Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Alabama

Did you know Alabama celebrated its 193rd birthday on December 14, 2012?

First Lady Dianne Bentley joined with two schools and the Department of Archives to celebrate this day in our state's history and to wish Alabama, Happy Birthday!

Thanks to volunteers and the staff at the Archives, students were able to tour the building and participate in several different crafts; one craft allowed students to make their own Alabama flag. During her visit, Mrs. Bentley stopped to view the first constitution of Alabama which is only on display one day a year and she got to hear the story of its making from the director, Steve Murray.

It was a special day that opened up with song and the slicing of cake. Mrs. Bentley hopes to be a part of this tradition every year she can.

Christmas Open House Tours: December 17

The last night of Christmas Open House tours attracted a large crowd of people from across the state of Alabama. This week Mansion guests were greeted by the Chilton County Queens at the door with the Alabama Singing Women on the staircase in the foyer. The joy of Christmas was contagious and many children came to find their ornaments in the John Blue Hill House.

Thank you to everyone who came to visit, helped to decorate, or participated in the tours. We are blessed to have your support and wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Open House Tours: December 10

The second night of Christmas Open House Tours went very well despite the afternoon thunderstorms. The crowds were greeted at the Mansion doors by the Sweedish Fest Queens and were able to enjoy a musical performance by the UMS Wright Choir. Next door in the John Blue Hill House, Brewton Elementary School Choir sang carols as people studied all of the handmade ornaments sent in by Alabama students.

The Governor's Mansion Gift Shop was also in the spirit of Christmas with refreshments and samples of Alabama made products.

The last night of Christmas Open House tours is on Monday, December 17 from 5-7PM. We hope that everyone interested will make an effort to attend.



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bentley Uses First Lady Platform to Serve Others

By Sarah Hannah

TUSCALOOSA – Faith, family and service are all important to Dianne Bentley, who has embraced her role as First Lady of Alabama and uses her platform to make a difference in the lives of the people of her state and especially of those in her hometown of Tuscaloosa.

            “If someone had told me that one day I would be first lady, I would have laughed,” Bentley said.

            Bentley attended Lanier High School, just a block away from the Governor’s Mansion where she now resides. While attending the University of Alabama, Bentley was introduced to her now-husband, Robert. They were married in July 1965, changing her role from a bacteriologist to a wife and, eventually, a mother.

            However, she was not prepared for taking on a newer and greater role as first lady of Alabama when her husband announced and then won the gubernatorial candidacy.

            “Even after the election, it took time to settle in my new role, and I try to view it as an opportunity each day,” Bentley said.

            While Bentley has had to adjust to life in her role as first lady and the many changes it has brought, she tries to live as normal of a life as possible. Normal, however, is not a word that those working with and around her would use to describe her.

            “Mrs. Bentley is a fine first lady to work with,” said Taylor Vice, director of constituent affairs. “She has a servant’s heart, which has fallen down upon not only those that work with her and know her, but people across the state. Caring, compassion and her faith are just a few of her wonderful attributes.”

            Bentley’s attributes have served her well in her role as first lady, providing an example to the people in the state about how they should respond to others and their needs, especially after the disaster of the tornadoes in April of 2011.

            Bentley watched helplessly as her hometown of Tuscaloosa was ripped apart and devastated by the tornadoes. She was frantic when she was unable to contact her family to make sure they were safe, a sentiment shared by many others at the time.

To combat communication problems faced after the tornado, the first lady is partnering with the Safe America program to raise awareness of what happened, to inform people on how they will be able to best communicate with loved ones, and to develop preparedness plans for future emergency situations that may arise.

            The tornado was not Bentley’s only shining moment of service. As a member of a quilting guild in Tuscaloosa, Bentley and fellow members were able to turn their hobby of quilting into a way to serve others. After reading an article about “ugly quilts,” quilts made of the leftover strips of fabric that no one wanted to use, the members of the guild were inspired to make their own “ugly quilts” and distributed them to the homeless of Tuscaloosa.

            After she and her husband serve their term in office and return to Tuscaloosa, Bentley plans to not only resume her role as a wife, mother and grandmother, but to also return to teaching Sunday school at her church, facilitating a Bible study and working with her quilter’s guild.

            “My guild is always working on a service project,” Bentley said, “so although I will not be First Lady, I hope to still be making a difference in the community. My goal is to be remembered for my faith and commitment to God.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Open House Tours: December 3

Thank you to everyone who helped make the first night of Christmas Open House tours a success. The Peach Queens greeted each guest upon entering the Mansion as the Montgomery Youth Chorale sang carols on the main staircase in the foyer. Next door, at the John Blue Hill House, the Weatherly Women's Chorus from Huntsville entertained everyone with festive songs.
The next open house tour will feature more choral groups and will begin at 5:00PM on December 10. Come out and view each room, each person has their own personal favorite.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tribute to the Children of Alabama

Each ornament on display in the John Blue Hill House has been handcrafted by students from the state of Alabama. We would like to say a special thanks to the teachers, faculty, and students who helped make this possible. Your creativity, imagination, and personal tributes to our state speak volumes. We received ornaments from children staring in preschool and ranging to high school, from schools in the north of Alabama spanning to schools in the south. Each ornament is unique and showcases the special children who call Alabama home.

Christmas Open House Tours

MONTGOMERY – Governor and Mrs. Robert Bentley announced Friday the Governor’s Mansion will be open to members of the public for Christmas Open House tours from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Monday, December 3; Monday, December 10; and Monday, December 17.

Decorators from across the state have volunteered their time to adorn the Governor’s Mansion and the neighboring Hill House in Christmas splendor for the tours.

“The Governor’s Mansion belongs to the people of Alabama, and we want to share it with them during this wonderful Christmas season,” First Lady Dianne Bentley said.

Patricia “Sister” Schubert will sign copies of the new Alabama Tourism Department book Alabama Food at the tour on Monday, December 3. Other signings of Alabama Food by contributing editors Brian S. Jones and Marilyn Jones Stamps will take place on December 10 and 17.

Tickets for the tours are available free of charge at the Governor’s Mansion gift shop prior to the tours each day. The Governor’s Mansion gift shop is located at 30 Finley Avenue, across the street from the side entrance of the mansion.

The Governor’s Mansion is a 1907 Colonial Revival house located at 1142 South Perry Street in Montgomery and has served as the official residence for governors of Alabama since 1951. The neighboring Hill House became part of the Governor’s Mansion complex in 2003 and will also be open for the tours.


Friday, November 9, 2012


First Lady Dianne Bentley Recognizes Sorority Winners of Grant Competition

MONTGOMERY, ALA. – Verizon Wireless today awarded grants of $2,500 each to domestic violence agencies in Opelika and Montgomery as part of a competition involving sororities across Alabama during HOPEWEEK, a domestic violence awareness initiative organized by Verizon and the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV).

Auburn’s Alpha Chi Omega chapter, which adopted the Domestic Violence Intervention Center in Opelika, and Alabama State’s Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter, which picked the Family Sunshine Center in Montgomery, delivered the most signatures and phones as part of the HOPEWEEK competition. During HOPEWEEK, participating chapters of the two sororities at universities and colleges across Alabama collected more than 7,500 signatures for an online cause statement and also collected cell phones for HopeLine®, Verizon’s phone recycling program that raises funds for domestic violence awareness and prevention.

Representatives of each sorority chapter were invited to today’s luncheon with First Lady Bentley, a Verizon Wireless 2012 HopeLine Hero Award winner for her support of and efforts around domestic violence awareness and prevention. Officials with Verizon and ACADV also attended the luncheon.

“Every day, families across Alabama experience the harmful effects of violence in the home,” First Lady Bentley said. “I was proud to be a part of an effort that brought together hundreds of young women in Alabama to take action against this epidemic. They are an inspiration to us all.”

“First Lady Bentley’s support coupled with the efforts of the sorority chapters helped make HOPEWEEK a success and drive awareness of the issue of domestic violence here in Alabama,” said Jonathan LeCompte, president of the Georgia/Alabama region for Verizon Wireless. “Verizon was proud to be part of this effort.”

Alpha Chi Omega and Alpha Kappa Alpha chapters from 14 Alabama universities and colleges participated in the HOPEWEEK grant competition. Besides Auburn and Alabama State, the schools were the University of Alabama, Alabama A&M University, Auburn University at Montgomery, Birmingham-Southern College, Samford University, Talladega College, Troy University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the University of Montevallo, the University of North Alabama and the University of South Alabama.

HopeLine from Verizon Wireless collects no-longer-used wireless devices and accessories to be refurbished and recycled and/or sold with all proceeds benefiting victims of domestic violence. Since launching the program in October of 2001, Verizon has funded more than $14.2 million in cash grants for domestic violence organizations across the country and distributed more than 123,000 HopeLine phones.

Safe American Plan

As you know, a number of east coast states recently had their citizens and property devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, as they continue to deal with the aftermath of this horrific hurricane, matched only by Katrina in the enormity of death and destruction it has left in its path.
Safe America’s ‘Text First. Talk Second’™ is good for everyone to know so that they can reach out to loved ones in situations like these. However, the basic premise of everyone needing to be their own first responder is the most important lesson that is unfortunately being played out in several coastal areas right now.
With the information from the National Weather Service, we often have at least some warning of what is coming our way. Given this, it would be beneficial to learn from Hurricane Sandy the importance of getting information from resources like and and taking a few moments to check out the lists of items to have on hand for situations like weather emergencies.
Safe America is currently conducting its March to 2 Million Program that has the goal of having 2 million people pledge to drill by the end of the year, with monthly increments being counted. To pledge only takes a few moments of filling out your information including the type of drill (texting, evacuation, shelter in place) at
For those of us in Alabama, we experienced our own disaster last April. I encourage everyone to get a plan together and know what you will do if an emergency situation arises.
Be safe!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Alabama School of Fine Arts

First Lady Dianne Bentley visited the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham last week to learn more about the programs that they offer to students. She was impressed with their innovative learning styles and all of the arts available. She got to listen to their choral department sing, got to view the labs in their math and science department, and got to stand in on the dance classes. She also got to speak with students in the creative writing department as they critiqued each other's latest short story. The visual arts students have their own workspace where they create pieces for their senior portfolio and gallery. Their art decorates not only this studio but the halls throughout the school. The final stop was in the new theater where students were rehearsing the final curtain call for their upcoming play. The theater allows students to get experience before entering the work world and gives them credits for their acting card.
This public school has spots for three hundred and fifty students. They have places for students to dorm and have students that just come for the day. Every student who enters the doors of this school is uniquely talented and so are the professors that teach them. This is another great treasure we have in the state of Alabama.

A Day in Sylacauga

First Lady Dianne Bentley spent a day touring the town of Sylacauga and meeting its people. She started her day at Pinecrest Elementary where third through fifth graders attend class. After reading one of her favorite books to the third grade students, she toured the school. She was able to stop by and visit with some fourth graders studying Alabama History. They asked a lot of great questions and impressed the First Lady with all that they already knew. She also visited a fifth grade class who gave her a quilt for her Blankets with a Blessing Project.

After touring the school, the First Lady went to tour the Bluebell Factory. She is proud to support Alabama and all of the products it produces. She toured the plant, met the staff, and got to taste ice cream off of the line. Although ice cream almost ruined lunch, she stopped by Marble City Grill for lunch.Their quesadilla is on the 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die list, so the First Lady wanted to check it off.

The lunch place was downtown so before traveling to the next school, Mrs. Bentley took time exploring some of the local shops. At 1:30PM she arrived at Indian Valley Elementary where she was greeted by a library full of kindergartners. The Mayor, Superintendent, and the Police Chief stopped by too. The First Lady spoke to students and read to them before taking a tour of their school.

The last stop of the day was to view the Imery-Gantt Quarry Observation Point. This is the site where Sylacauga marble is retrieved. The parking lot was filled with white marble rocks instead of typical gravel and the water in the quarry was a bright blue.

Alabama is full of great towns to explore with friendly people at every stop. First Lady Dianne Bentley is thankful for everyone she met while spending time in Sylacauga and is looking forward to visiting another Alabama town soon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Highland Avenue Elementary

First Lady Dianne Bentley visited every class at Highland Elementary School this morning as she continues to promote reading through Alabama.

This school is one of Alabama's torchbearer schools. These are Title I schools that excel academically and set testing records. Their students have great attitudes and manners that reflect in not only their school activities but also in their daily lives.

Thank you to Ms. Kornegay, the principal, for your hospitality, and to the students and teachers for your time.

Although this school is one hundred and ten years old, their decorations and colors make it a lively learning atmosphere. The walls are full of creativity and the classes full of learning!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Donation to HopeLine with Prattville Christian Academy

PRATTVILLE –Prattville Christian Academy’s Key Club has been very busy. On Thursday, October 4, the Key Club Sponsor, teacher Morgan Cook, held a school wide assembly to announce the  PCA Key Club  needed to collect as many used cell phones as possible to donate to Verizon Wireless for the HopeLine project. The members placed collection boxes throughout the school, and within a week PCA students and staff  collected over 200 cell phones  to donate to HopeLine for  victims of domestic violence. HopeLine is an initiative sponsored by Verizon Wireless, which  collects wireless devices and accessories that are no longer used.  The phones and accessories can be refurbished, recycled and/or sold, with phones and proceeds benefiting victims of domestic violence through grants and the donations of wireless phones and services.

First Lady Dianne Bentley was  at Prattville Christian Academy on Friday, October 12  to join members of the Key Club and donate used cell phones to HopeLine. As an advocate for domestic violence victims,  Mrs. Bentley has led various efforts to collect hundreds of cell phones for HopeLine throughout the year. Combined with the phones collected by PCA,  over a thousand phones were donated to Verizon and accepted by the Verizon representative Marcus January.

PCA Key club President Lauren Davis said, “ The PCA Key Club is a service organization, so  we are all  excited to be a part of this effort that exemplifies serving the community through helping victims of domestic violence.”  Morgan Cook was very proud of the effort and results of the phone drive, and said, “ I am really proud to be a part of this project, and we truly appreciate the support of Mrs. Bentley’s office. Her dedication to the HopeLine project inspired us all.”

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Read for the Record

One of the best parts about being First Lady is getting to visit schools and meet the students and faculty. Today was Read for the Record Day and Mrs. Bentley had the chance to meet with and visit two schools. Both schools were very welcoming and enthusiastic about her visit and seemed to really enjoy this year's book, Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad.

Mrs. Bentley said that "we teach children to read, but we need to teach them to love to read." As a mother and grandmother, she has always encouraged a love of reading and as First Lady she hopes to spread that to all youth in Alabama.

Thank you to Dannelly Elementary and Flowers Elementary for opening your doors and hearts for our visit.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Blankets with a Blessing

First Lady Dianne Bentley will continue the Blankets with a Blessing Tradition as she collects blankets for those in need again this holiday season. The collection will take place starting October 1, 2012, and will continue through November 13, 2012. Blankets can be turned in to the Governor's Mansion guard gate or the Governor's Mansion Gift Shop on Finley Avenue.

Last year, Mrs. Bentley donated blankets to Safe House in Shelby County for victims of domestic abuse. Mrs. Bentley is an advocate for domestic abuse awareness and hopes to impact the community and help put an end to violence. Kathy Wells, from Safe House of Shelby County, was there to talk about last year's donation. Sunny Borum, a victim of abuse, also came to speak and share her story. Mrs. Bentley thanked everyone for attending and hopes that the people of Alabama will ban together and help one another this year.

Pictured below: Karen Sellers (Family Sunshine Center, Montgomery), Sunny Borum (Victim and Advocate), First Lady Dianne Bentley, Kathy Wells (Safe House of Shelby County)

Visit to the Black Belt

Mrs. Bentley spent one of her last September days visiting quilters and craftsmen in the Black Belt of Alabama. The entire trip was dedicated to highlighting hidden treasures in Alabama and the promotion of the talent available.

Her first stop was Black Belt Treasures in Camden. This store sells art from local artists including sculptures, paintings, and fiber art. She continued to Gaines Ridge, where she met Betty Kennedy, the owner of the facility. This property has been in her family for years and she now serves dinner out of its kitchen. After lunch, Ms. Kennedy showed the First Lady her own quilt collection.

To travel to Gees Bend, Mrs. Bentley boarded the ferry and took a twenty minute ride over the water. She was able to meet three quilting groups as a part of her final stops in the area. The first group works out of the Nutrition Center and showed the First Lady their progress on their latest project. They concluded their visit in song. The next stop was to see the Gees Bend Quilters. This group has become famous for their quilts and happily told that John McCain even bought some of their work.

The final stop was at the Freedom Quilting Bee, where Rennie Miller spends her time. Ms. Miller shared the rich quilting history of the area and of the Quilting Bee, as she showed Mrs. Bentley around her shop. She told of the need to get younger people involved in quilting and talked about renewing interest in the fiber arts.

Mrs. Bentley enjoyed the day for many reasons, but most of all, because she too is a quilter. Mrs. Bentley hopes that these people carry on their quilting traditions and is honored that they allowed her to visit.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

National Family Day

First Lady Dianne Bentley was very active yesterday as she honored Family Day. She spent her morning delivering muffins to the local Family Justice Center and her afternoon delivering "S'more Love" baskets to the local domestic violence shelter. This was her small way to reach out to the community and show them the love of a family. It is important, no matter how busy schedules seem to be, to reach out and do something for others. Even though these gestures were small, it is the thoughtful reminder that makes the difference.

She spent her evening with the youth of Safety Net. Around thirty people gathered together to eat dinner as a family and as Mrs. Bentley asked the blessing she thanked the Lord for each life. They spent the night eating hotdogs, hamburgers, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. After dinner, everyone spilled onto the front porch and into the yard to play cornhole. It was a great evening that filled South Perry Street with laughter.

It is important to spend time together and just enjoy being a family. The First Lady was honored to celebrate Family Day and hopes that everyone in the state of Alabama enjoyed theirs too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Visit to Carver Elementary in Montgomery

This morning First Lady Dianne Bentley visited Carver Elementary to meet students and faculty as a part of her efforts to promote education and reading throughout Alabama. The kindergartners were very interactive and loved not only the story but also sharing about their own lives.

After the reading, Mrs. Bentley enjoyed songs by first grade students and was able to tour the rest of the school. Carver Elementary works as a magnet school and is able to offer a variety of art options for the students. The First Lady observed students in strings classes, piano classes, art classes, drama, and even got to view the dance studio. It is the hope of the faculty that students will realize their talents early and be able to use them throughout life.

The First Lady was very impressed with the school and all that they offer their students and the community. She admires their work to promote parent involvement and parent programming as well as their focus on getting students committed to their education. Carver offers math workshops for students and parents as well as other workshops during the school year to ensure that everyone is gaining the most from this education.

Mrs. Bentley looks forward to visiting again and participating in school activities.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Governor’s Mansion Doors Display Gold Ribbons in Honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

 MONTGOMERY – First Lady Dianne Bentley announced Thursday that gold ribbons are on display on the Governor’s Mansion doors through the month of September in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

“These ribbons serve as a visual reminder of those who are currently fighting cancer,” Mrs. Bentley said. “They also serve to celebrate those who have conquered cancer, and to prayerfully remember those who have lost the battle. Cancer is a harsh reality for anyone to face, especially a child. Together, we must continue the fight to defeat it.”

According to the American Cancer Society, childhood cancer is the second leading cause of death for children under 15 years old and the most frequent cause of childhood death by disease. The most common forms of childhood cancer are leukemia, brain cancer, and cancer of the central nervous system. Cancer is expected to take the lives of 1,340 American children in 2012.

“Every person, if you take a moment, can think of someone who has been affected by cancer,” Mrs. Bentley said. “It may be a family member, a friend, or even a personal experience, but it has touched all of us.”

Photos by Jamie Martin

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Can Survive Lighting Ceremony

Last night, First Lady Dianne Bentley attended the Can Survive Lighting Ceremony, for Gynecological Cancer Awareness Day and presented a proclamation from the Governor. This day is in place to bring attention to ovarian, cervical, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. Can Survive GYN Cancer Support Group sponsored the evening and lit the Capitol in teal to honor those fighting, those survivors, and those who have lost the fight.

Can Survive is based in Birmingham and is for women with gynecological cancers, their families, friends, loved ones, and the professionals who treat them. They provide patient support activities in conjunction with several treatment centers in Alabama. They also work throughout the year to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of these cancers.

The special ceremony concluded with song and the lighting of candles.

Friday, August 17, 2012

College Colors Press Conference

Today at the historic Alabama Governor's Mansion, Governor and First Lady Bentley hosted a press conference for higher education. Every school across the state was represented either by their mascot or with students.

The official college colors day in the state of Alabama is on August 31, so plan to show your college pride and wear your school's colors!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Visit

Today, First Lady Dianne Bentley joined many others across the country to support ChickFil-A. The lines were long but as always the staff was efficient in getting the food out to customers.

Thanks Chick-Fil-A for a great lunch and for standing strong for Christian values.

Brantwood Children's Home

This morning, First Lady Dianne Bentley spent time with the residents and staff at Brantwood Children's Home. As an adoptive parent and advocate for foster care and adoption, she is proud to support group homes that aid our children. There are 16 current residents who live on site and Mrs. Bentley was able to meet each of them as they showed her their rooms.

At Brantwood, not only is a home provided but a school is on site as well. For the first time this year, they will be able to accommodate students up to the twelfth grade as Brantwood helps them transition through all phases of their life.

This home depends on the help of volunteers and private groups to provide for their needs and the First Lady intends to work with them to make sure these residents are well cared for.