Brothers beat odds

Published 9:55 am Friday, March 11, 2011

Brothers Marvin Graves Jr. and Brian Graves got through some pretty tough times, including losing their father and home, before achieving success.

Their mother, Bernice Porter Graves of Franklin, recently shared their story with us.

While both were pursuing careers in the field of pharmacy, the Graves boys struggled with their late father, Marvin Graves’, terminal illness and eventual death.

Visiting their father was often painful and heartbreaking due to the distance of their colleges to their home. Marvin and Brian wanted to stay with their father and help their mother care for him.

Their grandfather, Arthur Porter Sr., whom they adored, had also recently passed from a terminal illness.

If that wasn’t enough, in the midst of their studies, a fire nearly destroyed their home. And while visiting their hospitalized father, their truck was stolen.

The brothers didn’t complain as they continued demanding hours of studying that left little time for anything else.

Marvin graduated from Hampton University last May and is licensed by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy. He is employed by CVS pharmacy in Hampton.

His brother graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in December. Brian is employed by Rite Aid pharmacy in Franklin and will obtain his license this month.

On another note, the brothers’ sister, Bernita Graves Jones, has completed and obtained her Virginia State License as a massage therapist specializing in the care of lymphatic disorders.

n Now for another feel-food story provided by Ava Nowlin. It’s about her mother, Maxine Nowlin, who was recently honored at Courtland Community Center.

Maxine has provided various programs to the community for more than 20 years. What began as a tutoring program for a small group of youth blossomed into a community organization.

She revitalized the Courtland Recreation Center, which is now Courtland Community Center, and built a playground, basketball court and picnic shelter.

Education still serves as the main basis for the organization. Maxine is known for being at the center until midnight, helping students with assignments.

Ann Cole had the vision to honor Maxine and formed a committee spearheaded by Laquita Wyche to help carry out the secret plan. Businesses donated gifts. Family, friends and students were invited.

The program featured music, singing and miming. Guests reflected on the importance of Maxine in their life. One of her first students, Chelsea Freeman, said Maxine influenced her to enroll in college. Longtime friend Ann Peterson said “she is who she is because Maxine is who she is.”

The program ended with Maxine praising the board of directors for “allowing her to do crazy things.” She said the Courtland Community Center was more than just a playground and basketball court, but more of an example to the upcoming generations of faith in action.

Maxine also applauded her husband for being patient and understanding in her efforts to make a positive impact in the community.