Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On Mind: The April 27 Tragedy

The tornadoes of April 27, 2010 devastated the state of Alabama. As First Lady Dianne Bentley sat watching the news, she watched the great winds tear apart the state. Her home, Tuscaloosa, where her husband's Dermatology practice was started and where her children were raised was being hit. After the disaster struck, it was chaos trying to reach her family and friends. Not only did it affect her home but it also destroyed many other cities and towns.

Some of her friends were left without homes; everyone she knew was without power. Some they were not even able to find. Questions filled the minds of everyone but everyone knew they had to do something.

The following day, people began to explore and evaluate the situation. People from around Alabama and around the nation joined together to help. Neighbors were helping neighbors, and strangers were helping strangers. Needs were being met.

From that day and still today help is coming. People mourn their losses but find hope. They are not letting this event crush them instead they see opportunity. These towns, cities, families, are all committed to coming back stronger and even better than before.

Alabama is a great state, full of wonderful people. It is not a perfect place but it comes close. It is an honor to call it home. Progress has been made to recover from these storms but help is still needed. Recovery is a process.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Morning at the Farmer's Market

This morning, First Lady Dianne Bentley made a trip to the Farmer's Market in Montgomery. It is important to the Governor and First Lady to support Alabama food and Alabama people. Although they have their own garden behind the Mansion with tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini, and other vegetables, there are still some crops that she likes to buy. Mrs. Bentley spoke to all of the vendors about their products and is appreciative that they are willing to work so hard to provide great produce for the state.

The First Lady has been going to this particular market since she was a child. She remembers arriving early on Saturday mornings with her parents so they would have the best pick of crops. After leaving, she would spend the remainder of the afternoon shelling peas. Although most booths offer shelled peas and shucked corn today, the same great taste and quality remain.

Be sure you support your local farmers. There are markets located throughout Alabama.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reading on Wheels

Today, the First Lady joined in with the Montgomery Education Foundation to promote "Reading on Wheels." This program is in place to encourage summer reading and literacy. The children that participate are able to check out books from the traveling book mobile as well as take AR tests to show their level of comprehension. This will help increase reading levels and keep minds active while students are not in school.

Mrs. Bentley selected the book, Emma Jo's Song, that is written by an Alabama author named Faye Gibbons. She selected this book because it is light hearted and funny but also because she loves to promote the people of the state. In the book, Emma Jo is asked to sing to her family at a reunion. She starts off her song a little weak but with encouragement and the howls of her family dog, her confidence builds. At the end her entire family joined in with her to sing. Like the ending of this book, Mrs. Bentley led the children of the Billy Thames Boys and Girls Club in the song "The Little Light of Mine."

Mrs. Bentley hopes to continue meeting with young people across Alabama to promote reading and education. She knows that these children are the future and from what she has seen there is so much potential in each and every life.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Governor's Mansion Preservation Act

Yesterday, First Lady Dianne Bentley joined her husband, Governor Robert Bentley at the Capitol for a bill signing. This bill (HB 437) is related to the Alabama Governor's Mansion and is of special interest to many groups of people. The "First Lady Dianne Bentley Governor's Mansion Preservation Act" creates a body responsible for maintaining and restoring the mansion to its proper historical state. Many states across the nation have similar protection policies for their mansions, including Texas.
A group known as "Friends of the Governor's Mansion" will be aiding Mrs. Bentley as she works to preserve this beautiful home and historical building in Montgomery. Anyone interested in helping is welcome to join them.

The Governor's Mansion is open for tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Girls State 2011

Today, the First Lady was asked to address the participants of Girls State 2011 at the state Capitol. The girls crowded into the basement auditorium to hear her speak and listened attentively as she shared her story. Mrs. Bentley spoke on the importance of God in her life and how He guides each step she takes. She took them through hardships on the campaign and told them the scriptures that helped encourage her through the process. She admitted that the road had been discouraging. She mentioned that friends tried to talk the Governor out of running and that the media was critical. However they pressed on and in the end, Dr. Robert Bentley was elected to lead the state of Alabama.

Mrs. Bentley stood by his side and relied on strength from God. She did not waver in her faith and did not give up on her husband no matter the circumstance. She believed in him and showed everyone across the state her true character. She is a woman of God and a woman of conviction. With God's help and alongside her husband, she will provide leadership to Alabama.

Esther 4:14 "And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Summer Food and Fun Project

On Tuesday, the First Lady traveled to Tuscaloosa to be a part of the first day of the Summer Food and Fun Project. This program was started in the community because concerned citizens saw a need. A federal program is already in place at the McDonald Hughes Center that allows children under the age of 18 to come have one hot meal a day for free. This attracts 500-650 children each day and some arrive over two hours early just to get in line and wait. Instead of having them just sit against the wall, the SF&F Project was created. The goal is to incorporate reading, arts, health, and nutrition in to the lifestyles of the patrons of this facility.
During the two hours prior to lunch, these children engage in activities that help keep their minds active. Statistics show that students lose a lot of information over the summer and have to relearn material when school resumes. Hopefully this program can reduce the amount of relearning needed so that the children are able to advance on to new material.
The First Lady greeted all of the children participating, and hopes that the program will grow throughout the summer. They were excited to read to her, show her their art work, and ask her questions about the Mansion's garden.
This program is only possible through the hard work of dedicated volunteers so we thank all adults that are spending their time mentoring.


Dianne Jones Bentley has returned to her home of Montgomery to stand beside her husband as the First Lady of the state of Alabama. She is a graduate of Lanier High School and then continued to the University of Alabama to pursue a degree in bacteriology. She met Robert Bentley during his first year of medical school and married him on July 24, 1965.
They began their family with a son John Mark but then Paul, Luke, and Matthew followed. Two are adopted but they have all been loved so long, she has forgotten which two they are. Today the family has expanded with three daughters-in-law, and five granddaughters. Prior to the gubernatorial election, the Bentley’s resided in Tuscaloosa, where his dermatology practice is located.
While in Tuscaloosa, she was a member of First Baptist Church. She facilitated a women’s bible study for thirty years and taught Sunday school for twenty-eight years. Faith is an important part of her life; it is where she finds her peace, joy, and comfort. She firmly believes that God has given her this opportunity to serve alongside her husband and will continue to put full trust in Him.
In her spare time she enjoys working with her quilters’ guild. They have produced many products that have been sold and put on display throughout the state. One of her favorite memories was inspired by a magazine article about “ugly quilts.” These are made of pieces of fabric that are so ugly that no one would want to steal them. These quilts were made and rolled up using old ties and then distributed to the homeless in surrounding communities.
She has a heart for the people of Alabama and has chosen to promote volunteerism across the state. There are many opportunities for involvement but most do not know where to look. If the citizens of the state are willing to gather behind others then true change can happen. The next four years may be a struggle due to the current economic situation; however as the First Lady there is a great opportunity to inspire growth.