Horizons School students are preparing for a Culinary Extravaganza at the Jeff State Valleydale Road Campus April 13. The theme for the evening is “Healthy Tailgating and Outdoor Grilling” and includes live music and a tailgate-style dinner grilled by Keith Richards, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafés founder. Proceeds benefit The Horizons School, a community-based educational program promoting successful transition to independent living for young adults with learning disabilities, autism spectrum and developmental disorders. For tickets visit www.horizonsschool.org/healthyhearts.
Where the Party Never Ends
It’s been fifteen years ago, but I’ll never forget the look on my four and half year old’s face as we left his cousin’s birthday party. Tears were silently streaming down his face. What’s wrong? I asked. “I don’t want the party to be over. I don’t want it to end,” he replied.
Isn’t it a joy to know that the party will never end when we reach our final destination? Thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, as Christians we can look forward to a party that exceeds even our wildest dreams. The only tears that may be shed, will be tears of joy to be among the guests at God’s never-ending, heavenly, celebration.
He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
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“Lenten Fish Fry Fellowship”
Our Lady of Sorrows(OLS) Catholic Church in Homewood holds the Stations of the Cross each Friday during Lent at 7 p.m. (L to R) Knights of Columbus member John Corso, OLS assoc. pastor Rev. Balta Pentareddy, J.J. Bischoff, Charlie Bischoff, and Knight John Hardin enjoy fellowship during the first Lenten fish fry of the season.
Area Girl Scouts load cookie orders at Birmingham Cookie Drop Off, Guiding Light Church, Birmingham. Ava Christiansen (bottom left) of Troop 285/Hoover wants to use her cookie earnings to help the Ronald McDonald House.
For the eighth year in a row, Canterbury United Methodist (UMC) and St. Luke’s Episcopal partnered against hunger. With the help of nearly two thousand volunteers, they packed over 300,000 meals over a three-day period in February. The group also met its goal of packing three million total meals for Rise Against Hunger over its past eight years of participation. “We are thrilled to be able to offer the community this three-day experience to do hands-on service while facing the real issue of world hunger,” said Rachel Estes, Director of Outreach and Missions at Canterbury. “Rise Against Hunger strives to break the cycle of poverty by meeting immediate nutritional needs through connections with local schools in insecure areas around the world. This year, we are proud to partner with them in packing food for Honduras.” In addition to volunteering to pack meals, area students also raised money to cover the cost of the food. Glen Iris Elementary students raised $1,900 and Cherokee Bend Elementary raised $500 for the event.
The packed meals include a combination of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables, and a flavoring mix including 21 essential vitamins and minerals in small meal packets. Each meal costs only 29 cents, stores easily, has a shelf-life of five years, and transports quickly. “Through Rise Against Hunger, I’ve seen people of all ages and walks of life come together to volunteer in a common goal. I’ve seen teenagers that volunteered for a morning shift choose to stay all day. I’ve seen children literally have their birthday party at this event. I’ve even seen people who are locally food insecure help pack meals. But most of all, I’ve seen the shipping containers opened in Haiti and the food that our volunteers packed get cooked and distributed within a school there,” said Estes. “This is truly an event that makes a difference in so many people’s lives both here and internationally.” †
Are you, or anyone you know, praying for better health? Our bodies are miracles! All we need to do is take a moment to think about all the different functions of the body and how it all works together. It’s amazing! God gave us a gift and it’s our responsibility to take good care of it. A big road block can be processed foods. They contain chemicals used to manipulate growing more, bigger, prettier food. They’re fast and easy but we all know we aren’t getting the nutrition our bodies need from it! The proof is in the high rate of diabetes, cancer, obesity, autism and more…. You know the list! And the prescription drugs we take can mask those symptoms, help us feel better short term, but what about the side effects? You’ve seen the commercials. It’s scary. Giving our bodies high powered fuel, high powered nutrition, not only benefits us, but is our responsibility as recipients of the gift we’ve been given.
I have, personally, been taking high powered nutritional products for 9 years. I needed hope. I’ve experienced relief from many issues including allergies, chronic diarrhea, thyroid issues, muscle spasms as well as lifeline anxiety and panic attacks. My anxiety issues started with an ongoing trauma when I was very young. I can remember having daily panic attacks since I was 2 years old. It was awful. As an adult I tried psychiatrists, psychologists, medication, meditation and much more. Nothing helped. It was paralyzing both physically and emotionally. I missed so much of my family’s life. When a friend told me about this nutrition, I was very impressed. Patented as food, no warning labels, and the science and research behind it was easy for me to comprehend. She didn’t give me any promises, again our bodies are the miracle, but I understood it. And my life changed. I’m forever grateful. There aren’t enough words to express it. I have been able to take responsibility for this gift I was given by feeding it properly. If you are interested in how high-powered nutrition may help you, call me. I’d be happy to share information.
Jesus, Others and Yourself: Taziki’s Keith Richards
After a vacation to Greece in 1997, Keith Richards was inspired to recreate the same richness of community he experienced there in his home town of Birmingham. Opening his first Taziki’s restaurant in 1998 was a leap of faith quickly bolstered by the idea of giving back. Now with locations in 17 different states, Richards reflects on how his Christian upbringing contributed to his drive to succeed and his commitment to employing and inspiring special needs teens and young adults in the communities he serves.
Growing Up in Birmingham. An alumnus of Green Acres Elementary, Charles A. Brown Middle School, and Midfield High School, Richards grew up in Ensley and says his strongest memories of childhood involve being outdoors. “Back then, of course, we had no devices that would distract us,” he remembers. “We had an area called The Trails where we rode our bikes and shot BB guns and chased squirrels and went to the Boys and Girls Club. That’s all we did—that and play baseball. Church on Sundays. It’s almost like a country song.” Richards’ family attended Fairview United Methodist Church, and as far back as he can remember, every store in Ensley was closed for Sunday services. “Sunday was the Sabbath, and that was the day we went to Sunday School, went to what we called Big Church, and then at night we would have youth group.” Even on vacations, Richards says his family would find a place to worship.
In his teens, Richards worked at Camp Sumatanga, an experience that strengthened his faith and gave him a taste of servanthood and pointing others to God. “During those impressionable years—16, 17, 18 years old when some teens are starting to wonder—it grounded me even more.” His contributions to the spiritual growth of his campers, he says, was primarily directing them toward the Lord revealed in nature. “Scripture is so important, but my perspective was more of look what God has given us.
Richards’ father, Joe Richards turned 79 this past November, and inside his birthday card Keith Richards wrote, “Thanks for being my hero.” “He’s the one I strive to be like, not only with his faith but with his heart, his goodness,” Richards says, noting that his mother passed away nearly six years ago. “We had a Bible School class at church growing up, and it was the J.O.Y. class. It stands for Jesus, Others and Yourself. That has always stuck with me. I saw my parents live that.”
Growing a Business. After jobs at a Kmart cafeteria and Olive Garden followed by a 10-year career at Bottega under award-winning Chef Frank Stitt, Richards and his wife used their home as collateral to build his first Taziki’s location off Highway 280. Richards reflects on how his parents’ example served as inspiration. “My father was a telephone lineman for South Central Bell / BellSouth, and I knew what hard work looked like. It was a leap of faith… We didn’t have the money. There wasn’t an option. We could not fail,” he recalls of Taziki’s beginnings. “Ultimately, however, the challenge was how do we start giving back? That was the first thing to do. How do we get into the community to let people know we are here and who we are? Faith has a lot to do with that. You pray for success; sometimes it doesn’t come, sometimes it does, but prayer and hard work is a great combination to reap rewards.”
Giving Back. Giving back for Richards started with a chance meeting with Shelby County Schools Job Coach Cindy Vinson while on a cruise vacation. Bored with the band playing one evening on the ship, on a whim Keith offered to stand in as a drummer. An experienced musician, while he jammed on stage, Amy Richards struck up a conversation with Vinson, who was sitting nearby. Vinson asked if Taziki’s would consider employment for students with special needs. The Richards said “Yes,” and since then Taziki’s has been helping local students and young adults with challenges realize their potential, earn a paycheck, relate to peers, and be a part of a team. Richards adds that meaningful employment also meant relief, in a way, for the students’ parents. “Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to the challenges that the parents of children with special needs have. Today, if I can allow that parent 12-15 hours a week to pray, yoga, tennis, whatever their passion is, then I’ll do it.”
The Richards and Vinson also began the H.O.P.E. (Herbs Offering Personal Enrichment) program in 2012, which purchases herbs for Taziki’s restaurants grown by special needs students at area schools. Being taught how to grow, harvest and sell cilantro, rosemary, thyme, parsley and rosemary gives the students opportunities to practice social skills, learn the value of money, set goals, and follow through with plans. Richards is expanding the program to include at-risk students as well and hopes that in 2018 the program will become a nonprofit organization. He hopes that all of his friends in the Birmingham restaurant business will consider following his lead in cooking with locally grown herbs. “God has blessed me, and I’ve said a thousand times you have to give back. That’s the plan. That’s God’s plan. And, of course, I don’t do it for extra wing points or any kind of halo points. I do it because that’s the way that my parents raised me.”
Richards suggests that choosing to make 2018 a year for giving can be simple. It doesn’t require finding needs to meet worldwide. “In our own backyard, there are people that are hungry, people that don’t know Christ, people that are struggling on a daily basis that we can help,” says Richards. “Find something dear to your heart…what makes your heart flourish?”
- Camille Smith Platt
35th Annual St. Nicholas Russian Food Festival
Enjoy traditional Eastern European foods and pastries, drink Russian tea, shop in a Russian Beriozka store and tour the historic St. Nicholas church at the 35th annual St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church Food Festival. The festivities will be from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, November 4 and Noon to 5pm on Sunday, November 5. Signature to the event is the opportunity to sample such foods as pigachi, kolach, pirohy, varenyky, schi, borsch, kasha, blini, holupki, kolbasa and kraut, and halushky. St. Nicholas parish was founded over 100 years ago in Brookside by immigrants from Galacia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, an area that is known today as Slovakia and western Ukraine. The church is located off U. S. Highway 78 West via Interstate I-59 or via Interstates I-65 and I-22. Learn more at www.stnicholasbrookside.org or call 205-285-9648.
The 6th Annual Taste of Hoover is an opportunity to try delicious dishes from about 30 of Hoover’s best restaurants and caterers in the beautifully lighted setting of Aldridge Gardens. The bonus is your support will help the not for profit Gardens to be maintained and continue to offer services and events throughout the year. The event October 12 from 5-8pm comes complete with white tablecloth settings and live entertainment by Jackson Ulmer. Tickets are $40 for Aldridge Garden members and $45 for non-members. Purchase tickets at www.aldridgegardens.com. Tickets will only be available at the gate if the event is not sold out. †