Archive for: December 27th, 2017

Local News Seasonal
A Christmas visit to RSW Jail reminds us of the holiday’s true meaning
December 27, 2017
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Inmates in one cell block gather around the trio of Christmas evening visitors after hearing a message of love and redemption. Courtesy Photos/RSW-Russ Gilkison

WARREN COUNTY – Well it wasn’t Santa and reindeer, but it WAS a Christmas evening visit that brought a message of hope and seasonal cheer to inmates of the RSW Regional Jail. And if not a contingent led by a famous red-nosed reindeer, it was led by an almost-equally-famous animal of Hollywood fame – Warren County’s own Grace the performing mule, along with trainer Stevie Foster and musician Kirby Covert.

Grace, whom actor Robert Duvall told this reporter rates “right up there at the top” of all the famous leading ladies he’s worked with over a stellar movie career, was accompanied by Foster and guitarist Covert on a mission of faith, redemption and Christmas joy.

Grace is lit up like a Christmas tree under the watchful eye of handler Stevie Foster.

RSW Superintendent Russ Gilkison explains that Foster and Covert visit the jail weekly and that Foster has included RSW in his Christmas jail visits with a message since its opening.

“Stevie has been visiting inmates on Christmas day for 20 years and has been coming to RSW on Christmas since the opening in 2014. This marks the first year for Grace the mule to accompany Stevie on his annual visit,” Gilkison told Royal Examiner, adding of the visit, “Grace, adorned with garland and lights, performed a few tricks like counting out her age by stomping her hoof and smiling for the crowd, bringing holiday cheer and laughter to the jail on a day that is usually quiet and somber.

“This was followed by Kirby Covert playing his guitar and singing Christmas songs such as ‘Silent Night’ and ‘New Star Shining’. Stevie would then say a few words about his personal story of drug and alcohol addiction, spending Christmases away from his family until he final gave his life to Jesus Christ and turned his life around. Steve then lead them in prayer and let them know this could be their best Christmas, if they would make the choice to let God into their lives to help them.

“I saw many men and women with tears in their eyes and then a smile on their face as Grace would do a final trick waving a handkerchief goodbye as we moved on to the next housing unit.”

Kirby Covert sings a holiday message during visit.

Gilkison shared the thoughts of a father of one of the RSW inmates after speaking to his son following the visit.

“I would like to thank you and all involved for the special Christmas luncheon served, the commissary gifts, as well as the visit by Steve Foster and his Amazing Grace. I spoke with (his son) last evening and he explained all that happed yesterday and it was the first time in months that he had a sound of excitement in his voice.

“I’m sure yesterday’s events had a positive effect for all involved and did give hope to those that could not be home with their families. I also want to thank you personally for taking time from your family to accompany Mr. Foster and Grace during their visit.”

Thanks to Superintendent Gilkison for sharing this story with us; and a special thanks to Steve Foster, Kirby Covert and Grace for reminding us what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.

Community Events Local News
Little Caesars Love Kitchen to serve public lunch at Winchester Rescue Mission on Friday
December 27, 2017
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The Little Caesars Love Kitchen will make a stop in Winchester on Friday, Dec. 29 at the Winchester Rescue Mission. / Courtesy photo.

WINCHESTER, VA – The Little Caesars Love Kitchen will roll into the Winchester Rescue Mission on Friday, December 29, to serve a free pizza lunch to community members.

The big-rig doubles as a mobile kitchen and travels across the United States, feeding the hungry and homeless, as well as disaster survivors.

Little Caesars local franchise owners donate the resources necessary to make each Love Kitchen serving a success. An estimated 50,000 franchisees, their employees and corporate colleagues have volunteered over the years to support the program in their local communities.

Brandan Thomas, Executive Director of the Winchester Rescue Mission, said, “It’s a real treat to have Little Caesars come out and support us. It shows the guys the community is behind them.”

The pizza chain reached out to the nonprofit organization that serves homeless men after they “saw the work we were doing and wanted to partner with what we were already accomplishing, “ Thomas said in a Wednesday interview.

The Mission doesn’t typically serve lunch, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help spread the message of love to those in need. Free pizza will be served at noon at 435 N. Cameron Street. Everyone is welcome to eat.

The Winchester Rescue Mission serves between 2,500 and 3,000 meals each month.  Dinner is served at 5:00 p.m. daily and is open to any man, woman, or child who is in need of a meal.

“Our nightly dinners continue to grow,” Thomas said.  “We pride ourselves on being a safe and welcoming environment for everyone in our community.  We have very generous volunteers who’ve been able to keep up with the high demand this winter.”

As word of the Love Kitchen is spreading throughout the area, members of the community have stepped forward to offer additional help.  Some have donated sodas to be served with the pizza.

Others have brought new coats to the facility to give to the residents.  Items needed include: warm socks, gloves, hats, coats,  and gift cards to purchase items.  A list of the Mission’s most needed items can be found here: Current Mission needs.   Donated items can be dropped off at 435 N. Cameron Street between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

More information about the Winchester Rescue Mission,  which has been serving the community since 1974, is available at winrescue.org.

A chief goal of Thomas’ is to educate the public about the issue of homelessness.  Often, he says, the public tends to view a homeless person as lazy, drug-addicted or worse.  It is more likely that the person has experienced one or more circumstances that combine to contribute to homelessness.

Many Americans these days are only a paycheck or two away from dire circumstances, and the loss of a job, or having an illness without sick-days to provide for missed work hours can be enough to create homelessness.

“These people are no different than you or I, “ Thomas said in the interview.  “They are often the victim of multiple circumstances.”

While no solid figures were available for the current homeless population in Winchester-Frederick County, a count last year put the number somewhere north of 200.

In addition to his role of nearly two years at the Mission, Thomas serves as Pastor of the Canvas Church, which meets at the Virginia Ave. Elementary School.  In fact, he relocated to the city of Winchester to begin the church.

Little Caesars has two trucks in operation, which are in service 365 days a year. The restaurants on wheels have served more than three million people, according to the corporate website.

The Love Kitchen has been recognized for its charitable efforts, receiving The President’s Volunteer Action Award Citation from former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The Reagan administration also awarded the Love Kitchen a Presidential Citation for Private Sector Initiatives.

Health
Study: Social media causes fatigue in kids
December 27, 2017
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Despite the convenience of full time online connection, it is likely causing youth extra stress and fatigue.

According to Dr. Bratt of the Academy of Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis, social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can wear people out because of its continually updating nature. Notifications pour in at all hours of the day and night, and the fear of missing out creates a false sense of urgency among users. Absorbing all of the information can make a person feel overwhelmed, and over time this leads to anxiety and trouble sleeping.

Further research in the Journal of Youth Studies recently analyzed the night-time activities of school children ranging from 12 to 15 years old; specifically how often they were checking messages on social media. In the study, 20 percent of subjects said that they ‘almost always’ woke up in the middle of the night to check their accounts. These same students were three times more likely to say that they were tired during school and were also not as happy, on average, as the rest of the children. Researchers at San Diego State University have shown that this reduction in quality sleep can lead to lowered performance in school because students are not able to concentrate and pay attention as easily.

A recent study from the Council on Communications and Media found that social media can also trigger negative emotions that can lead to a lowered sense of well-being, jealousy, and perceived social isolation. This isolation has even caused what some researchers have dubbed ‘Facebook depression’ because of how teens and tweens have been shown to exhibit the classic symptoms of depression after spending a considerable amount of time on the site. Depression can lead to other health issues including a lack of sleep and fatigue.