While We Have Time, Let Us Do Good The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run in Columbia, SC

by Shannon Boatwright

image 1I had the honor of being a part of this most incredible event on September 20th, 2019.  My aunt Susan Vaughan McPherson, who is the Director of Public Policy & Military Affairs at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, works with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and helped to organize this event. She invited my family and me to participate last year, but due to a hurricane, they, unfortunately, had to cancel the event. So, this year, we really looked forward to being a part of this special event. And when I say special, goodness do I ever mean it! To understand the impact of this event, you really must be there in person.

A little info on the meaningful purpose behind this event…

The info below is taken from the Tunnel to Towers website.

image 4“Firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller was the youngest of seven children born to Mae and George Siller. At the age of eight, Stephen lost his father, and a year and a half later his mother passed away, leaving him an orphan to be raised by his older siblings. For a while, Stephen went through a period of struggle, but thanks to the love of his siblings, and the values instilled in him by his parents, he grew up to be an extraordinary individual and dedicated firefighter. More than most, he knew that time was precious and accomplished much in his 34 years.

On September 11, 2001, Stephen, who was assigned to Brooklyn’s Squad 1, had just finished his shift and was on his way to play golf with his brothers when he got word over his scanner of a plane hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Upon hearing the news, Stephen called his wife Sally and asked her to tell his brothers he would catch up with them later. He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear.

Stephen drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped 60 lbs. of gear to his back and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he lost his life while saving others.

Stephen had everything to live for: a great wife, five wonderful children, a devoted extended family, and friends. Stephen’s parents were lay Franciscans and he grew up under the guiding philosophy of St. Francis of Assisi, whose encouraging and inspirational phrase, “while we have time, let us do good,” were words that Stephen lived by. Stephen’s life and heroic death serve as a reminder to us all to live life to the fullest and to spend our time here on earth doing good – this is his legacy.”

My daughter, Mina, who is on the cross-country team at her high school, ran the Tunnel to Towers for the first time this year. She ended up doing an amazing job, coming in 64th out of 1278 people total who ran and 11th out of all the women who ran, placing 2nd in her division. She had the priceless opportunity to run alongside our firemen and first responders. Words really cannot describe how inspiring and motivating it is to run for such a great cause and in memory of so many precious people.  To recognize and applaud the people who fight for our country and help to keep us safe, to run alongside and cheer on all the first responders, military and fellow supporters, well, to say it fills the heart is an understatement. Let’s just say, we plan to be a part of this truly special event every year and I encourage you all to do the same!

Stephen Livingston, Lexington Fire Department, Station 2, congratulating Mina, my daughter, on placing in her division.

 

Please do check out the website https://tunnel2towers.org/ and mark your calendars for next year’s run!

 

 

Riverbanks Petting Zoo

By Tina Michelle Cameron

As many of you know if you read my posts or are friends with me on Facebook, I am a weekly volunteer at Riverbanks Zoo in the Farm area, Zebra/Ostrich and the Education Center. I have been there almost two years and it is the highlight of my week on Tuesday mornings. It is physically demanding, especially in this heat, but I absolutely love it. I am tired, sore and smelly when I come home, but it is a good kind of tired, soreness and well, not so good smell.

IMG_1550  If any of you have been to the zoo since January, you may have noticed that the ponies are gone. They are now living on farms and having a great retirement. I have a great friend, Darlene, whose daughters’ horse is at the same stable and so I get regular pictures and updates on them. What is now in the place of the pony rides is a brand-new petting zoo that just recently opened about two weeks ago. We have several chickens in a coop, three baby piggies and as of right now, 19 baby goats that are absolutely precious and growing like weeds. There will be 11 more baby goats coming soon.

 

We have a few different types of goats; They are a Nigerian Dwarf, American Lamancha, Saanen and then one Nubian, whose name is Mike. He is my favorite new baby.  He absolutely loves people, being petted and getting attention. He is the only one that is going to be big like the other 3 goats at the Farm. 

If you are a zoo member, you get admission to it, but you can buy treats to give the goats, brush and pet them and watch them be fed by our wonderful zookeepers. The entire petting zoo is ADA compliant and I got to meet a wonderful little boy and his mom yesterday who was not able to run around like the other children, so I picked up Mike, so this sweet child could pet him. It was his first experience in petting a baby goat and it made my day.

Please come out and check out our new petting zoo. The kids are sure to love it and the parents as well. Enjoy the pictures. Mike is the one with the long floppy ears.

 

Transitioning Through Life

By Tina Michelle Cameron

If you follow my blog, you know that I am an advocate for paying it forward and for doing volunteer work. And, just like many people who want to volunteer with their families at Thanksgiving and Christmas time, such as serving meals to the homeless or at a shelter—I have always wanted to do that on those mornings. Unfortunately, with my work schedule and other demands in life, it never worked out or the shelters had no openings for volunteers. I know that is not a good excuse, as there are 363 other days that these shelters need help.

transitions-facilityI am a nurse and have always wanted to help people and to care for them, it is just my nature. Well, I signed up a few weeks ago to volunteer at a shelter in Columbia called Transitions. It is in downtown Columbia at the site of a hotel that was torn down. It is a beautiful brick building that blends in with the rest of the buildings downtown. If you did not know what it is, you probably would not ever guess that it is a place for homeless people as well as others who are of various ages and stages in their life. Many have lost their jobs resulting in losing their homes, and some are people that live on the streets every day. Others have some income and a job, but need a place to stay for a few months to truly get back on their feet and in permanent housing.

I completed my orientation and walk-thru with the director last Wednesday, December 19th and served my first breakfast the next morning. We had 6 volunteers that morning and a nutritious breakfast to 100 people in 15 minutes. By the time I drove home an hour later, I knew this was what I wanted to do as a small way of helping people who are down on their luck.

Every single person that I served that morning, thanked every single one of us and told us how appreciative they were to have us get up on a cold, rainy morning and drive there to serve them breakfast. They wished us Merry Christmas, and all told us God bless you. Some were young, some were old, but they all were so thankful to have a hot meal and a place for a few hours or overnight to get out of the cold and wet weather.

According to their website and the amazing Community Outreach/ Event Coordinator, Cathy, Transitions was founded in 2011 and have been able to help 2,179 people find jobs and permanent housing. They have 240 beds- they have a day center that serves meals, they have a 30-day unit for men and women to stay short-term and then they have a much larger building to house people for several months to help them get back on their feet. They have numerous classes held daily to help with job skills, AA meetings and empowerment classes for women. They also have a raised vegetable garden that was created by a Boy Scout for his Eagle Scout project. Transitions is a non-profit organization and is the largest homeless center in Columbia, serving numerous counties in the state.

transitions-logoPlease consider volunteering at Transitions. It is easy to sign up as a volunteer on their website. I am already excited to return. I am blessed to have a wonderful job, a beautiful family and home, but, many of us could be in the same boat and be 1-2 paychecks away from losing everything. Life is what you make it, mine is not perfect by any means, but I want to know I made a difference.

#payitforward

#spreadkindness

https://transitionssc.org/

Calling all Midlands Women!

At Every Woman Blog we aim to unite and inspire the community of women within the Midlands, and now you have the opportunity to be a part of it. This month, we are looking to add talented new bloggers to contribute to this community. This competition is open to women of all ages in the Midlands and comes with a $250 cash prize for each blogger selected! workspace-766045_1920

Entering the contest is simple:

  1. Visit http://www.facebook.com/LexingtonMedical.
  2. Send a message or video about why you would be a great blogger to represent and inspire women in the Midlands

Use your message or video to let your personality shine! The five women with the most persuasive, funny, touching or engaging submissions are the ones who will be selected to become featured bloggers. This is an opportunity to join an exceptional group of women who share a passion for connecting with and inspiring those around them.

So, what exactly would you be a part of?

The award-winning Every Woman Blog has been active for more than seven years, with over 327,000 views of the posts by local female bloggers (that could be you!). The featured bloggers write at least one blog post per month.

Wondering what you would possibly blog about?

Anything and everything. 

There’s really no end to the type of things you can blog about! Past and current bloggers have posted about healthy recipes, travel, relationships, health issues, personal anecdotes and staying fit – the list goes on and on. Every blogger brings their own unique voice and stories to the blog, sharing anything they feel the women of the Midlands can benefit from. If you need some inspiration, the featured bloggers also get the chance to meet in person at “blogger reunions”, where they can share ideas and brainstorm topics.

Head on over to Lexington Medical Center’s Facebook page and tell us why you would make a great blogger!

 

Happy Trails!

By Stacy Thompson

If you’ve read my earlier posts, you know that I enjoy a good hike and, even better, a good challenge.  Although I’ve always loved the outdoors, hiking only recently became a favorite pastime, as I decided to follow in the footsteps of a pretty incredible mother (mine) who felt the pull of the peak.  Since her first climb six years ago, we’ve been on some incredible journeys together – but in finding joy in our journey, we have to prepare and prepare hard.  In truth, the hikes are amazing, but our prep time together is the greatest gift that leads to our ultimate goal.

So how do two land-locked, Lexington County natives living at 292 feet prepare for Machu Picchu (7,972 feet), base camp of Mt. Everest/Kala Patthar (18,514 feet) and Kilimanjaro (19,431 feet)??? One foot in front of the other, in stairwells, steps and trails anywhere and everywhere we can find them!  Maybe our fellow hikers with the benefit of high altitudes in the vicinity have an advantage, but we make the most of what we have available to us, and to date we have met every challenge.

Here are a few of our favorite spots to train and enjoy the outdoors in the Midlands (leaving out the parking garage, of course!)—

  • Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park – still a work in progress and still recovering from the Great Flood – the flattest path you’ll find and a great place to train for a 5k, 10k or ½ marathon – particularly nice on cooler days, as most of the paths are sun-filled!
  • Sesquicentennial State Park – probably better for the bikers, but these trails are accessible and have campsites available for overnights, if that’s your thing
  • Congaree National Park – I’ve only explored the shorter trails and the area by kayak, but plan to venture further into the area to see what this National Park has to offer
  • Cayce Riverwalk – accessible from the amphitheater off Gervais or the lot off Naples in the Avenues of Cayce – one of the easier boardwalks and trails for bikers, runners, hikers and dog-walkers – this trail is continuing to improve/expand and cannot be missed – and speaking of ‘don’t miss,’ be sure to check out the chainsaw artistry of Wade Geddings while you take in the beauty of the Congaree
  • Timmerman Trail – venture down the 12th Street Extension in Cayce toward SCANA to find this gem of a trail – eventually downtown Soda City will meet River Rat as the Timmerman Trail / Cayce Riverwalk will join with the Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park for miles and miles of enjoyment – until then, Timmerman Trail does not disappoint!
  • Harbison State Park – we’ve been hiking the park for a couple of years now, but still manage to find new areas, new parts to get (semi) lost in, and new trails that have us marveling that we are still within the county limits! Trails for bikes, hikes and pups – what could be better (nothing, based on the look on my boy Lincoln’s face!)  There are trails for newbies, those wanting a little challenge and those looking to take it to the next level!

 

Weather Rant

By Chaunte McClure

I was hoping this post would celebrate the one to two inches of snow forecasted for today. Instead, I’m whining because the flurries I had the privilege of seeing vanished as soon as they touched a surface.

The winter scene was beautiful while I sat in my car with the engine running, enjoying my chicken salad sandwich. Sadly, the snow lasted about 10 minutes before turning into a wintry mix, and back again to snow for another short span. All this while my sister, an elementary school teacher, is calling me from home sharing weather updates for the Midlands and bragging about her day off. Yes, I’m a little jealous, but I’ll get over it by Friday and I won’t be mad at her or the meteorologists who kept me on my times; however, I do have a heartfelt message for the weathermen.

Dear meteorologist,

My heart just can’t handle the disappointment anymore. When I see the snowflake in your weather graphic, I get uber excited and look forward to the ground being blanketed with snow. I mean, I dream up a day at home on the bed with my laptop and a throw, having snow conversations with my Facebook friends and peeping out the window watching it gracefully fall from the sky. Do you know the last time I took a picture of snow-covered Columbia? I think it was in 2010; two governors ago! Something has to change. I mean, you get me all worked up, then nothing happens. I know, it’s not your fault, right. The track changed and areas north of us got most of the white stuff. I guess that’s what happens when we live in a city that’s known to be Famously Hot.

Snow 2010 in Columbia

The glorious snow of 2010

With one more winter month ahead, I remain hopeful and I’ll still rely on you for an accurate forecast. Please, just don’t disappoint me again.

Sincerely,

A Southern girl who wants at least an inch of snow.

Shop Late, If You Must, But Don’t Forget to Shop Sustainable

By Mary Pat Baldauf

There are still a few days left for holiday gift shopping, and if you’re like me, you’ll be using every last hour. A shopper at heart, I love buying gifts for the special people in my life. As a “green girl,” I shop with sustainability in mind and wanted to share some tips so you, too, can be a more sustainable holiday shopper on the last few days of this holiday season.

Think local. Studies show that every dollar spent generates twice as much income for the local economy, and who doesn’t like that? Because locally produced products are created here – not shipped in from across the country or even across the world – the footprint of your gift will be smaller and result in a cleaner, healthier environment.  Working for the City of Columbia, I do a lot of shopping in the Main Street District. My favorites for local goods include Soda City, Columbia’s Main Street market, and Uptown on Main, who also wraps gifts for free.

Consider consumables. Having issues with clutter myself, I refuse to create more for the holidays, for me or for others. My standard gift is usually a recycled-content ornament, but this year I’m only buying gifts that can be eaten or experienced. The Cotton Mill Exchange at the SC State Museum has a great selection of Palmetto State gifts, including gourmet foods produced within our borders. Or select a gift card to a local restaurant, bakery or micro-brewery. Personally, I’ll be asking Santa for a gift certificate to Spotted Salamander, a downtown Columbia café featuring inventive Southern cuisine with fresh, high quality local ingredients. And don’t forget Blue Flour Bakery’s fat and fabulous sugar cookies; with locations in Columbia and Irmo, they’re always a convenient treat.

Another favorite consideration? Think experiential. In the Midlands, it’s easy to find Nickelodeon Marquissomething for everyone on your list to enjoy, like tickets to a play or attraction you know they like. A donation in the name of your recipient will go a long way, too. At the top of my list is a membership to The Nickelodeon, Columbia’s art house theatre on Main Street. Experience gifts are true memory makers, and they don’t take up space on a shelf or need wrapping, either.

 

When you buy gifts, do you consider its impact on the environment and/or local community? Where is your favorite place to buy sustainable holiday gifts? And what is it you recommend there?