Review of July 16th Virtual Lunch and Learn: “This Place” Film

Underage Alcohol Use on the Rise Due to COVID19

There is data showing that off-premises retailers in North Carolina are selling record numbers of beer, wine and liquor. How does that translate to youth alcohol use?

Youth are home now more than ever and may be unsupervised.
Adult use rates of alcohol have been increasing state-wide.
The possibility of an increase in youth alcohol use is something that should be considered.
Data from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey in regards to alcohol use by youth. This is the last Youth Risk Behavior Survey data collection available and can be found here

Did You Know: Before COVID19…

  • The #1 place youth got alcohol is from their own home.
  • Over 1,800 college students died from alcohol related injuries each year.
  • In the US alcohol kills more than all illegal drugs combined.
  • Teen girls rival teen boys with consumption rates of alcohol.
  • Every day 7,000 kids younger than 16 years old consume their first alcoholic drink.
  • Kids under 15 years old who consume alcohol are four times likely to end up alcohol dependant as an adult than if they waited until they were 21 years old for their first drink.

How can this be changed?

Parents and guardians can make a positive impact in their communities by doing a few things.
  • Monitor and secure alcohol in the home.
    • Purchasing in quantity is more cost effective but it is harder to keep up with 24 beers or a case of wine than it is a 6 pack or bottle.
    • Only purchase what you will consume.
    • Even if it costs a couple dollars more this tactic regarding alcohol storage will make less alcohol available for youth resulting in fewer youth consuming.
    • Storing alcohol in cabinet or unmonitored areas of the home allows youth access.
    • Keeping alcohol stored appropriately, like firearms and dangerous household chemicals, will keep youth from consuming alcohol.
  • How youth see alcohol consumed in their environment determines their perception of alcohol.
    • During events at the home (birthday parties, cookouts, holiday celebrations) make sure alcohol is not the focal point of the event.
    • Don’t glamorize alcohol use.
    • Show youth that a good time can be had without alcohol.
  • Parents rationalizing youth use.
    • Parent provided parties are not the answer.
    • Parent provided parties are dangerous.
    • Parent provided parties normalize alcohol use by youth.
Follow these guidelines to help reduce underage alcohol use in our communities.

On July 16th we hosted a virtual lunch and learn where the film “This Place” was shown.

Following the film was a discussion about underage alcohol use and how it impacts communities in Stokes County.

“This Place” is an award-winning, 15-minute film that dramatically captures today’s youth drinking culture. This film shows the alcohol-saturated environment kids are exposed to and the impact of underage drinking. It also offers an important glimpse into communities that are taking action to reduce alcohol problems.

If you are a parent/guardian, caregiver to youth, coach, teacher, community member, faith leader or are interested in creating positive change in your community this film will allow you to be better informed about underage alcohol use and introduce concepts to help decrease alcohol misuse in your community.

A local parent of three students who are in the Stokes County School System viewed the film and had this commentary to provide.
A local provider specializing in substance use disorder and mental health had this commentary after viewing the film.

These national statistics provided by the Monitoring the Future Survey show the bigger picture of underage alcohol use. This may be a snapshot of the nationwide average but this is an issue that impacts Stokes County communities.

Monitoring the Future Survey from 2019 highlights the youth alcohol use rates for lifetime consumption.
Monitoring the Future Survey from 2019 highlights the youth alcohol use rates for past year consumption
Monitoring the Future Survey from 2019 highlights the youth alcohol use rates for past month consumption.
If you would like more information please reach out to us.

For more information on how you can make a positive impact in your community, reduce underage alcohol use or reduce adult alcohol misuse reach out to us. or 336-287-2411

Stokes: Stay Home. Stay Safe. Save Lives. Walnut Cove Public Library

For our series of Local People, Local Stories, Local Impact, we spoke with Walnut Cove Library Branch Manager Christine Boles about their continued efforts to provide services for citizens in the area.

Christine says, “we have many patrons we consider family to us and we are just as concerned about them as we would be our own families”.

How has COVID19 affected Walnut Cove Library?

“When we closed on Friday, March 27, 2020, we closed our doors to the public until further notice. Closing the library that Friday afternoon was a surreal experience and one that left me feeling very confused as to how we would handle this new way of life and work.”

Christine thought, “how would we still meet our community’s needs and what about all the people who call Walnut Cove Public Library their “home away from home?”

Branch Manager, Christine Boles, at London Elementary Reading Night

“Walnut Cove Public Library is like many small-town libraries when it comes to family. We have many patrons we consider family to us and we are just as concerned about them as we would be our own families. Working in a small-town library allows us to really get to know people and what is happening in their lives. So many of our patrons have used the library since they were small children and now we see their children using the library. Many of our senior citizens we see every week and we spend a great deal of time working with them to find new books for them to read.”

“Then, there are those few individuals like myself, Assistant Branch Manager Chelsea Russell, and Programs Assistant Kristin Fulp who grew up using the Walnut Cove Public Library and now work there.”

Assistant Branch Manager Chelsea Russell participating at London Elementary Reading Night

How will the Walnut Cove Library continue services?

We are making many plans for how we can best serve everyone during the summer months. Currently, the staff at Walnut Cove is working diligently on our Summer Learning Program.

We will still have a program for our children, but it will be different in many ways

1: We will have both paper reading logs and an online recording site for our participants to record their reading time and we will still have prizes at the end of the summer.

The State Library of North Carolina is currently working on an online reading recording website that we will be able to share very soon.

2: We are working on printed and online packets to hand out and share with our participants. The library staff is deciding how to get those printed packets to everyone since we may not be able to open to the public for a while. We do not want to exclude anyone who does not have access to the internet.

3: Our performers will be doing online programs for us to share with all families. These programs will be available for everyone to view! Sadly, there will be no in-house programs this summer.

4: Also, we will be videoing science experiments, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) projects, and filming educational videos that our children can follow along at home.

Lego Day for Stokes Opportunity Center
Lego Day Creations

Christine says, “if you have any suggestions on how we can best serve your needs during Summer Learning, we would be happy to hear them.”

⇒You can reach the Walnut Cove Library on their Facebook page, via phone 336-591-7496 or by e-mail at⇐

Another service we want to add this summer is our Back to Basics videos. This is a first for Walnut Cove and we are excited to add this to our services! We are planning to do several how-to videos for everyone.

We are currently working on fishing techniques, starting your own garden, and learning how to crochet.

Click the picture to be taken to Walnut Cove Library Facebook page.

These are staff hobbies, but we want to hear from our customers what they would like to learn.

We have several suggestions already including canning and preserving fruits and vegetables, sewing, and seasonal crafts.

Eventually, we plan to take our show on the road to visit businesses and places of interest in Stokes County.

“What is something positive, or uplifting, that you have experienced during COVID19?”

The most positive aspect taken from this whole experience is the library staff has an even greater understanding of how valuable our public libraries truly are to their community and how much our hard work and dedication will have to continue at an even higher level to help see our community through this pandemic. We know COVID19 will be a part of our lives for many months and possibly years to come and it has taught all of us the value of human life.

In addition, we think of what we must do as community helpers to keep our citizens happy, safe, and well-informed.

There is not a day goes by if I am out in Walnut Cove, that someone tells me how ready they are for the library to open back up. Everyone is in full agreement that they greatly miss our doors being open.

Christine Boles Branch Manager, Walnut Cove Library

You can reach the Walnut Cove Library on their Facebook page, via phone 336-591-7496 or by e-mail at

Read our other entries in Local People, Local Stories, Local Impact here.

Stokes: Stay Home. Stay Safe. Save Lives. NWRL

We continue our series of Local People, Local Stories, Local Impact, with Joan Sherif from Northwest Regional Library.

The NWRL has branches in Danbury, Walnut Cove and King and are currently closed, but offer a wide variety of options to residents to advance knowledge, strengthen our communities and inspire diversity.

 To read our story about the Walnut Cove Public Library click here.

To read our story about the King Public Library click here. 

To read our story about the Danbury Public Library click here.

How has COVID19 affected the NWRL?

With the Governor’s announcement in March, we closed all libraries to the public and provided curbside service until April 1 when we had to discontinue it. It was very popular, and it was very hard for the staff to stop serving the public in person which is our goal. We were very fortunate that the Regional Board approved all staff working from home.

At first, it was almost surreal since we were closing our doors to the public and that has always been the opposite of what we try to do.  After the initial shock wore off, the staff swung into action.  We began virtual communication with all libraries (Stokes, Surry, Alleghany, and Yadkin) which has been a lifeline for us to stay in touch.  We are using Google Classroom and Meet.  We formed three teams on priority issues to get input from all staff and further collaborate. The teams meet weekly, and there is good discussion and some good outcomes.


Since the initial closing, staff has worked from home with catch up work, continuing education, and re-inventing how library services are delivered.  It did not take long for staff to jump on many webinars that will help all staff do an even better job now and in the future.  We have transformed all services online and now provide even more virtual services than ever.

These services are available on

We added new tabs to our website ( to include information on CO-VID 19, employment resources, and remote services.

Anyone with checked out materials was asked to hold onto books, DVD’s, and audiobooks until we re-open with no overdue fines.

People can now get a temporary card online as well.

Our staff stepped up to the challenge. Although we had some virtual programs before, the staff has taken hold of the possibilities and are offering online storytimes, readings from Harry Potter,  fairy tales, celebration of Earth Day, book talks, and much more.

And, I think that we have just begun! The response has been excellent with many comments about how people are not only enjoying seeing their library workers but also enjoying the programs.

Free learning resources available on

Since not everyone has wifi at home, we are encouraging folks to use the outside wifi from library parking lots.  We have seen an increase of usage and are glad to provide the service especially now.

The staff have been great and risen to the occasion. I think that we all have learned so much about ourselves and our communities that will be continued after we are able to open up fully to the public.

How will NWRL continue these services for Stokes residents?

We have all become aware of how we can develop remote and virtual services to a greater extent.  Staff are building on what they know about online services (including NC LIVE databases and NC Kids Digital) and learning more at an exponential rate!  It seems like everyday there is a new find, and talent is emerging!

These free learning resources are available at

Please visit and check out the Virtual Programs.

We have discussed more online services as well as asynchronous ones such as story walks and scavenger hunts that kids can do with their families or each other and get outdoors.

These services and others will become part of what NWRL libraries do.

Can you share anything positive from this situation we are all facing?

I think that we all agree that there have been many positives from the CO-VID19 crisis.  Although it is a hard and scary time for all of us, I think that we have all found a new resilience and hope for the future. 

Our staff is working even more closely together and supporting each other even more.  We realize that we all are in this together with our communities and truly believe that we will be stronger and better at the other end of it.

We know that many services that have started will be regular parts of library services.  We have learned much about ourselves, each other, and our organization.  Although we are planning for (and very much looking forward) to the day when we can reopen to the public, we know that we are stronger and better and have learned some very valuable lessons about ourselves and our communities.  We are even more aware of the importance of the essential value of our libraries to each community.

Not only are libraries a place for books, Audio/visual, information, and programs but also they are places for human connection.
In a survey that is posted on the website about what people miss most about their libraries and services that they would like to see, we are seeing that people often say that they miss the staff. 

Library workers are community helpers and although the way we are helping has changed since the beginning of the stay at home order, we are continuing on a different level that we will continue as we grow and change.  The library is online and in person.

-Joan Sherif, Northwestern Regional Library

Information regarding the Northwestern Regional Library can be found online here


Read our other entries in Local People, Local Stories, Local Impact here.

Stokes: Stay Home. Stay Safe. Save Lives. Part 6

The latest in our series of Local People, Local Stories, Local Impact, we talked to Vicky East, Program Director for Senior Services in Stokes County about COVID-19 and how it has been impacting the services they provide senior citizens across the county.

The Advocacy Council To Seniors (ACTS) is a United Fund agency.
  1. What are you and your agency doing here in Stokes County to address COVID-19?

Currently our offices are closed to the public. We are currently accepting phones calls and we are providing essential transportation appointments. We are serving our most vulnerable clients Meals on Wheels by offering frozen meal delivery once per week. Meals are delivered Mondays for Walnut Cove, Danbury and Francisco. Meals are delivered Tuesdays for King.

ACTS holiday meal in Francisco

We are offering once a week frozen pick-up for our congregate clients. These are clients would normally attend the sites Monday- Friday for a program and lunch. We offer the same days for congregate pick-up as we do home meal delivery. We are staying in touch with all of our clients via phone each week. We are also giving each client care packets delivered with the meals each week.

  1. Why is it important that out community take these measures?

We are charged with the task of keeping our elderly population as safe and healthy as we possibly can. We are asking everyone to stay home and save lives.

Senior Services Staff with Santa at the last ACTS holiday meal.

It is so important for all of us to do our part and listen to those in charge. Remember you are safe if you are at home with your families. Staying home is important to keep our frontline workers safe so they may return to their families. Remember we are all in this together.

Senior Services serves the most vulnerable population. Much of our clientele suffer from other under lying health conditions. With this COVID-19 pandemic they are more vulnerable and would most likely not survive should they contract the virus.
ACTS holiday meal in Francisco
  1. What is something positive you have seen in the midst of chaos of COVID-19 as we navigate this together?

We have wonderful volunteers that help us deliver meals for our home bound Monday through Friday.

Walking Club from the Walnut Cove Senior Center walking at the Elder Abuse Awareness Walk

Most of these volunteers are over the age of 65 themselves but they did not hesitate when asked if they would come in once per week to deliver the frozen meal boxes to our most frail and needy clients. Not one of them said no. This group of volunteers go above and beyond always willing to step up and help.

I am humbled by their graciousness and their willing to do. They are extraordinary!!! Words cannot express how grateful we are to have this group of people work with us and care for our seniors.

Vicky East, Program Director Senior Services

If you can support Senior Services you can reach them at 336-593-8156

More on the Local People, Local Stories, Local Impact can be found here.

Mental and Physical Self Care: Virtual Wellness Kit

During our series of Local People, Local Stories, Local Impact, we featured Amanda Smith, Member Engagement Specialist for Cardinal Healthcare Innovations.

Amanda mentioned digital resources to help support Stokes County residents physically and emotionally. Below are links for entertainment for kids and adults, support for mental health and physical health, recipes and more. During these uncertain times remember your mental health and wellbeing is as important as your physical wellness.

“As we all continue to shelter in place, we at Cardinal want to thank you for letting us provide you with what we hope is a weekly dose of wellness. And in case a reminder is needed–you deserve to feel good both physically and emotionally. See below for easy ways to practice self-care.”-

Amanda Smith, Member Engagement Specialist for Cardinal Innovations Healthcare







Links Specific for Kids:

General Links:
  • Free Photography Classes-Nikon is offering free online photography classes through April 30, 2020. Normally between $15 – $50 each, all 10 classes at the Nikon School can now be streamed for free. Each class is taught by a professional photographer. Some classes cover Nikon products, but many teach photography basics that anyone can benefit from.
  • Google’s Arts & Culture collection-Virtually tour hundreds of well-known museums around the world including the Guggenheim, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the National Gallery in London, the Acropolis Museum in Athens and more. In many, you can use Google’s street view feature to ‘walk’ the museum.
  • Free Guitar Lessons-Guitar manufacturer Fender is currently offering a free 3 month subscription to their Fender Play tuition app to new subscribers who want to learn acoustic or electric guitar, bass or ukulele.

Links below will open to a pdf in new window

To all health care professionals, first responders, grocery store workers, professional and lay caregivers, and those working to make things as normal as possible in such a stressful time, our deepest thanks.

As always, take care and be well.

Stokes: Stay Home. Stay Safe. Save lives. Part 5

Continuing our series of Local People, Local Stories, Local Impact, we asked Amanda Smith, Member Engagement Specialist for Cardinal Innovations Healthcare, about COVID-19 and the impact it has had on the Stokes Wellness Center.

  1. What are you and/or your agency doing here in Stokes County to support our residents during COVID-19?
  2. Why is it important that our community practice self-care, for mental and physical well-being? 
  3. What is something positive you have seen in midst of chaos of COVID-19 as we navigate this together?

“We recognize that the effects of COVID- 19 are far reaching beyond just our physical health. The fear of contracting the virus, adapting to new routines, isolation and difficulties obtaining necessities can have profound effects on our emotional health. Supporting our members and our communities in maintaining their health and wellness is always our top priority.”

“In efforts to support the Stokes Community we have worked collaboratively with community partners such as Insight Human Services, the Stokes County Cooperative Extension, local artist Dianna Altrath and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Diana Bryant to provide ‘Virtual Wellness Programming’.”

Each day community members can access free programming that will range from line dancing, stress management education, arts and crafts and more by viewing our Cardinal Innovations FACEBOOK PAGE, TWITTER ACCOUNT or our blog.

“I have had the pleasure of working with these agencies and individuals on a regular basis in the community at our Cardinal Innovations Wellness Center in Walnut Cove before COVID-19 and am excited to have a new platform for them to share their knowledge, talents and abilities to those who may need it.”

“As an organization we are also sending out ‘Virtual Wellness Kits’ to community members that includes entertainment links, tips to talking with your child about COVID-19 and how to access community resources to address needs such as food insecurities. I am proud to say that we have also started the COVID-19 Relief Fund which is a grant that will fund the efforts of non-profits who are supporting those affected by COVID-19.”

As a Member Engagement Specialist, we are working closely with other departments within our organization, behavioral health providers and community members to ensure access to mental health, substance use and developmental disability services.

“We understand that navigating behavioral health resources can be difficult and COVID-19 has added complexity to this. We want our communities and the residents of Stokes County to know that we are committed to ensuring that you get connected to the behavioral health services that you need.”

“Now is more important than ever to connect people who may be experiencing a mental health crisis to the right help at the right time and place.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Access Line by dialing  **ASK and you will be connected with a licensed clinician.

This helps us to support our local community hospitals and keep our Emergency Rooms free for those who need them the most during the COVID- 19 pandemic. Please know that you are not alone and many people are struggling with adapting to all life changes large and small.

While COVID-19 has been a difficult experience for us as a whole, I am inspired by my colleagues, Stokes Community Partners and the Stokes Community at how far everyone will go to provide support to those in need. We truly are in this all together!”

Amanda Smith, a stokes county resident, member engagement specialist for cardinal innovations healthcare, stokes wellness center

our fourth contributor was janna kiger, at-risk young adult and stokes county resident.

COVID-19 Checklist for Community and Faith Leaders

Community and faith-based organizations are encouraged to prepare for the possibility of a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in their communities.

Use this checklist to protect the health of those you serve and staff in your care.


  • Update your emergency operations plan with the help of your local public health department, emergency operations coordinator or planning team, and other relevant partners to include COVID-19 planning.
  • Identify space that can be used to separate sick people if needed.
  • Develop an emergency communication plan for distributing timely and accurate information to workers and those you serve.
  • Identify actions to take if you need to temporarily postpone or cancel events, programs, and services, especially for groups at greater risk such as older adults or people with chronic health conditions.
  • Promote the practice of everyday preventative actions.
    • Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow
    • Clean frequently touched objects and surfaces.
    • Stay home when sick.
  • Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies at your organization (e.g., soap, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, tissues, trash baskets, and a couple of disposable facemasks, just in case someone becomes sick during an event).
  • Plan for staff absences by developing flexible attendance and sick-leave policies, plan for alternative coverage, and monitor and track COVID-19 related staff absences.
  • Engage with stigmatized groups and speak out against negative behaviors to help counter stigma and discrimination.


If there is COVID-19 in your community:

  • Stay informed about local COVID-19 information and updates.
  • Put your emergency operations and communication plans into action.
  • Communicate with your community members if events and services are changed, postponed, or cancelled.
  • Emphasize everyday preventive actions through intensified communications with employees and visitors to your organization.Stay home when sick.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow.
    • Wash hands often.
    • Limit close contact with others as much as possible (about 6 feet).
  • During an event, if someone becomes sick separate them into an isolated room and ask them to leave as soon as possible.