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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Grace Network's Pumpkin Patch
Fundraiser aids needy, fall meals
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Nancy Craig, left, Jamie Burgess, center, and Faye Parker, all volunteers with Grace Network, look forward to the organization's yearly pumpkin sale-- a great opportunity to cook tasty autumn treats with that classic fruit of fall.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

By TRISHA VAUGHAN - Bulletin Accent Writer

For many people, nothing says fall like pumpkins.

Faye Parker, Jamie Burgess and Nancy Craig, all volunteers at Grace Network, see this time of year as an opportunity to cook with pumpkins.

Craig, who lives in Hunt Country Farms, doesn't cook for her own pleasure.

"I cook to please my family ... they like for me to cook more than I like to cook," she said.

Craig likes to use different ways of cooking, but her favorites are the crock pot and grill because they are easy to use. She also likes to make casseroles because they take minimal effort and produce a balanced meal, she added.

"My mother was an excellent cook and that was (my) one dream ... to cook like my mother," said Craig, 54.

Her family - husband Dan and two daughters - especially enjoy her spaghetti, grilled shrimp and homemade macaroni and cheese.

Burgess, who lives in Ridgeway, grew up cooking. "I learned from my father. (I) just watched Daddy cook," she said, adding that watching her mother also taught her some skills.

Now she cooks for her husband, Thomas. "My husband is diabetic so I try a lot of sugar-free desserts," she said, adding that she also likes to make chicken dishes.

Since she and Thomas eat out a lot, Burgess, 58, sometimes finds inspiration from restaurant foods. If she eats a food and really likes it, she will ask for the recipe. If she can't get it, she tries to whip up something similar at home.

Her husband, four children and seven grandchildren like her baked fish, sugar-free sponge cake and pecan pound cake. However, they don't depend on her for all their food.

"I taught my kids to cook - oh, yeah." added Burgess.

Both Burgess and Craig agree that Parker is a great cook.

"Faye cooks a lot" said Craig as Burgess agreed.

"I like to cook. I cook for my family every Sunday." said Parker, 66. "I like baking ... cooking, baking, frying" - just about anything, she added.

"I learned from my mom but it was a have-to thing" she said.

Parker's mother worked so the children had to take over the household chores and meals. Parker cooked her first full meal at age 11, with only minimal supervision from her mother.

Now that she has a husband, James, plus four children, 15 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, she has many more mouths to please. The family likes her yams, vegetable beef soup and potato salad, among other things.

"All mine (kids) had to learn" to cook, she said, because they all have families of their own to care for.

The women are members of different churches. Craig attends Smith Memorial United Methodist Church, and Parker and Burgess attend Agape Bible Christian Fellowship. They all like the fellowship at Grace Network.

They all are volunteering at the Grace Network Pumpkin Patch, which is open until Oct. 31. The patch is designed to raise awareness in the community that Grace is helping needy area residents and as well as raise funds for the network through the sales of pumpkins and goards.

"I've been so blessed in my life, I want to give back ... help those less fortunate," said Craig. Parker agreed, saying, "I like the people and the fellowship and feeling like I'm helping somebody."�

Burgess remembers life in the area before Grace Network. "Years back we didn't have anything like this. ... If you didn't have family to help you out, that was it."

She added that there is value in volunteering. "For me, it's helping the community ... We are a family here at Grace Network," she said.

The patch is set up at First Baptist Church in Martinsville at the back of the main parking lot at the corner of Starling Avenue and Mulberry Road. It is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and 12:30-4 p.m. Sundays. Each Saturday, story times are held at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Proceeds from the sale benefit Grace Network.

Grace Network is a "first-stop center of resources for residents of Martinsville and Henry County, Virginia where essential life needs and referrals are provided by caring volunteers building a stronger community."�


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