News from the Tennessee Valley Living Today

Wendy N. McDougal

A new chapter of Families with Children from China gathers in Decatur. The group works to support families as they adopt children from China.
Courtesy photo
A new chapter of Families with Children from China gathers in Decatur. The group works to support families as they adopt children from China.

Children from China adoption group starts local chapter

Wendy’s word

As a ’91 graduate of Auburn University, I am a War Eagle fan until I die, but Monday night, I will have to confess, I was yelling for the Florida Gators in the BCS National Championship game against Ohio State. Wow! Amazing! Unbelievable!

Although I live with two Alabama fans, one thing we do agree on is to always support teams from the Southeastern Conference. The South had a lot to be proud of with the play calling and execution by the University of Florida.

Anyone you talked to prior to the meeting on the field would have said undefeated Ohio State would take the victory hands down. Florida was the underdog, having one regular season loss to none other than the Auburn Tigers, but it rose to the occasion and took home the championship trophy. Florida proved that with determination and confidence, a team can rise above the odds.

The spirit of teamwork and commitment that each player exhibited should inspire us all as we strive to make dreams come true, even when we face the most discouraging odds. Congratulations on an outstanding job, a definitive 41-14 win, by our competitors and friends, the Florida Gators.

Let’s see what the “chatter” is for today ...

Children from China

One of the greatest joys a parent can know is bringing children home and providing a nurturing, loving environment for them. More and more families are experiencing this joy through the adoption process.

Families with Children from China is one group that works to support families as they adopt from China. In years past, the closest group was in Huntsville, but with 14 families in the Decatur area, a new local chapter has been started.

Those attending the recent Christmas party at Chuck E Cheese were Jeremy and Alicia Nails with daughter Addie Lu; Jeff and Sonya Hodge with daughter Katie Lin and biological sons Drew and Ben; David and Cindy Blankenship with daughters Jada and Anna; Brandon and Paige Betterton with daughter Grace Ana; Aaron Peterson with daughters Georgia and Madison; and Allison Akins with daughters Anna and Lauren.

Goals of the group include supporting families who have adopted in China through the post-adoption process and Chinese cultural programs; encouraging adoption from China and supporting waiting families; and advocating for and supporting children remaining in orphanages in China. Some of the activities organized by local FCC chapters are newsletters, membership directories, family picnics and potluck suppers, celebrations of Chinese festivals and holidays, pre-adoption informational meetings, playgroups, Chinese language and cultural classes for children, and speakers.

The next event will be a Chinese New Year celebration where all of the children will wear traditional Chinese clothing. If you have adopted from China or know someone who has and would like to join the FCC, call Hodge at 353-3505. For additional information or to request membership, visit

NAMI gala

The fifth annual gala for the National Alliance on Mental Illness was held in December at Decatur Country Club. President Marilyn Volonino welcomed members and friends, followed by the invocation led by Morley Denbo. Guest speaker Susan Chambers, associate commissioner of mental health and mental retardation, spoke on recovery, integration into the community and services currently available.

Throughout the night various awards were presented to those who, in different fields of expertise, have supported NAMI’s efforts during the year. Those recognized during the night were Ron Grantland, professional government award; Decatur Sgt. Mike Harvey and Morgan County Sgt. James W. Clements, law enforcement awards; Scott Kincaid, program director at the North Alabama Mental Health Center, and Mike Thompson, senior therapist at Decatur General West, mental health professional awards; and Shana Hurley with Pfizer, professional service award. Awards were presented by Ann Denbo.

The prestigious Ann Denbo award went to Charity Avera, past president of NAMI Decatur, who for many years devoted her time and talents to support the mentally ill and their families.

Other awards named to recipients who could not be present included Dr. Bill Huddleston of North Alabama Regional Hospital, professional psychiatrist award; Woody Gillespie of Bristol Meyers-Squibb, Mary Katherine Seibels of Eli Lilly and Stan Wallace of Astra Seneca, professional service awards; and Wendy McDougal, Chatterbox columnist for The Decatur Daily, professional media award.

Other guests from the Mental Health Center were Marie Hood, executive director, and husband Freddy; Gloria Lott and son Sam, formerly clinical director at the center; Lisa Coleman, clinical director, and husband Harry; Dr. Meriwether Brown, child psychiatrist, and husband Chris; Dr. Ed Love, psychiatrist; Ashley Jones, case manager; Kathy George, residential coordinator; Carolyn Harraway, therapist; and Dr. James Jeffery, psychiatrist.

From the North Alabama Regional Hospital were Charles Cutts, facility director; Dr. Duard Bok, clinical director; Anita Thomas, case worker and family education coordinator; Jana Fowler, director of health information services; Jason Fowler, case manager; Ron Thomas, director of information systems, and guest Virginia; and Angela Southern, recreational therapist with guest Keith.

Representing Decatur West were Belinda Lavender, supervisor of admissions, and husband Claud; Michelle West; Dr. Larry Canter, clinical director, and wife Celia; Dr. Danny Dutton, outpatient therapist, and guest Donna.

Commander Willard Tapscott and wife Sue were at the American Legion table, along with Ralph Terry, Susie Abels, Rebecca and Steve Burney, Mack and Dorothy Vinson, Wallace and Mary Farr and Ronnie and Jean Reeder.

Other guests included Sheriff Greg Bartlett; Police Chief Joel Gilliam and wife Loretta; Judge Bobby Day and Maye; Joan Grantland; Mona Thompson; and Rep. Bill Dukes and wife Juanita.

A delicious meal, fellowship and door prizes were highlights of the evening.

NAMI will meet again on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Decatur Public Library.

Gala festivities were shared by Brenda Tinger.

That’s all for now. It’s been great “chattin’ ” with ya!

Let me know what is going on in your little corner of the world. If it’s special to you and features any of the great people who live in our community, then it will make a great Chatterbox item. Just e-mail me at, or call me at 350-5730. I look forward to hearing from you.

Wendy N. McDougal Wendy N. McDougal
DAILY Staff Writer

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