Reception to honor Essie Givens on her 100th birthday

Gail M. Williams, Herald Correspondent Published 10:38 am, Monday, February 19, 2018 Photo: Courtesy Photo Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Essie Givens, pastor, organizer and faithful volunteer, will be honored the day after her 100th anniversary at McClung University Center on Wayland Baptist University campus. Essie Givens, pastor, organizer and faithful volunteer, will be honored the day after her 100th anniversary at McClung University Center on Wayland Baptist University campus. Photo: Courtesy Photo Reception to honor Essie Givens on her 100th birthday 1 / 1 Back to Gallery Since 1940, wherever there was need in the Plainview community, Essie Givens has been there. On Friday, Feb. 23, Givens will turn 100 years old. A long list of grateful organizations, friends and family members will honor her with a reception at noon, Saturday, Feb. 24, in the McClung University Center on Wayland Baptist University campus. Among the organizers are: The Black Awareness Organization, Good Samaritan Church where Givens pastors, and the church district, said her daughter Sandra Franklin. Guest speakers will include Mayor Wendell Dunlap and Sheriff David B. Mull. Organizations represented will include the Chamber of Commerce, RSVP, Pink Ladies, FISH, Salvation Army, Easter Seals, March of Dimes, American Heart Association, Red Cross, FEMA, and the United Church Women. Recommended Video: Now Playing: An Illinois woman celebrated her 100th birthday at McDonald's. Media: Fox5 In 1940, Givens and her husband, the Rev. Edgar Napoleon Givens, were called from their hometown of Midland to start mission churches in the Texas Panhandle. Originally sent to Lamesa, they were later re-assigned to Plainview. “They had them come up here to start a little mission church. At first, it was just Continue Reading

Family law issues dominate free legal help requests at 17th annual Talk to a Lawyer Today

LAKE STATION — Snow and blustery winds Monday may have kept area residents from participating in the 17th annual Talk to a Lawyer Today that offered free legal consultations at eight locations in four counties. Still, nine people signed up to talk with three lawyers during the morning sessions at the Lake Station-New Chicago Public Library at 2700 Central Ave. Traditionally, the library is one of the busiest sites each year. Most of the free legal consultations revolved around family law, Stephanie Wicke said about the 15-minute appointments. Wicke, of Hobart-based NWI Volunteers Lawyers Inc., also served as one of the lawyers at the library. For example, misspellings and other errors on a child’s birth certificate brought one woman to the Lake Station Library. “The birth certificate had the mom’s name wrong and the wrong date of her birth. The dad’s name was also misspelled,” Wicke said. “I helped her with the paperwork.” The parents are from Mexico, and errors on the child’s birth certificate need to be corrected to obtain a passport so the child can visit relatives, the lawyer said. Another woman sought help with paperwork allowing her large service dog to accompany her everywhere she goes. Although the dog wears a vest indicating he is a service animal, the woman has experienced difficulties, Wicke said. “We have victims of domestic abuse. They need a support system. I give them contact information for shelters,” she said. “We also have landlord-tenant disputes and Social Security questions.” Setting up a “paper trail” is vital in many cases, especially those involving domestic abuse, Wicke said. Many of the attorneys who volunteer for the public service pro bono program of the Indiana Bar Association and the Indiana Supreme Court are sole practitioners, Wicke said. “Volunteering for this program is good for the attorneys,” she said. Many of Continue Reading

My shadow son: A stranger insisted he was my child for more than a decade

I have a shadow son - a shadow son I didn't give birth to, a shadow son who believed I was his biological mother for over a decade.I first became aware of him 14 years ago, when a private investigator called. I had no idea what a detective would want from me - perhaps a bill collector was trying to track me down? Maybe my mother had hired him to find the fortune she believed my father was hiding from us? She had hired several people to find the money over the years to no avail, but none had ever reached out to me."Your son is looking for you," the private investigator said. "The son you gave away in 1985."Now that I wasn't expecting."What?!" was all I could manage to say."Your name is on the birth certificate," he said.I was 17 in 1985, still a few months away from losing my virginity. I knew I hadn't given birth that year; still, the call played with my head. Had I somehow blocked out an entire pregnancy? I started to feel disoriented as I pressed the phone to my ear, momentarily unsure of memory, unsure of reality. I wondered if this was how it felt to be delusional like my mother, although she always seemed so sure of herself, of what she thought she knew. I told the detective that, no, it must have been another Gayle Brandeis. He thanked me for my time and hung up.I didn't think much of this strange phone call until my shadow son contacted me himself via Facebook in early 2010. "This might be an insane question," his message began before he asked if I had given birth on a certain day in 1985. I had given birth to my youngest child three months before this message. I was still recovering, not only from the birth but from my mother's death, as well - she had hanged herself in the midst of a psychotic break when the baby was one week old.I wrote back saying no, I hadn't given birth in 1985, and I wished him the best with his search. He apologized for any inconvenience and closed with "Be well." I deeply appreciated these words; I felt far from well those days. I Continue Reading

How to get fit like Wonder Woman, The Rock and more

If you want abs like Jennifer Aniston or "jacked" shoulders like Hugh Jackman, you better work. These fit famous people hit the gym hard to sculpt their hard bodies. But they've been open about the diet and exercise strategies that help them get results. Here's what it takes to look (and sweat) like a celeb. Chris Pratt Actor Chris Pratt prepared to defend us all in "Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2" with what he called "straight conditioning, like high-intensity interval training and CrossFit-style moves," according to Men's Fitness. While in Star-Lord training, Pratt would do five rounds of eight exercises, including pushups, high box jumps, ball slams and burpees. While training for a triathlon, Pratt said he also focused on flexibility with vinyasa hot yoga. Gal Gadot Gal Gadot transformed herself into Wonder Woman with a full-body workout, designed by Mark Twight, according to Muscle and Fitness. It included rowing, burpees with broad jumps, crab walks and pull-ups, which she was unable to do when she first began training. "When you feel strong, it changes everything -- your posture the way you walk," she told Glamour, adding that she gained about 17 pounds of pure muscle while training. Katy Perry Katy Perry is known for her energetic, physically exhausting performances. The "Roar" singer says she stays fit by following celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak's "Five Factor" program, which calls for eating five small, nutritious meals each day and exercising five times per week with "short, high-intensity workouts including lunges and hip thrusts," Pop Sugar reported. A typical meal for Perry might include grilled chicken, quinoa and grilled asparagus, she told People magazine. But she isn't a gym rat. "I love being outdoors," she said in the interview. "I prefer to go on hikes or ride my bike." Beyoncé How does Beyoncé hone her famous curves? The "Bootylicious" singer's workout circuit includes abdominal exercises, weighted Continue Reading

Muslims Used To Love Living In Tennessee — Now It’s A Nightmare

The fire department called before dawn. Daoud Abudiab and his 13-year-old daughter were already awake, so they got in the car quickly. From about a mile away, Abudiab saw a plume of black smoke rising above the low skyline and started getting nervous. He thought back to the arguments over whether to mark the Islamic Center of Columbia, Tennessee, the only mosque in the hundred-mile stretch between Nashville and Huntsville, with a large sign or a small, unassuming one. They had opted for a large one.Abudiab and his daughter could feel the heat of the fire when they stood at the yellow police tape. A black swastika was spray-painted on the mosque’s facade. Flames pushed out from the burst windows and up through the collapsed roof. Abudiab’s wife arrived with the rest of the kids, followed by other congregants and their families.Abudiab looked at the women and all he saw was headscarves. “Go home,” he pleaded. “Don’t go out. Don’t go to Walmart. Don’t go anywhere.”The ringleader of the band of white supremacists who burned down the mosque with Molotov cocktails justified the act by saying, “What goes on in that building is illegal according to the Bible.” This was February 2008. The theory of Barack Obama’s crypto-Islamism was faint chatter on the fringes. But in the years after Obama's election, Tennessee became a key battleground in a national anti-Muslim movement whose influence has culminated, for now, in the presidential campaigns of Republican frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, both of whom are being advised by people whose views on Islam were once considered too extreme for mainstream politics. Tennessee, like much of the South, was once a friendly place for Muslims to live. Abudiab and his family had been in Tennessee and Arkansas for more than two decades, and they’d felt at home in the Bible Belt — glad, like many Muslims they knew, to raise their children among Continue Reading

State slams city’s handling of slain 6-year-old Zymere Perkins’ case, ordered Mayor de Blasio to hire monitor

The state released a scathing report Tuesday detailing multiple failures by the city’s child welfare agency ahead of the beating death of a 6-year-old boy — and ordered Mayor de Blasio to hire a monitor to oversee the agency. The report shows a doctor who examined Zymere Perkins’ body on the night of his death on Sept. 26 found evidence that the boy might have been dead for 17 hours before he was brought to a hospital. The little boy was so underweight, the doctor thought Zymere was only 3 years old. And there bruises all over his tiny body. The state found that ACS workers repeatedly dropped the ball, ignoring signs of abuse and even lying about Zymere’s injuries. The findings emerged a day after ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrión announced her resignation. The state Office of Children & Family Services ordered de Blasio to hire an independent monitor to oversee ACS, underscoring the egregious nature of the city’s failures. The mandate was issued behind the scenes on Dec. 1, yet during a press conference Tuesday de Blasio made no mention of the state’s order and presented the monitor as his idea. The mayor claimed he didn’t need state approval of the position, though a state official said that wasn’t true: OCFS must approve his selection. Late Tuesday, de Blasio released the city’s internal report on Zymere’s case. And he announced that he ordered three workers directly involved to be fired. Six more are being suspended and demoted due to multiple lapses in investigating accusations of abuse prior to the boy’s death. “I will not accept excuses for this failure and I will not accept the notion that every single one of these tragedies cannot be prevented,” the mayor said. “The buck stops with me.” The internal ACS report revealed many of the same issues uncovered by the state, admitting the agency “failed to completely Continue Reading

At a cabin, new moms find peace while fighting opioid addiction

Tesla Smith propped a hip against the cabin’s kitchen counter, fishing Fig Newtons out of the package. She is almost always hungry since making it through the first nauseous weeks of pregnancy inside a Nashville residential drug treatment program for felons.The treatment center couldn’t keep her — pregnant women are too big a liability. So Smith found a place in this six-bedroom log cabin in rural East Tennessee, along with five other recovering opioid addicts, two dogs and a newborn baby boy.All of the cabin’s residents have lengthy rap sheets. Smith's began with her aggravated robbery arrest at 19 within months of her first high on opioids — she needed money for drugs, she said — and spiraled to more than a dozen arrests. She is now 27.New mother Jennifer Parks, rocking 12-day-old Kaycen next to the stone fireplace, volunteers that she has 29 felonies. She is 31.“But look at you with that baby now,” Smith says to Parks. “I hope I have one like that. How is it that he never cries?”"The Cabin" in White Pine, Tenn., a picturesque landscape of farms and grassy bluffs in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is under the supervision of the Fourth Judicial District Drug Recovery Court, an alternative criminal justice system that supervises substance abusers facing felony charges.Six years ago, court officials weren’t just running out of options for pregnant women — there were almost no options to begin with. Only one Knoxville nonprofit provided residential care for addicted pregnant women, and it had space for only 12. Yet nearly 70 percent of all babies born to addicted moms in Tennessee are born in the eastern half of Tennessee. And the four counties served by the drug recovery court are at the very epicenter of that crisis. Read more: Tennessee lawmakers still wrangling with opioid epidemic What are opioids, and how Continue Reading

A family born from heartbreak | Amanda Beam

Julian Leachman doesn’t understand why the woman he called mommy went away, or that just last week he legally gained a father in Eddie Leachman.He’s two, and, like most two-year-olds, his days are filled with frolic, wonder, and, under Eddie’s protection, irrevocable love. Wearing pajamas covered in drawings of construction equipment and Thomas the Train socks, he grabbed my hand that Sunday afternoon in his Georgetown home and showed me his pirate bed, and a favorite picture book, and a pair of sunglasses that made him resemble a police officer ready for a chase.In a toddler’s world of giggles and play, the transient nature of life doesn’t register. Death and the legalities of adoption don’t exist. Only the here and the now matter.On the couch sat Eddie, enjoying a moment of quiet. A single dad now, he goes from early in the morning to late evening working, cooking, cleaning and all the while caring for his son. Julian, with deep dimples under his round cheeks, climbed up and leaned against the resting man.“A puppy, Daddy,” Julian exclaimed, pointing to a dog running across the TV screen.“Yeah,” said Eddie with the real excitement only a father could muster.This daddy is his daddy, biological or otherwise. That’s all there is to know.The child, though, still asks about Kelly Leachman, Eddie’s wife of 11 years and Julian’s mother for almost one. While she did not birth the wide-eyed boy, Kelly lived up to her maternal title in every sense of the word. She doted over her foster son and cherished him as her own.Instead of answering the boy’s questions about his mother’s absence, the grieving father will change the subject. Kelly’s sudden September passing has him at a loss for words. And even if he could talk through the pain, how can a toddler comprehend that the parent who adored him will never be in his life again?“There have been a lot of difficult days,” Continue Reading

Number of homes destroyed by California wildfires up to 53; Dodgers’ Furcal among those evacuated

LOS ANGELES - Homes destroyed, prized possessions gone forever, lives altered - the wildfires sweeping parts of Southern California have been taking an increasingly serious toll. Like so many of his neighbors, Adi Ellad managed to flee before the fiery onslaught consumed his home in Tujunga Canyon. And like the others, he had to leave precious things behind. To Ellad, it was a Persian rug, a family heirloom, as well as a photo album he put together after his father died. "One second I'm crying, one second I'm guilty, the next moment I'm angry, and then I just want to drink tequila and forget," said Ellad. Ellad's tragedy was similar to those of dozens of other Californians on Monday with the number of homes destroyed by flames rose to 53 as the blaze blackened a wide swath of tinder-dry forest. The flames threatened many other homes, forcing thousands of others to flee. Fire crews battling the blaze in the Angeles National Forest tried desperately to beat back the flames and prayed for weather conditions to ease. The fire was the largest of at least eight burning across California after days of triple-digit temperatures and low humidity. The fire scorched 164 square miles of brush, and threatened 12,000 homes, but a lack of wind kept flames from overwhelming firefighters who protected suburbs northeast of Los Angeles. Columns of smoke billowed high into the air before dispersing into a gauzy white haze that burned eyes and prompted warnings of unhealthy air throughout the Los Angeles area. Smoke could be seen billowing around the fabled Hollywood sign. "It's burning everywhere," U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Dianne Cahir said. "When it gets into canyons that haven't burned in numerous years, it takes off. If you have any insight into the good Lord upstairs, put in a request." The exact number of people injured or threatened by the fire was still not clear. Among those evacuated were Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal and his wife, who Continue Reading

Meet the Indiana man with a superhuman tolerance for crazy hot peppers

Don't try this at home. Eating 10 ghost peppers in about 4 minutes is best left to the professionals, like Sasquatch."Yes, I am crazy. Yes I like the attention," said 38-year-old Martin Nohl, aka Sasquatch. "More than anything, I want people to realize these peppers are a fun thing to do."Not just anyone can bite into these peppers. To put things in context, a jalapeño pepper ranks at an average of 5,000 on the Scoville Heat Unit, a standardized spicy heat measurement. A single ghost pepper ranks at more than 1 million SHU. "I know that my tolerance is way above what normal people have and I could do something that a very few select few people in the world can do," he said.That exceptional ability also provides Nohl with a way to deal with pain. Nohl, a native of Indianapolis who now lives in Greensburg, said he was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis and prostatitis last year, conditions that affect his bladder and prostate.He said his condition worsened so much so that he experienced contractions in his abdomen as severe as those experienced by a woman giving birth.He had always had a high tolerance for spicy foods, so as a distraction, he decided to film himself and his brother eating a Paqui chip. The chip is referred to as the hottest in the world, and you might be able to tell if you watch his brother's reaction. But Nohl wasn't exactly fazed."I went into that video thinking that this was going to be the hottest thing I ever ate," he said. "I was really disappointed." Nohl has since graduated to downing a full bottle of Mad Dog 357 Ghost Pepper Extract Tequilla (it didn't taste like booze) and chowing down on Carolina Reapers (they're more than twice as hot as Ghost Peppers).To be clear, most medical experts advise against eating hot peppers if you're diagnosed with Nohl's ailments. He says his doctor was all right with him eating the peppers, as long as he didn't experience Continue Reading