New Games at Tracy City!

So I tried to post this earlier…aka last week when it happened, but couldn’t get it to work. HOPEFULLY IT WORKS THIS TIME!

By the time Kate and I got to Tracy City on Tuesday all the kids were already outside. It was an INSANELY gorgeous day, perfect for some outdoors Capture the Flag! (or ball as it was in our case…) We got a couple balls from the gym and some of those flags that clasp around your waste, you know the ones you wear in middle school when you play flag football? We headed out to the playground, where instead of PLAYing, every kid was just sitting around! Either on the ground, or on the swings (but not swinging…) until Kate and I walked up. Then they all ran to meet us!!! And were yelling “MARY!!! KATE!! YOU’RE HERE!” It was so awesome, they were so excited to see us. Most of them hadn’t heard of Capture the Flag before, so we had to explain it. Of course most didn’t get the point until we started playing.

We assigned them to teams 1 and 2, team 1 got the flags–everyone wanted the flags. We started playing: the balls in each soccer goal, if you get tagged you’re in jail. Team 2 (my team) won first-WAHOOOOO! We just kept playing and playing, game after game. 



They don’t follow rules too well….they kept switching teams and sneaking out of jail to steal the flag…but at least they were moving!!! That’s all we were worried about!

We eventually exhausted them from Capture the Flag, so we of course posed for a photo op:



That’s my main girl Ally and little Jarien.

Then we swung and just talked and sang our favorite songs. They sure do love that country!



I think Tuesday was the day we taught them “Little Sally Walker” and boy do they love that! And not only the girls, the boys play too! But then we sing “Little Johnny Walker.” We played that a lot Thursday, they can just keep dancing and dancing and never stop! One of the teachers even told us the kids started playing it during recess when we weren’t even there! HOW AWESOME IS THAT?? It feels so great to know they remember what you teach them!

Thursday we set up an obstacle course for them-hop to different hula hoops, dribble soccer ball through some cones, jump rope (or jumping jacks) 10 times, then run back! and they LOVED that! They never wanted to stop! We had to up the difficulty and make it LEVEL 2! Bum bum bum…..nevertheless they rocked that too. 

Thursday night was a big night for some of our little cuties…double header baseball game!! We had kids on both teams–so Kate, our friend Margaret, and I all went! Ally drew us the cutest little map with how to get there. Unfortunately we still couldn’t read it, and went to the wrong baseball game first-OOPS! But there we asked someone else to read our map, luckily they could and told us exactly where to go! Ally’s team lost both games, but her best friend, and another kid we know, Austin, his team won both! So it was bittersweet for us. They were SO HAPPY we went to the games though! Made us feel super popular with all the kids yelling after us!





An update from Linnea and Ben

“First, Check out our latest article in the Herald:

Second, the Health Counsel meeting this past week was a good mix of logistics and discussion. On matters of discussion, we realized that there’s a huge divide between local and state understanding as well as funding of community problems, namely smoking. Framing the problems not as a personal health hazard or bad habit, but as a public health concern is a promising route of addressing them. Secondly, Dr. Peterman spoke about how some of his students interviewed patients in Beersheba about their thoughts on the ACA. He expressed his difficulty in gauging opinions. In retrospect, after speaking with a McClurg worker, Mrs. Doris, talk of her own healthcare status as she works part-time at McClurg and has Medicare, I unexpectedly found myself in a position where I indirectly addressed the ACA and how with any piece of law and politics there are promises to be made and to be broken, but from what i’ve learned, this is one mighty, hopeful step in growing closer as a nation and changing medicine for the better that reduces waste and increases eligibility which will hopefully pave the road for accessibility. Providing words of assurance and encouragement without the burden of details was key to ending the conversation with a warm rub on Ms. Doris’s back.”

Derosset House: Energy Audit

On April 4th we went to Susan Holmes and Greg Maynard’s home on Tennessee Avenue. This building is a very old, beautiful space that they now use as a Bed and Breakfast. The Derosset House has had numerous renovations in the last several years including increased insulation in the walls and double paned windows installed. Due to the high ceilings and large area of the house (approximately 4,000 square feet), we knew the house was going to be less energy efficient.


Here is a ranked list of the different things we saw:


1) Repairing the large hole in the upstairs room off the bedroom. This is a larger problem with rotting boards, etc but sealing up that whole will be HUGE for savings


2) Weatherstripping on front door


3) Replace incandescent to CFLs


living room (3), back bathroom, dining room (could be replaced with LEDs), upstairs back hallway, residence bedroom


4) Weatherstrip door to basement


5) Low-flow sink faucets and shower heads

Locations: back bathroom, bathroom off laundry room, upstairs back hall bathroom (shower too)


6) Seal windows


small leak in largest window office/sunroom (bottom left corner and right side of midline)

Double pane and seal windows in breakfast nook

back bathroom could use double pane windows

laundry room windows need to be sealed


7) Power strip appliances in kitchen


8) Power strip appliances in tv room


9) Plug various small holes:


under sink in laundry room (use clay or caulk)

under sink in laundry room bathroom

hole near lightswitch in castle room

seal holes in dryer pipes

While we could not use our resources to help her fix these problems (Ms. Holmes does not qualify for financial assistance) we presented this list to her in order of what we thought was most important for her to fix to have the greatest impact on her energy use.

Ms. Holmes would also like us to mention that as a Bed and Breakfast on campus, her house is open for rental (you can rent one room, multiple rooms, or the entire house). Please feel free to contact her at (931) 598-0274 or for inquiries.


Update on Week 2 Energy Audit

We have a quick update on Cindy’s Blow In insulation for her attic. Ian was finally able to set up an appointment when we were all available (Cindy, contractor, audit team), but unfortunately, when we showed up for the appointment, Cindy had gone to the doctor. The contractors arrived before we could cancel the appointment, and we could not get into the house to allow them to install the insulation, but we were able to get a price estimate for about $1300 to have the attic blown with R38 insulation. We are still working with Dixon and Daniel to arrange another appointment.


Folks at Home Energy Audit

This week, the energy audit crew visited Sewanee’s own Folks at Home.  Daniel Church led the group, which included Ben, Drake, Ian, Sega, John, Catherine, and myself.  Folks at Home is non-profit organization providing services that allow the elderly to age in the comfort of their own home.  The Folks at Home office is located right beside Hunter Hall.  Upon our arrival, the F@H director, Kathleen O’Donohue, gave us a brief rundown on where our energy efficiency expertise was most needed.  Although a previous audit and some repairs were completed as recently as last year, there are still some areas in dire need of a tune-up.  This is not all surprising, given that the Folks at Home office was constructed in 1866! This makes the Folks at Home a historical landmark as well as the third oldest building on campus, behind only Rebel’s Rest and Dr. Potter’s home.  

We started right away with a door blower test and began caulking the most obvious leaks in windows.  We also installed weathering strips under a door and sealed up a gaping hole under the bathroom sink.  Unfortunately, our team was supply-limited.  We were unable to address other issues simply because we did not have the needed materials.  Hopefully, we will be able to return and finish up the feasible aspects of the job, especially installing more weather strips.  However, some repairs, such as putting in new windows, may be beyond our current capabilities.  Although we did not get to address every possible repair, overall it was a successful audit!

– GabbyImage

Energy audit #3

This week we visited a second house on Gudger Road.  Cindy’s house was just down the street.  The residents were an elderly couple, and the man seemed to be nearing the end of his life.  His wife was still working and also took care of her husband.  She was very open to share her family problems with us, a recurring theme throughout our visits.

The house was in so-so condition, which is not surprising to see for an older couple.  There was nothing horribly wrong.  It was just clear that they were not physically able to repair the house, and may lack money to pay for repairs.  Gutters were falling apart and their garage door had a broken window.  She related that one of her children was too busy to help, and the other one had debilitating health problems.

We set up the blower door and found a few leaks, but overall the house was pretty tight.  John and Elizabeth caulked some things in the bathroom.  I was going to turn their hot water heater down a few degrees and we found they had a new unit with a digital thermostat.  It was quite fancy and easy to adjust.  We replaced some burnt out bulbs   as well as some incandescent bulbs with CFLs.  It was determined that the faucets and shower were flowing nicely.

Ian, Ben, and I helped set up an improvised clothes line in her side yard.  Apparently it was a life long dream of hers to have one, so it was nice to fulfill that.  Ben also fixed the broken window in the garage back door.  This house had 3 refrigerators and 1 large chest freezer, which is the same setup as Cindy’s house!  Kind of strange, but we told her that she could consolidate her goods and unplug her extra refrigerators.  She was worried that the refrigerators would break if unplugged, but we assured her that she would just save energy.  We are getting much quicker at our energy audits and may soon be able to complete two in one day!


Herald Happenings

To check out the current articles on the Herald…

The Next upcoming posts in the Health Section of the Herald will be on smoking and thoughtful eating. The former topic is sensitive, and we hope to approach from a hope-giving, understanding, and realistic perspective. It will complement/prepare the way for the 5 Day Stop Smoking Program in the middle of April. If any of you have any thoughts or experiences please comment.

This past week, I had a very honest conversation with a Sewanee janitor who’s from Grundy. Besides starting work before sunrise, she’s a mother and wife. She emphasized the importance of healthy initiatives at school, for the importance of eating healthily at home and daily exercise is not stressed; it’s not a priority and more importantly it’s not economically viable in most cases. Parents are just thankful that their children are not cutting classes, doing drugs, or in jail. And as long as they are fed in the most general sense, everything will be okay. However, we both understood that habits start when kids are young and that their well being is definitely shaped by their environment. She said that she knew there was a problem in the system with how kids ate and lived, lifestyle wise, but working or absent parents simply don’t have time. There was a close encounter with tears on both sides of the conversation, but with a warm embrace, she imparted her hope in our efforts. Please share your thoughts. They’d be much appreciated. Peace, Ben Almassi

Visiting Grundy

Before Spring Break, Drake, Caitlin, Gabby, and I had the opportunity to get some hands-on experience in Grundy County. Dixon Myers, the head of the outreach program, was gracious enough to bring us along to visit some of his old friends in the county. Our first trip brought us to the home of a family for whom Dixon (with the help of students) had built a handicap-accessible bathroom. This family, who has a son with seemingly severe mental difficulties  was in obvious need of this improvement and–quite frankly– I’m unsure of how they managed before Dixon took this initiative. It was amazing to see how Dixon was able to fit himself into the culture of Grundy, taking on the nuances of social interaction and societal norms that might as first seem trivial. It was soon apparent  however, that he had a very unique gift– one which allows him to help the surrounding community without the sense of condescension or feeling of charity which so often accompanies even the best of efforts.

Seeing this family has had a meaningful impact on my own perspective; it was obvious that they struggled. The mother was in a wheelchair and the father was beginning to show signs of dementia. At the same time, while talking to the family, you truly got the feeling that they  were not only content with their situation, but indeed felt blessed. While their son was not easy to take care of, the smiles and laughter that he gave them was worth so much more than I could even fully comprehend.

Next we visited the home of Grundy County’s unofficial historian– a man who has consistently kept records, documents, and artifacts of his home county. This was the original purpose of our trip; Dixon had found a piece of sled-rock while tearing down the Sewanee Inn and– much to his surprise noticed the writing signed by his friend. On this rock, the man had written the price of milk and the number of local people on “relief”– from 50 years ago! It was truly a remarkable discovery. This artifact also brought p an interesting fact about Grundy County; prior to the last election, Grundy has always voted Democratic in the presidential election. According to our host, this was a direct result of FDR and his social programs– an endeavor that the county never forgot.

After our chat, we got to see the astounding collection that this man had collected throughout the years– everything imaginable! Unfortunately, I only took pictures of the most shocking of items: a collection of KKK objects. I’m going to attach them, but I hope everyone keeps in mind that this man was not a member of the organization, dad no affiliation with it, and has items in his collection which far surpass these materials in importance and interest.



Update on the Coalmont Rebels

The teachers at Coalmont have not decided on the date for their fun run as of this afternoon. The date should be known soon. The students are excited about the possibility of having zombies  chase after them during the run as an incentive to keep them moving toward the finish line. There is a possibility the zombies will spray the kids with colors (similar to a color run) when they get close enough to them.

Kristin and I had a great time getting to know all the students at Coalmont this week. We are slowly learning all of their names! haha So far, we only have about 20 to learn, which shouldn’t take too long.

On Wednesday, we rotated around the gym to introduce ourselves on a more personal level and get to know the students by joining in on the multiple games already started. Most of the kids were already active, so it didn’t seem necessary to initiate anything because we want to do activities they enjoy.  I was super proud of Kristin for getting out of her comfort zone and playing volleyball! She also helped girls design a dance for a 4-H competition.  I joined a dodgeball game and was quickly reminded that this was a serious battle: middle school boys can throw hard and don’t have much mercy! haha Needless to say, everyone worked up a sweat and got in a solid 60 minutes of exercise.

Today, we actually introduced ourselves to the entire group and gathered their ideas for getting ready for the run in a few weeks. They have lots of ideas for exercising and healthy snacks, which was exciting. One of the students recommended the “lana drill” as a group activity. This automatically caught my attention because I didn’t know how to do the lana drill. I wanted to try it, especially since Lana was there to show everyone how to do it. After watching Lana gather the kids, I am postive Kristin and I should invest in whistles! Anyway, the Lana drill is 25 minutes of suicides and sprinting up and down the ball court.  I now think they were joking. haha Everyone warned us to change the warm-up plan, but the drill might become a regular event! All of the students still had enough energy to play basketball for the next hour! Watch out: The rebels will be ready for their run!

My goal for next week: make a lay-up. Kristin’s goal: a painless cart-wheel.

Floor Hockey, Dodgeball, and Quidditch, Oh my!

Our starting weeks at north have been an exciting foray into the Elementary school! The first week, we spent the entire hour playing one of the children’s favorite games– floor hockey! the kids were extremely exciting and enthusiastic about the game and everyone seemed to have a really great ( and tiring!) time…Including us!


Yesterday, the teachers at north brought the kids up to do some walking at Sewanee! All of the students were thoroughly impressed and in awe of Sewanee’s beauty–some even thought it was modeled after Harry Potter! After some walking, we ate dinner with them in Mcclurg. You can see how excited they were to try our dining hall (the girl in the middle somehow snuck 5 ice cream cones… she’ll be sitting front-row at our diabetes program…)


Today, we thought we’d continue with the Harry Potter theme and try something a little less conventional with the kids. Bringing out gowns with us, we devised a magical game of Quidditch. After giving the kids some hockey sticks (their brooms). we set some basic rules and let them go at it! While some of the kids had a bit of difficulty staying on their brooms, it seemed like a resounding success in the end and the kids really put in a good amount of energy!


After Quidditch, We tried our hand at dodge-ball– a classical favorite. Unfortunately the set up of the room made for a less than active game as the kids struggled to recapture their lost balls. With this is mind, we concocted a new game: Goose Hunter (patent pending). We quickly found out that the general concept of the game (one “hunter” with the balls, and the rest of the students as “geese” running back and forth from wall-to-wall) was based off the pool-favorite “sharks and minnows”. While this might pose problems in our trademarking of the game, the kids really enjoyed it! Within the first few rounds, most of the kids were huffing and puffing– there’s ganna be some happy parents tonight!


At the end of the period, we rewarded the kids who had completed their “at-home” calenders. Since all of the children were great, we gave them all sugar-free candy ( the ones who had remembered their calendars got some extra). We hope the calendars will encourage the kids to stay active during their Spring Break next week!

–Chane and Hadlea