A Taste of Milk & Honey

My only problem with Santa Claus was that dadgum, good for nothing, plague take it (you can tell by my language I am still upset) list. Yes, the list. Granted, Santa knows when you’ve been sleeping, and he knows when you’re awake, but his list is dead wrong. I don’t care if he’s checked it twice, he still does not know who’s naughty and who’s nice. I could have done a better job making the list. Let me be specific.

I had a playmate who shot a red bird with a BB gun. What did he get for Christmas? A brand-new blue and white American Flyer bicycle. A neighbor boy never worked one day in the garden – not one day. What did he get? A real, live pony, dark brown with white stocking feet, that he named Stockings. Down the road lived a boy who played marbles for keeps, which everyone knows is the beginning of gambling. In spite of this criminal activity, he got a whole box of licorice that he didn’t share with anyone. And his younger brother, barely old enough to talk, said the four-letter word for “the bad place.”  Santa rewarded his cussing with a bright red wagon with rubber-tired wheels. And did I mention his sister? Like all girls, she got away with everything, and in return she received a big doll whose eyes closed, and which wet its pants.

And me? I’ll tell you about me. I was faithful in Sunday School for two weeks before Christmas. I took my turn gathering eggs, feeding the hogs, and churning milk. I swept the porch before company arrived, and as Momma will tell you, I usually washed my hands before supper. I could go on. And what did it get me? An apple, an orange, some raisins still on the stem, a few walnuts, a stick of peppermint, a box of sparklers, and a little truck about six inches long that you had to push across the floor. That’s it; you do the math. I don’t care if he checked it twice or two hundred times, Santa’s list was seriously flawed.

Or the whole system was. Naughty kids get nothing; nice kids get loads of good stuff – that’s not the way life is. For instance, I know some beautiful children whose only sin is that they were born into poverty. And what will they get for Christmas?

That’s up to you.

– From Dr. Craddock, Milk & Honey, December 2010

From the Executive Director

It’s hard to believe that on November 2, 2021, I celebrated my one-year anniversary as the Executive Director of The Craddock Center. Friends have joked with me about starting a new job for a non-profit during the middle of a pandemic. But I wholeheartedly believe the call was planted in my heart. I heard it. I felt it and responded to it. So here I am!

On my first day on the job on November 2, 2020, I was sitting at the desk in my new office and thinking about the responsibilities of this job, the people who have served before me, and of course, Dr. Fred Craddock.

And you know what? Dr. Craddock spoke to me that day! I knew the next edition of our newsletter, Milk & Honey, was due. In each edition we have something from Dr. Craddock in the newsletter. I had a copy of his book, Milk & Honey, on my desk. I opened the book and found myself on page 9. On page 9 I found the following…”We [The Craddock Center] are about the business of enriching lives, of lifting self-esteem, of instilling a new sense of self-worth, of effecting socialization so that each child can play and study and grow as an equal to other children.”  Thank you, Dr. Craddock for that message. Ever since then I have felt confident that I was indeed in the right place at this time in my life.

During this last year, I had the privilege of seeing a four-year-old boy pick out a brand-new book and a knitted cap (that will help keep him warm in the winter) and turn around tell his classmates how beautiful it was!

During this year I have had the honor of working with Anne Williamson, our Office Manager, Teri Slemons, our Accountant, and our Board of Directors. All of these people are passionate about the mission of The Craddock Center and finding ways to serve the children, the families, and the community where we live.

And one of the most satisfying parts of this year has been meeting the hundreds of volunteers and donors that give their time, talents, and donations to ensure the work started by Dr. Craddock over 20 years ago continues. We could not do what we do without you! I am excited about the coming year and look forward to reporting to you in the months to come.

What Can We Learn from Winnie the Pooh?

January 18, 2022, is Winnie the Pooh Day! This day celebrates the birthday of the author of Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne. Winnie the Pooh first appeared in print in 1926, but the actual stuffed animal that inspired the stories is 100 years old.

Winnie the Pooh is such a lasting character because he can’t be fully appreciated until we have grown up. Only then can we realize all the life lessons the silly old bear has given us.

  • Positive thinking – “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”  Although Eeyore is generally known as the gloomy one, even he can look on the bright side occasionally.
  • Empathy – “What about me?” said Pooh sadly. “I suppose I shan’t be useful?”  “Never mind, Pooh,” said Piglet comfortingly. “Another time, perhaps.” Piglet, being a Very Small Animal, acutely understands what it is like to feel useless.
  • Gratitude – But Eeyore wasn’t listening. He was taking the balloon out, and putting it back again, as happy as could be. It doesn’t matter to Eeyore that Piglet meant to give him an inflated balloon and Pooh meant to give him a pot of honey for his birthday and what he got was a popped balloon and am empty pot. He enjoys his gifts because his friends thought to give them to him.
  • The Importance of Education – “But to the educated – mark this, little Piglet – to the educated, not meaning Poohs and Piglets, it’s a great and glorious A.” Those who can spell in the Hundred Acre Wood are the ones the others look up to. Owl is wise and often consulted for advice because he can spell Tuesday.
  • Get Along with Everyone – “Tigger is all right, really,” said Piglet lazily. “Of course he is,” said Christopher Robin. “Everybody is really,” said Pooh. “That’s what I think.” Even though Tigger is strange to them at first, the other characters soon embrace him as a friend. If these woodland creatures are able to put aside their staggering differences certainly, we human beings can as well.
  • Friendship – “Pooh, promise you won’t forget me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.” Pooh thought for a little. “How old shall I be then?” “Ninety-nine.” “I promise,” he said. The overall theme of Winnie the Pooh is the importance of forming solid, lasting friendships. With good friends, you will always have someone to lean on, someone who will go on adventures and expeditions with you, and even someone who might invite you over for tea and a mouthful of something.

On January 18, 2022, or anytime actually, consider reading a story from Winnie the Pooh to your child or grandchild. What wonderful life lessons are waiting for them and for you!

A Matter of Time and Place

The time was September in the academic year of 1990/91. The place was Emory University, Candler School of Theology, Bishops Hall. The influential individual in that time and place was Dr. Fred Craddock. The course that Dr. Craddock taught in Preaching always was filled with graduate students, wall to wall in Bishops Hall, Candler’s largest lecture hall. Preaching was an elective course for me, as was the case for most of the students, who filled the room, in those days so long ago and far away. Yet, what transpired in that room was transforming and lingers in vivid and valid terms today.

Dr. Fred Craddock I knew only from reputation prior to 1990. I had never seen him, nor had I heard the sound of his voice. From that unforgettable, introductory day in 1990, listening to him, watching him, living with the text, crafting the sermon, giving voice to The Word, and engaging the whole in worship, that was a time of change for all, who were among the fortunate to be with him in class day after day. Fred Craddock was acclaimed as one of the most effective preachers of the present generation. His development of the inductive method, the narrative form of preaching was changing how scripture was speaking through sermons to preachers and how scripture was being heard by parishioners. His pedagogy in a classroom with students and his praxis in the sanctuary with congregations, were making a difference.

Generally, known as an affable individual, a soft-spoken gentleman, Dr. Craddock was a scholar par excellence of the first order with high standards; high expectations for himself and for his students. He enlarged the definition of preparation, punctuality, presentation, and presence. These realities were important to him. He modeled them and he strongly encouraged the same for his students. In crafting a sermon, he believed in and practiced thorough, thoughtful preparation. Punctuality was essential in the allocation of time in crafting the preaching event, living with the scripture text, as ancient as the ages and as timely as today. The presentation of the sermon would flow more smoothly when those two elements had been addressed deliberately. Dt. Craddock always brought to every encounter a sense of presence, whether in the preaching event or in a face-to-face personal conversation. He was attentive to the moment; always aware of the matter in front of him in his teaching, in his preaching and in his conversing. He was a superb listener. His keen awareness of his surroundings kept him relevant and responsive.

The power of language and the weight of words were central in his teaching, preaching, and storytelling. He urged his students to read short stories in honing their craft. Indeed, holy scripture is a collection of stories, an unfolding of the lives lived by individuals, singularly and collectively, transformed by interactions with The Divine. “Tell the story,” he would say, “and tell it well.” He introduced us to Kierkegaard’s observation that it is not knowledge that is lacking in the Christian experience. The need lies in the communication. This revelation led to Dr. Craddock’s turn to inductive preaching. “Primary in preaching,” Dr. Craddock insisted, “is the listener.” A sermon is preached to be heard. He admonished his students to remember always the listener, engage the listener, draw the listener in, in so doing the listener can claim the scripture as their own in relevance, and in life.

The Craddock stories linger in the memory of those, who were captivated by his descriptions, introspections, and applications. With gentle directness Dr. Craddock drew ns into his circle of family and friends, as he told their story as a part of his, and uniquely his story became a part of our story. In fact, and in imagination, we found ourselves walking with him in his years of childhood and youth in Humbolt, Tennessee, meeting his mother, his father, his siblings, his schoolmates, his teachers, and later his wife, Nettie, his son, John, his daughter, Laura and a host of friends and acquaintances along the way. These were the individuals, who shared and shaped his life. In imagination we traveled with Dr. Craddock to his school days in Humbolt, to Johnson Bible College, to the small rural community of Glen Alice in Roan County, Tennessee, to Oklahoma, to Vanderbilt, to Tubingen, to Israel and to the dusty, desolate site; of Endor.

In a mid-October, we sat stranded with him in a street corner diner in Winnipeg, Canada on a Sunday morning in the midst of a record snowstorm, that had canceled his preaching engagement for the day. Whether in the hills and hollows of Appalachia, or in the major cities and small towns, or in world-wide locations, Dr. Craddock met individuals where they were. He witnessed their life and he listened to their story. Those encounters he shared with us. His word pictures chilled us and warmed us and gave us insight. At every turn we were enthralled and inspired by his stories of fact and fiction, that peppered his lectures and his sermons.

So it was against that backdrop, on an autumn afternoon in 1990 at Emory, following a preaching class, a small cluster of students gathered around Dr. Craddock, enjoying a casual conversation. A young man asked, “Dr. Craddock, what are you going to do when you retire from Emory?” “Well,” slowly, pensively, our beloved professor replied, “my retirement is a few years off, but when that time comes, I plan to return to my roots. I want to do something worthwhile with preachers, mostly bi-vocational preachers. They have not had the opportunity to attend a seminary. I want to spend time and teaching with them.” Considering his life history and experience, that he had shared with us, we were confident that he would do just that, in addition to much more.

So, it was in a matter of time and place The Craddock Center was founded. In 2001 he and those who believed in his vision, in his dream, would witness the establishment of the preaching workshops. Always in his memory was his childhood in Tennessee. With major emphasis, he would incorporate into the mission of The Craddock Center, opportunities for the children of the mountains and the foothills of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia. For the young children, it would be books and music and art! These deeply enriching and enduring aspects of his own childhood experiences would be available to the children of this generation. He would make a difference. Fred and Nettie Craddock’s heritage and legacy are forged in the foundation of The Craddock Center.

As the renowned Fred Craddock had done in preaching, he would do, yet, again through The Craddock Center. Yes, he would make a difference. The visionary devotion of Fred and Nettie Craddock continues in expanding and in enhancing means through the ministry of The Craddock Center, as daily it can be found delivering hope and happiness. Those individuals, who have been companions on The Way, in the present matter of time and place, are abundantly blessed and are forever grateful.

Ann White Morton

A friend of Dr. Fred Craddock and a supporter of The Craddock Center

Highlands, North Carolina

Why am I a Supporter of The Craddock Center?

But Then There Is You…

The Craddock Center was the vision of Dr. Fred B. Craddock.  One Christmas, Dr. Craddock shared the following based on an observation made by the Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard – Kierkegaard recalled observing a group of struggling musicians who were playing Christmas hymns one cold evening in the hope of obtaining a few coins from those passing on the street.  The individuals who took the time to stop and enjoy the music were those least likely to have funds to share.  Meanwhile, those who had funds to spare did not take the time to stop and enjoy the beauty of the music nor share some coins. 

Kierkegaard sadly opined that: there are those who would but cannot afford to do so and there are those who could afford to do so, but do not.

Dr. Craddock reasoned that Kierkegaard had gotten it wrong, because you see – there is you (and me).

Lynn Doss, member of the Board of The Craddock Center

Mental Health Matters

The Craddock Center is a member of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Fannin County Fannin Connection. The purpose of this committee is to identify needs/gaps in our community.  The initial need that we are focusing on is mental health.

The Craddock Center joined with the Fannin County Family Connection, Fannin County DFCS, Fannin County Public Library, Highland Rivers Health, North Georgia Autism Foundation, and the North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network to start the Fannin County Mental Health Awareness Campaign.  We started a program called ‘Mental Health Matters” It’s Okay to Not be Okay.’

Since April 2021 we have accomplished the following:

  •  Petitioned the Fannin County Commission to designate May 2021 as Mental Health Awareness Month in Fannin County. On 5/11/21, the Commission passed the proclamation to support Mental Health Awareness.
  • We started a monthly, five-part series in August 2021 on ETC3 live.  The program airs the third Thursday of each month through December 2021 focusing on specific mental health issues.
  • In October 2021, screenings of Angst, a movie focusing on Anxiety took place in three locations in our area.  The Craddock Center hosted a screening on 10/27.  We had seven attendees.

Our next initiative will begin in January 2022. The Fannin County News Observer has agreed to an article focusing on a mental health topic the last week of the month for the 12 months of 2022. David Ralston, the Georgia Speaker of the House, will provide an article in January to kick off the series. The Craddock Center will have their article in November 2022. November is National Family Literacy month, and our article will focus on the impact of mental health issues on childhood literacy.


Songs & Stories Returns February 5, 2022

The Craddock Center is excited to announce the return of Songs & Stories on February 5, 2022, at 3:00 pm. It will be held at The Craddock Center at 186 Fred Craddock Drive, Cherry, Log GA 30522. As always, admission is free, and donations are appreciated. The money raised will go towards the purchase of new books for the little ones we serve. The Craddock Center offers Songs & Stories in honor of Helen Lewis. This annual performance includes musicians and storytellers who share the best of Appalachia’s unique culture and traditions.

The Craddock Center is especially excited and honored that John McCutcheon will be the performer for this event.

The Washington Post describes John as folk music’s “Rustic Renaissance Man,” a moniker flawed only by its understatement. “Calling John McCutcheon a ‘folksinger’ is like saying Deion Sanders is just a football player…” (Dallas Morning News). Besides his usual circuit of major concert halls and theaters, John is equally at home in an elementary school auditorium, a festival stage or at a farm rally. He is a whirlwind of energy packing five lifetimes into one. In the past few years alone he has headlined over a dozen different festivals in North America (including repeated performances at the National Storytelling Festival), recorded an original composition for Virginia Public Television involving over 500 musicians, toured Australia for the sixth time, toured Chile in support of a women’s health initiative, appeared in a Woody Guthrie tribute concert in New York City, gave a featured concert at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, taught performance art skills at a North Carolina college, given symphony pops concerts across America, served as President of the fastest-growing Local in the Musicians Union and performed a special concert at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This is all in his “spare time.” His “real job,” he’s quick to point out, is father to two grown sons.

But it is in live performance, like our Songs & Stories event, that John feels most at home. It is what has brought his music into the lives and homes of one of the broadest audiences any folk musician has ever enjoyed. People of every generation and background seem to feel at home in a concert hall when John McCutcheon takes the stage, with what critics describe as “little feats of magic,” “breathtaking in their ease and grace…,” and “like a conversation with an illuminating old friend.”

Please mark your calendars now for this exciting event and join us on February 5, 2022, at 3:00 pm.

THANK YOU!!!  Giving Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Without you, we could not enrich the lives of the children and families we have reached out to the last 20 years and particularly the 18 months during this pandemic.  I keep going back to part of our mission  statement…”We serve by Sharing.”  Our donors exemplify this!

Sincere thanks to the donors who responded on November 30, 2021, on Giving Tuesday. Your generosity ensures the work of The Craddock Center is sustained and the children and families we serve continue to reap the benefits of our programs.

Scouting at The Craddock Center

In the August/September edition of Milk & Honey, The Craddock Center announced it charted a new Cub Scout Troop, Pack 440. It is a “Family Troop” for both boys and girls.

The Troop had it’s first event, a Halloween Carnival and Lock-In, at The Craddock Center on Saturday evening, 10/30. They also had a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) event on Saturday, 11/20 where they did science projects.

They will have their Christmas Party on 12/12 and their Blue & Gold Awards Banquet on 2/19/22.

And for you former Cub Scouts and Scout leaders…remember the Pinewood Derby? That will be held at The Craddock Center on 3/12/22. Always a fun event! We are so excited to have these young children as a part of the life of The Craddock Center

New Books, Knitted Hats and Gloves!! 

An Annual Tradition

On 11/10/2021, volunteers from The Craddock Center delivered new children’s books, hand-made, knitted hats and gloves to the 1,117 little ones 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.

We could not meet with the children this year, 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 Cherokee County [NC] Unrestricted Endowment Fund and James Thomas Heating and Cooling [Blue Ridge, GA] for their financial support to purchase the new children’s books for this year’s event.

Thanks also to the following volunteers for delivering the items and making this wonderful annual event a success:  Milly & Steve Hastings, Beth Roberts, Carolyn Lakes & Larry Brennen, Joe Cantwell, and the Ladies of Big Canoe.

Hats off!!!

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 our visit from our volunteers on 11/10/21, the children we serve received these cozy, hand-made, knitted hats. What would we do without these talented supporters who knit these wonderfully colorful hats with lots of love and care? Thanks to the following for donating over 1600 hats:  Ann Grant, Marcia Congdon, Vail Hanna, Gail Hermance, Mary Flynn, the Encouragement Project from Alpharetta, GA, the Prayer Shawl Ministry from the Lutheran Church By the Lake in McCormick, South Carolina, Ladies of Big Canoe and the Fiber Arts Group of the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association.

Make a Joyful Noise!!

On 10/23/21, fifteen members of the choir and their friends from the Due West United Methodist Church in Marietta, Ga visited The Craddock Center to pack the children’s books, knitted hats, and glove. With the music of the following Sunday’s choir music playing in the background, these eager volunteers made quick work of packing 3,351 items for the 11/10 delivery. Many thanks for the work of these volunteers and the continued support of Due West United Methodist Church to the work and programs of The Craddock Center.

Books, Books and More Books

Since 11/01/20, The Craddock Center has given away over 5,300 new children’s books and 3,775 nearly new books for all ages.

The new books go to the pre-K and Head Start children we serve, other local non-profits such as the Boys and Girls Clubs, Snack in the Backpack, Woody Gap School and Family & Children’s services.

The nearly new books, which we have for all age groups, go to “Little Libraries” in the community, Assisted Living centers, to the schools to stock their classroom libraries, and other non-profits that provide books to the people they serve.

All of the books we provide have a sticker in the book that notes they are a gift from The Craddock Center.

On November 5, 2021, The Craddock Center received a surprise gift of nearly 600 new and nearly new books from Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Thank you for your generosity and supporting the work of The Craddock Center to promote literacy for people of all ages!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!

The Craddock Center has a beautiful and unique Christmas Tree in the Community Room of the Fannin County Family Connection (FCFC).

FCFC will host numerous holiday events and meetings for the month of December and this tree will publicize the work of The Craddock Center to many people throughout the holiday season. On 12/05, FCFC will host their holiday Tour of Homes and hundreds of people, for just that event, will see our tree.
Handouts about The Craddock Center and our business card will also be available.

All of the ornaments were made by our volunteers. The ornaments depict the different programs of The Craddock Center: books, wooden toys, crayons, bookmarks; and the tree skirt is made of donated handmade knitted caps and the treetop is made of Dr. Seuss costume items. Books are also placed around the base of the tree.

Read and Feed

The Craddock Center collaborates with many non-profits in Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens Counties. This collaboration allows The Craddock Center to support the work of those organizations as well as expand the programs we do in our local communities.

The week after Thanksgiving, The Craddock Center supported the work of another non-profit, Snack in a Backpack of Fannin County, to help the children they serve by promoting literacy through a program called “Read and Feed”. The Craddock Center provided 258 brand-new books for pre-K through 12th grade children. The books were included with the meals that were provided to the children that week. Cayley Bryant, a Fannin County Elementary teacher, helped coordinate the event and delivered the books to the children.

Since 2009, Snack in a Backpack has been helping Fannin County children get nutritious and easy-to-prepare food they need for weekends, school breaks, and summer vacation breaks. Snack in a Backpack, in affiliation with the Chattanooga Food Bank, distributes approximately 1600+ meals to children each week.

The Craddock Center thanks Rachel Callihan-Cowart with Harry Norman Realtors, Blue Ridge, GA and Angela Delorme, P.C. for their financial support of this program.