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Kids in the MHC After 3 program are having fun in the kitchen
From left; Austin Ford, Matthew Hammons, Abby Quinnan, and Christen Rorrer coordinate meals they put together during the Martinsville Henry County After 3 program at the Patrick Henry Community College School of Craft and Design.
Many adults would frown on eating mud pies and sticks, but recently adults were encouraging four students to make and eat "Sticks in the Mud."
Abby Quinnan, Matthew Hammons, Austin Ford and Christen Rorrer munched on these, "Doggie Dog Rolls" and chocolate chip cookie sandwiches and washed it all down with apple smoothies during their culinary arts project with the Martinsville Henry County (MHC) After 3 program.
Patsy Quinnan is the site director for the Collinsville YMCA's MHC After 3 program and is Christen and Abby's mom and stepmom, respectively. She worked with the children as they followed instructions from Derrick Beverly, whom they call "Chef D." He is the culinary arts professor at Patrick Henry Community College. Teacher's aide Savannah Strader also assisted the students.
The MHC After 3 program gives kids enrichment activities to do after school or during the summer when their parents may be at work, Quinnan explained.
During this particular event, the kids had two classes a week for four weeks at the Southern Virginia Artisan Center for cooking lessons from Beverly. He explained that these recipes are for children and are simple enough for them to do on their own or with minimal supervision.
Twelve-year-old Abby made "Sticks in the Mud," which are celery and carrot sticks rolled in peanut butter and coated with graham cracker crumbs. Matthew, also 12, made chocolate chip cookie sandwiches of two chocolate chip cookies held together with chocolate icing in the middle. Austin, 13, wrapped crescent rolls around cheese and hot dogs and baked them to make "Doggie Dog Rolls." Christen, 14, mixed cinnamon, sugar, ice, apples, applesauce and citrus punch together in a blender to make apple slushies.
Quinnan laughed and said Christen is the "Smoothie Queen," because she also made smoothies - of strawberry - during a previous class. Quinnan's other daughter Brittany, 9, will join the MHC After 3 program when she is older, Quinnan said. The program is for sixth- through eighth-grade students, she added.
Quinnan also is a special education teacher's aide at Campbell Court Elementary School. She said she worked with the school system because she "wanted a career where I could spend more time with my kids. My kids are older and don't need me as much." She found a second job with the MHC After 3 program where she is able to continue working with children. So now, "both jobs I am working with kids. In my second job, I work with my kids so that's even better."�
Because Quinnan has such a tight schedule, Christen helps her in the kitchen. "If she's really tired, I try to make dinner," Christen explained. One of her favorite things to make is omelets, she said. Quinnan laughed and added, "She's very good in the kitchen. She cooks omelets better than I do."�
Christen also enjoys making pork chops, which she bakes, and macaroni and cheese. The sauce she makes for the macaroni and cheese uses buttermilk. "She makes her own cheesy concoction. It took her a while to learn that one," her mother said.
Quinnan added that Christen gets her talents honestly. "I cook a lot. That's where she gets it from," she explained. As Christen has learned from her mother, Quinnan also learned to cook from her mother, Rosa Hammons of Fieldale. Then again, she added, her father Clowney Hammon said he taught her mother how to cook, Quinnan laughed. He is the minister of the Church of Jesus Christ in Martinsville, where the 32-year-old Collinsville resident also attends and is a Sunday school teacher. "I like kids, what do I say? I worry that when my kids grow up, I'll fade away. My mom said I wanted to be a mom when I grew up," she added.
Abby Quinnan is the daughter of Quinnan's husband, Donny Quinnan, and of Tina Haskins of Collinsville. Abby's stepfather is Joe Haskins. Matthew Hammons is the son of Clowney Hammons and Rosa Hammons of Fieldale. Austin Ford is the son of Henry and Kerry Ford of Collinsville. Christen Rorrer also is the daughter of Junior Rorrer of Martinsville.
For more information about the MHC After 3 program, visit the local YMCA and fill out an application. Patsy Quinnan added that there are several different MHC After 3 groups, and they are accepting more students. Space is available first come first serve and is open to any child in sixth through eighth grades. The Harvest Foundation funds the program, so it is free to the public.