Happy Valentine's Day!
Since it's Feb. 14, it seems only fitting to have this page have a little bit of a "love" theme to it.
With that in mind, here are some news items that I think fall into that category.
Sara Green, JOSHUA office coordinator, hopes to hear from area churches that would “love” to be a host church for visiting work groups this summer.
-- Janice R. Kiaski
Wanted: Churches to 'love' chance
to be a JOSHUA host church
Wanted: Area churches who "love" to extend some hospitality to out-of-towners, with a "heart" to make welcome visitors coming to the area this summer for a ministry outreach.
The JOSHUA program, an acronym for Journeys of Service Helping Upper Appalachia operated through Urban Mission Ministries of Steubenville, is in search of area churches interested in serving as host churches for visiting groups coming to the area for one-week stays.
JOSHUA is a ministry to area low-income homeowners who need assistance with repairs to their homes, according to Sara Green, JOSHUA office coordinator. Ronnie Snyder is the JOSHUA program director.
"We are rapidly moving into another summer with many groups from all over the Midwest coming to participate in our JOSHUA program," Green notes in a letter sent to area churches, asking them to consider serving as a host church.
A host church agrees to prepare and serve a breakfast for the work team on the Monday of the week they are in the area as well as a dinner that week on Thursday before the work team leaves for home.
The groups are scheduled to arrive beginning the week of June 2 and continuing through August. The teams stay at the JOSHUA house, the former St. Anthony's Convent, which is located at 249 S. Seventh St., Steubenville. It has 12 bedrooms, two dining rooms, two sitting rooms, a fully furnished kitchen and two dormitory-style bath facilities. It can accommodate 50 people.
A host church is at liberty to serve additional meals, to recruit people from their church to work with the guest mission team, to visit the work site from time to time or to plan other activities if they so desire.
"We just want them to feel comfortable and welcome to come back," Green said, noting a host church has the unique opportunity to serve as a blessing to incoming groups.
Host churches have an opportunity to serve as ambassadors of their church and the community, according to Green.
"They (host churches) get to meet with out-of-town groups and just kind of bond with them in ministry," Green said.
Churches interested in serving as a host church can contact Green at Urban Mission at (740) 282-8010 on Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Homeowners, meanwhile, who are interested in being considered as a work site have until April 30 to complete an application and return it to the mission located at 301 N. Fifth St., Steubenville, according to Green.
Applicants must provide proof of property ownership and meet income guidelines to qualify for assistance. The applications are available by contacting Green.
"We're excited," Green said of the summer work experience for youth and adults that has been in place since around 1990.
"We love to help the area homeowners that are on a fixed income, help them whether it's painting a porch or a lot of our groups last year did handicapped ramps," she said.
Last year, there were nine groups that visited during the summer of 2012, working on 23 homes and completing 35 projects. That translated into 265 volunteers donating 11,415 hours.
The groups came from as near as Ohio to as far away as New York.
Love birds? The Great Backyard Bird Count can involve area residents
Are you a bird lover with a heart for our winged friends?
Then this story might be of interest to you.
After 15 years of success in North America, the Great Backyard Bird Count will open up to the entire world for the first time in 2013.
Anyone, from anywhere on Earth, can participate by visiting www.birdcount.org and reporting the kinds and numbers of birds they see during the 16th-annual count that runs from Friday through Monday, including area residents.
A joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with partner Bird Studies Canada, the four-day count typically receives sightings from tens of thousands of people reporting more than 600 bird species in the United States and Canada alone.
"This year's count will give us a whole new perspective as sightings pour in from around the globe in real time," said Marshall Iliff at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
"Millions of people encounter birds every day all over the world. Imagine what scientists will learn if each one of us shares observations from our own area," Iliff said.
During the 2012 count, participants reported 17.4 million bird observations on 104,000 checklists. Snowy Owls thrilled many participants when these striking birds-of-prey ventured south from the Arctic in record numbers, he said.
In 2013, scientists predict that U.S. and Canadian bird watchers will see an influx of Red-breasted Nuthatches and winter finches such as Pine Siskins because of scarce food supplies on their northern wintering grounds.
"The GBBC is an ideal opportunity for young and old to connect with nature by discovering birds and to participate in a huge science project," said Gary Langham, Audubon's Chief Scientist.
"This year, we hope people on all seven continents, oceans and islands will head out into their neighborhoods, rural areas, parks and wilderness to further our understanding of birds across the hemispheres."
Participating is easy. Simply watch birds for at least 15 minutes at the location of your choice on one or more of the count days. Estimate the number of birds you see for each species you can identify. You'll select your location on a map, answer a few questions, enter your tallies and then submit your data to share your sightings with others around the world, according to a news release.
The global capacity for the count will be powered by eBird, an online checklist program for all of the world's 10,240 bird species. Participants will be able to view what others are seeing on interactive maps, keep their own records and have their tallies recorded for perpetuity.
"The popularity of the Great Backyard Bird Count grows each year," said Dick Cannings, senior projects officer at Bird Studies Canada, "and with the new features, participation will be even more exciting."
Online dating seminar being
offered Feb. 23 in Weirton
On Feb. 23, Shana Pepper of Weirton will be conducting a seminar on online dating for people 18 and older.
It will be held at Cove Presbyterian Church located at 3404 Main St., Weirton, beginning at 1 p.m. It was to have been held Feb. 2 but was canceled because of inclement weather.
One in five relationships begins with online dating, according to Pepper, an elder at the church, whose seminar will offer tips for using online dating websites and creating a profile to help people put their best foot forward. It also will cover safety tips, do's and don'ts, and "how to really work well in the online environment to make the best of it."
Although pre-registering is encouraged in the event that inclement weather might require notification to cancel, Pepper said walk-ins will be welcomed.
The estimated 90-minute seminar has a class size limited to 40 people. Participants must be 18 and older, and the cost is $10.
Participants can pre-register through e-mail to OnlineDatingSeminar@gmail.com.
Valentine dance at East Springfield Community Center on Saturday
The East Springfield Community Center will host a Valentine dance on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
It will feature the music of the Sands of Time.
Admission is $5. Refreshments will be available.
And just a friendly reminder...
If you're a follower of my Sunday column in the Valley Life section of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times, that space will be devoted to what gifts Better Half and I presented to each other on Valentine's Day 2013.
Happy Valentine's Day!