Category Archives: Community News

“Times Square Kiss” visits Brookdale Place community

Brookdale Place residents recognize residents Fran and John Carter and the Spirit of ’45. Photo by Katey Courtney.

The Brookdale Place community off Lakeshore Drive recognized residents Fran and John Carter today for being the founding members of the American Rosie the Riveter Association.  The Spirit of ’45 display made an appearance at Brookdale Place on its cross-country tour and honored couple with a medal. Residents were also able to view a statue of the iconic “Times Square Kiss.”

Members of various military honor groups join the Carters at the ceremony. Photo by Katey Courtney.

The pun artist: Don Stewart of DSArt

Homewood artist Don Stewart with his Uncommon Valor print of the history of the Marine Corps. Photo by Rick Watson.


Don Stewart’s mother died unexpectedly when he was five years old, and it was then he knew he would become a doctor. But it wasn’t until the Homewood resident had completed medical school and was training as a surgeon that he realized practicing medicine did not make him happy—drawing did. So he walked out in the middle of his rounds.

That was 25 years ago, and he’s never regretted walking away. He had no idea how he would support himself drawing pictures with a ballpoint pen, but he knew he loved the work and believed he’d find a way. And he did.

Trying to categorize Stewart’s art is difficult. “I draw funny pictures that are made of puns that make people smile,” he said. “My job is to increase the endorphin levels of everyone that sees my pictures.”

An example is a golf bag made up of a set of clubs (playing cards that are all clubs), shooting iron (a pistol), trap (rat trap), driver (a hammer) and it’s all carried by a caddie (a Cadillac). The longer you look at the drawings, the more puns you see. Continue reading

El Paso Wildflower Preserve now open

Mayor Scott McBrayer during the El Paso ribbon cutting. Photos courtesy of Dr. William Howell.


A new wildflower garden in Forest Brook subdivision is attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.

“I’ve seen several species of butterflies already,” biologist and retired Samford University Professor Dr. William Howell said. “It’s working.”

The preserve, located along Shades Creek, features several species of wildflowers as well as mature oak and pine trees.

“It’s a cool get-away place right in the middle of Homewood,” Land Steward Rebekah Pine Parker said. “It’s not too far away, but you can see a great little ecosystem.” Continue reading

Speaking to the true measure of a man

Richard E. Simmons III, author of True Measure of a Man. Photo by Madoline Markham.


With the economic tsunami in recent years, men have been looking for answers amidst the loss of jobs and other major life transitions. Where have they found them? One place is The True Measure of a Man, a book written by Richard E. Simmons III of Homewood.

Mike Fox, head baseball coach for the University of North Carolina, said the book is life changing: “It not only changed me and my priorities, but it changed the way I coach.”

Simmons, who is the director of the Center for Executive Leadership (CFEL) in Homewood, explained that men today get their sense of self worth from how well they perform in the workplace. When they lose their jobs, their sense of self worth is battered, and their sense of identity becomes threatened. Continue reading

Stay-at-home dads of Homewood

Richard and Bette Bradley with their sons Eli and Sam. Photo courtesy of the Bradley family.


As we salute all the hard working dads out there this Father’s Day, we especially remember those that forgo the paycheck and stay at home with the kids. It takes a special kind of man to handle laundry, meals and carpool, not to mention the mental and emotional demands that all children create. While at-home parenting may be tough, at least the dress code is casual and the bosses are much cuter. Here are three Homewood stay-at-home dads who honestly and candidly give us a taste of their daily daddy duties.

Jeremy and Julia Bernstein with their sons Nate and Charlie. Photo by Anna Cate Little.

Meet the dads
Richard Bradley is married to Bette and the dad of Sam (2.5) and Eli (8 weeks).
Randall Griggs is married to Alison and the dad of Jackson (12), Samuel (10) and Peter (8).
Jeremy Bernstein is married to Julia and the dad of Nate (6) and Charlie (3).

Alison and Randall Griggs with their three sons, Jackson, Samuel and Peter. Photo by Anna Cate Little.

What is the best part and the hardest part of being a stay-at-home dad?
Richard: Of course, getting to watch your children grow and being a big part of that process is the best part. Two years ago, when my wife and I decided on this arrangement, I was worried I wouldn’t find being a stay-at-home dad as fulfilling as having a successful career. After getting into a routine, I can’t really imagine doing anything else that would be as fulfilling as supporting my family in this role. But, being a stay-at-home parent can be extremely isolating. Luckily, within a year I found a great group of moms that have welcomed me with overwhelming acceptance.  We have regular playgroups at each other’s houses, go to McWane and the Zoo together, hit up Chick-fil-a, etc. Continue reading

Where else, but Homewood

The Homewood Star contributor Anna Cate Little with her husband, Matt, and daughter, Caroline.


By the time you read this, I’ll be gone… in Georgia, surrounded by boxes, with my face in my hands. My husband would call that dramatic, but dramatic doesn’t begin to explain the way I feel about leaving home, sweet, Homewood.

Six years ago, I moved to Homewood, a newlywed. Three years ago, Matt and I brought home our precious daughter, Caroline, from Brookwood Medical Center to a warm reception of bows and signs from our neighbors. Speaking of neighbors, that’s where I’ll begin. Continue reading

Recipes fresh from the farmers market

Pita pizzas made with veggies and herbs fresh from a Saturday market pair well with a fruity glass of Strawberry Lemonade or Blueberry Limeade. Photo by Madoline Markham.


I grew up in Edgewood, just a couple blocks from New York Pizza, Broadway’s and Moneer’s (long before it became Sam’s Deli) and loved walking to the library and the park, especially for Free Friday Flicks. I always wanted to have dinner outside. Although it was never a proper cookout (we didn’t own a grill), nothing tasted better than the peppers and tomatoes from our own garden.
Today bringing home local farmer’s markets finds to cook for family and friends evokes the same summer evening bliss we had on our Edgewood patio. Continue reading

Words from the Catherine Sims Garden Dedication

Kimberly Sharkins shared these remarks at the dedication of the Catherine Sims Garden in Edgewood on Friday, May 4:

Mayor Scott McBrayer thanks Girl Scout Troop 152 for the cookies they made for Catherine Sims EcoScape Dedication. Photo courtesy of Caroline Hubbard.

A hat box, lady’s evening gloves, gardening books and dirt – what do these things have in common?  They are all characteristic mementos of Catherine Sims, better known to many as “The Plant Lady” of Homewood, Alabama.  A long-time resident of Homewood, Ms. Sims was born in Georgia and grew up in Norwood.  As a child she would ride the trolley “over the mountain” to visit an aunt that lived on this side of Birmingham and spent many a summer night sleeping on the front porch and taking advantage of the breezes that were the draw to the area.  When she and her mother moved here in the early 1960s, she brought her love of gardening to the area.  When she was not working as a teacher or later at UAB’s Spies Clinic doing dental research, her time was spent with her children – her plants.  A gentile southern lady with bright blue eyes and a warm smile, she didn’t meet a stranger.  Everywhere she went she offered plants to the people she encountered – from the receptionist, nurse and doctor at the doctor’s office, to the check-out and bag boy people at the grocery store.

Flowers like these pink blooms will grow to line the wooden posts and form a canopy as the Sims Garden continues to mature.

Continue reading

Rebirth of an heirloom gardening legacy

Sims Garden resident caretaker Laura Rogers, Homewood City Council President Allyn Holladay and Southern Environmental Center Director Roald Hazelhoff were all instrumental in bringing the Edgewood community garden back to life. Photos by Madoline Markham.


For decades, heirloom shrubs and flowers with standout roses lined five lots at 908 Highland Road.

Thanks to new efforts, the legacy of Catherine Sims, the “Plant Lady of Homewood,” is living on in her Edgewood home’s garden. The lots are now filled with heirloom plants you might have found in a garden half a century ago.

“Of all the projects I’ve done for the city, this is one that I’m really proud of because it can go on forever,” City Council President Allyn Holladay said. “It’s a quiet place in the neighborhood where people can take their children in the afternoon and show them plants they won’t see just anywhere.”

In her will, Sims offered the property to the City of Homewood, but there was a catch – the city had to utilize the property as a botanical gardens.
City leaders weren’t initially excited about the gift because they weren’t sure how to manage and maintain it, so from 2006 when she passed away until last year, the property fell into disrepair. Continue reading

An unexpected journey to motherhood

Homewood family Jill, Shawn, Abigail and Luke. Photo by Madoline Markham.


While growing up in Homewood, Jill always knew she wanted to be a mom.

“I knew since I was a little girl,” Jill said. “I used to babysit all the time, and I always loved children.”

But after struggling with infertility, she never thought her dream would come true.

Jill met her husband, Shawn, while working as a traveling nurse in California. They were married in October 2004 and in 2005 moved back to Homewood to a house about a mile from where she grew up.

“I can’t imagine having a family anywhere else,” she said.

Continue reading