The Community Bazaar brings needed funds to AFJROTC
Nancy Anderson, Buyer News
From food trucks to artisans to silent auction, the fourth annual Community Bazaar was a huge success at Karns High School on April 30th.
The event is a major fundraiser for the Air Force Junior ROTC, organizer Colleen Plante said. Plante is the vice president of TN932, the parent organization of AFJROTC.
This is one of many benefits that will be organized in support of a new building for the program and for various cadet needs.
The AFJROTC program lost its space for several consecutive years, only to be pushed back to Byington Solway.
The cadets want to build their own facility, a place to hold daily drills and lessons. They plan to open the building to the community – as it will have a cozy kitchen and enough space to hold gatherings such as balls, dinner parties and daddy-daughter dances.
The fully furnished building will cost nearly $3 million.
“Today’s event is a major fundraiser for AFJROTC. It’s a great day and we had a good turnout,” Plante said.
“We are here to raise funds to help support the caddy in any way necessary, from meal tickets to sneakers for the PT, to paying for activities.”
AFJROTC cadets were in full force in uniform to host the event and speak to community members about the benefits of the organization. They spoke well and were knowledgeable.
The event featured a live auction with items donated by craft vendors. Plante invited about 75 vendors specializing in handmade crafts.
“I want the bazaar to look like the old bazaars we used to go to when we were kids, where there is music, crafts, food and vendors selling handmade items.
“It’s such a worthy cause — AFJROTC does so much for the community. They pull down flags, march in parades, provide the Color Guard for countless events. The cadets go on a hike. They learn what it is to be part of a team. AFJROTC literally changes their lives and gives them a place to belong,” Plante said.
Three food trucks fed and delighted the crowd. Options included fried fish, burgers and tacos.
Singer-songwriter Eric Cox was back this year, bringing his wife, Pamela, to sing along to popular songs like “Strawberry Wine.”
The kids seemed to enjoy the bouncy houses and live cartoon characters providing photo opportunities. Deadpool, Mighty Mouse, The Flash, Spider-Man, and Batman have all made appearances.
This year was missing the Lifestar Helicopter, which is currently not making community appearances due to the pandemic.
“We hope next year will be even bigger and better, yet small and intimate. The car show will be bigger and I hope Lifestar is back. The kids love to see it land and the explore. We really miss it this year,” Plante said.
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There is joy to be found even in a doctor’s office
Leslie Snow, Buyer News
It happens sometimes. I meet someone I know at the grocery store, or I walk with a friend who asks me questions about my life.
Most of the time, I deviate. I make a casual remark about caring for people of all ages, from toddlers to nonagenarians. I go for the laughs because it’s easier that way.
Most of the time the joke works. It allows me to shift the conversation from my life to something else.
But sometimes people want to know more. They want to know more about my parents and the role I play in their lives. They want to know what my daily life is like and how I spend my time.
That’s when things get complicated. Because if I mention anything about driving my parents to 11 doctor’s appointments in three weeks, they give me a sympathetic look. They shake their heads, tell me I’m a good girl, and give me a comforting hug.
I know they imagine my life as a chore. They imagine me dragging my mother from specialist to specialist as we try to manage the worsening symptoms of her cancer treatments. They think I’m stressed and overwhelmed, that I’m doing too much.
I see it on their faces. I see their pity and compassion, and I feel like saying, “I have bad days sometimes, but it’s not what you think.
Most of the time it’s just my mom and I going to the doctor together. I pick her up from her house in the morning and we share a breakfast before it’s time to leave. I get an update on my dad and his two slightly feral cats. I hear about the stressful dream she had the night before or the book she was reading late at night.
Once we’re alone in the car, we have a chance to talk in ways we can’t when my dad is around. We talk about the challenges my mom is facing with my dad’s worsening dementia. We talk about how his brain works and all the words he lost.
And sometimes, if I ask the right questions, she tells me about the lack of her partner and the loss she feels. I do my best to listen
But no matter what we talk about in the car, by the time we get to the waiting room, we’re usually laughing. I make him choose his favorite item in each doctor’s office we visit. Or I’m playing a game where she has to pick someone she’d like to swap shoes with.
No shoes are actually swapped in this game, but it’s still surprisingly fun. We play Wordscapes on my phone. We look at pictures of the grandchildren or choose pretty flowers to plant in our raised beds.
Sometimes we hold hands. Sometimes our feet are intertwined. Sometimes we tell stories about my father of old, when he was big and strong and could do almost anything. Other times we share the quiet burden of caring for someone with dementia.
Taking my mom to the doctor isn’t the chore she seems to be from the outside. Most of the time, I’m happy to do it. Most of the time, I’m happy to be with my mother and support her in her fight against melanoma.
That’s what people miss when they wrap me in those nice hugs. They don’t know that my mother and I are good friends, that we enjoy each other’s company. They don’t know that there are good times even in a doctor’s office.
Leslie Snow can be reached at snow [email protected]