Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Top 10 Safe Dating Tips for Teens During TDVAM

February is designated as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). Throughout the month, organizations across the country are working to raise public awareness about the need to educate young people about dating violence, teach healthy relationship skills and prevent the devastating cycle of abuse. It’s important to learn about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Many teens do not even know they are in an unhealthy relationship because they do not know the signs.

The YWCA Central Alabama is dedicated to educating young people about the dangers of dating violence through its Healthy Relationships program. Through this program, AmeriCorps Members go into middle and high schools to teach the students about what healthy relationships really look like. At the conclusion of the program at each school, students will be decorating hearts and answering two important questions: “I refuse to abuse because…” or “I refuse to be abused because…” Toward the end of the month, we will collect all of these hearts and display them in the YWCA lobby.

For those students and for everyone else who needs to refresh their memory on what a healthy relationship is, I’ve put together a list of the top 10 safe dating tips for teens. It is my hope that everyone who reads this article will share these tips with their friends and family members, and also put them to practice in their own lives. I believe that if we all work together, we can change the idea of what constitutes a healthy relationship and make our community one that thrives on healthy relationships.

1.     Get to know a person well before you begin dating; hang out with them in groups and find out about their reputation from trusted friends.

2.     Assert yourself when necessary. Be clear and firm in your relationships about boundaries and expectations.

3.     Practice “SAFE” skills to resolve conflict in a relationship: Stay calm, Ask questions instead of jumping to conclusions, Find out how each of you feels, and Exchange ideas for a possible solution.

4.     Look out for the red flags of abuse such as controlling or possessive behavior, extreme jealousy or anger and any form of physical or emotional harm. These are warning signs that abuse could escalate.

5.     Trust your instincts. If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable, be calm, and think of a way to remove yourself from the situation. 

6.     If you feel unsafe in a relationship, work with an adult or friend to create a safety plan before breaking up with your dating partner.

7.     If your friend is being abused, listen to them, believe their story and let them know they do not deserve to be mistreated.

8.     Abuse won’t just go away if you ignore it. Seek help from a trusted friend or a local hotline such as the YWCA Crisis Line at (205) 322-4878.

9.     Respect each other’s feelings and thoughts about when, where and how affection is expressed in the relationship.

10.  Seek out fun, healthy relationships where you and your partner are both free to be yourselves and enjoy each other’s company!



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

LaFayette Lanier Elementary

First Lady Dianne Bentley traveled to Chambers County last week to spend time with students and teachers at Lafayette Lanier Elementary School. The building itself is on the historic sites list and showcases a beautiful auditorium and hardwood floors throughout. The true gems though are its people. The students, teachers, and principal could not have been more welcoming and showed a true interest in hearing from Mrs. Bentley. She told them about some of her favorite places in Alabama to visit, the Mansion, and stories about her time as First Lady. It is always a privilege to meet the people of Alabama, to answer their questions, and just hear their perspectives. This trip and the others taken always serve as a reminder of the blessing it is to be from Alabama.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Trip to Demopolis

First Lady Dianne Bentley traveled to Demopolis today to visit and get to know its people. Her first stop was at Harriet's House, the local domestic violence shelter. The original purpose was to deliver blankets for the home but while there she learned about their hearts, their needs, and their mission. The staff who runs Harriet's House causes you to re-examine your own life. They are humble, hard-working, and dedicated to improving the lives of victims in their area. They make the best of what they have and remain positive despite their needs. Mrs. Bentley was honored to meet them and hopes that her partnership with the domestic violence cause will also help them in their day to day tasks. They deserve applause and admiration for the work that they do, along with the other DV shelters in Alabama.

The next stop was at Lulu's coffee shop for a chance to continue visiting about Harriet's House and to grab a warm drink. The atmosphere was clean and the smell was wonderful (delicious bakery goods were everywhere!). It was a special treat to get to spend time there and it is worth a stop if you are in the area.

Kora's Place was on the list for lunch since they are listed in Alabama's 100 Best Places to Eat brochure put out by the AL Department of Tourism. They are known for the soul food but when we got there, we realized that they should be known for their hamburgers too. Bring your appetite when you go, because Reverend Harris, the owner, and his wife, Kora, have a big selection to choose from.

Her last visit was at U.S. Jones Elementary. This school was the perfect way to conclude the day. When the First Lady entered the building, she was greeted by third graders with Alabama and even a custom sign. She had a tour through the school thanks to the principal and the honors team, and even got to Wii bowl with a class! She ended in the library to speak and read to children. She excitedly told them about sites around Alabama and what it was like to be First Lady. Mrs. Bentley loves to visit with children in each town she visits because they are our future.

Friday, December 13, 2013

To the people of the great state, Alabama:

It is my hope and prayer that during my time as First Lady, people feel loved and heard. The more time I spend learning about my home state and the more opportunities I have to meet our people, the more honored I feel to serve. We have rich traditions, beautiful landscapes, and our people have hearts of gold. Although my chosen platforms focus on three major areas, I feel they are widely encompassing. I work with women to help promote healthy marriages and families and fight to end domestic violence in our state. Whether its through visiting domestic violence shelters, handing out blankets, donating old devices to Verizon's HopeLine program, or standing in silence at vigils, I want to stand strong and stand for healing in our homes. I support children and their adoption through foster care because to me, everyone should have a family and a forever home. Every person in Alabama deserves someone to remember their birthdays, to celebrate Christmas, and to encourage them through life's journey. We all need support and love. I also promote literacy and education through a variety of national programs. Reading is fundamental and in order for our state to continue its success, we must have the students in our classrooms today, prepared for higher education and/or the workplace tomorrow.

I will be adding another facet to my agenda by spending time promoting Alabama. It is something I have always done but it is something that merits more attention. It is important to me that people recognize Alabama for the treasure it is and spend time exploring our hidden gems. I want to let everyone know about the adventure they can find in their backyards, the delicious food made close to home, and the talent of our people. Who knows, I may make a trip to your town, park, or local eatery!

Really to me, my job as First Lady is to take care of our people and show everyone why we are all proud to call Alabama home. Join me as I continue to promote domestic violence awareness, adoption through foster care, literacy, and Alabama. As 2013 winds down to a close, make your New Year's resolution to join me in support of at least one of these causes. It is easy to get involved and it is so rewarding.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas season and an exciting New Year!

Monday, December 9, 2013

HopeLine for the Holidays

For the past year and a half, I have championed domestic violence awareness and prevention throughout the state of Alabama. I believe that healthy families are the foundation for healthy communities. While many of us are decorating our homes and excitedly planning for friends and family to visit this holiday season, some people are instead experiencing stress and anxiety during this time. Nationally, domestic violence cases decrease during the holidays. Women try to make their relationships work so they can stay home during the holiday season instead of being in a shelter. However, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the number of domestic violence cases increases immediately following the holidays.

I discovered a program through Verizon Wireless that allows all of us to play a role in decreasing the incidence of domestic violence in our state. Through HopeLine, Verizon collects no-longer-used phones, batteries and accessories in any condition from any wireless service provider. The phones are then refurbished or recycled and the proceeds go to support the efforts of law enforcement, advocacy groups, shelters and other non-profits across the country via refurbished phones or cash grants.

I encourage each of you participate in HopeLine for the Holidays with me. As you undertake your holiday preparations, if you come across a cell phone or any wireless accessories just taking up space in a drawer, turn them in to HopeLine. If that special someone gifts you with a new device, donate the old one. The process is simple – just take the phone to a company-owned Verizon Wireless store or visit the HopeLine page on Verizon's website to print a pre-paid mailing label.

During the holidays and year-round, domestic violence shelters in Alabama count on community support to help them care for the victims they serve. By donating your old devices, you can help save someone’s life. Together let’s bring hope to these victims this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

65th Annual Turkey Pardoning

One of our favorite occasions of the year happened today on the lawn of the Governor's Mansion: the 65th Annual Turkey Pardoning.  Each year, Bates Turkey Farm brings Alabama's favorite turkey couple, Clyde and Henrietta, to be pardoned from our plates by the governor.  Kindergarteners from Riverchase Day School sang fun songs celebrating Thanksgiving as the turkeys wobbled and gobbled in front of them.  Needless to say it was a fun day at the Mansion, and Clyde and Henrietta are once again relieved to be pardoned!

This year's pardoning was much different than the others due to the recent passing of Bill Bates.  Sixty-five years ago Mr. Bates and his family began the tradition with Gov. Jim Folsom.  As the sun shined down on the Mansion grounds, we all knew Mr. Bates was with us and remembered him for his service to our state and country. 

Over the past few weeks, the First Lady has been collecting blankets for the Blankets with a Blessing drive.  Though receiving a blanket may seem like a small gesture, it means love, hope and a new beginning for those who have suffered through domestic violence.  The First Lady will shortly donate the blankets to a shelter that houses victims who have been displaced from their homes with everything lost.  Mrs. Bentley is grateful for those who donated blankets thus far, for it is her goal that every Alabamian feels love and support during Thanksgiving. 

Thank you to the Bates family, Riverchase Day School and everyone who participated in one of our favorite traditions at the Governor's Mansion!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Story of a Clock

After standing silently for years, the Mansion’s grandfather clock is once again marking the passage of time. It is now softly ticking, thanks to local clock expert Tommy Williams of Clockworks.

Through the Friends of the Governor’s Mansion, Mr. Williams volunteered to examine the clock and assess its condition. On his recommendation, the Friends arranged to have the mahogany case repaired and the badly damaged clock dial refinished. Mr.Williams took the works to his shop, took them apart, cleaned everything, and painstakingly reassembled them.  He observed the works for several months to make sure that everything was running properly before reinstalling them in the case.

Research by Friends of the Governor’s Mansion has determined that the clock is original to the house. Documentary and photographic evidence support this conclusion, and Mr. Williams’ inquiry in the clock experts’ world yielded additional  information.

The clock appears on the staircase landing in a Montgomery Advertiser photograph dated October 22, 1950, taken shortly after the purchase of the house from the Ligon family. The house, built by Adjutant General and Mrs. Robert Fulwood Ligon in 1907, was to become the official residence of the governor of Alabama. An even earlier photograph, taken in 1919, depicts the wedding party of their daughter Emily, assembled on the stairs in their wedding finery.  The clock is dimly visible on the landing.

The clue to the clock’s provenance is provided by a small plaque on the dial, engraved “LeBron Jewelry Co.” City directories reveal that Adolph W. LeBron, originally of Galena, llinois, owned a jewelry shop at 14 Dexter Avenue by 1901.  By 1913, he had moved his business, “LeBron Jewelry Co., A.W. LeBron, Pres. and Manager, Diamonds, Watches, Jewelry & Gifts,” to 104 Dexter Ave.  From 1914-1917, his advertisement included: “at the Sign of the Big Clock.” By 1919, LeBron was no longer listed in the city directory for either business or residence.

Mr. Williams learned through the “clock network” that Mattias Bauerle made the clock in 1909-10 in St. Georgen, Germany. The clock has Westminster and Trinity chimes,

The clock was certainly purchased by the Ligons for their new home before 1918. It has stood there for  a century, serving as a link between the early days of the house and the Governor’s Mansion.