Rap­pa­han­nock friend­ships

Rappahannock News - - COMMENT - CHRIS GREEN chris­doxzen@gmail.com

In ru­ral ar­eas, es­pe­cially, friend­ships run deep.

Neigh­bors are prac­ti­cally fam­ily, equip­ment is shared, pas­tures leased, bar­ter­ing is com­mon­place and sir and ma’am are al­ways ready words on the lips of chil­dren and adults as well. Re­spect is earned, hard work ex­pected and in such ham­lets and vil­lages, folks are all on a first name ba­sis. Many are ac­tively in­volved in church groups, or­ga­ni­za­tions of ev­ery kind sur­vive and thrive, and the tight knit com­mu­nity is revered, pro­tected and cel­e­brated.

Denise Chan­dler is a good friend to many, who along with her hus­band, Don­ald, give much time and devo­tion to the county. Many know Denise as a suc­cess­ful real­tor, her quaint cozy of­fice lo­cated on Gay Street and know of her vol­un­teerism. In­deed, for many a year she was the or­ga­nizer for the an­nual Town of Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton Christ­mas pa­rade, a job as many know of un­en­vi­able work scope. Don­ald is a world renown ar­chi­tect and a man of great hu­mor and ex­tra­or­di­nary tal­ent. While his health is no longer 100 per­cent, his gen­tle smile con­tin­ues to warm many a heart. Denise is un­fail­ingly by his side, his pro­tec­tor, and his best friend.

In re­cent days she took him to Rich­mond to cel­e­brate the hol­i­days and spend some time at the Jef­fer­son Ho­tel. I sug­gested she might en­joy din­ing at Pas­ture, an award win­ning restau­rant within walk­ing dis­tance of the ho­tel and where my son Hans is a chef. True to her gen­er­ous spirit, she sent the fol­low­ing mes­sage to the Rap­pa­han­nock Ladies Lunch Bunch, a group of women num­ber­ing over 250 and grow­ing. Her show of gen­uine en­thu­si­asm warmed a mom’s heart, namely mine. Thanks Denise, you are the best. I hold your friend­ship dear and ap­pre­ci­ate your kind­ness:

“To all the ladies in the lunch bunch. When I told Chris my hus­band and I were on our way to The Jef­fer­son Ho­tel in Rich­mond for Christ­mas, she said “stop by the restau­rant where my son Han’s is chef. He’s won­der­ful.

“I ex­pect ev­ery mother to say that, how­ever it is true! Hans is a gen­tle­man and chef ex­traor­di­naire.

“We had a fab­u­lous din­ner at ‘Pas­ture’ and owe it to Hans. His fried ribs were in­cred­i­ble, the steak with rose­mary grit cake di­vine, and the desserts per­fect. Cou­ple that with a visit with Hans, the evening was ‘de­li­cious.’ So, if you haven’t been to Rich­mond in a while, sa­vor The Jef­fer­son and Pas­ture. It is a true treat . . . and Chris def­i­nitely has brag­ging rights!”

On the sub­ject of kind­ness and car­ing and ush­er­ing in the New Year, in re­cent days I re­ceived a note from Pam An­der­son, a friend who thought I’d be in­ter­ested in writ­ing about a Rap­pa­han­nock County High School stu­dent­driven club called Rapp Care, headed up by high school English teacher Dar­lene Mathieson.

Ba­si­cally, ex­plained Pam, “The school is a col­lec­tion site for any­one who has items to of­fer (food, clothes, toys, ne­ces­si­ties, etc.). Stu­dents from sev­eral clubs (the Na­tional Honor So­ci­ety, the

Fel­low­ship of Chris­tian Ath­letes, and the Stu­dent Coun­cil As­so­ci­a­tion) as­sist Rapp Care, sort/size the items, pack snack bags for the chil­dren, and do­na­tions are de­liv­ered on­cea-month to those who have needs in McDow­ell County, West Vir­ginia.” Thus far, twenty-six tons of sup­plies have been de­liv­ered to McDow­ell County through Rapp Care’s ef­forts.

The school col­lects through­out the year. You just drop off items in­side the front en­try, and let the re­cep­tion­ist know it’s for Rapp Care.” Up­dates on needed sup­plies can be ob­tained from Mrs. Mathieson at the high school: dmath­ieson@rap­pa­han­nockschools.us.

In chat­ting with Dar­lene, she shared the group’s in­cep­tion and the mis­sion in more de­tail. A cou­ple of years ago, an idea was launched to for­mu­late a com­mu­nity ser­vice out­reach project run by stu­dents. Many ideas were floated about, and just at that time, as many may re­call, se­vere flood­ing rav­aged parts of West Vir­ginia and Ken­tucky.

Par­tic­u­larly hard hit was im­pov­er­ished McDow­ell County, a re­mote area in Ap­palachia made up of 150 hol­lows, home to the Hat­fields and McCoys, and suf­fer­ing des­per­ate poverty and the high­est ru­ral opi­oid rate in the United States.

Dar­lene elab­o­rated, “West Vir­ginia had the high­est dru­gover­dose death rate in the US in 2014. The chil­dren (many or­phans), the el­derly, the dis­abled, and the an­i­mals — pets, strays, and live­stock — are caught in the mid­dle of this night­mare. Rapp Care makes a dif­fer­ence by pro­vid­ing for the needs of the in­no­cent, the vic­tims of this ter­ri­ble poverty and drug plague. Many have no heat, no elec­tric­ity, no strong roof, no solid floors, no clean wa­ter source, no safety, no hope. We give them a thread of hope, the knowl­edge that some­one out here cares about them and their sit­u­a­tion. Even a jar of peanut butter and some jelly and bread are far bet­ter than an empty belly. We pro­vide what we can: blan­kets, sleep­ing bags, wa­ter, food, and a hand to hold with a prom­ise of more to come.”

BY DENISE CHAN­DLER

Hans Doxzen and Don­ald Chan­dler at Pas­ture Restau­rant in Rich­mond.

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