Monday, April 30, 2012

Author Party: Alabama Book Festival

On April 20, 2012, the Author Party was hosted at the John Blue Hill House. This event is done every year prior to the Alabama Book Festival to thank everyone for their involvement and participation. Many authors attended along with presenters, sponsors, and volunteers.
Mrs. Bentley considered it an honor to participate and greet the crowd. As First Lady, she enjoys promoting Alabama and she also promotes reading. The Alabama Book Festival captures both and features the talent in our great state.
In the photo below, Mrs. Bentley is meeting Christy Jordan, an Alabama author with a famous cookbook!

Visit to Albertville

State’s first lady visits Albertville
By Malarie Haven, Sand Mountain Reporter

Alabama’s first lady Dianne Bentley has many passions in life, but her first priority is and always has been her family.“It’s such an honor to serve our great state with my husband because we follow God’s will for our lives,” she said.Bentley addressed a captivated audience during the Albertville Chamber of Commerce’s annual Professional Assistants Day Luncheon on Wednesday, where she shared her perspective of the first year in the governor’s mansion.
The first lady shared the surprise and uncertainty she felt when she was thrust into the leading lady position in the state after her husband, Robert, was elected as governor.
“When my husband first decided to run for governor, I have to admit I was not very comfortable with the idea of my prospective new role,” she said.
She was immediately commissioned to form an agenda, and found the task more difficult than she imagined.
“I had not thought of an agenda with the election, the transition and inauguration,” she said. “I had just really inherited this role as the first lady because I didn’t run for the job.
“My agenda has been ever evolving, but my priority was starting our new home and supporting my husband.”
When she moved into the governor’s mansion, which she refers to as “the grand old lady,” she was surprised to learn she and her husband had to provide most of the furnishings for their living quarters. Because Gov. Bentley did not immediately take a salary, she said they settled for just a few basic pieces.
“We had paper taped to the windows for privacy,” she said. “It was like camping out. You have to make do with what you have.”
She soon learned of a group called “Friends of the Mansion,” which seeks to keep the mansion in “historical and practical shape,” and helped pass the First Lady Dianne Bentley Mansion Preservation Act last year. The act makes donations of private money, furniture and other acquisitions to the Friends of the Mansion group tax deductable.
“My goal is that we can furnish the private quarters so the governor’s family can move in and only have to bring their personal items,” she said.
April 27, 2011
After the tornadoes of April 27 last year, Bentley found a bigger cause to support.
“The Lord has ways of putting your priorities in order,” she said. “As I sat and watched (meteorologist) James Spann on the computer, I saw a huge tornado heading for our hometown of Tuscaloosa.
“We experienced the same fears and concerns I’m sure everybody else did. Where were our children and were they safe? My husband had to go on live TV without knowing this. Thankfully our homes and our lives were spared.
“Mansion issues are of little concern when there are those who have lost their homes and their lives.”
Bentley said she was amazed at the number of volunteers that worked tirelessly in the aftermath of the storms to help the devastated areas recover.
“As we toured the state, seeing the disaster of Tuscaloosa multiplied about 35 times over, we saw volunteers immediately out helping one another, not waiting on the government to come out and help,” she said.
In addition, Bentley worked with the Scholastic Summer Reading Initiative, which provides 500 books to needy Alabama schools each year, and she seeks to renew and build interest in Alabama products.
Today, the state’s leading lady offers is focusing on the Family Justice Centers, which work with victims of domestic violence and child abuse, and the foster care system.
“We must end the violence and promote healthy relationships because when the people of our state are healthy, our state also improves,” she said.
“My other passion is foster care and adoption. Robert and I have two adopted sons, but we like to say we’ve loved all four of them so long we don’t remember which two they are.
“It is important that our children feel a sense of belonging and hope. Children are our future, and if they’re released from foster care at 18 without parents, they go through life alone.
After the luncheon, Bentley made her way to the Albertville Museum where dozens of local residents lined up to meet or reconnect with her, including four of her college sorority sisters and Albertville resident Jeanette McClendon, whose granddaughter works as Bentley’s personal assistant.
“She’s a precious lady,” McClendon said. “My granddaughter just fell in love with not only her, but with the governor too. She said they are two of the finest people she has ever met.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

First Lady Dianne Bentley Releases PSA to Highlight Severe Weather Preparedness Plan

MONTGOMERY- With the one year anniversary of the April 27th tornadoes approaching, First Lady Dianne Bentley on Friday joined with representatives from Safe America Foundation, Verizon Wireless, and Be Ready Alabama to release a public service announcement regarding a way to prepare Alabamians for future emergencies.

“Text First, Talk Second” encourages people to text to one another in the aftermath of severe weather or a disaster in order to keep phone lines clear for the most urgent of calls. In the aftermath of a disaster, individuals are encouraged to text the words “RUOK” and respond with “IMOK” or “HELP.”

“After the tornadoes ravaged Alabama last spring, we all realized the importance of having an established plan in place for safety,” Mrs. Bentley said. “Together with Safe America, I am honored to promote the "Text First Talk Second" campaign, a program that utilizes text technology to contact loved ones during emergency situations. A text message will go through before a call, so if my generation and others will learn to text, not only will we be able to reach one another sooner, but we will also keep phone lines open for other emergency calls.”

The Safe America Foundation was chartered in 1994 to partner with corporate, governmental, public and private sector organizations, and other non-profits to improve the safety awareness and preparedness of Americans nationwide. Preparedness for a national catastrophe, whether manmade or natural, took on a new meaning after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the foundation responded to meet the needs of Americans.

Safe America seeks to build truly safer communities by forming public/private partnerships that can rapidly respond to emerging critical issues and to protect Americans from future disasters through common preparedness.

CEO of The Safe America Foundation, Len Pagano, says texting is the most efficient means of communicating during a disaster, especially when the phone lines may be busy or not in use.

 “In today’s environment, where emergencies seem to be always around the corner, it’s critical for people to be prepared to stay in touch when phones lines are overtaxed,” Pagano said. “Texting is a good alternative to voice communications and is 800 times more likely to connect you. That’s why we’ve made it such an important part of our Foundation’s preparedness messaging.”

Verizon Wireless, which has partnered with Mrs. Bentley on a prior public service project, has a dedicated commitment to Alabama’s storm recovery. A corporate sponsor  of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham’s Bama Rising Fund for Tornado Recovery, Verizon Wireless saw the “Text First, Talk Second” as a perfect opportunity to further their community support.

“Verizon Wireless works year-round to prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies so that our customers can count on their wireless service when they need it most,” Jonathan LeCompte, president – Georgia/Alabama region, Verizon Wireless said. “We are honored to be working with First Lady Bentley to help Alabamians know how to best communicate with each other in the midst of a crisis.”

Jon Mason, the Director of the Governor’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, believes that partnering with Safe America, Alabamians can practice more efficient means of coordinating an emergency response.

“The confusion immediately following disasters can lead to misinformation and slower response times for those in need,” Mason said. “By communicating with your friends and family by text vs. a call, you can help first responders and volunteer groups serve more survivors.”
The public service announcement is available on the FTP site:
Right click on the version needed and download it to a desktop or computer for replay.
The public service announcement will run through April 30, 2012.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Alabama Book Festival 2012

The seventh annual Alabama Book Festival will be  in historic downtown Montgomery at Old Alabama Town on April 21, 2012,  from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gates open at 9 a.m., with more than 40 vendors and exhibitors, and the program begins at 10 a.m. The free public event is the state’s premier book  festival, with more than 4,000 people from around the state converging in the  capital to meet with and hear from their favorite authors and scholars. This year we're helping celebrate the Year of Alabama Food.

For more information, check out their website!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

National Guard Dinner

Last night, Governor and Mrs. Robert Bentley hosted the officers of the Alabama National Guard for a dinner at the historic Governor's Mansion.

Chef Jim Smith prepared a menu that delighted all of the senses and pleased the palate. He served four courses which are featured below. The Chef selects ingredients found in Alabama to showcase all that the state has to offer. During his selection process he travels to local farms and farmers markets to research and find quality products to serve. He, along with the Bentley's promote and support the state of Alabama, its products, and its people.

National Guard Dinner
Alabama Governor’s Mansion
Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sous vide Pork Belly
With Oakview Farms Granary stone
ground grits and sorghum Glaze

AA Farm Creamery Goat Cheese
With spring herb salad, sweet peas, cucumber asparagus, and
candied lemon vinaigrette pistachios

Alabama Étouffée
Dayboat Gulf Grouper and

Chilton County Strawberry Shortcake
Buttermilk and local honey biscuits
with fresh crème and local pecans

Monday, April 9, 2012

April: Child Abuse Awareness Month

Today, First Lady Dianne Bentley attended the Montgomery County Commission meeting and the members  declared April as Child Abuse Awareness Month. They also took time to recognize an advocate for our children and families, Karen Sellers, the Executive Director of the Family Sunshine Center. Mrs. Bentley was pleased to bring a message from herself and the Governor, when she congratulated and thanked Mrs. Sellers for her tireless efforts to end violence.

Karen Sellers passed out blue ribbons to the meeting attendees and asked people to spread awareness and learn more about child abuse and neglect. This is a part of the Blue Ribbon Campaign that the Family Sunshine Center is supporting. Family Sunshine Center is a non-profit agency that provides shelter, hope, and healing to victims of family violence in seven south-central Alabama counties.

In 1989, the Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse was started by a Virginia grandmother to pay tribute to her grandson, a child abuse victim. She tied a blue ribbon around her car antenna as a way to remember him and to alert her community to the tragedy of child abuse.

The Blue Ribbon Campaign has since expanded across the country. To participate,  people should decorate a tree or area with blue ribbons. The Alabama Governor's Mansion will showcase blue ribbons on the gates during the month in honor of victims and prevention efforts. This will be done in tribute to the approximately one million children in our nation who have suffered abuse or neglect.

Some statistics:
The National Child Abuse and Neglect System estimated 1,530 child fatalities in 2006. This translates to 2.04 children per 100,000.
 In 2007, there were 31,362 reported cases of child abuse and neglect in the state of Alabama.

Child Abuse and Neglect not only directly harm children, but also increase the likelihood of criminal behavior, substance abuse, health problems (i.e. heart disease, obesity), and risky behavior such as smoking.

Some infamous victims of abuse are Charles Manson, Adolph Hitler, and Lee Harvey Oswald.
The estimated cost of child abuse and neglect to Alabama taxpayers each year is $520,800,290.

Hope for Families and Community Services Luncheon: Tuskegee University

First Lady Dianne Bentley was the keynote speaker this year at the Hope for Families and Community Services luncheon at Tuskegee University. Advocate programs such as this bring attention to issues such a child abuse and domestic violence. In honor of Child Abuse Awareness Month (April), Mrs. Bentley spoke about the need to end the violence in Alabama.

Mrs. Bentley said, "I will continue to be an advocate for those who do not have a voice. For the children who must live in fear of their own family, in hunger- unsure of where the next meal will come from, and in shame because they are not like other children. They may not know that they have a right to have their needs met or they may be afraid of what will happen if they do tell, but as a community we must see that our children are provided for."

Following the luncheon, a reception was hosted at the Tuskegee President's Mansion by Patricia Rochon, First Lady of Tuskegee University.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Festival of Alabama Fine Arts

The weekend of March 30-31st brought together fiber artists from around Alabama for the Festival of Alabama Fine Arts. This event was hosted at Old Alabama Town and featured workshops, seminars, and displays. The exhibits were juried and winners selected. This year, First Lady Dianne Bentley even selected a favorite. She considered the time spent, quality of work, technique, and appearance. Although she did pick one, she enjoyed viewing the creativity of them all.

First Lady Dianne Bentley hopes that this festival will gain more recognition through the next years so that fiber arts become more appreciated.

Monday, April 2, 2012

First Lady Dianne Bentley Hosts Easter Egg Hunt at Mansion

MONTGOMERY – First Lady Dianne Bentley today hosted Mrs. Griffin’s kindergarten class from Wilson Elementary for an Easter Egg Hunt at the Mansion. The students participated in a variety of outdoor activities that included arts and crafts, a short walking tour of the Mansion grounds, and a storybook session with Mrs. Bentley reading “Bently and Egg” by William Joyce.

Mrs. Bentley, a grandmother of six, was more than happy to host the children at the Mansion.

“It was my pleasure to honor the Easter season by hosting a kindergarten class from Wilson Elementary,” Mrs. Bentley said. “It is always nice to see the excitement on young children’s faces as they play on the grounds and admire the beauty of God’s creation. The historic Mansion and the Alabama-shaped pool are always impressive to classes when they tour, so I am blessed to have been able to share it with them today.”

More than 800 brightly colored eggs covered the Mansion lawn and were quickly discovered by the students.