Washington column for Jan. 22

MLK Day in Rappahannock

At Sunday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, essayists Jane Humphreys of Culpeper County High School (left) and James Hensley of Belle Meade School (right) pose with  guest speaker Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater (second from left) and Dr. Pamela Simpkin of Macedonia Baptist, Flint Hill, the event’s emcee.Alexandra Campbell-Forte
At Sunday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, essayists Jane Humphreys of Culpeper County High School (left) and James Hensley of Belle Meade School (right) pose with  guest speaker Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater (second from left) and Dr. Pamela Simpkin of Macedonia Baptist, Flint Hill, the event’s emcee.

Nan Butler Roberts, program director of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at the Theatre at Washington, reports on Sunday’s big event:

The Theatre was alive and abuzz as an almost-full house of Rappahannock citizens, guests and friends came together to celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Sunday afternoon.

In its 24th year, the MLK celebration featured Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, who spoke about King’s legacy of love for all mankind. Bridgewater, who has worked during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations in posts that include South Africa, Liberia and Jamaica, recalled King’s dream, and noted that we must dream our own dreams — and find the passion to serve others.

“We can be the man, woman or young person in the mirror, and change our ways,” she said. “We must be introspective . . . . There will never be a perfect world . . . there will be some prejudice, some injustice . . . but there must be a better world, a safer world, where everyone has an opportunity to be educated.”

“Because there is no Martin Luther King, Jr. today, that’s no excuse,” she said, and, noting King’s fight for equal rights for all people, she reminded the audience: “Dr. King said, ‘It’s enough!’ ” She then asked the crowd, “When will it be enough for you? To stand, to make a change?”

This year’s celebration also featured area students who participated by writing and reading their essays about King’s life and legacy. Belle Meade School’s James Hensley’s essay focused on King’s love for all mankind and how it was at the root of all that King stood for. Culpeper County High School’s Jane Humphreys focused on a biography of King’s life and the works that he accomplished in just 39 years before his tragic death. Both essays were enthusiastically received by the audience.

In attendance were the town and county officials who were formally recognized by Rappahannock County School Board vice chair Aline Johnson, including County Administrator John McCarthy, Washington Mayor John Fox Sullivan and Councilman Jerry Goebel, County Treasurer Debbie Knick, school board members Amy Hitt and Larry Grove, and, representing the superintendent’s office, Carol Johnson.

Music for the celebration was provided by the Men’s Choir of Divine Life Ministries, Culpeper, Pastor James Greg Mack, whose selections included “Every Praise (Is to Our God)” and “Our God Is Awesome,” prompting the audience to stand and or clap along. Dr. Pamela Simpkins of Macedonia Baptist, Flint Hill, served as emcee for the afternoon. (Simpkins is the wife of Macedonia’s pastor, Rev. Donald Simpkins, and is a school principal in Fairfax County.)

The MLK Celebration is sponsored each year to raise funds for RCHS seniors to receive scholarships. The chairman of the scholarship committee,  Lillian Aylor, thanked our co-sponsors, the Scrabble School Preservation Foundation and the Theatre at Little Washington, as well as all participants and attendees for their continued support of the event (which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2016).

In my own closing remarks, I noted that instead of a token gift for their efforts, I would be making myself available to take the essay students on a college tour later in the year. The students will be able to choose between a southeastern tour of Virginia to include VCU, ODU and Hampton, or a southwestern tour to include JMU (my alma mater!), Radford and Virginia Tech.

Relay for Life kicks off

Relay for Life of Rappahannock County’s 2015 Kick-Off Celebration is 4 to 8 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 23) at the Washington fire hall. The event is for survivors and for anyone in the community who would like to get involved in the effort to fight cancer. Stop in and see what it is all about and have a bite to eat, with chances to win door prizes, baked goods for sale and a silent auction. Most of all, you’ll get to meet and greet the event leaders. For more information, call Karen Williams at 540-635-4673 or Phyllis Grogg at 540-364-2640.

Funds (and a sign) raised for Free Clinic

The Inn at Little Washington’s Jamie Fox, right, picks raffle winners Jan. 14 at the Inn with Rappahannock Free Clinic’s (from left) Barbara Dennis, Cecile Scott, Mary Jane Cappello, Anne Lavigne and Brion Patterson. Courtesy photo
The Inn at Little Washington’s Jamie Fox, right, picks raffle winners Jan. 14 at the Inn with Rappahannock Free Clinic’s (from left) Barbara Dennis, Cecile Scott, Mary Jane Cappello, Anne Lavigne and Brion Patterson.

The Rappahannock Free Clinic, which is housed in the Health Department in Washington, is making plans for a new sign on the front of the building to let people know that the Free Clinic is open on the first and third Wednesday of each month (with patient check in times from 5 to 6 p.m.)

Like its parent organization, the Fauquier Free Clinic, the Rappahannock clinic is possible because a talented and dedicated team of local health professionals and community members volunteer their time to provide the services. Volunteers include four nurses, four physicians and 15 others who check patients in and handle administrative work. According to Free Clinic board member Sallie Morgan, in 2014, the clinic served 167 Rappahannock residents over a total of 667 visits.

“The team of volunteers at the Rappahannock clinic are outstanding,” Morgan said, “and the care provided by our wonderful physicians and nurses is first rate. This is one of the most valuable resources in the county. And in addition to medical care, the Free Clinic also offers dental care and mental health care for Rappahannock residents through its Warrenton location.”

Volunteer coordinator Anne Lavigne agrees. “We want to be sure that we are reaching out to everyone in the community who needs health care and who qualifies for our services,” she said.

The clinic operates on a shoestring and relies on local support to purchase supplies, equipment, and some medications. Thanks to generous donations from the Inn at Little Washington and the Flint Hill Public House and Country Inn, a recent raffle conducted by clinic volunteers raised a total of $2,581 to help purchase critical equipment for the clinic.

Winners of the dinner for two at the Inn at Little Washington, Tom and Holly Flowers, were “happy to contribute to this very worthwhile cause. Winning the ‘grand prize’ was just icing on the cake!”

Sherry Pace was the winner of an overnight stay at the Flint Hill Public House.

The raffle was started by Jean Lillard, who obtained the donations from the Inn and the Public House. Jean had to leave for Arizona, and Brion Patterson and his wife, Cecile Scott, and other volunteers took over selling raffle tickets all over the county. Many thanks go out to Brion for coordinating everything, including the raffle drawing at The Inn on Jan. 14.

The proceeds from the raffle will be used to purchase necessary supplies and equipment for the Rappahannock Free Clinic.

Community members wishing to know more about Rappahannock Free Clinic or make a donation to support the clinic’s work can visit fauquierfreeclinic.org or call 540-347-0394. And anyone needing medical care can simply come to the clinic on the first or third Wednesday of the month – no appointment needed.

Birthday wishes

Birthday wishes go out to Linda Clark of Harris Hollow, who will celebrate her day on Wednesday, Jan. 28.

Friends, neighbors and dinner

The Friends and Neighbors program is back by popular demand for 2015 at the Inn at Little Washington. It is available Sunday-Thursday (except Feb. 15) during January, February and March. The Inn’s seven-course tasting menus (normally $178 per person) are offered at $128 per person (excluding tax, gratuity and beverage). The discount is available to residents of Rappahannock, Fauquier, Culpeper and Warren counties. (Proof of residency required.) For reservations, call 540-675-3800 or visiti theinnatlittlewashington.com) and mention the “Friends and Neighbors Program.”

Have a wonderful week.