The Deacon Blog

A magazine staff blog with news of alumni and the WFU community

Pro Humanitate

A familiar sight in a faraway place

Last month Joyce and Douglas Boyette (MD ’75, P ’03) were part of a 35-member medical mission team serving in Barahona, Dominican Republic, when Joyce spotted something familiar. A young child, hundreds of miles from the Wake Forest campus, was wearing a T-shirt that read “I may be little but I’m a BIG Demon Deacon fan.”

“It really made my day to be in a foreign country and find a WFU T-shirt,” wrote Joyce, who shared her photo with the magazine. “As one can see, we were in a very poor place in the mountains of Dominican Republic.”

A little Deacon fan, photographed by Joyce Boyette.

A little Deacon fan, photo by Joyce Boyette.

The medical mission team included surgical and clinical groups, she said. The former, including Wake alum Dale Williams (MD ’82), performed 63 surgeries during the week. The clinical group saw 618 patients.

“Each year, there is a January group from mostly Greensboro and Shelby. In February, there’s a group from Winston Salem and in March, a group from Asheboro goes down,” she wrote. “I would suspect that someone from Winston-Salem donated clothes in the past and thus, the WFU shirt.”

Thanks to the Boyettes for sharing this story and for reminding us that the spirit of Pro Humanitate is far-reaching, as is the community of Deacon fans.

— Cherin C. Poovey (P ’08)

Buck Cochran (’82) and friends working miracles at Peacehaven Farm

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By Maria Henson (’82)

When last I checked in on Buck Cochran (’82) for the magazine, he was learning to be a farmer. He still is. “Somebody the other day called me a Google farmer. I was Googling an answer,” he said: Was it time to harvest peanuts? That’s how Farmer Buck started — on the Internet. That’s what this former Navy officer, ex-corporate executive and ordained Presbyterian minister still does — with notable success.

Community lunch at Peacehaven Farm

Community lunch at Peacehaven Farm

He continues to learn at Peacehaven Community Farm, which he has shepherded as executive director since the nonprofit’s founding during the economic crash. The farm sits on a gentle hill adorned with raised garden beds in Whitsett, North Carolina, near Burlington. When I visited Buck in the summer of 2010, he had two full-time farm employees, a board of directors and an annual count of about 200 volunteers who gardened and tended the farm (and, on a spirit-to-spirit level, each other). They all nurtured a dream to establish a working farm with housing for special-needs adults. Of equal importance, they shared a goal of meaningful labor through which volunteers and residents could form relationships.

Buck Cochran (left): 'The impossible becomes the possible.'

Buck Cochran (left): ‘The impossible becomes the possible.’

When the world is awash in grim news, it is nothing short of breathtaking to chart the progress at Peacehaven. There you will find Wake Foresters gathered around the occasional bonfire and always fanning the flames of Pro Humanitate.

• Consider a few of the highlights from Peacehaven in 2014:

• Volunteers and staff built a playground in one day, a destination for anyone.

• Peacehaven and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Greensboro teamed to build Susan’s View, a 5,000-square-foot house on the hill for residents with disabilities.

• Peacehaven gained status as an intermediary to manage the AmeriCorps VISTA program in the area. AmeriCorps volunteers commit to serve a nonprofit or public agency full time for one year.

• The iconic barn was remodeled to provide upstairs office space, and it now features 54 solar panels to supply the nonprofit’s electricity.

• The big moment arrived: residents moved into Susan’s View and so did the home coordinator and three AmeriCorps volunteers who serve as resident assistants.

• Guilford Nonprofit Consortium named Peacehaven nonprofit of the year.

Kim Harviel Sue (’82) is Peacehaven's 'personal cheerleader.'

Kim Harviel Sue (’82) is Peacehaven’s ‘personal cheerleader.’

I visited Buck a few weeks ago and marveled at the beauty of the house, the barn’s new offices and the best sight of all — a young woman pedaling as hard as she could on a three-wheeled bicycle. “Whoa! Do you think she’ll stop before she gets to the highway?” I asked Buck, feeling a type of anxiety arise I’d not felt since my days supervising my toddler niece. He studied her and looked back at me, unconcerned. “She usually makes that turn up the driveway.” And she did.

Good job, Molly Barker. She’s one of the four special-needs adults who moved into Susan’s View in December. After the final driveway lap, she rolled the bicycle back into the barn past an array of shovels, hoes and rakes neatly stored on the wall, and then she took her leave to head home for lunch. Buck and I were left to admire those tools, which have their own Wake Forest story.

After the feature about Peacehaven appeared in Wake Forest Magazine, Buck heard from one of our readers, Joe Saffron (’89), senior director of marketing at The AMES Companies, Inc. in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. He and Buck didn’t know each other, but Joe liked what he read about the farm. What did Peacehaven need? He asked Buck for a list of tools.

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Liz Bailey hugs volunteer Gabbi Murray

From shovels to wheelbarrows to hoes, the list was long. Off it went. And then it was quiet for a while. “Until one day this big 18-wheeler pulls into Peacehaven, and we’re trying to wave him off,” Buck says. “No. No. You’re in the wrong place.” The driver wasn’t. Saffron’s gifts from AMES had arrived — “pallets and pallets and pallets of stuff. It was like Christmastime here. And the thing that was so amazing — he sent us construction-grade tools that look just about as good today as they did then.”

Joe told me in a phone call this month, “Some things, you know they deserve your attention, and they deserve to be rallied around. There’s a nobility in what Buck is doing that I think is unique.”

Wall4Buck and Joe became friends. They shared a love for Wake Forest and how the University and ROTC had helped shape them for their leadership roles. Both left college to become military officers. (Joe returns every spring to campus to speak to a military history class.) Buck says he’s received emails and calls from Joe that offered encouragement “in ways I’m not even sure he knows.” Buck gets misty-eyed talking about it.

The one and only time they have seen each other in person was in the spring of 2011. Joe brought his then-12-year-old daughter Carina — her name means “dear little one” — to see the farm. She collected eggs from the henhouse, and the two of them did a few chores. Joe says he felt moved by Buck’s recounting of being called in a divine way to lead the nonprofit. “I was very inspired by that,” he said.

So the next time an AMES truck rolled into Whitsett, there was no mistaking the purpose. A truck arrived with tools that had the kind of perfection that turned heads, especially those of Habitat volunteers, Buck said. They were for building Susan’s View. “If I’m supplying encouragement to Buck and it’s helping him, then I’m doubly proud,” Joe said.

ED A&TLooking back at his time at Peacehaven, Buck said he was proudest of the way partnerships and collaborations with the larger community have come together. People show up from around the region and from colleges to volunteer. Last year the volunteers numbered 1,200. In the midst of them are Kim Harviel Sue (’82), a Peacehaven board member from Greensboro, and Liz Kenney Bailey (’82, MA ’85), and her husband, Steve Bailey (MA ’88), who both teach at Elon and, like Buck, have a child with an autism spectrum disorder. “Liz has all this great expertise around folks with disabilities. Steve is the incredible educator who brings his students out to learn. … Kim Sue is like having your own personal cheerleader out talking about Peacehaven wherever she goes,” Buck said. “We would not be where we are today without them.” And then there are his buddies who have been his friends since they met freshman year: Dave Weymer (’82, P ’13, ’14), Paul Noone (’82), Dr. Landon King (’82), to name a few, whose support has meant the world to him.

ED letter 4Buck has called the Peacehaven years “the most intense period of learning and growth” in his life. The lesson: “It’s made me believe in a very deep way the power of what’s possible when you bring folks together who share a vision. And there’s nothing that’s not possible working with people like that. The impossible becomes the possible.”

How’s that for some good news for a very new year?

 

More reasons to give thanks

Amy WhiteWe first brought you the story of Amy Bannister White (’90) at Thanksgiving two years ago. In the true spirit of Pro Humanitate, 10 years ago White founded a faith-based organization, Community of Hope Ministries, to help those in need in her hometown of Garner, North Carolina.

For the last five years, Community of Hope has partnered with Butterball LLC to provide turkeys to more than 200 families in need at Thanksgiving. When I checked in with White last week, she was overflowing with enthusiasm and thankfulness.

Butterball, which is based in Garner, donated 225 turkeys this year. Highland Baptist Church in Garner donated another 40, and a real estate office donated 10. Several other North Carolina companies stepped up to help this year, too. “We worked hard to bring some additional partners to help Community of Hope provide not only the turkeys, but also the side dishes to go with them,” White told me.

Alco Custom Cabinets in Garner provided cranberry sauce and pumpkin pies. The Village of Aversboro, a retirement community, hosted a food drive to collect green beans and stuffing mix. Nash Produce, one of North Carolina’s largest sweet potato producers, donated more than 1,000 pounds of potatoes.

“I can’t imagine not doing this Thanksgiving outreach,” White told me. “I love the story of cooperation in the children’s story “Stone Soup” where hungry travelers make soup in the town square. The townspeople “donate” the ingredients to make a soup that is shared by all. Our take on that story is that we ask several partners to work together to make Thanksgiving dinner a joyful reality for all of those who would not otherwise have one.”

White is a former teacher who started Community of Hope to tutor some elementary-school kids struggling in reading and math. That led to one thing and then another. Today, Community of Hope serves about 200 families a month through an after-school enrichment program and a summer camp for at-risk youth; a home-repair service for seniors and the disabled; a benevolence ministry that provides monetary help for things like rent and transportation; and a food pantry that has provided 137,000 meals this year. The nonprofit is supported by First Baptist Church of Garner, other churches and individuals and businesses.

White had more good news to share as she told me about two new programs: a 16-week job readiness program to teach unemployed and underemployed individuals the skills necessary to find and keep a stable job, and a community garden to provide fresh vegetables for Community of Hope’s food pantry.

If you don’t believe that one person can change the world, White is the perfect example of one who’s made her little corner of the world a little better. Her husband, Kyle Alan White (’88, MAEd ’94), even put together a video set to Carrie Underwood’s “Change the World” that’s worth watching to drive home that point.

White shared one final message that we want to pass along to the loyal readers of Wake Forest Magazine: “Blessings to you for a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.”

— Kerry M. King (’85)

The penguin that’s proud to be a Deacon

Deacon, and his brother or sister -- keepers still don't know the sex of either penguin. Watch a video  of the penguins.

Deacon, at left, and his unnamed brother or sister — keepers still don’t know the sex of either penguin. Watch a video of the penguins. Photos courtesy of Greensboro Science Center.

We know plenty of alumni who name their dogs Deacon, but a penguin named Deacon? That’s something we don’t hear every day, or ever for that matter.

Just down the road at the Greensboro Science Center there’s a new African penguin chick — one of two hatched in late August — that was recently named Deacon. In a story on the penguin chicks, the Greensboro News & Record took note of the unique name: “A Science Center patron bought naming rights in honor of a friend — and faithful Wake Forest fan — who died of ALS.”

The newspaper article didn’t mention the name of that faithful Wake Forest fan. But we knew it had to be Pete Moffitt (’84), who lived in Greensboro before dying of ALS in August 2013. Pete was indeed a huge Wake Forest fan and a friend to many here on campus.

A quick look at his wife’s Facebook page confirmed the penguin connection. Susan Gunter Moffitt (’86) posted a photo and this message several days ago: “Here is the newest member of the Moffitt family. Welcome Deacon! We are truly honored by this offering of friendship and love! Pete would be so moved by your thoughtfulness Washburn family.”

Deacon Taken September 10

When I called Susan Moffitt to learn more, she was still filled with gratitude to the Washburn family. The Washburn family — the Washburns and Moffitts have been friends for years — purchased the naming rights to the penguin. She didn’t know the penguin’s name until Jess Washburn made the announcement last week at the Science Center. (The second penguin is still unnamed.)

Washburn explained why he chose the name to honor his friend: “Pete was a passionate, devoted Wake Forest fan. Through winning and losing seasons, Pete was a die-hard. He rarely missed a game and always kept the faith!”

Deacon the penguin has a good Wake Forest lineage. In addition to Pete and Susan, Pete’s father, William E. Moffitt (’52), and late uncle Robert Moffitt Sr. (’58), are also alumni. Pete and Susan’s twin daughters, Mary Layton and Hastings, are high school seniors who are considering Wake Forest. (An athletic scholarship and the Moffitt Courage Award at Wake Forest are named for Pete Moffitt.)

Susan was on a mission this morning, searching for a “Proud to be a Deacon” pin to stick on the penguin. No, not the real penguin, she assured me, but a stuffed penguin much loved by one of her daughters, whose room is filled with penguins. How special is that?

— Kerry M. King (’85)