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Michael Hemphill

BUZZ features Blue Ridge Women’s Center on May 5 600 337 Michael Hemphill

BUZZ features Blue Ridge Women’s Center on May 5

Tune in to Blue Ridge PBS on May 5 at 7:00 pm for episode 11 of BUZZ, featuring Blue Ridge Women’s Center!

A woman confronting an unexpected pregnancy too often doesn’t know where to turn. Blue Ridge Women’s Center wants her to turn to the nonprofit and its free resources that support her pregnancy, her transition to motherhood, or her decision to make an adoption plan. 

Through an array of radio stations and digital marketing pros, Mel Wheeler, Inc., is spreading the nonprofit’s mission to help women “feel empowered to make the best decision for themselves and their families.”

This episode is sponsored in part by Beacon Wealth Consultants.

BUZZ produces “Friends of the Blue Ridge JAM” for PBS 1024 1024 Michael Hemphill

BUZZ produces “Friends of the Blue Ridge JAM” for PBS

As originally broadcast May 1, 2021, on Blue Ridge PBS …

“Friends of the Blue Ridge JAM” is a special hour-long concert by the Junior Appalachian Musicians, Inc. (JAM), hosted by Friends of the Blue Ridge. This collaboration celebrates cultural arts along the Blue Ridge Parkway, focusing on how musical traditions are being passed along to the next generation through community JAM programs. The show is produced by BUZZ.

This collaboration celebrates cultural arts along the Blue Ridge Parkway, focusing on how musical traditions are being passed along to the next generation through community JAM programs. The show is produced by BUZZ.

The episode features five young musicians ages 11 to 17 who have gained great interest and talent in old time and bluegrass music by participating in JAM programs. The segment will feature a mix of old-time and bluegrass music as well as interviews and information about the important missions of Friends of the Blue Ridge and JAM.

This performing group has graced stages at FloydFest, Merlefest, HoustonFest, Knoxville’s WDVX Blue Plate Special, and the West Virginia Strawberry Festival. 

Sophia Puckett, 17, of Galax, Va., is a singer, clawhammer banjo, mandolin, and accordion player who has already evolved from JAM student to JAM teacher in less than ten years. “This experience has taught me how to reach out to kids and get them to want to learn about the music,” said Sophia about her recent transition from student to teacher. 

Logan Thompson, 14, of Glade Spring, Va., got his musical start in the two JAM programs serving Washington County and Smyth County. A multi-instrumentalist, as well, Logan plays upright bass and clawhammer banjo in a way that feels more like generations of experience, rather than only a few short years. 

To demonstrate the powerful impact place-based education can have on students, Savannah Hodges of Wytheville, Va., joined the cast. At age 11, she has only been playing fiddle for a few months, but music “runs in her family” back to her great grandfather, James Lindsey. Savannah will be participating in the Wythe County JAM program next school year. 

Graydon Shepherd, 12, of West Jefferson, N.C., has been playing the fiddle in the Ashe JAM program since third grade. Much of his fiddle repertoire is local to Ashe and Grayson musical history – an area that is known for being a hotbed of musicians. He cited one of his favorite songs to be, “Sugar Hill”, a tune that is heard commonly at local fiddlers conventions and jam sessions. 

Karlee Hamm, 13, of Lansing, N.C., also participates in Ashe JAM, where she has learned how to play guitar and sing from local teaching artists. Karlee has been winning prizes in youth contests since a young age, and enjoys performing with the New River JAM Band, of which Logan and Sophia are also members.

BUZZ Episode 10 features Giles County foster care 1024 561 Michael Hemphill

BUZZ Episode 10 features Giles County foster care

As originally broadcast on April 28 on Blue Ridge PBS … episode 10 of BUZZ, featuring rural Giles County’s foster care crisis.

Giles County has far more children in foster care than foster homes able to care for them, forcing county social workers to place them in homes often times hours away. Not only are these children leaving behind their biological families, they are also disconnected from their schools, friends, teachers and support services.

Thankfully, 5Points Creative in Roanoke has worked in this world, having recently helped DePaul Community Resources recruit more foster families to its cause. Together — along with a familiar face from a previous episode of BUZZ and Giles County native Burman Clark, president of Muneris Benefits — they provide the county with resources … and hope.

BUZZ Episode 9 featuring Virginia 811 600 337 Michael Hemphill

BUZZ Episode 9 featuring Virginia 811

As originally broadcast on April 14, 2021, on Blue Ridge PBS …

You wouldn’t think underground utilities would inspire much emotion … until you meet the folks working at Virginia 811. For them, protecting the state’s electric, gas, water, sewer and telecommunications lines is as vital an act of citizenship as voting.

Helping their quest to make more Virginians “know what’s below” before before they start digging is digital marketing specialist Carrie Cousins, president of AAF Roanoke.

BUZZ | Episode 8 featuring Feeding Southwest Virginia 600 337 Michael Hemphill

BUZZ | Episode 8 featuring Feeding Southwest Virginia

As originally aired April 7, 2021, on Blue Ridge PBS

Feeding Southwest Virginia operates in 26 counties, serves 360 partner agencies, feeds 100,000 people a month or $30 million worth of food a year.

But there’s one number especially important this year: 40. That’s the number of years that the nonprofit has been serving the region in 2021.

Helping Feeding Southwest Virginia celebrate this milestone is Access Advertising, joined by BOSS Motion Picture Company and Boyd Pearman Photography … with a couple of other surprises from the region’s leaders.