New Executive Director

Earlier this Summer, Pam Colvin, The Craddock Center Executive Director, announced her resignation due to relocation and the need to focus on family matters.

As a result, the Personnel Committee began a search for a replacement. The Executive Director position was posted to several web search sites. Additionally, it was shared with the Fannin County Development Authority’s job board and similar sites with surrounding counties.

While The Craddock Center is not a faith-based organization, its Board is composed of people of faith. Each of us has had opportunities to experience God’s work in the most unexpected way. When searching far and wide for an Executive Director, we initially did not look in our own yard. Note, I did not say backyard. Rather, on our own front porch, the ideal applicant was waiting. A person who was already committed to The Craddock Center, an individual who has demonstrated not merely ability, but also passion. A person open to God’s direction in his life. A person who answered – in the spirit of Isaiah 6:8 – Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And Kirk Cameron said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Kirk shared with the members of the Personnel Committee, individually and in collective groups, that he was responding to a call. The Personnel Committee, after conversation and prayer, enthusiastically recommended Kirk Cameron as Executive Director. At the Board’s October 22nd, 2020, meeting additional discussion and prayer was shared and we voted to ask Kirk Cameron to accept the position of Executive Director for The Craddock Center.

Thank you Kirk for listening to God’s calling and stepping forward.

Thanks to the members of the Personnel Committee: Milly Hasting, Sue Hriljac, Caroline Carder, Lynn Doss and additionally to Beth Roberts who was asked by the Committee to provide input based on her years of experience with the Center.

A Taste of Milk & Honey

My world just doesn’t sound the same anymore. This sad fact hit me recently in a conversation with Sally, my neighbor’s coon dog. She has for years blessed me with that deep, throaty howl of hers, late at night or in the darkness just before dawn. Look out, coons, her come Sally! But not anymore.

I mentioned this to her when I went over to visit my neighbor. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings but only to let her know how pleasant her voice had been. Contralto, I think. Not like the yapping of those little nine-ounce dogs carried in women’s purses. “But you don’t bark anymore,” I said. “I’m a coon dog; bring me a coon and I will bark.” She sounded a bit miffed. I got a little miffed myself. “Do you remember what a coon looks like?” “Of course I do,” she snarled, showing both her remaining teeth. I wanted to prove my point, so I rushed home, brought back an encyclopedia with pictures of animals, shoved it under her nose and said, “Show me which one is a coon.” Sally rolled her said eyes over the page and then confidently pointed to a giraffe. I didn’t have the heart to tell her.

I miss the sound of Sally, but not only Sally. How long has it been since I heard the croaking frogs in a small bog beside Maxwell Road near the railroad? How many seasons ago did I last hear the drumming of the grouse, the melancholy notes of the whippoorwill, the romantic call and response of the bobwhite? These are rural sounds; I am a rural person, why don’t I hear them anymore?

But other sounds, too, are painfully gone; the church bell, the factory whistle at B.C. Jarrell and Co., the creaking rocker of mama’s momma, the ticktock of the clock at daddy’s daddy. And the train whistle. Oh, we have a train, and for it I am grateful. Daily it takes riders north to the Tennessee line, and about once a week it takes freight south to Marietta. It whistles at the Maxwell Road crossing, and I whistle back. But it’s not a choo-choo.

My world just doesn’t sound the same anymore. But one sound is till here and will still be here until all sound is hushed. In fact, here at the Center we are dedicated to making sure this sound will always be heard; The sound of children laughing.

From Dr. Fred Craddock, Milk & Honey, July 2010

The Story Express and Knitted Hats

During the week of 11/09/2020, volunteers from The Craddock Center delivered over 1,400 new books and 1,300 donated, hand-made, knitted hats to the children we serve. The area we serve consists of nine (9) counties including Dawson, Gilmer, Fannin, Lumpkin, Pickens, Towns, and Union Counties in Georgia, Polk County in Tennessee,
and Cherokee County in North Carolina.

The Story Express, although modified this year, delivers hundreds of new children’s books to the 60 classrooms and the 1,237 children we serve. Children can choose their own book to take home and love. In addition to classrooms, during a normal, non-pandemic year, The Story Express visits health fairs, food pantries, community events, and Camp Craddock sites. Last year, The Story Express gave away between 4,500 to 5,000 books!

Due to COVID-19 precautions, we are not meeting with the children at this point, but our volunteers deliver messages of hope and happiness through the children’s joy-filled experiences of new books and a warm hat. Our mission of “Happy & Hope. We Deliver” is a mission in action that comes alive each day through the work of The Craddock Center.

Thanks to the following volunteers for making this wonderful event a success: Milly and Steve Hastings, Beth Roberts, Carolyn Lakes & Larry Brannan and the Ladies of Big Canoe.

Hats off to our knitters

Winters in the mountains can be cold, and many of the children we serve do not have adequate clothing for the cold, winter months. A warm, knitted hat helps tremendously in preventing loss of critical body heat in the very young.
During the week of November 9th, and just in time for cold weather, our volunteers delivered cozy, hand-made knitted hats to all the children we serve. What would we do without our talented supporters who knit these wonderfully
colorful hats with lots of love and care?

Thanks to the following for donating over 1,600 hats

Ann Grant from Atlanta, the Prayer Shawl Ministry from the Lutheran Church By the Lake in McCormick, South Carolina, and the Fiber Art Group of the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association.

Santa Returns in December

In December, Santa and Mrs. Claus and an un-named elf will make the annual sleigh ride to visit our children to deliver hand-made, wooden toys. As with our visits in November, we will not be able to physically meet with our children, but efforts will be made for the children to see Santa and his entourage.

Santa Jack and Mrs. Claus are an amazing couple who are loved by all! You should see the faces of our children as Santa speaks to them in English, Spanish, and even American Sign Language. It is a sight of love and care to behold. Many parents have reported that their kids insist on sleeping with the wooden toys for weeks after their visit with Santa.

We are most appreciative of our generous and talented toymaker “elves” from: Toy Makers of East Lake in Palm, Harbor, Florida, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Houston, Texas, and Gary Padgett in Woodstock, Georgia, who send cases of hand- carved, wooden toys each year as gifts to children.

In the box from St. Luke’s we found the following message: “These wooden toys were lovingly made by the St. Luke’s Methodist Church Woodshop. The wood was once nothing but scraps. These scraps become toys for children. In the same way, in the hands of Jesus the Master Carpenter we too are changed into something of worth and beauty.”

From the Executive Director

Needless to say, I am humbled and honored to have been chosen by the Board of The Craddock Center to step into the role of Executive Director.

I think about all of those who have served this wonderful organization before me: our founders Dr. Craddock and Nettie, volunteers, artists and Board members. I also think about the thousands of children who have been touched and enriched by the work of The Craddock Center.

It goes without saying that the pandemic has impacted what we do. We could not have imagined how our lives and those institutions we serve would change.

But, The Craddock Center remains open!! As you will see in this newsletter, our volunteers delivered over 1,200 new books and hand-made knitted hats to the children we serve. And in December, Santa will deliver donated wooden toys. Neither of these two events will allow us to interact with the children. The events will be different from previous years, but the children and teachers will know we care, and The Craddock Center is still carrying out its mission.

The Living Room, our furniture outreach program, continues to provide used and occasionally new furniture and household items to families who are in crisis, recovering from fire, eviction, or domestic violence.

Craddock Cares is a new outreach program sponsored by The Craddock Center. Craddock Cares was formed in 2020 to support children, women, and the elderly who find themselves in emergency situations, displacements, and other significant crisis events. The Fannin County Sheriff’s Department placed an order for 30 kits, and we delivered! One Craddock Cares kit includes: Lightweight tote bag, Blanket, Bottled water, Stuffed animal, Toothbrush and toothpaste, Hand towel, Hat and gloves (winter months).

Even with the adversity of this year, we continue to plan for a better future when we can resume the Children’s Enrichment Program, The Story Express, Camp Craddock and Songs & Stories.

In conclusion, at this time we are focusing on Sustainability. Sustain means to strengthen and support. Please think of ways you can help strengthen and support The Craddock Center during this time to ensure a better and brighter future for the children who need what we do!