A Taste of Milk & Honey

Into The Trash Barrel — that’s where I tossed a file folder containing notes 60 years old.  The notes were of my participation on a college debate team.  One debate dealt with the role of labor in the management of a company.  I argued for the proposal bit it is evident from my notes that I was pretty much chewed up and spit out by the opposition.  Of greater interest was the debate over the resolution that unless an action proceeds from the heart it is not a Christian act.  I argued against the proposition.

I am sure supporters of the proposition made a good case:  out of a good heart comes the good deed, out of the generous heart comes the generous gift, out of the true heart comes the truth, etc.  Who could argue with that?  I did.

My point was that we sometimes know what is right to do well in advance of feeling comfortable with it.  Racial prejudice, for example.  Many people acknowledged what was right long before they felt it in their hearts.  The trip from head to heart is often long and painful, but to wait until everyone felt right before doing right would have been immoral.  We can’t sit still before a green light waiting until our hearts agree with moving on.  The good feeling, we want often follows rather than precedes the action.

The same is true of giving.  Suppose one knows a cause or program worthy of a gift; what a shame to wait on sending the gift until the heart is warmly stirred.  The good feeling, we want is as often the result of having given as it is the prompting of the gift.  My argument was that actions are Christian not solely because they come from the heart but also because they go to the heart.

Do you catch my drift?  Go ahead and write a check to The Center and if you don’t feel good afterwards, I will return your check.  Well, maybe.

From Dr. Fred Craddock, Milk & Honey, March 2008

Giving to The Craddock Center…The Good News and The Bad News

First the good news…Giving to The Craddock Center, via grants, is the highest since 2014.  As of June 1st, donations via grants were up 16% from FY 2019 and up 39% from FY2020.  (our fiscal year is August 1 to July 31)

The Craddock Center also thanks those donors that continued to support us during the pandemic.  We were able to continue our work because of you!

Now, the Bad news…Giving to The Craddock Center, via individual donations, is down significantly from the last few years.  Like most other non-profits, individual giving is the highest portion of financial income for The Craddock Center.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis whose social and economic impacts created an unprecedented environment for charitable giving.  Research shows that the pandemic influenced whether individuals gave, how much they gave, and to which causes and organizations they gave.  Hunger and health related charities have seen increased giving while the arts and education giving declined.

In FY20, 81% of the total giving for The Craddock Center was from individual donations.  So far in FY 2021, individual giving represents only 68% of our total donations.  In light of the pandemic, this is not surprising.

As you plan your giving for the remainder of 2021, please consider The Craddock Center as a beneficiary of your generosity.  Thank you in advance!

Spring Arts in the Park

On May 29th and 30th, The Craddock Center participated in the Spring Arts in the Park in Blue Ridge, GA.  This was our first public event since the beginning of the pandemic.  Participating in this event was a huge success for The Craddock Center!!

Thanks to the following volunteers who worked our booth:  Marcia Lehman, Milly Hastings & Steve Stevens, Debbie Martin and Anne Williamson, Joe Cantwell, Sue Hriljac, Beth Roberts, and Ken Cissna!! 
Thanks also to Lynn Doss for the use of the parking lot and restroom facilities!

We gave out approximately 225 books to children!   And we collected $908 in donations during the two days that will be used to purchase new children’s books.  We also added 30 new people to our newsletter email list.  Hopefully, potential new donors in the future. 

Participating in this event definitely increased the visibility of The Craddock Center in our community and to visitors of Blue Ridge.

The Fall Arts in the Park is October 9th and 10th.  Please put these dates on your calendar and think about volunteering to work our booth during this time.  We have new things for the Fall!!  More details to come.

Happy Birthday Nettie Craddock!

On May 26th, Nettie Craddock celebrated her 90th birthday.

The Head Start class of Gilmer County wanted Nettie to know how much she and The Craddock Center meant to them.

All of the 22 students made special birthday cards for Nettie.

If you ever wonder how much The Craddock Center means to the children and teachers, please see the pictures below.


From the Executive Director

Our last newsletter focused on the 20th anniversary celebration of The Craddock Center.  We certainly have much to be thankful for and to celebrate from the last 20 years.

I would now like to focus on our future…the next year, the next five years and yes, the next 20 years.

Like other non-profits, The Craddock Center was impacted by the pandemic.  Fortunately, we never closed but we could not work face-to-face with the children we support.  However, we remained in contact with the children through our delivery of books three times since November 2020, the knitted hats, the wooden toys, and the Santa visits.  And, because of the continued support of our donors, WE NEVER CLOSED!

I am proud to point out that the leadership of The Craddock Center have been good stewards of the time afforded us during this pandemic.  During this time, we:  created a new program for the children, Summer Send Off 2021 to promote summer learning; developed an updated strategic plan to provide guidance and focus for the next three years; built collaborative relationships with other non-profits in our area; focused on the marketing of The Craddock Center through our updated website and newsletter, use of social media, the gift of our new sign along highway 515; and developed a short-term and long-term maintenance plan for the buildings and grounds of The Craddock Center.   All of these things will build a solid foundation for our future.

As we emerge from the pandemic, what does the future look like?

Unlike many small to medium non-profits who are now emerging from the pandemic, our future is clear!  And this is because of those items noted above.  During this next year and the years to come we will focus on the following:

  • We will return to the classrooms and to our children the first week of October 2021.
  • Identify ways to reach the 3- and 4-year-olds in the nine counties that we serve that are not in preschool, pre-K and Head Start programs.
  • Create programs to support the “Family Enrichment” part of our mission.
  • Be good stewards of the buildings and grounds of The Craddock Center and complete the maintenance plan that has been developed.
  • Increase the size of the donor base of The Craddock Center and attract younger donors to protect our future financial sustainability.
  • Continue efforts to increase the awareness of The Craddock Center in our surrounding areas by the use of social media, radio, tv and the newspapers.

These goals are realistic, they are attainable!

I look forward to reporting on our progress in the months and years to come.

Thank you to The Encouragement Project

The Craddock Center is able to do what we do because of the support of individuals and organizations.  One such organization is The Encouragement Project.

The Encouragement Project has been supporting The Craddock Center since 2016 by donating books and handmade knitted hats.  Most recently, The Encouragement Project donated 200 knitted hats that will be provided to our children in November 2021.  Many of the children we serve struggle to find basic warmth during the winter months.  These hats are a source of warmth for these children.

The mission of The Encouragement Project is to encourage believers to action and service, following the example and words of Jesus. The ministries of the Encouragement Project are to:

  • Encourage and support those who are needy and alone with gifts of time, service, and provision
  • Provide connections for individuals​to be involved in community
  • Support world and local missions through writing, editing and creative graphics services
  • Link small local churches together in opportunities for service

Stephanie Cervantes, the CEO, and founder, of The Encouragement Project notes the following regarding their relationship with The Craddock Center.

Helping the Craddock Center has been a highlight for The Encouragement Project since it began in 2016. We share Dr. Craddock’s mission of reaching children by providing appropriate reading materials in order to enhance and enrich their learning experiences. We also enjoy helping provide warm hats for the children, and work with senior citizens who want to give back to their communities by knitting/crocheting beautiful hats for wintertime. It is always a joy to deliver hats and books to the Craddock Center!

Summer Book Drive – August 2021

For over 20 years, The Craddock Center has provided pre-K aged children (3-4 years old) books to stimulate their imaginations and improve their reading skills.  The Craddock Center gives away five to six thousand brand new children’s books a year.

Two restaurants in Blue Ridge, GA are stepping up to help us collect books for the next school year.  Mike’s Trackside BBQ and Blue Jeans Pizza and Pasta are collecting books on behalf of The Craddock Center during the month of August.  When a customer brings in a brand-new children’s book, they will receive a $1 off coupon towards their next visit.

Please support these restaurants for supporting the work of The Craddock Center and visit them often during August and donate a brand-new children’s book each time.

Please help our children become the best they can be!

Our Newest Program – Welcome Newborn

In spite of the pandemic, The Craddock Center continues to develop new programs to serve our community.  In June, we teamed up with Dr. Benjamin Harris, OB/GYN of Union General Women’s Health to reach the newborns of families in need in three of the counties (Fannin, Union, and Cherokee) we serve.

On behalf of The Craddock Center, Dr. Harris and his associates will provide the mothers a ‘Welcome Newborn’ kit.   Each kit contains:  Congratulations letter from The Craddock Center with our contact information, an article titled ’50 Simple Ways to Make Your Baby Smarter, a new children’s book, blanket, baby socks, baby wipes, Sesame Street rattler and a small wooden toy.

The goal is to promote learning skills for the parents to help prepare the children for pre-K and kindergarten.  Hopefully, the recipient of the kit will contact The Craddock Center so that we can send them books and hopefully videos of our artists.  We will keep track of those that contact us so that we can encourage their enrollment into pre-K as they approach 3 years old.  Dr. Harris said they will encourage the families to reach out to us.

Preparing The Craddock Center Buildings & Grounds for the Future

Some of you may not know this but the current home of The Craddock Center is the former home of Cherry Log Christian Church.  The buildings we so proudly call our home were built in 1998-1999 (22 years old).  Everything in our buildings is original:  HVAC, roof, plumbing, windows, flooring & carpet, etc.  There is one exception: the septic system was replaced in 2019.  Thank Goodness!

Our two buildings are especially important assets of The Craddock Center and it is essential we maintain them, so they are in excellent shape for generations to come.  As you can imagine with buildings of this age, there is much maintenance to be done.  Some of which is done annually such as gutter cleaning, pressure washing, termite control, parking lot striping, etc.  However, there are other items that need attention every 20 years or so that are much bigger in price and importance to preserve the integrity of our buildings.

The Buildings & Grounds Committee of The Craddock Center has been using this last year to develop a thorough maintenance plan to ensure the buildings are getting the attention they need and are in great shape well into the future.

During the months of June and July, the Buildings & Grounds Committee has been using earnings from our endowment fund to address several of these larger items.   The following were addressed:  remove the carpet in the Meeting (former sanctuary) building and repair structural flooring issues, perform mold remediation and air duct cleaning, install new carpet tiles, exterior staining, replace the HVAC systems in both buildings and install humidifier and air filtration systems in the Meeting building. 

The future plans and vision for The Craddock Center require us to have a “Community Building” and the work that has been done and will be done in the future will ensure this!

Thank You to the Harrison High School FBLA

Claire Hellman, a sophomore at Harrison High School, and on the Executive Board of the FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) reached out to us in March.  She let us know that her club’s community service project for March was to collect brand-new children’s books for The Craddock Center.

She said they were inspired to pick us as their project because of her church’s, Due West United Methodist, involvement with The Craddock Center and that her father, Mark Hellman, and her late grandmother, Louise Hellman, volunteered with us.  Mark is currently a member of our Board of Directors and Louise was very active in our bookrooms.

Three Generations of Giving Back

Daniel 4:3

How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.

Daniel is known for his passion for the Lord and how he lived this out by repeatedly standing firm in his beliefs and sharing his love with others.  My mom developed the same love and passion for The Craddock Center, and like Daniel, she wasn’t afraid to “share the story”.

The Craddock Center was an answer to a prayer for my mom and our family.  As she began to lose mobility due to chronic back and spine problems, she was not able to continue to go on international mission trips.  But The Craddock Center!  Hey that was right up the road from her house and church in Marietta, and more importantly right down the road from her beloved cabin in Blue Ridge.  It wasn’t long before she had her entire Sunday school class and many others from Mt. Zion UMC serving and volunteering on a regular basis! 

Now, having said how much my mom loved The Craddock Center, and loved her church, and loved her mountain cabin, the only things that rivaled those were her four grandkids.  Yes, I skipped over myself and my brother and went right to the Grands!  She liked them much better! But her love for mission and service was part of her DNA and much like the real biological DNA, this was transferred down to her sons and through them, to her grandkids.  Both Scott and I have tried to live a servant’s life and have tried to lead our individual kids in that direction. 

The time the grandkids spent at The Craddock Center helping, the stories and memories that those times in ministry still inspire, the ways we are still involved at the Center with my dad, and each other; that is the legacy.  That is how, as Daniel proclaimed, “His Kingdom endures from generation to generation”. 

Editor’s Note:  This article was written by Mark Hellman who is currently serving on the Board of The Craddock Center.  His mom, Louise Hellman, volunteered many hours at The Craddock Center in our Bookroom preparing the books for the children.  His father, Gordon, is also a volunteer and supporter of The Craddock Center.  Last Fall, three generations of the Hellman family (Mark, his father Gordon, his son Gavin, and his brother Scott) did landscaping work around The Craddock Center.  This past Spring, Mark’s daughter, Claire, led a children’s book drive with her Future Business Leaders of America club.

The Power of Collaboration

The Craddock Center received a call from a gentleman who had just been released from the hospital.  He was given our name by an employee at the hospital.  The gentleman was homeless and living in his car.  He needed a place to stay if only for a few days till he could figure out where to live.

Anne Williamson, the Office Manager for The Craddock Center, called Dee, her contact at the Morganton Baptist Association, who help the homeless find homes.  Dee called the gentleman and placed him in a hotel for a couple of days.  She also helped him find a place to live and help him get settled.

It’s wonderful to know that we can all work together.  We do not know the name of the employee at the hospital, but we are very grateful that they gave him our name and phone number.  We are also grateful for Dee at the Baptist Association and her work with the homeless.


Our first book giveaway is in mid-November.

We need your help.  We need new children’s books for ages 3 – 4 years old.

In mid-November, our volunteers will deliver 1,200 brand new books to the children in the pre-K and Head Start programs we serve.  The children will have their brand-new books to read over the Thanksgiving Holiday.

You can:

  • Send a donation to buy books to:  The Craddock Center, PO BOX 69, Cherry Log, GA, 30522.  Please note ‘books’ in the lower left corner of the check.
  • Send new books to the address above.
  • Purchase books on Amazon, Walmart and Target and have the books sent to:  The Craddock Center, 300 Cherry Log St., #69, Cherry Log, GA 30522