A Taste of Milk & Honey

No charge. Some of the friends of The Craddock Center have advised that funds for our programs, always in need of funds, could be raised by charging admission to events we offer the public. It is thoughtful and reasonable advice, and you can be sure it has laid a claim on my mind more than once. When persons with large incomes, large homes, and long vacations show up, I say to myself, “They are able to pay, they are accustomed to paying, they probably expect to pay, so why not charge?” In fact, I continue the conversation with myself, “Some of these more prosperous friends may be embarrassed to enter without paying. Why embarrass them? Take their money.”

Let me address first the obvious. There is no desire to embarrass anyone, neither those who can pay nor those who cannot. I am also aware that in our culture that which is offered free is by many assumed to be of inferior quality. If it is free, it must not be worth charging for. Nothing could be further from the truth. The lectures, the music, the seminars we offer the community are first rate. And the music, the stories, the books we give to the pre-K and Head Start children are the best available. No worn-out, second-hand, hand-me-down gifts that would only say to the children, “You are not worth the best.”

Having said that, let me remind you, the vision of The Craddock Center is the eventual creation of a community that is one community. We are not naïve: there are haves and have-nots, advantaged and disadvantaged, and the differences show in our residences, lifestyles, and, regrettably, also in our churches. But is it not great now and then to gather for music or seminar or lecture where those differences are not honored? No one enters by the “pay” gate and no enters by the “poor” gate; all enter the “free” gate. And when we sit together, we have a brief but very important experience of the kingdom of God. I hope it is not irreverent to say that this arrangement reminds one of grace. Grace comes to all without distinction.

Of course, some send gifts that pay the bills for all of us, and we are endlessly grateful. But if for a day or for an evening, those who give and those who receive share an event for which there is no charge, perhaps someone with courage and imagination will think of other and more lasting ways to remove distinctions among us. Would you like that?

In the meantime, Come on in and make yourself at home: there is no charge.

From Dr. Fred Craddock, Milk & Honey, January 2006

From the Executive Director

2022 has begun as a very successful year for The Craddock Center.

  • We have been able to hire more Arts Specialists to take programming to the little ones we serve. Every classroom is receiving our Children’s Enrichment Program, at a minimum, every other week with 66% of our classrooms receiving programming every week.
  • Our new Cub Scout Troop, Pack 440, is growing and thriving.
  • Songs & Stories returned on 2/05/22 for its 20th Anniversary to a record crowd.
  • We continue to collaborate with other non-profit organizations in our area to address: mental health awareness, literacy skills for all age groups, and the impacts of the Opioid addiction in our communities.
  • The Living Room program continues to thrive. The good news and the bad news. The bad news is there is a huge need for furniture and household goods for those in need to furnish their homes. The good news is that The Craddock Center can help.

As we navigate through the beginning of the third year of the pandemic, The Craddock Center continues to make sure the needs of the children and families we serve remains a priority through this crisis and beyond.

We are able to do this because of the generosity of our donors and volunteers. THANK YOU!!

Dr. Craddock’s Rocking Chairs

On a cool, colorful late October morning in our mountains, I accompanied Rev. Adam Bradley (Pastor of Cherry Log Christian Church) and Nettie Craddock to her former residence that she had shared with her dearly departed husband, Dr. Fred Craddock. Mrs. Craddock had graciously donated various items for the Cherry Log Christian Church’s annual yard sale.

While loading the items to be transported to the church, I noticed two very old and weather-worn wood rocking chairs. What mountain home would be complete without a couple of rocking chairs on its porch or deck? I immediately bought the chairs from the church, thinking if restored, they would be a fine addition to my back covered deck that provides year-round, long range mountain views. So, I brought the two rocking chairs home to my shop.

While in the mist of restoring them – which involved a lot of sanding, gluing, wood filler and multiple coats of linseed oil – I began to think of the times Dr. Craddock might have sat in them in the company of his beloved family enjoying the beautiful vista of nature that surrounded his home, thinking of the inspiring sermons that he lovingly intrigued us with and the insights of theology that he enlightened us.

After discussing the subject with my wife, Emmie, we both concluded that although we had purchased the rocking chairs, they didn’t really belong to us. We realized that they really belonged to the people of this region of Appalachia that both Fred and Nettie Craddock graciously served and loved. I called Kirk Cameron, Director of the Craddock Center, and he said they would be honored to take possession of the chairs. After completing the restoration of the two rocking chairs, I humbly delivered them to the Craddock Center as a tribute to the work that Dr. and Mrs. Craddock has diligently and lovingly given this mountain community. It feels good knowing that the rocking chairs will have a permanent home again.

From Johnny Lee, Elder, Cherry Log Christian Church

Support Summer Send Off 2022

In May 2022, The Craddock Center will have ’Summer Send Off 2022’. Each of our nearly 1,200 children will receive a bag of goodies as their pre-K and Head Start programs end for the Summer.  The goal of this program to provide our children an opportunity to continue learning even as their formal learning programs suspend for the Summer.  The Summer reading achievement gap can be closed by a child reading 4-5 books during the Summer. Each child will receive a brand-new ‘Golden Classic’ book, a book reading log to record the books they read during the Summer, stickers, and arts & crafts supplies needed to make a couple of hand puppets. Please go to the following link on Amazon and help fulfil the Wish List.  https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/2JFIHJCKL7QMW?ref_=wl_share   You can also shop yourself and send the items to:  The Craddock Center, PO BOX 69, Cherry Log, GA 30522. Thanks for the 200 books, crayons, bags, and stickers we already received!!  Thank you for your generosity!

NOVA Wild…Coming to The Craddock Center

What is NOVA Wild?

NOVA Wild is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program designed to help Cub Scouts learn about wildlife and the natural world around them. The Cub Scouts are bringing this program to The Craddock Center on April 23rd.

This program involves reading and watching videos about wildlife, endangered species, invasive species, biodiversity, and ecosystems.  It also involves making a poster about what is learned and presenting the findings to the Den. Visiting a place where wildlife can be observed is a part of this program.

Welcome to our newest Board Members

The Board of Directors of The Craddock Center welcomes its newest Board members: Laura Jensen and Jennille Martin.

Laura Jensen

My family lives in Norcross, GA. I teach Pre-First at Wesleyan School and my husband Ryan serves as pastor of Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church. He equips the members for meaningful service and ministry in that community. In my 14 years of teaching, I have served in urban public schools and K-12 independent schools. These experiences have impressed upon me the importance of early and repeated exposure to literacy and the arts. I have seen the joy in a kindergartener’s eyes during a read aloud because the only books available are at school. In Pre-First, I witness the confidence of a young reader when the pieces start to come together, and letters turn into words. I am thankful my two children, Camille, age 10, and Knox, age 8, are avid readers. Ryan and I have read to them since they were born. I know the value and necessity of books in children’s hands and in their homes, and I would be grateful for the opportunity to join in the work of the Craddock Center to bring “happy and hope” to the children of Appalachia. 

Jennille Martin

Jennille Martin was born and raised in Silver Creek, Ga (Rome).  She graduated from Pepperell High School, received her BSED and MSED in mathematics from the University of Georgia, then earned a Specialist Degree in mathematics and computer education from Marshall University. Her career positions included classroom teacher, director of technology, college instructor, customer support in technology company, upper school director in a school for gifted children, and supervisor of a NSF grant. Jennille married Carroll in 1970. She has one daughter and one grandson.  Cherry Log was the vacation spot of choice until it became home in 2004. Jennille and her puppy now live in Blue Ridge where she enjoys quilting and reading.

If you have an interest in serving on the Board of The Craddock Center, please contact Kirk Cameron at kirk-craddock@tds.net.

The Jim Weiland Meeting Room

Jim was a favorite volunteer of The Craddock Center.  For many years he fixed the donated wooden toys that were damaged in transit, worked in our Bookroom preparing the books for the children and told us wonderful stories as an added bonus.  Always a smile even when he did not feel well.  Jim would sneak morsels of candy before his wife, Judy, would catch him.

On December 21, 2021, the room where Jim did so much of his work for The Craddock Center was dedicated as the Jim Weiland Meeting Room.

Thank you Jim for your service to the children and to The Craddock Center!

Business After Hours – Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

On February 15, 2022, The Craddock Center hosted ‘Business After Hours’ for the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce. This program is designed to allow The Craddock Center to showcase what we do and create more awareness of The Craddock Center in our community.  It also offers Chamber members the chance to meet one another and network in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.

The Children’s Enrichment Program – WELCOME NEW ARTS SPECIALISTS

The primary role of arts specialists is to love children and to engage and enrich them through music and movement. Using Songs and Stories, the Arts Specialists conduct 30-minute music and movement classes with preschoolers according to a defined weekly schedule. They use music, instruments, props, movement, puppets, storytelling, and routines to encourage children to sing, move, dance, and play. They build vocabulary and self-esteem and promote gross motor and rhythmic skills. They serve as cheerful “ambassadors” at all schools and are positive and communicative with school staff and Center staff.

We would like to introduce three new Arts Specialists that will be working with the children we serve.

Kathy Thompson

Over a period of 37 years Kathy Thompson taught art to high school, middle school, and elementary students. She shared that, “I am really having fun interacting with this age. They are so guileless and attentive. And you never can tell what they will say.” As part of the curriculum, she has designed and is teaching, the children are learning about the animals, music, and art of peoples in many parts of the world. “My three granddaughters love Peppa Pig. Our Peppa puppet introduces each country. Thompson loves to travel, having been to Canada, Mexico, Europe, Africa, and Central America. In Costa Rica, where she has visited three times, she leads a group that teaches in Costa Rican schools. The character education projects involving the creation of classroom murals that reflect on the heroes and resources of the country. Dr. Thompson did her graduate work at the University of Georgia in the area of creative thinking. Her connection to the Appalachian community is reflected in her writing. She has written five non-fiction books about this area. For more information go to kathythompsonbooks.com.

Jane Owen Cunningham

Georgia has been my home for the past 40 years but, if I am asked, “Where are you from?” I will answer Mississippi. That is where I was born and raised, and that is where I heard stories. I have a BS degree in Elementary Education from Mississippi State College for Women and a Master ‘s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Berry College in Georgia. The Southern Order of Storytellers based in Atlanta, GA introduced me to the world of storytelling. My love of stories led me to my work as a storyteller, workshop leader and media specialist/storyteller at Berry College Elementary and Middle School. I have experienced the world as a Delta Stewardess, a teacher, an H&R Block receptionist, a business owner, an actress, a wife, a mother, co-creator of The Children’s Playhouse (story-art workshops for children), a Baptist and an Episcopalian. I have presented story programs and workshops throughout the southeast from Washington D.C. to Puerto Rico. I have retired from Berry, but not from storytelling. I continue to listen to stories, create new stories, tailor storytelling workshops, and perform my stories.

Claudia Bradford

Claudia Bradford holds a master’s degree in education, a bachelor’s degree in music education and is a certified Pre-K-12 classroom music educator. Ms. Bradford has over 20 years of teaching experience. Her experience includes also includes directorship in choral, instrumental, and musical theater. She currently teaches part-time as the Adapted Music Specialist in the Dalton Public Schools system serving Pre-K-12 special needs students. She has received multiple Georgia Governor’s awards for outstanding student performances at the Governor’s mansion in Atlanta, Georgia. Her dedication to the fine arts has resulted in her students’ participation in the Georgia Statewide Elementary Honors Chorus, Clayton County Honors Musical, The Atlanta Festival Ballet, and The Blue Ridge Community Theater’s Sunny D Children’s Theater. She has also written several musicals including a children’s musical “The Runaway Reindeer” and because storytelling is a major part of her creative process, she is very excited to be part of The Craddock Center team!

Songs & Stories Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary

Songs & Stories returned to The Craddock Center on February 5, 2022, to a record crowd to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Natalie Jones, one of The Craddock Center’s Arts Specialist, provided lively and humorous storytelling and John McCutcheon, a world-traveled musician, returned to thrill the guests with beautiful folk music.

The concert was free to those who attended but they responded with generous donations that will be used to purchase books for the 1,200 children we serve.

Songs & Stories was started by Dr. Fred Craddock twenty years ago. He wanted something in the winter that people could enjoy. An event that brought people together to have a fun winter afternoon highlighting the old Appalachian traditions of storytelling and folk music.

The Benefits of Dr. Seuss Books

If you know a school age child, there’s a good chance they celebrated Read Across America Day last year at school. This yearly reading initiative also includes the observance of Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2. On March 2, 2020, The Craddock Center gave away nearly 1,100 brand new Dr. Seuss books to the pre-K and Head Start children we serve.

Why Dr. Seuss Books?

Beloved author, Theodor Seuss Geisel, wrote 44 children’s books in his lifetime. Most of us grew up reading these wacky tales. Parents know how much fun these books are, but many don’t realize their value as early readers for their kids. So, what makes Dr. Seuss books such a great choice for early readers?

We all love those wonderful rhymes that Dr. Seuss was such a master at creating. Did you know those simple rhyming texts are actually more than entertaining? Before a child learns to read, they must understand that words are made up of different sounds and the manipulation of these sounds creates words. Hearing rhymes helps our little ones develop an ear for words with similar sounds.

It can be challenging to get some kids interested in reading because they consider it tedious or too much like work. Dr. Seuss books are a great choice for reluctant emergent readers because they are anything but boring. The wild and wacky tales that unfold when children open a book by Dr. Seuss captures their imagination right away, helping them to stay engaged. Another perk of Seuss stories is their colorful and crazy illustrations!

Easily Committed to Memory
Parents remember reading Dr. Seuss’s ABC book to them. After all these years, they can still recall parts of that book, “Big A, little a. What begins with A? Aunt Annie’s Alligator, A A A”.  Children also easily recall these short rhythmic passages. Once committed to memory, children feel they know these stories and can “read” them for themselves while turning pages. This type of practicing instills a love of literacy at a young age.

Sight Words
Sight words are words that are used commonly throughout texts we read every day. Parents and teachers practice these words with their early elementary aged child during homework time. Many of Dr. Seuss’s books contain a prolific amount of sight words. The Cat in the Hat, for example, is full of common words that children need to readily recognize.

Nonsense Words
Dr. Seuss books are also full of funny, nonsense words. These made-up words make children giggle as well as aid her reading development. Unlike sight words, nonsense words aren’t immediately recognizable and must be sounded out. This “sounding out” practice helps children learn how to put letters together to form words.

Our Toymaker Angels!

On Tuesday, December 14, 2021, volunteers from The Craddock Center delivered 1,123 hand-made wooden toys to the children in the pre-K and Head Start programs we support. We can do this because of the generosity of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Woodshop from Houston, TX and the ToyMakers of East Lake in Palm Harbor, FL. These two organizations have been supporting the children of The Craddock Center for many years. Many of the teachers in the classrooms we support tell us the gifts of toys and books from The Craddock Center are the only gifts these children receive.

Thanks to our volunteer elves Lynn Tholen and Marcia Lehman for packing the toys. And thanks to our delivery elves: Beth Roberts, Joe Cantwell, Milly Hastings & Steve Stevens, and Carolyn Lakes & Larry Brannan for taking the toys to the schools.

The ToyMakers of East Lake

The ToyMakers of East Lake have given away 150,000 hand-made wooden toys since 2009. They are an outreach mission of East Lake United Methodist Church and are a 100% volunteer non-profit organization to make smiles one toy at a time. They produce and donate brightly painted, hand-made wooden toys to 51 agencies for sick and needy children in stressful environments.

In addition to making toys, they also source, repair, and recycle bicycles back into their community to needy children, returning veterans, and homeless working adults.

The Woodshop of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church

The Woodshop of St. Luke’s has been making wooden toys for over 20 years and they give away four to five thousand toys each year. The Craddock Center was one of the first recipients of their toys. Their main goal is fellowship and giving to others.