Category Archives: Non-profits

National Pioneer Classic basketball tournament returns to Lakeshore Foundation


Lakeshore's Paul Murrell reaches for victory against the Shepherd Steelers in last year's Pioneer Classic. Come out to the Lakeshore Foundation to watch teams from all over the country compete in wheelchair basketball Jan. 13-15. Photo courtesy of the Lakeshore Foundation.

Hands spin wheels at incredible speeds and shoot basketballs across the court.

At the Pioneer Classic at The Lakeshore Foundation, players race up and down the court and the crowd cheers like at any other basketball tournament, but for this one the athletes play in wheelchairs.

“Walking into Lakeshore Foundation’s field house can put anyone in sensory overload,” said Mary Allison Milford, recreation specialist and one of the coaches for the Lakeshore Sharks. “The smell of metal grinding against metal and burning rubber as tire treads screech to a halt upon the hardwood greet fans at the door.”

The Foundation will host its 25th Annual Pioneer Classic wheelchair basketball tournament the weekend of Jan. 13-15. The National Wheelchair Basketball Association Division III, Women’s Division and youth wheelchair basketball teams travel from across the country to participate in the annual tournament. Continue reading

A new beginning back home: Tom Zobel of Brother Bryan Mission


Tom Zobel

Homewood resident Tom Zobel stands in front of the Brother Bryan Mission, where he serves as the director. Photo by Rick Watson.

Homewood native and Shades Valley High School graduate Tom Zobel’s young life was the stuff country songs are made of. Local boy has too much fun in high school, majors in partying in college, starts a family too early, makes a bundle in business, becomes an alcoholic, then watches his life fall apart through the bottom of a glass. It would be a sad song if it had ended there. But it didn’t.

This year Zobel became the director of the Brother Bryan Mission in Birmingham after serving in a similar role at the Union Gospel Rescue Mission in Salem, Oregon. Through his work, he’s touched the lives of thousands of people. Continue reading

Exceptional masterpieces at the Exceptional Foundation art show


Exceptional Foundation Art Show

Exceptional Artist Stephen Dabney paints for the 2011 art show.

It’s no doubt that The Exceptional Foundation in Homewood, founded in 1993, has seen its fair share of exceptional children come through its doors. They are a creative, social and active bunch, always brainstorming unique ways to raise money for their organization.

On September 22 at 6 p.m., the Birmingham Young CPA Chapter along with the Exceptional Foundation Artists will host the 8th Annual Exceptional Masterpieces Art Show, Pieces of Yesteryear. The art show, a culmination of a year‘s hard work and artistic endeavors, will take place at The Exceptional Foundation in the gymnasium. Painted canvases and hand-crafted items will be for sale, with proceeds directly benefitting The Exceptional Foundation.

“I love the art show and The Exceptional Foundation,” Exceptional Artist Stephen Dabney said. “I like to help set up tables and chairs. I like to go to the art show and see all of the paintings and spend time with my friends.” Continue reading

Free family fun in fresh air


Fresh Air Family Event

Randy Haddock and Sammy Raviv use a screen to catch fish at the Cahaba River at the biannual Fresh Air Family Riverwalk. The fish are kept in a tank for kids to observe and then released back into the river. Photo courtesy Fresh Air Family.

Five years ago Verna Gates had a vision to get families in Alabama to hike together. What came of this small dream is thousands of people unlocking the key to explore the state and its natural beauty.

Today her grassroots organization, Fresh Air Family, runs more than 400 free activities a year, including 15 day camps as well as afterschool and home school programs. They partner with organizations in Homewood and thoughout Alabama to host outdoor educational programs.

“We are not a group geared toward hikers; we are geared toward families,” Gates said. “We make everything easy for you and your family by planning details. It’s a no worries way to get outdoors and do interesting things.”

Did you know Alabama’s Bear Creek is home to the Dismal Lights, a phenomena where insect larva glow in the dark that occurs here and in New Zealand? What about that you can visit Union Chapel Mine,  a world-class fossil site in Jasper, to find fossils that predate dinosaurs? Or explore Tumbling Rock Cave, a space in Scottsboro that stays at 60 degrees year round? Fresh Air hosts excursions to all these places. Continue reading

A community of dance: Children’s Dance Foundation

By Susan Sutton

Children's Dance Foundation students

CDF students Grace Elliott, Abby Logue, Emily Kachelhofer, Alex Ferguson and Kendall Ferguson.

At first glance, the Children’s Dance Foundation seems like a regular dance studio offering ballet, modern dance, jazz, tap, student ensemble, drama and musical theatre for all ages and abilities.

But beyond the brisk movement of ballet shoes and the sound of live musical accompanists lies an artistic spirit at the 36-year-old dance foundation that inspires and connects many local children and families.

Take for example the excitement of one 6-year-old resident of Grace House Ministry, a Christian home for girls from crisis backgrounds, who regularly attends classes at the Children’s Dance Foundation. “Even when class is over, she still dances around the classroom by herself,” said Arlene Godwin, education coordinator at Grace House.

The 6 year old and other girls from the Grace House visit the Children’s Dance Foundation each week to blend in with kids from traditional homes and to learn to dance and act and to have opportunities like other kids their age.  “We like this partnership because it’s an opportunity for us to expose our kids to cultural activities that many have not had before,” Godwin said.

Continue reading