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Africa trip affirms strength of sponsorships PDF Print E-mail
Written by Isaac Kreider   

Kreider witnesses how local support is providing genuine hope in Uganda

As our bus rolled into the Wera CarePoint, we were greeted by dozens of smiling and squealing children rhythmically clapping and singing “Happy, happy day, happy day, happy day.” And that it certainly was.

As a humbly honored new team member, I recently had the opportunity to travel with a 12-member team to Wera, Uganda, June 20-July 3. Mark and Sheryl Farnsworth of Holyoke and I joined nine individuals from our partner community of Harrah, Okla., ranging in age from 18-72.

Currently, 47 children in Wera are sponsored by Holyoke residents and a few with ties to Holyoke. This is a four-child increase since Sheryl’s last trip there in February. With the larger church in Harrah, the total number of sponsored children in Wera is pressing on the cusp of 200. Following this community-to-community approach allows for deeper connections between teams and the Wera population.

There are many reasons why a person may feel called abroad for missionary and humanitarian work.

One of those reasons for me, I realized when I was in Uganda, is to be better able to share with others about the incredible opportunities that God offers to all of us and the importance of our continued and increasing support of the people of Wera and people all over the world. The encouragement we received from the children is right in line with that which they have received from us as their sponsors.

Isaac Kreider holds Getrude, an 8-year-old girl he sponsors in Wera, Uganda, on his back during a visit to her home where he met her mother and some of her siblings, who are pictured. Getrude walks nearly four miles from her home to the Wera CarePoint four to five days a week.  

—Enterprise photo

Working, mentoring, worshipping, playing and just being with them, we continued to strengthen the bonds with the vulnerable children whom many Holyoke sponsors have come to know, love and enliven though Children’s HopeChest. We taught some, but we also learned much from the wonderful and welcoming community of Wera. We have all mutually come to call each other “family.”

As part of that family, we jumped on every offer to take part in the native culture and day-to-day activities. Several group members were always eager to help serve the daily lunch to the children; Mark assisted with the oxen team in plowing a section of field; and lots of soccer, dancing, simple games, and many other fun and inspiring activities kept us busy each day.

Patrick, our incredible 25-year-old project manager at the Wera CarePoint, told us, “Your hope and heart for Wera is great! We are family. We pray together, and since we are working together, we will move mountains!”

A high point for me was, of course, meeting, listening to and interacting with the two kids my parents and I sponsor ­­— Isaac is 14 and in secondary school, and Getrude is 8 and in primary school ­— and many others sponsored by Holyoke friends. The children feel such immense joy to have their sponsor visit them — a sponsor who chose them, loves them and wants to know them.

The older students in secondary school ­— similar to high school — were referred to as “the cream of Wera.” Their reverence for God, which is also seen in the younger children and felt throughout Wera, is simply awesome. As strong role models for the younger kids and their community, they exhibit levels of hope, confidence and determination that is truly indescribable. They highly attribute this to their gracious and loving sponsors, as one boy stated, “Before our sponsors, we were miserable — now, we are loved.”

Isaac Kreider is pictured with a dozen of the Wera, Uganda, children who are sponsored by Holyoke residents. Some are wearing the T-shirts and book bags that the recent team had made for all of the more than 185 sponsored kids. The issue of The Holyoke Enterprise they are holding is from March 12, in which there was an article titled “Ugandan orphans are given hope, a future” — a feature on Sheryl Farnsworth’s trip to Wera in February.  

—Enterprise photo

People of Wera prepare for prosperous future

The community of Wera has continued to develop and progress since Holyoke and Harrah first became involved in 2011. Team members on this most recent trip — many who have been on multiple trips to Wera — agreed it was the best venture to Uganda so far. We had the privilege of leading trainings and discussions that will help area residents be better prepared for a prosperous future.

Sheryl led a few days of first aid and health trainings in nearby villages. Instructing on important practices that have very practical applications in Uganda ­— splinting, rescue carrying, rehydration solutions, how the skeletal and muscular systems work, etc. — Sheryl said, “Once they realized why they need to do things like basic first aid and stretching, it made a lot of sense to them. Opening their minds to new ideas and understandings was really powerful to be a part of.”

Mark conducted two days of business-related workshops with large groups of the adults of Wera. Some of his trainings included biblical business principles, entrepreneurship, money management, record-keeping and working cooperatively in the microfinance program that has been developed.

“We will be counselors but won’t make them dependents,” Mark stated. “These are very motivated people. They just don’t know where to go with it. But now we are really starting to see where HopeChest is going with these programs.”

Working with a large group of the older boys, I was able to discuss with them some of the challenges they are facing or likely will be soon as they grow into their teenage years. This was a great opportunity that reminded me of working with our local Fellowship of Christian Athletes kids.

There were also trying events that tested our team — such as attending and speaking at the funeral of a team member’s sponsored child and working together to get our bus unstuck during a muddy Nile River Valley rainstorm.

Yet, we knew we needed to remain an encouragement to the people of Wera and to each other. Throughout the trip, the bountiful joys far outweighed the troubles.

Amidst the valuable and transformative memories from this trip, I received a fresh vision of what our sponsorships and presence are doing for Wera, why we do this and what it really means to be called God’s people. This trip was a great reflection of the name Children’s HopeChest. It was a testament and expression of a really extraordinary God doing what only he can do through really ordinary people who love him and want to serve him.

Presentation planned at First Baptist Church

To offer sponsors and community members a deeper look at God’s love and presence in Wera, the Farnsworths and Kreider will be sharing a documentary, thoughts and other information and answering questions Sunday, July 26, at Holyoke First Baptist Church during the 10:30 a.m. service.

A potluck lunch is planned for after the service.

Sheryl Farnsworth, pictured second from left, helps serve a lunch of beans and posha to the children of Wera, Uganda, one day at the Children’s HopeChest CarePoint. Between 130-150 kids convene on the CarePoint daily for food, discipleship and other needs.  

—Enterprise photo

Holyoke Enterprise July 23, 2015

MMH interim CEO terms are in negotiation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

An interim CEO for Melissa Memorial Hospital is being sought, and contract negotiations are under way.

At a special meeting of the East Phillips County Hospital District board Tuesday, July 14, four candidates were interviewed for the position. The executive session meeting lasted two hours and 50 minutes.

One candidate interviewed in person, while the other three were phone interviews, said board president Steve Young.

Following the closed session, the board authorized Young to negotiate terms of a contract with one of the candidates.

Young said Tuesday morning, July 21, that the candidate is interested, but hiring is still contingent on contract negotiations. He added that they hope to have an answer sometime this week.

Current CEO John Ayoub will be on board through July 31 but indicated that could be extended if needed.

Holyoke Enterprise July 23, 2015

HHS ag students inquire about teacher status PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

Seeking a firsthand account of the status of hiring an HHS vocational agriculture instructor for 2015-16, senior ag students Sid Struckmeyer and Josilyn Lutze addressed the Re-1J Board of Education at its July 20 meeting.

Superintendent John McCleary said emphatically that he’s an ardent fan of FFA. “I’ll make sure we have a program for you,” he assured the students.

McCleary said he had hoped to have a recommendation for hiring at Monday night’s meeting, but it didn’t pan out. While they’re attempting to find a vo-ag teacher as soon as possible, McCleary said they still want a high-quality candidate.

He has reached out to nearby state organizations and said he has a backup plan if a teacher can’t be found by the beginning of the school year.

McCleary responded to a question about FFA trip sponsorship, noting that perhaps a good cohort group of parents could be utilized. “That’s all theoretical right now,” he added, saying he really thinks he has a good chance of getting a teacher hired.


Nicole League hired as elementary counselor

Nicole League was hired as part-time counselor at Holyoke Elementary School for the 2015-16 school year at Monday night’s board meeting. She will work from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or five hours a day as arranged by Elementary Principal Kyle Stumpf.

In recommending League for the position, Stumpf said she was one of their top choices for this position in early May and was even offered the job. At that time, she declined, stating she wanted to pursue being a full-time private counselor in the Sterling area.

However, Stumpf noted that after a couple of months, League indicated she missed being around children on a daily basis and felt she needed to reconsider the offer and position in Holyoke. The part-time schedule will work well for both the district and for League.

This past year, League has worked in the Sterling School District as a behavior specialist and before that was a counselor in Cheyenne, Wyo. She recently earned her master’s degree in counseling from Adams State University in Alamosa.


Extra-duty approved

Extra-duty assignments for 2015-16 were approved at the recent meeting.

Athletic director Sandra Rahe pointed out the immediate need for several fall sports coaches including assistant HS boys’ golf and both head and assistant JH football coaches.

Stipends were set at $3,102 for the head HS football coach, with three assistants at $1,861 each and one assistant at $1,241.

Head HS volleyball, boys’ basketball, girls’ basketball, wrestling, boys’/girls’ track, baseball and softball coaches will also receive $3,102. Assis- tant coaches in those programs will be paid $1,861, as will the HS spiritleader sponsor.

A $1,861 stipend has been set for each of three seasons for an athletic trainer.

A stipend of $1,825 will go to head HS boys’ golf and girls’ swimming coaches, with assistants receiving $1,241. In the girls’ golf program, two coaches will each receive $1,533.

Head JH football, volleyball,

boys’ basketball, girls’ basket- ball, wrestling and boys’/girls’ track coaches will receive a $1,825 stipend, while $1,241 was allotted for assistant coaches in those sports, as well as the JH spiritleader sponsor.

General extra-duty stipends were set at $3,102 for the band director, play director and TV Productions director; and $932 each for the choir director and musical assistant.

Extra-duty assignments were made as follows:

John Zilla, head HS football; Merle Powell, Dusty McCon- nell, Cody Jiru and Nic Balog, assistant HS football; Vanessa Tharp, head HS volleyball; Theresa Tharp, assistant HS volleyball; Scott Dille, head HS boys’ basketball; Ben Rahe, assistant HS boys’ basketball.

Arlan Scholl, head HS girls’ basketball; Victoria Timm, assistant HS girls’ basketball; Brady Walter, head HS wres- tling; Dusty McConnell and volunteers Jeremy Dirks and Jesus Hermosillo, assistant HS wrestling; Cindi Beavers, head HS boys’/girls’ track; Shelby Beavers, assistant HS boys’/ girls’ track; Amber Schroetlin, JH/HS pole vault coach.

Sherman Kage, head HS girls’ softball; Kendra Schlachter, assistant HS girls’ softball; Stefan Betley, head HS boys’ golf; Marcia Dalton, head HS girls’ golf; Nick Flaa, assistant HS girls’ golf; Adria Colver, head HS girls’ swimming; Aly Brinkema, assistant HS girls’ swimming; McKenna Heldenbrand, head HS and head JH spiritleader.

Havilah Andersen, head JH volleyball; Heather Monett, assistant JH volleyball; Jim Yakel, head JH boys’ basketball; Greg Wakeman, assistant JH boys’ basketball; Nick Flaa, assistant JH girls’ basketball; Kia Kassman, head JH boys’/girls’ track.

Kendra Schlachter, fall, winter and spring athletic trainer; Greg Wakeman, band director; Marcia Dalton, choir director; Eric Conklin, play director; Patricia Wiebers, musical assistant; and Cindi Beavers, TV Productions director.


Other business

In other business at the July 20 meeting, the Re-1J board:

—named Brenda Krueger the designated election official for the November school board election.

—adopted a resolution authorizing bank signatures on the various school accounts to incorporate the new superintendent.

—held a retreat following the board meeting. Agenda items included an effectiveness workshop with Randy Black of Colorado Association of School Boards, superintendents’ role and district initiatives, 30/60/90 day plan for integration and leadership, and election update.

Holyoke Enterprise July 23, 2015

Skomp is new family nurse practitioner PDF Print E-mail
Written by Darci Tomky   

Monday, July 20, Jessica Skomp stepped into her new role as family nurse practitioner in Holyoke.

Once Skomp gets her Colorado license and insurance set, she will be seeing patients mainly in the Family Practice of Holyoke clinic and will eventually move into more time at Melissa Memorial Hospital and the ER.

“We’re excited to have somebody of such high caliber both professionally and personally,” said MMH Administrator John Ayoub.

He noted that it’s a benefit that Skomp, who’s from Lamar, Neb., is so close to Holyoke and has already worked with the staff here as an RN.

“It’s always been my end goal,” said Skomp of becoming a family nurse practitioner. She enjoys the full-spectrum family practice, especially pediatrics, health promotion, disease prevention and women’s health.

Skomp, who grew up in Limon, is glad to be living and working in a rural community where she knows her neighbors, co-workers and community members.

Always knowing she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, Skomp started as a CNA in 2004. She became an LPN in 2007 and an RN in 2008, both at Northeastern Junior College.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from University of Northern Colorado in 2010.

Most recently, Skomp completed her master’s at UNC, becoming a family nurse practitioner last May.

She has lived in the Lamar area since 2006 and has worked in the area as an RN since 2008.

Husband Chance Skomp is a rancher who raises commercial Angus. The couple has a 3-year-old son, Canton. They enjoy spending time with their horses and cattle and attending ranch rodeos.

“I look forward to caring for the community and meeting people,” said Skomp.

Holyoke Enterprise July 23, 2015

Holyoke Pharmacy will remain open PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

Holyoke Pharmacy, located in the southwest corner of Holyoke Marketplace at 112 E. Carnahan St., will remain open.

Marketplace owners Kenny Owens and Brad Moline confirmed that decision this week.

They indicated that Holyoke Pharmacy owners Jamie Hanes and Jason Burke had announced earlier this month that they were in the process of closing the store because it wasn’t financially reasonable for them to continue here.

However, Moline said this week that Holyoke Marketplace is providing funding for them to remain open. They are actively looking for someone to run the pharmacy on a full-time basis.

Owens emphasized that they feel it is a nice convenience for customers to be able to do their grocery shopping while waiting for prescriptions to be filled.

“The community’s response to Holyoke Marketplace has been wonderful, and we’re just trying to get the pharmacy to the same level of acceptance,” added Moline.

Holyoke Enterprise July 23, 2015