The Ackland – Education and Enjoyment for Us All!

The Ackland Art Museum, one of the incredible nonprofit organizations in our community, educates and enriches the lives of adults, students, and teachers. Not every college town is lucky enough to have a world-class university art museum, but since we all have one – with free admission – right in our own back yard, we can take advantage of all the ways that it can both educate us and provide us with great enjoyment.

For adults, the Ackland offers diverse opportunities to engage with art. Yoga instruction and drawing classes take place right in the Museum’s galleries, allowing participants to be inspired by the art surrounding them. Through lively group discussions, Art and Literature in the Galleries broadens appreciation for and explores the relationships between the art on view and specially selected books. Tea at Two and Art for Lunch programs bring in scholars who provide inspiration and information about works in the Ackland’s collection. The Ackland Film Forum, a collaboration between the Ackland and various departments at UNC-Chapel Hill, screens art films, narrative films, and documentaries at the Varsity Theatre on Franklin Street. More information about all of these programs can be found at:

For the younger set, the Ackland’s programs for K-12 students are exceptional. 

Ackland educators talk with teachers ahead of time to present an interactive, interesting program that will engage students. One 3rd grade teacher recently observed of her class’s visit to the Ackland:


[The Ackland docent] used great vocabulary and interacted with each child in the lessons. Language was on their level and easy to understand. Loved the inquiry; lots of great questions. Kids thoroughly enjoyed the activity. It gave them an opportunity to be valued and validated.


The Ackland also welcomes opportunities to design a sequence of museum visits for a class during the academic year; the Chapel Hill Homeschoolers have been doing monthly programs with the Ackland for the past several years.

One Chapel Hill teacher described it this way:  “I was impressed by the ease with which you scheduled us, and stunned by the fact that you sent outreach educators in advance.  Thanks to your volunteers, who were both accepting and understanding of our youngsters, many of whom have never been inside an art museum!  We went straight to art class upon our return, and the art teacher said my class was full of enthusiasm.”

Leaders of local camps, afterschool programs, scout troops, mentoring groups, and other organizations may also consult with Ackland educators to create tours and activities custom-tailored for the needs and interests of their group.  

The Ackland offers wonderful customized docent-led tours at the museum, curriculum kits, and online resource materials, and bus scholarships to defray the cost of getting to the museum. Ackland educators also visit classrooms prior to a museum visit, with great success. One high school teacher commented: “We were so impressed with our classroom visit. We loved the PowerPoint, hands-on materials and especially the care and attention provided!! The visits (both in-house and at the Ackland) were fabulous.  They far exceeded our expectations.”  

The Ackland also provides professional development training for teachers, including free multi-day workshops for teachers. For more information, go to:

Outside of school visits, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to enjoy art at the Ackland. Programs such as Art Adventures (6- to 9-year-olds) and Drawing for Tweens (10- to 13-year-olds) include some time exploring works of art in the galleries with a docent, followed by hands-on time in a studio making art that builds upon their gallery experience.  Kids can build museum memories with the special grown-ups in their lives at the Ackland’s monthly Family Day — a Creation Station, family tours, story time, and treasure hunts through the galleries allow families to choose the ways they want to have fun while experiencing art. All Family Day activities are free. Music in the Galleries – a free program for all ages – is a kid-pleaser, too. On Sunday, June 17 at 2:00 pm, Tea Cup Gin will play jazz and show tunes from the early 20th century.

So stop by the Ackland this summer and enjoy a little jazz, world-class art, and terrific programming.  We truly are so fortunate to have the Ackland in our community.

When You Need A Helping Hand

When troubles arise – e.g., a kitchen flooded by a broken appliance hose, a broken leg that makes it impossible to get to the grocery store, etc. – most of us simply write a check, call the insurance company, or, depending on the circumstances, call on friends to help.  But some people do not have the resources to fix things so easily.  Some people are shut-ins who do not have a network of family or friends on which they can rely for help.

A nonprofit foundation recently has been established to provide workers to help others when they do not have the resources to help themselves.  The SWEEPS Foundation matches local college students with deserving local people and charities for one-time or ongoing needs.  The SWEEPS Foundation pays the college students for their time if none are willing or able to volunteer.

Individuals, families, groups, nonprofits, and anyone else deserving are eligible to receive free or discounted hours on a case-by-case basis.  It is an ideal solution for temporary surges in need such as clean-ups after severe weather or staffing of special events.  Also, it is a terrific solution for providing help to those who are disabled or otherwise require assistance. 

The SWEEPS Foundation is seeking:

· Passionate SWEEPS Foundation leaders and ambassadors (preferably with nonprofit experience);
· Individuals with experience in nonprofit start-ups;
· Recommendations of organizations and people who the SWEEPS Foundation can help; and
· Monetary donations.

If you are interested in helping, please e-mail or call 919-628-0828.

The SWEEPS Foundation was started by UNC alum Morris Gelblum, founder of the for-profit organization, SWEEPS.  SWEEPS matches local college students with local job needs. The job can be of almost any kind – yard work, house cleaning, computer assistance, painting, tutoring, etc., etc.  You just go to, post a job you want done, and SWEEPS will take care of the rest.

Red Hot Evening for a Cool Cause

The UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center is hosting a “Fire + Ice Ball” – a “red hot evening for a cool cause” on April 14th at the Chapel Hill Country Club.  “Chill out with great food and drinks in the Ice Lounge,” bid on the “smoldering hot” auction items, and dance to “cool” music from DJ Minor.  Definitely sounds like one hot night!

The cool cause is one we all know – the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center.  UNC Lineberger is a nationally recognized leader in cancer research, treatment, prevention and outreach, and is also the only public cancer center serving the needs of North Carolinians. The Center treats patients from every county in North Carolina, with more than 135,000 patient visits each year. 

In addition to serving the people of North Carolina, the Center’s extensive cancer research programs serve the people of the world.  UNC Lineberger is home to internationally recognized research programs in Cancer Cell Biology, Immunology, Molecular Carcinogenesis, Cancer Genetics, Molecular Therapeutics, and Virology that investigate the molecular and genetic basis of cancer and progression.

As a public cancer center, UNC Lineberger relies on funding from the state as well as donations from private individuals, corporations, and foundations to support its mission. Gifts to UNC Lineberger ensure that the Center will be able to conduct cutting-edge cancer research, treat cancer patients with state-of-the-art technology, and train future physicians and scientists.

The “Fire & Ice Ball” is a great opportunity to have some fun, dance a little, and support this terrific cause.  To learn more, go to:

HOPE and a Fresh Start

Imagine a garden where seeds of hope grow, transforming lives.  Imagine a place where community leaders, homeless individuals, UNC students, low-income individuals, high school students, and the broader community all come together to work in a garden . . . and to give a fresh start to those people most in need of hope for a better future.

The place is HOPE Gardens, right here in Chapel Hill on Homestead Road.  

HOPE Gardens is a student-run project developed by UNC’s Campus Y in 2009.  HOPE stands for “Homeless Outreach Poverty Eradication.”

It is best to understand the program through HOPE Gardens’ own words:

“[HOPE Gardens is] a transitional employment program for homeless individuals and an inclusive community garden, each meant to facilitate relationships and dialogue among the student, homeless, low-income, and broader Chapel Hill communities in a ‘side by side’ work environment…

Structured as an all-inclusive program to employ the homeless in a community garden, HOPE Gardens is designed to help people experiencing homelessness overcome many obstacles to finding employment. People living on the streets and in the shelters apply to the program; after being accepted, they plant, cultivate, and harvest their crop. Produce as well as value-added products are sold on the UNC campus and in local farmers’ markets.  As a part of the program, participants will be connected with various social services and guided in methods of effective money management and saving programs.”

Many, many members of the Chapel Hill Community have volunteered for HOPE Gardens, including Chapel Hill High School junior Fan Huang, who has volunteered more than 2,000 hours.  You can learn more about Fan in the Chapelboro’s “Kids Shine” column this week.  

Community members are invited each month to a free potluck lunch at HOPE Gardens.  The next potluck is Saturday, March 25th.  If you are interested in helping turn some spring soil and plant some seeds, then head to the gardens at 10:00am on the 25th and join other volunteers for a rewarding morning.  If you don’t have time that morning or are interested in learning more about HOPE first, then join them for the potluck at noon.  To learn more, visit HOPE Gardens’ website at:

Deep Dish, Great Gala . . .

Great theater is not inexpensive. 
Many, if not most, of you have enjoyed watching terrific theatrical productions at Chapel Hill’s Deep Dish Theater. But what you may not know is that Deep Dish is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations for approximately 50% of its expenses.
Deep Dish is committed not only to delivering professional theater, but to “includ[ing] and reach[ing] out to the surrounding community in all its diversity.” One of the ways they do that is by keeping ticket prices within the reach of many.   But this means that the tickets (which often are priced between $19 and $21) cannot cover the theater’s expenses.
On October 2nd, Deep Dish is holding a fundraising Gala at the Doris Duke Center at Duke Gardens. 
Deep Dish produces four shows a year, supplemented by “Side Dish” events like its Short Story evenings, Singer/Songwriter series, Dish Book Club, and acting and playwriting classes. 
Deep Dish produces compelling, provocative, human-centered dramatic work. Its upcoming play, “Nathan the Wise,” is no exception. Set in Jerusalem during the Crusades, this funny and forceful play tells the intricate story of a young couple caught between warring religious factions.  

Written in 1779, “Nathan the Wise” has seen a recent revival, including performances in Rome and throughout the United States. 
According to the Washington Post, “Nathan the Wise” brings “warmth and humor to a tale of Muslim, Jew, and Christian in Crusade-ravaged 12th-century Jerusalem.” The play was nominated for the Charles MacArthur Helen Hayes Outstanding New Play award.
Tickets can be purchased online at While you are on the site, don’t forget to learn more about Deep Dish’s upcoming Gala.

The Gala is Deep Dish’s big event fundraiser of the year. Guests will be entertained by Serena Ebhardt, who performed at Deep Dish this summer to sold-out crowds. Ms. Ebhardt will perform an excerpt from her cabaret “In One Era and Out the Other,” an American History revue told through song.  

The silent auction at the Gala will feature many different local experiences, everything from gift certificates to restaurants like Kitchen, Panciuto, Red Bowl, and Top of the Hill, tickets to a UNC basketball game, NC Beach House rentals (one in Beaufort and one at Kure Beach), and a ride over Orange County in a 1946 Piper Cub airplane.   

So join Deep Dish for a night of entertainment, chances to win, and a great opportunity to help terrific community theater.

What do Candlelight, Dessert, and Woody Durham Have in Common?

Well, on September 23rd, the Triangle Radio Reading Service is honoring Woody Durham, “The Voice of the Tarheels,” at its “Dining by Candlelight: Dessert in the Dark” fundraiser.
The Triangle Radio Reading Service (TRRS) provides live news and information to people who are visually and print impaired and live in a 20 county area of North Carolina. Currently TRRS produces and airs local programming from 7:30 AM until midnight daily and is on the air 24/7.

With the assistance of 150 volunteer readers and technicians, broadcast of newspapers, magazines, books, and original programs are prepared daily, and made available to approximately 20,000 listeners in five different ways: (1) as an internet stream through; (2) via podcast downloads from the TRRS website; (3) via on-demand stream from the TRRS website; (4) on RTN Channel 22 in Raleigh and Channel 11 in Cary, Garner and Apex; and (5) over specially tuned SCA radio receivers provided by TRRS to listeners for use in their homes, in retirement facilities, hospitals, and assisted living centers. The radio signal is donated by North Carolina’s Public Radio, WUNC-FM.

These broadcasts connect people who are blind and print impaired to each other, their community, and family by delivering news, information, and entertainment using the latest audio technology.

Take a minute a visit their website — – and listen to some of the podcasts, including USA Today, Smithsonian, The New Yorker, and Our State, to name just a few. You will be impressed by the professional quality of the recordings. While you are on the site, you can learn about how to volunteer for TRRS. And don’t forget to get your tickets to the “Dining by Candlelight: Dessert in the Dark” event ….. your favorite dessert might be just around the corner!

Affordable Homes, Indian Food, and All That Jazz…

This Friday, September 9th, the Community Home Trust will rock the new Greenbridge building with cool jazz by mahaloJazz, Indian food by Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe, wine by Milltown, and interesting conversation by current and former mayors and council members, community volunteers, and, hopefully, you!

The Community Home Trust’s mission is to sell and preserve affordable homes for low and moderate income families who live or work in Orange County. The Trust’s mission is particularly important in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, where the average price of a home puts it out of reach for many people who work in our community every day. The average home in Chapel Hill-Carrboro costs around $300,000, whereas the average Trust home sells for about $100,00. 
The Home Trust enables those who serve our community to live in our community. The Trust’s homeowners teach our children, take care of our sick, police our roads, conduct lifesaving research, serve our vulnerable populations, drive our buses, and volunteer in our towns.
The Trust currently has 194 permanently affordable homes. The homes are “permanently affordable” because when a homeowner decides to move out of the home, it goes back into the trust and then is resold at an affordable price.
Yet 194 seems like a number that can, and should, be increased. That’s where you come in. Join the Community Trust this Friday for a little jazz, food, wine, and interesting conversation and help grow the number of Trust homes. Tickets are only $40 each.
This is truly a community event. The honorary co-chairs include Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, as well as former mayors Rosemary Waldorf, Kenneth Broun, Jonathan Howes, Joseph Nassif, Howard Lee, and Sandy McClamroch.  Former mayor Kevin Foy will be presented with the Cornerstone Award for his dedication to affordable housing. 

So get your ears ready to hear some Cole Porter, your tastebuds ready for some spicy curry and red wine, and your brain ready for an evening of great conversation.