Local churches are busier this weekend as Christians celebrate one of the most significant holidays of the year – and it’s all due to the Cs and Es.
“It’s satirically called the C and E Christians – Christmas and Easter,” explained First Baptist Church minister Rev. Andy Crowell. “Sometimes I think it’s dismissed as ‘it’s the only time they care, Christmas and Easter.’ I think that’s being too
dismissive.”
Truro has hosted an inter-church Good Friday service for about half a century. This year’s service was held at First Baptist Church.
“It wasn’t just a Protestant service. It was a Christian service,” said Crowell. “And it brought us together.”
It’s important to have an inter-church service because each denomination finds significant meaning in Easter but has a slightly different approach, said Rev. David Lutes of Brunswick Street United Church and North River United Church.
“When we come together in that sense of unity around this very stressful time, it shows that this is a force within our community.”
Attendance is expected to be higher Sunday for most churches, but it’s best not to speak too soon.
“For us, we just have to wait and see,” said Rev. Joseph Thomas of Immaculate Conception Parish. “We expect a big crowd, as always. (Thursday), we had the evening with the celebration of the washing of the feet and we had a big crowd.”
St. James Presbyterian Church pastor Dr. Brian Ross said he expects a modest increase in attendance on Easter Sunday, but nothing too dramatic.
“A secular culture will find other ways to mark a long weekend. That’s the reality,” he said. “It’s 2009, not 1959.”
Culturally, Christmas is bigger than Easter and attracts more people to the pews, said Crowell.
“But there ain’t no Christmas without Easter.”
There is an emotional attachment to Christmas Eve that is not there on Easter Sunday, Lutes said.
“Is it a childhood memory? Is it the image of the babe? Whatever it is, there’s something on Christmas Eve that is stronger.”
Katie Cameron attended the Good Friday inter-church service at the First Baptist Church in Truro yesterday.
“I thought it was good,” said Cameron, a Truro resident and member of the St. Andrew’s United Church. “I thought it was powerful. It had lots of different messages from different ministers.”
And as for how the bunny fits into the whole picture…
“There’s nothing uniquely Christian about it,” said Crowell, laughing.

FACT BOX

  • Holy Thursday/Maundy Thursday – Honours the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles.
  • Good Friday – Honours the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Golgotha.
  • Holy Saturday – Honours the day Jesus Christ’s body lay in the tomb. Last day of Holy Week.
  • Easter Sunday – Honours the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

(Published in the April 11, 2009 issue of the Truo Daily News.)

Making the community ‘a better place for everyone’

Ethel MacLaughlin is very giving of her time

For Ethel MacLaughlin, the lessons learned as a young girl in her native Guysborough County still hold true today.
“As a Brownie, I was encouraged to do a good deed for someone each day,” said MacLaughlin, 66. “When that is a practice as a child, then it sort of becomes a habit in our community to make it a better place for everyone.”
MacLaughlin was a Brownie leader, camp advisor and sat on the local and provincial camping council for many years.
Interacting with children and steering them in the right direction is very rewarding, MacLaughlin said.
“It’s difficult for people growing up and they need role models and they need somebody to encourage them – just point the way.”
Today, the Lower Truro resident spends her spare time visiting seniors and shut-ins, and encouraging others to recycle.
“Anyone I see putting newspaper or things that should be in the blue bag in the garbage I correct them and encourage them to think about the landfill filling up unnecessarily,” MacLaughlin explained. “If we keep using things over, we’re so much further ahead.”
Everything that’s manufactured should have a future purpose and should be reusable, said MacLaughlin.
“At least 50 per cent of the stuff that goes to landfills probably could have had another use if somebody was resourceful.”
Despite a few bad apples, Truro has come a long way on the recycling front.
“I’m really proud of Colchester County,” she said.
MacLaughlin, a proud member of the St. James Presbyterian Church family, has held most offices in the Atlantic Mission Society, Morning Auxiliary and Friendship Club. She taught Sunday school for many years and now provides nursery care for her church.
She’s been involved with the Cobequid Firemanettes, Truro Curling Club, Truro Hospital Auxiliary and the chowder luncheon at the annual Hub Bub. In addition, MacLaughlin is a former trustee of the Lower Truro Community Hall and sat on the Community Health Board for several years.
MacLaughlin, who canvasses for the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, has some advice for all those battling boredom and loneliness. Get out and volunteer.
There are so many organizations currently looking for somebody to help, she said.
“It’s becoming more difficult every year to get somebody to say yes.”

(This was published in the April 11, 2009 issue of the Truro Daily News.)

Volunteering keeps Marg Arsenault busy

STEWIACKE – Marg Arsenault is one busy gal.
The wife of a retired RCMP officer, Arsenault has been volunteering for a long time.
“I’ve been married 48 years this year so probably pretty close to that long,” Arsenault said.
Originally from New Glasgow, Arsenault started volunteering in Kentville before moving to Stewiacke. She found her schedule a little too cluttered when she became a mother.
“When you have three children, you can’t do it as much,” she said.
Now that her three daughters are grown up, the grandmother of four and great-grandmother of one keeps busy by volunteering.
“I said to my husband last night ‘I don’t know how people get bored,’” she said.
Arsenault sits on the board at the Children’s Aid Society and Family Services of Colchester County and has been involved with Christmas Index for 25 years. She’s involved with Amanda’s Gift, the John Howards Society and volunteered at the Salvation Army for over 20 years.
When one of her many committees comes calling for auction items, Arsenault goes to work making gift baskets.
“One year, I did 85,” she said.
She frequently decorates for committee events, auctions and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“It’s interesting,” Aresenault added. “Right now I’m making wreaths for the Hank Snow Society.”
Arsenault, 70, has received multiple awards for her dedication to volunteering.
“It’s fun and it helps other people,” she said. “It’s nice to do for others and not think about it. Just do it and hope that it helps somebody along the way.”
As far as community involvement goes, age doesn’t seem to be a factor for Arsenault.
“When you’re hittin’ up towards 70, you think ‘I’m not going to do this,’” she commented. “But I can’t imagine not doing it.”
In her spare time – which she rarely has much of – Arsenault enjoys spending time with her husband and entertaining guests. But volunteering is her true passion.
“That’s basically what I do,” she laughed. “Besides look after my husband.”

(This was published in the April 4, 2009 edition of the Truro Daily News.)

Jeanette Muriel Brown has experienced ‘some good times, some bad times’ during her 100 years

Jeanette Muriel Brown wishes she could turn back the clock.

Brown, who celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday, became a wife at 16 and a mother at 17.

“I couldn’t get back to school because I had to look after the children,” said Brown, who lives at Wynn Park Villa in Truro.

She was determined to get her high school diploma, however, and finally did at the age of 63.

“If I can do it at 63, (kids) should be able to do it at 18.”

Brown was born in Truro in 1909, three years before the Titanic sunk and five years before the First World War began.

She doesn’t remember much about Truro from her childhood since she moved to Cape Breton when she was about seven. She later lived in the United States for many years, married her first husband Charles Paris, had three children and managed a successful co-op store in Hartford, Conn.

“We went to the various stores and we sold the stuff to them as we bought it. We didn’t make a profit,” Brown explained. “That’s not what it was all about. It was about helping the people.”

Brown also moved back and forth between the U.S. and Truro during the Great Depression in the 1930s.

“The only thing I can remember from the Depression is that we all had to tighten our belts. You couldn’t spend what you didn’t have.”

During the Second World War, Brown worked in an ammunition factory in Montreal.

“I worked there for two years as an inspector,” she said. “I inspected the casings.”

Brown married her second husband, Lewis Brown, in 1958 (he died in 2002) and moved back to Truro for good about 30 years ago. Unfortunately, some of the same problems she witnessed in her younger years regarding people of her race was still evident.

“I was so surprised when I came back home and found that it had not changed as far as black people were concerned. I didn’t see them (being offered) jobs. I still don’t.”

Besides her three children (two of whom have died), Brown has nine grandchildren and said she can’t count how many great-grandchildren she has.

“But my great-great-grandchildren, I think I have 15 of them,” she said. “I’m happy I’m at this age and I can see some of my great-great-grandchildren.”

She reflected on reaching the century milestone.

“Let’s just say it’s been half-and-half,” said Brown, who was surrounded by friends and family at a birthday party at the fire hall in Truro. “Some good times, some bad times.”

Good genes is one of the keys to Brown’s longevity. Her mother died at 92 and her grandfather was in his 90s.

Brown cites hard work and common sense as two other important ingredients to leading a good life.

“I was taught to do what you have to do with what you’ve got.”

(This was published in the April 8, 2009 issue of the Truro Daily News.)

Volunteers with creative flair are needed to put the finishing touches on the mural on the back of the Truro Centre. Experience is not required.

The mural, which was started in the summer of 2003, has been an ongoing project of the Town of Truro and the Communities in Bloom committee.

Local artist Lisa-Marie Durling, students from the Nova Scotia Community College and the Truro Junior High School art club and many other groups have assisted with the mural in the past.

NSCC digital animation instructor Holly Lennox designed a good portion of the mural and has worked on it every summer since the project began.

“Except for how slow it’s gone I’m quite pleased with it,” Lennox said,

Communities in Bloom is a Canadian non-profit organization committed to community beautification in downtown, park, residential and commercial areas.

Anyone interested in helping out with completing the mural can contact Lennox at 895-8621 or e-mail her holly.lennox@nscc.ca.

(This was published in the March 4, 2009 issue of the Truro Daily News.)

BIBLE HILL – Canada’s oldest bluegrass festival will be moving to the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition grounds in Bible Hill this summer.
The Nova Scotia Bluegrass and Oldtime Music Festival, held in East Stewiacke since 2005, will call the Agridome home July 24 to 26.
About 700 to 1,000 people usually attend the 37-year-old event but organizers are hoping for at least 1,500 spectators this year.
Charlie MacKenzie, chairman of the music festival and head event organizer, cited weather and changing demographics for the change in venue.
“The site wasn’t working for us so we had to look at something different,” he said. “The weather last year played havoc.”
Aside from the weather, the East Stewiacke venue was a beautiful spot, MacKenzie added.
“You had the river flowing next to you, that sort of thing. But if it rains, the crowd stays away.”
The Agridome will allow for an outdoor experience but bluegrass fans will be protected from the elements.
“Regardless of the weather, they’ll be under a nice translucent roof,” MacKenzie said. “We’re going to have artificial turf on the floor.”
The venues in the past have had weather protection for the crowd, usually a solid or tent roof. But rain and wind still dampened the festival events.
“Our demographics (aging fan base) are changing,” MacKenzie added with a chuckle. “And they don’t want to sit in the rain.”
Dan Fraser, the president of the Downeast Bluegrass & Oldtime Music Society, said they have wanted to move the festival for a number of years and Truro/Bible Hill seemed like a prime location.
“We have more camping sites with power and water in Truro,” Fraser said. “Other than that, I don’t think there’s going to be a whole lot of changes.”
Altering the festival’s venue will make for a better experience for everyone attending, Fraser explained.
“We feel it’ll be considerably bigger in Truro.”
Lloyd MacPhee, the owner of the East Stewiacke property where the festival was held for the past four years, said the event might be better off in its new location.
“We run our festivals different than they do. Some of the stuff they do – people don’t like the way they run the festival.”
Stewiacke mayor Dereck Rhoddy wasn’t aware of the event’s relocation until being notified by the Truro Daily News.
“I’m just a little bit disappointed,” said Rhoddy. “It’ll mean a loss to the economy in our area for that weekend. I’m really disappointed that they made that decision.
“We don’t really have a lot of attractions in Stewiacke. Opportunities like this are definitely a great impact.”
The exhibition grounds in Bible Hill will also host the annual Dutch Mason Blues Festival Aug. 7 to 9.
More information on the Bluegrass & Oldtime Music Festival can be found at downeastgrass.com.

(This story was published in the April 1, 2009 issue of the Truro Daily News.)

TRURO – Local residents raised a record-breaking amount of money for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Colchester last weekend.
The three-day event, which included a bowling tournament at the Bowlacade in Bible Hill, raked in a whopping $86,500. This represented a 28 per cent increase from the $62,000 raised last year.
“Our goal was $75,000 and we thought that was a pretty ambitious goal for these economic times,” said executive director Michelle Misener. “They just blew the doors off of our goal. We’re thrilled.
“People generally dig really deep and they understand that everybody is really struggling, trying to handle these difficult times.
“It’s the regular everyday people that really doll you up and give big.”
About 130 teams took part in the bowling tournament this year.
“We had a lot more teams than we ever had so that was a big factor in it,” Misener said.
“So, more teams mean, obviously, more money.”
Everybody had a lot of fun and enjoyed themselves, said Misener.
“I’d really like to thank everybody who came out and bowled and who supported and who sponsored.”
The money will go towards various programs run by Big Brothers Big Sisters including an in-school mentoring program, a scholarship and a self-esteem fund which finances programs for kids who couldn’t afford it otherwise.
“If they want to take music lessons or something along those lines, we’ll fund that for them,” Misener explained.
Everybody had a lot of fun and enjoyed themselves, said Misener.
“I’d really like to thank everybody who came out and bowled and who supported and who sponsored.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a charitable organization that offers programs and assistance for school-age children. Its next major fundraiser locally is a golf tournament on Friday, June 26 at the Mountain Golf and Country Club in Truro.

(This was published in the March 31, 2009 issue of the Truro Daily News.)

I did a story a couple days ago on a CEC teacher who is traveling to Macedonia this summer to build homes for Habitat For Humanity and a local Chinese restaurant helped her out with the fund-raising. She sent me a thank-you note today: Thank you for doing the Habitat for Humanity article. The fundraiser at the King Lam was a huge success. I’ll have to give you an update on how the build went when I get back in August. -Suzanne

That made me feel pretty good. Made me feel like something I wrote was actually helping someone. And that’s a special feeling. 🙂

I will be taking over Volunteer of the Week for the Truro Daily News for the next 3 weeks. Here was this week’s.

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The joy of working with animals

Animals big, animals small. Whitney McDonald loves them all. McDonald, a 20-year-old Brookfield resident, has been spending her extra time taking care of pets at the Colchester SPCA in Truro since January.
“I just enjoy being around pets,” said the pre-vet student at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Bible Hill.
“So this gives me experience with small animals.”
McDonald has wanted to be a vet since she was about seven years old.
“I’ve always been more interested in animals than humans.”
She loves all types of animals but she is especially fond of horses. “I just think they’re gorgeous and fun to ride,” she explained.
McDonald’s volunteering resumé isn’t limited to just working with animals. “A few years ago, I helped out with dinners and stuff at the legion in Truro,” she said.
The former South Colchester Academy student also served on student police, dance committee and Safe Grad in high school.
Some of McDonald’s friends help out with animals in their free time, too. “They do at different places,” she said. “One of my friends volunteers at the NSAC barns.”
However, she said she wishes more young people would volunteer, particularly with animals in need. “They need to understand that animals go through hardships.”
After graduation, McDonald would like to set up a vet practice in Colchester County.