by Wiley Sloan 

From its offices in the Peggy Crosby Center, the International Friendship Center makes its presence felt throughout the Highlands community.

October 2015 marks the 13th anniversary  of the International Friendship Center. The IFC was originally a resource center to assist international newcomers with area services. A 501 c (3) non-profit entity, the IFC has since expanded to provide much more. In cooperation with Highlands United Methodist Church, the First Presbyterian Church of Highlands and other local churches, the center provides two vital community food programs for families in need.

The IFC aids workers and their families with scheduling appointments, arranging transportation, and offers interpretation to provide access to services like the Community Care Clinic and the Free Dental Clinic. It also answers questions about immigration and other legal documents plus offers notary public services. When requested by clients, the center communicates with entities such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, insurance agencies, banks, and utility companies.

The IFC's partnership ·with the Literacy Council of Highlands and Southwestern Community College offers courses to teach English as a Second Language to working men and women and collaborates with The Bascom Art Gallery on an art class for children.

In 20141 the International Friendship Center provided services to people from Panama, Colombia, Mexico, US, China, Bolivia, Honduras, El Salvador, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic, with 95 percent of its clients coming from Macon and Jackson Counties.

For more information on the IFC, please stop by our office located at the Peggy Crosby Center or call Faviola Olvera at (828) 526-0890.

by Wiley Sloan 

The Peggy Crosby Center houses the Literacy Council of Highlands, a little organization with a big impact on the community. 

This article is one of a series featuring tenants of the Peggy Crosby Center and how they serve our community. 

From its humble beginning offering tutoring services in one of the local churches, .The Literacy Council of Highlands has grown to make a significant impact in our area. This year, they're celebrating 23 years - thriving, expanding, and offering myriad programs to adults and children alike. Programming includes GED classes, English as a second language for all ages, study hall, after school programs, remediation, adult literacy, individual tutoring, and participation in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. 

The focus in 2015 has been the education of preschoolers, preparing them for kindergarten through the Mobilizing Literacy Program. Established enrichment programs include an ESL afterschool program for students grades K-3, and a study hall program for grades 4-12. The original mission, to provide individual tutoring to all who need it, from kindergarteners through adults, remains a steadfast focus. In 2015 The Literacy Council will expand tutoring services to Franklin. 

Collaborative efforts with the community include partnering with The Bascom to offer "Read, Write, and Create" blending reading and art; working with the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust and t?e Highlands Recreation Center to provide summer nature camps for children; and a science explorers enrichment program through HCLT and Highlands First Presbyterian Church. 

Literacy Council personnel join with an arsenal of more than 30 dedicated volunteers to ensure these exemplary programs run smoothly. Tonya Hensley has been Executive Director for five growth­filled years. In late 2014, she was joined by Kathryn Buckley as Education Director, and Brandy Mc Elroy as Program Director. 

The Literacy Council of Highlands is located inside the Peggy Crosby Center, 348 South Fifth Street in Highlands. 

by Wiley Sloan 

This article is one of a series featuring tenants of the Peggy Crosby Center and how they serve our community. 

Despite its history of nearly 100 years, some folks are still uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the process of psychotherapy and view seeking help with their feelings or life issues as weakness.

It's a sign of our humanity to need to express to someone else our thoughts and feelings, our fears and hopes for a better life. It is a sign of strength and courage to recognize when learning more about yourself and your relationships might be helpful. This holds true in all ages and stages of life.

Though therapy can indeed seem fearful and remains a mystery to many, it is a solace and a comfort for many others who find it to be a safe, hospitable place, both emotionally and physically, where even those things that we fear most can be dealt with through empathy and understanding. The competent and experienced counselors of The Counseling and Psychotherapy Center of Highlands can be trusted to respect your concerns, to create an environment that ensures confidentiality, and to guide you as you address life concerns. 

Our community and everyone who seeks counseling at CPCH benefit because the Peggy Crosby Center provides a safe and confidential environment. The recent extensive building renovations have enhanced these qualities and breathed new life into a historic building. Reasonable rents from PCC and generous donors make possible the sliding fee scale. The services of CPCH are available to any who desire to find a place of comfort and trust. Your calls are welcomed at (828) 482-0304. The Peggy Crosby Center is a non-profit organization established to provide office space for other non-profits and start-up organizations. Rental rates are held as low as possible to allow the tenants to use more of their funds to serve the community.

by Wiley Sloan 

Kim Bonsteel's Center for Acupuncture & Healing Arts offers safe relief for a host of ailments. 

Center for Acupuncture & Healing Arts is now in its sixth season serving Highlands. 

Owner Kim Bonsteel is a nationally board-certified Diplomate of Acupuncture. He received four years of training at Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine, and is now a faculty member at the scnool in Boone, North Carolina.

"Chinese herbal medicine is really a complete system of health care, with a literate scientific tradition going back 21300 years," says Bonsteel. "In our country, acupuncture is best known for pain, but acupuncture and Chinese medicine are so much more. The greatest breakthroughs in the history of Chinese medicine happened during times of serious epidemic diseases that make Ebola sound tame."

The World Health Organization says acupuncture is effective for such diverse conditions as high blood pressure, migraines, nerve-related bladder dysfunction, arthritis, the common cold, bronchial asthma, gum disease, irritable bowel, stomach inflammation, fibromyalgia, menstrual problems, depression, anxiety, and insomnia, to name a few.

"We do get relief for low back pain, sciatica, neck pain, tennis elbow, shoulder injuries, plantar pain, but many other conditions respond well to the strategies of Chinese medicine, without the side effects you see with drugs," says Bonsteel. "All healing comes from within; we use methods that optimize the body's natural healing ability."

Part of his practice is orthopedic manual therapy, correcting structure and movement problems that cause discomfort and pain. 

"It's still amazing to me that you can normalize muscle tension, teach a few new habits, and the spine comes into line on its own," he says.

Bonsteel has been a licensed massage and bodywork therapist for 12 years. Part of his acupuncture education was in Chinese medical massage.

Kim is excited about offering a new form of health care delivery for the first time. "Community acupuncture" will be available most Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30 to 6:30 P.M. Patients can walk in without an appointment, and loose clothing is recommended. "This will be affordable acupuncture treatment in a group setting," says Bonsteel. "The interview and exam will still be private, but treating three orfour people in the same room lowers the cost. We have a sliding scale, and no proof of income is needed. It's an honor system."

If there is a lot of demand, he plans to offer community acupuncture other days and times. The traditional, private session remains available. Bonsteel offers a free, 10-minute consultation if you want to learn how acupuncture can help.

One of the barriers keeping more people from trying acupuncture is fear of needles.

"This is nothing like getting a shot or having your blood drawn," he says. "The pins are sterile and disposable, as fine as cat whiskers. People say it's like a mosquito bite, or they don't feel much at all. Non-needle alternatives, herbal medicine, and nutritional therapy are available." 

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