The JOY (Just Older Youth) group from East Philadelphia Baptist Church enjoyed what has become their annual trip to the Smokies.

To Sevierville, Tenn., to be exact, where they attended the Celebrators Conference, the leading Christian Conference for older adults and mature believers.

The Conference, presented by Phil Waldrop Ministries, was attended by 5,100 world-wide believers.

The Conference featured daily sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah, recognized as one of the most prominent Bible teachers in the world, as well as sermons by Charles Billingsley, worship leader for the 24,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg. Va.

Worship music was presented by the incomparable Gaither Vocal Band, Greater Vision, the most awarded trio in the history of gospel music and Karen Peck and New River, whose rich harmony soars over a solid instrumental foundation, shaded with Southern Gospel, Country and Bluegrass sounds.

Dennis "The Swan" Swanberg captivated and motivated his audiences with his hilarious stories, impersonations and sincere heart for God.

As always, the group enjoyed the conferences, the beautiful fall foliage and the plus their bus driver, Randy Hearn, adds to the trip with his ability and desire to see that they experience everything available for the pleasure of tourists.

Sorely missed was Bobbie Anthony, JOY leader, who made all the arrangements for the trip.

Members enjoying the trip included Randy and Jackie Hearn, Richard and Linda Brewer, H. G. and Mary Jo Cooper, Max Chisholm, Lilly Partridge, Mandy Hailey, Janice Thomas, Judy Herring, Mazelle Skinner and Ray Fleming.

Fay Moore was welcomed as a guest.

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Meet Chris Roake.

Her introduction is timely, for in knowing Chris, the heartache we are sharing with the people on the East Coast through the news media, brings it closer home to us.

The news stirs "a feeling of helplessness" within Chris, as she watches "life as she knew it growing up on the beaches of Seaside Heights in days gone by, washed away with the sweep of one storm."

Having been the epitome of a "Jersey" girl all her life, Chris' childhood wardrobe consisted of bathing suits and bare feet.

Her early adult life was filled with water skiing, fishing and crabbing on the Jersey Shore, a place of boardwalks and miles and miles of beaches and bar-b-cues.

As Chris sits in her den here in Philadelphia, Miss., watching the news and looking back at life as she once knew it, now gone forever, she reflects on the devastation of Katrina.

"I was here in Mississippi and saw what a "killer" storm could produce. I understand that the people 1,300 miles away need patience and hope in knowing that "this too can be fixed."

Talking with Chris puts faces on those people 1,300 miles away.

Chris is secretary of United Way of Neshoba County, with an office in our historic Depot building.

In earlier life, she was employed as Executive Secretary, Architectural Division of F.W. Woolworth Company, living in New York City.

During that time she modeled for such fashion magazines as Vogue, Mademoiselle, Seventeen and Glamour.

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The nicest benefit of volunteering with Community Development Partnership at the Depot is the people I meet.

The passing tourists are so interesting and so interested in "what's going on in Philadelphia."

Sometimes the tourist are people we have known in the past.

So it was last week when Jeanie Nicholson Maddox of Ft. Smith appeared on the scene, producing that "don't I know you?" feeling.

Jeanie is the daughter of Johnnie and Bonnie Nicholson.

She graduated from Philadelphia High School in 1964 and has been employed as a registered nurse since 1973.

Jeanie worked for the State of Arkansas as surveyor/inspector for nursing homes/assisted living facilities for 15 years and has been semi-retired as corporate RN for Healthmark Services, Inc.(assisted living company) for the past five years.

Jeanie is enjoying time spent with her parents here in Philadelphia.

In June they celebrated Bonnie's 90th birthday with some 50 family members and friends attending.

Bonnie's two remaining siblings, from Alabama and Oklahoma, were a part of this "absolutely wonderful day."

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I have heard it said, "It's how something ends up that matters."

Billie Latting and Frances Williams Hardy would beg to differ.

Last Saturday evening they attended a performance of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra at the Convention Center.

The orchestra played music from the big band era, including hits by Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., to name a few favorites.

Steve Lippic of Las Vegas fame was the featured vocalist.

The fact that Billie and Frances did not make it to the Sunday performance of "The Great Gatsby" at New Stage, is another story.

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Do you have a treat in store!

The third annual Depot Artists Show and Sale will be held this Friday evening from 6 until 8 and on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Depot, of course.

Featured artists include Beth Yarbrough, Mary Louise Blanks, Millie Howell, David Howell, Lynda Crawford, Liesa Allen, Ann Coghlan, Peggy Jones, Helen Herrington and Bea Carson. Also, Frankie Harpole, Bennett Russell, Sammy Sharp, Laura Horn, Max West, Melody McLain Hanks, Lynda Stribling, Tom Henry and Beth Branning.

So much talent! You won't want to miss it!