Final ‘Day in the Country’ planned

Published 10:42 am Wednesday, April 5, 2017

by Merle Monahan

This year, “A Day in the Country”— a tradition started 43 years ago at the Zuni Presbyterian Homes and Family Services — will end and plans are to make this last day one to remember.

Starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 22 at the Zuni Homes, the event will feature several new activities as well as many of the same ones from past years.

A highlight will be the celebration of Zuni Presbyterian Homes and Family Services’ 50 years of ministry to developmentally challenged teenagers and adults.

Following opening remarks and prayer, former student Scotty Blue will offer several patriotic songs.  Blue graduated from the Zuni School and now lives independently in Richmond.

At 10:30 a.m., the popular Silver Street Band will perform. The Courtland group is well-known and in demand throughout the Tidewater area.

To help raise funds, former ZPHFS director Robert Bishop will again auction off various items donated to the school to help raise funds, including handmade quilts, sports equipment, small items of furniture and gift certificates, to mention a few.

The highlighted activity, the school’s 50th anniversary celebration, is scheduled to be held at 12:30 p.m.

“Several people will speak during the ceremony,” said Juliette Whyte, program director of HumanKind,  formerly ZPHFS. “Our goal is to recognize and show appreciation to all the people who have donated in any way to the school during the last 50 years.”

A new event this year will be the Windsor High School Marching Band, which will be followed by the Peanut City Cloggers, who have attended almost every year for the last 10.

“Tony, Teddy and Diane,” a vocal group that specializes in ‘60s music, and a dance routine by Zumba will conclude the program.

But this isn’t all. Three bounce houses, hayrides and games will be available for the children, while food will be in abundance for all. The Zuni Hunt Club will provide its famous pork chop sandwiches, as other booths provide hamburgers, hot dogs, barbeques and beverages.

There will be booths selling flowers, jewelry, paintings, baked goods and numerous other items. The peanut shop will also be open, but not the greenhouse.

Whyte said the committee felt it had provided something for all ages.

“We want all our friends to attend and enjoy the day,” she said.

“A Day in the Country” was organized in July 1975 by the Zuni Kuwaye Steering Committee, a group of volunteers involved with the school, and whose name means “friends” in the language of the Zuni Indians. The steering committee was named by Bishop, superintendent of the Zuni school, and Dr. Jerry Newbold, executive director of Presbyterian Homes in Lynchburg, Zuni’s parent organization.

Bishop and Newbold worked with the Kuwaye Steering Committee to designate a day for residents, families, friends and the community to visit and see how the school operated. This event has been well received ever since it was first held, annually drawing well over 2,000 people, according to Bishop.

“We are sad to see it discontinued,” he added.

“But there is no reason to have it now that there have been so many changes in the organization,” said Wanda Birch, vice president of the Kuwayes.

Whyte said there is a different layout in the way HumanKind operates and as of this week, there will be no students at the Zuni campus, as they have been placed in community-based settings or group homes.

“In the beginning, we were a training school for children with developmental disabilities. But we’ve expanded. Now we support adults as well.”

She said the Zuni campus has been a central point for the Day in the Country. However, now it would not be feasible.

HumanKind will continue to occupy the Zuni Campus.