Tag Archives: community

1067 lbs of produce?

11 Jul
The Gardeners Grove is home to the LMU Organic Garden Project

The Gardeners Grove is home to the LMU Organic Garden Project

Lincoln Memorial University is on a mission to serve underserved populations in Appalachia and beyond. You probably know that the University pursues that mission by providing educational opportunities. An email in my inbox this morning reminded me that although LMU fulfills this mission with class offerings, new programs and professional degree opportunities; it also uses swimming pools, stethoscopes, paintbrushes and produce.

Produce? Yes, as in squash, peppers, cabbage, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Say what? Yes, 1067 lbs., of squash, peppers, cabbage, cucumbers and tomatoes to be exact. And that doesn’t account for the summer crops that have been planted and haven’t started to yield a crop. Oh, and all of these crops are organically grown. What does all this produce have to do with LMU or her mission?

In January of 2010 the LMU Board of Trustees set aside a small portion of the LMU Main Campus’s 1,000 acres in Harrogate, Tenn., to establish an organic garden. The goal was to provide a place for community members, both from LMU and the surrounding counties, who might not have access to land or resources to grown their own food and learn organic gardening.

IMG_2212The LMU Organic Garden facilities are located on the south side of campus past LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine near the roundabout. Today the garden includes two green houses and is split into two sections. The adult garden consists of 75 raised beds and ¾ of an acre community garden. The adult section includes three wheel chair accessible raised beds. The children’s garden consists of 25 raised beds and a ¼ acre community garden. Additionally, there is a ¼ acre produce market garden which is used to teach young adults successful market skills. Garden members have the opportunity to grow their own food in individual beds. Additionally they have access to a classroom/kitchen to attend weekly meetings each Monday, which often include guest speakers. Classes are offered for planting and soil preparation, canning and healthy eating. Produce is shared with local families and community food banks. Funded in part by grants from Grow Appalachia in Berea, Ky., and the Cumberland Natural Resource Association, the LMU Organic Garden offers free beds, seeds, home gardens and plants to its members.

The high tunnel gives gardeners more options during the growing seasons.

The high tunnel gives gardeners more options during the growing seasons.

While the growth at the garden has been gradual, progress is apparent as the roots of the group take hold. A high tunnel has been added in the last year providing another opportunity to multiply the crops. That 1067 lbs. of produces is up from 325 pounds a year ago. There are 52 families, a total of 132 individuals, participating in the garden and their weekly classes are usually filled to the brim. The group joined the Harrogate Farmers Market and the spring plant sale generated $674 and 200 vegetable plants were donated to local food ministries. All told, between providing healthy food to the participants, selling produce at the market and donating plants to ministries, the garden is extending LMU’s mission by providing for the underserved.

The LMU Organic Garden is managed by Bill Clayton and Sue Granger. Bonnie Banks is the green house manager and administrative duties are handled by Debbie Clayton. Applications are available by contacting Bill Clayton at organichillbilly_lmu@yahoo.com; or Sue Granger at doglovercaery@netscape.net or Debbie Clayton at debbiehoneybee9@gmail.com. For more information on the organization call Bill Clayton at 423.441.9133.

The LMU Organic Gardening Project is a partner site of Grow Appalachia, http://www.growappalachia.org an outreach education and service project of Berea College. It is funded by the generosity of John Paul Dejoria, co-founder and CEO of John Paul Mitchell Systems, Inc. Grow Appalachia emphasizes food production in order to introduce as much no-cost, fresh healthy food as possible to the region. The basic goal is to help as many families grow as much of their own food as possible. Additional financial support has come from Walmart in Tazewell and the 2014 Youth Garden Grant from the National Gardening Association.

The garden also produces honey from these bee hives.

The garden also produces honey from these bee hives.

One of two greenhouses at the garden.

One of two greenhouses at the garden.



Thank you is never enough.

10 Jul

About six weeks ago, Lincoln Memorial University hosted its sixth Remote Area Medical Health Expedition. The event which provides FREE medical, dental, vision and veterinary care to the un- or underinsured of the region is the University’s single largest community service project. And it truly takes the entire community to pull off.

It’s an event that I had never heard of before the University was asked to step in when another venue cancelled in 2006. That first year, LMU had less than four months to pull the event together. After that first weekend, I never thought I would be that tiered again and I was sure that I would not feel such a deep satisfaction in that tiredness. Sure, it was a long weekend of 14-15 hour days spent mostly on my feet, having walked miles around the Tex Turner Arena. But to see all the good work that was done far outweighed the exhaustion.

In the subsequent years, LMU’s RAM clinics have grown by leaps and bounds. The first clinic served around 500 and the one six weeks ago had 884 registered patients. As gratifying as it is to know that you played a role in helping over 800 people and providing $294,458 worth of medical, dental and vision services; the biggest take away for me is to see our community come together to help our neighbors.


Dr. Jessica Minton, of Tazewell, Tenn., works on a patient during the 2012 LMU RAM Health Expedition.

This year LMU welcomed 404 registered volunteers. We had dentist and dental students fly in from all over the country and a large group of students drove from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis to provide vision care in our clinic. Our own LMU students took time away from their summer break to come back and serve. LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medical students sacrificed precious study time to be a part of the event and Physician Assistant students who had just arrived on campus jumped onboard as well. The community at large also stepped up in big ways. Restaurants from across state lines donated food to feed our volunteers and church groups from around the regional filled in any gaps in the meal schedule.  Businesses, banks and government bodies provided funds to help with expenses.

This is a community event like no other in the region. The planning starts a year before the first patient walks through the door. While the steering committee is consumed with RAM in the weeks leading up to the event, the rest of the LMU community is always there with support. From raising funds with denim day Fridays to contributing to snack food drives, the faculty and staff answer any need that arises.

And then there are the maintenance, housekeeping, grounds and security staffs. From moving tables and chairs to rigging special electrical set-ups, the maintenance crews have to put aside their normal tasks in the weeks leading up to RAM. The housekeeping staffs take on extra shifts and word hard to keep up with the massive traffic flow throughout the weekend. Security too, takes on extra hours while keeping all of our visitors safe throughout the event. I’ll say it again, it takes the entire community to put on this community service event.

Today, the RAM steering committee got together to “debrief” the event. We discussed what went right and what could have gone better. It was a time to reflect on a job well done and lay the ground work for our next clinic slated for June 2014. It was also a time to say thank you to the team that made this good work possible. This year we combined the debriefing with an appreciation lunch for the men and women in maintenance, housekeeping, grounds and security who worked so hard to get the campus ready for our event.

This group of unsung heroes are deserving of so much more than a simple thank you meal. Without their diligent work, much of what happens on campus would not be possible.

To everyone that helped with LMU’s Sixth RAM Health Expedition, THANK YOU!


A Southern College of Optometry students conducts an eye exam during RAM.






It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

22 Nov

With Thanksgiving breaking getting closer with each passing class, it’s hard to believe that Winter Commencement and then the Holiday and semester break is just about a month away. Then again, the first level of Kresge Hall has been looking a lot like Christmas for weeks now.

The holidays took over our humble abode. It came in a wave as silent auction items from LMU’s Women of Service flowed in. One day the University Advancement division was holding its weekly staff meeting and the next the conference room was overtaken with gift baskets, jewelry and holiday décor. Then the trees started to trickle in and Christmas claimed not only the Kresge conference room but more than half of the creative suite, home to our web team. And just this week the LMU grounds team has been hard at work hanging wreaths and putting up all the holiday lights.

For many years the University has kicked off the season by hosting a Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra (KSCO) concert and an Annual Tree Lighting. The Tree Lighting has grown changed and moved around as the landscape of the campus has evolved, but the KSCO has always been a highlight not only for the University but the community at large. The concert is always free and open to the public thanks to the University and its generous donors.

The holiday silent auction is a new event for what is being billed as LMU’s Christmas Festival. It is a fundraiser for the Women of Service, which supports students and provides cultural opportunities for students. The auction will include a myriad of holiday goods available for bids under a heated tent on the quad. Items include wreaths, centerpieces, jewelry, decorated trees and much more.


Web designer Liz Murphy Thomas uses her design skills for the WOS auction


 For my part, I will be donating baskets of home baked goods. Generally, I am a fairly modest person, but I do brag about my cookies. I’ve actually been told on more than one occasion that if this PR gig doesn’t work out, I could fall back on baking. Chocolate chip cookies are my specialty, but I plan to include all my favorite holiday treats, with the recipes (including my grandmother’s classic sugar cookie cutout recipe).  

Following a couple years of standing room only crowds at the KSCO concert, the University found additional underwriters to fund two performances by Knoxville’s premiere music group this year. The performances will take place before and after the tree lighting which will also feature music by LMU student groups and festive story telling.


Holiday gift basket that will be up for auction.

The tent and bidding will open at 3 p.m. The first KSCO concert is set for 4 p.m. in the Sam and Sue Mars Performing Arts Center in the Duke Hall of Citizenship. The Annual Tree Lighting will take place on the quad near the Harold S. Finley Learning Resources Center in the Carnegie Vincent Library at 6:30 p.m. The final KSCO performance will follow at 7:30 p.m. The bidding at the silent auction will close at 10 p.m.

So mark your calendars, December 1 will be here before the turkey leftovers run out.



Rolling out the red carpet for SAC Volleyball

9 Nov

Later this week Lincoln Memorial University will have its first chance to show the entire South Atlantic Conference what Harrogate hospitality is all about. It will be the first time since LMU joined the SAC during the 2006-07 school year that it will host a conference championship as Mars Gym is home to the 2011 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Volleyball Championship.

 The action will get under way on Friday as No. 1 seeded Wingate tangles with No. 8 seeded Carson-Newman at noon. Fourth seeded Tusculum will meet fifth seeded Lenior-Rhyne in the second match of the day set for 2:30 p.m. The evening session will get underway at 5 p.m.  as No. 2 seeded Catawba clashes with No. 7 seeded Newberry. Our third seeded Lady Railsplitters will take on No. 6 seeded Mars Hill in the final quarterfinal at 7:30 p.m. Semifinal Saturday will pit the winners of the day and evening sessions against each other at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. The Championship match is set for 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Beyond all the extra planning and game operations that go into hosting a Championship event, the Railsplitter Athletic Department has been hard at work making sure our campus is ready to put on a really successful event. This is where the ever handy jack-of-all-trades PR hat comes in. The PR and Marketing department is lending all four of our hands to set up the hospitality room for the weekend. This means calling and soliciting local restaurants for meal donations, begging for other snack donations at local retailers and distributors and when that failed grabbing a shopping cart and filling the trunks of our cars with all (or at least most) of the supplies we’ll need.

I spent six plus years in college working in sports information, or athletic communications. I truly understand what the Athletic Department is undertaking in hosting such an event as I ran point on the media relations end of a Southeastern Conference Volleyball Championship while I was a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee. It is sure to be an exciting weekend not only for our team, but all the teams. For at least five of the teams it will be the end of their season and some of the athletes the end of their careers. As hosts, it’s our job to roll out the red carpet and make it as memorable as possible.

Really this is a great opportunity for our community to shine as well. For most of the SAC officials and even the teams it will be their first time staying near LMU. Given the tight travel budget and conference match schedules, very few teams actually spend the night in the city where they play. Coaches will often opt to get on the bus after matches and travel two or three hours toward their next competition site and stay in a larger or more affordable local between the two venues.

For our local economy, this tournament means 70+ hotel rooms and the accompanying taxes. Not to mention, meals at local restaurants and shopping. Not only will seven teams be traveling to the area, but also parents, students and fans as well. As a University we are fortunate to have generous supporters from local business owners that never fail to step to the plate when called upon. Restaurants like Subway of Harrogate and Kentucky Fried Chicken and J. Milton’s of Middlesboro. Our entire community and local economy will benefit from this endeavor.

Beyond the boon to the economy, LMU students are also using the tournament as a platform to continue good works in the community. LMU’s Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) are asking fans attending the tournament  bring canned food items or make a $1.00 donation to join the fight against hunger in the local community. Each can or dollar donated qualifies the person making the donation to win other items that have been given to help the cause. All donations will go to benefit Servolution Ministries, a non-denominational food pantry located in Speedwell, Tenn.

It promises to be a great weekend for Lady Railsplitter Volleyball, LMU Athletics and the Harrogate and Middlesboro Communities at large. Come on out and show your support. GO SPLITTERS!