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July 2018

Bill Sherrod, Editor


My husband Bill and I were so surprised and humbled when you honored us with The Electric Cooperatives’ 2018 Good Samaritan Award for our work with Manna Café! It’s a blessing to serve a free hot lunch every Monday to the Chincoteague community.

When we started Manna Café on the first Monday in 2017, our volunteers served 16 guests. On Memorial Day this year, we served 481 guests. This is all possible because of the hard-working, joyful volunteers who show up every Monday always serving our guests with smiles and warm greetings.

The Manna Café video you posted on Facebook and the article you published in the May 2018 Cooperative Living magazine, “Chincoteague’s Manna Café Nourishes Body and Soul,” shared the Manna Café story in a way that touched people’s hearts.

We’ve received many positive comments from readers of Cooperative Living magazine and followers of your Facebook page. Most importantly, because of the video and article, Manna Café has received lunch sponsorships from Fairfield Inn & Suites of Chincoteague and KOA Campground; YMCA of Chincoteague; Taylor Bank and BYOC. Since Manna Café is totally funded by donations, these sponsorships help us to purchase food.

Additionally, we received a Facebook message from Aram Polster, the owner of Smith Island Beans. He indicated he read the article in Cooperative Living magazine and previously didn’t know about Manna Café. Aram shared that he wants to help this community expression of love on a fellow island and is donating 4 pounds of Smith Island coffee every month.

Thanks for spreading the word about how we’re sharing the light at Manna Café!

— Fran Lytle
Co-founder & Co-director
Manna Café CI


I want to begin with how much I enjoy your magazine. I read it cover to cover and find it informative and interesting. I have even taken trips based on what I have read. A few months ago we went to the Highland County Maple Festival because I read about it in your magazine.

I was so disheartened when I read the Rural Living column by Margo Oxendine in the June 2018 issue. She described a young man coming to her door looking for work. She gave a vivid description of what he looked like and how she just knew by his looks he was a convicted felon.

First, I believe our culture should be past stereotyping people according to their looks, even though we all should be careful of strangers appearing on our doorstep, no matter their appearances. There is no reason to immediately prejudge and we should honor those trying to make a living. Many convicted persons have trouble getting a job because of their record.

I wanted to let you know that the article was insensitive and inconsiderate of your readers. It read more like an opinion column.

Thanks for allowing me to share my opinion!

Mary Peterson
Via email


I read your June cover story with interest, as I also have two therapy dogs, Dash and Brody. We belong to the Manassas Therapy Dogs organization in Prince William County. We have over 50 teams in our group, and service multiple nursing homes, hospitals, and other organizations in the area. I am attaching a link to our website if anyone would like further information.manassastherapydogs.org/ Home.html.

I know from experience the wonderful results that therapy dogs can accomplish. I’ve witnessed a lost and angry teen go from head-in-hands despair to laughing out loud after spending 10 minutes with a dog. People who were otherwise unresponsive in the hospital have responded to the presence of the dog. A nursing home resident’s pain levels subsided enough to allow him to sleep after sharing a nap with the dog. There are times when the dogs know who needs them, even if that person doesn’t realize it.

We do a lot of obedience training with our dogs, but you can’t train the empathy the dogs exhibit. I could talk about these amazing dogs all day, but you get the picture. For me as the handler, I am in awe of what the dogs can do, and humbled that I get to be a part of their service. We as handlers are mostly a necessary appendage at the end of the leash, and the dogs’ chauffeurs, but we willingly take the dogs anywhere we are needed.

— Sue Smith


I occasionally enjoy the articles in Cooperative Living about interesting regional “hidden gems” throughout the state that I’ve called home since 1993, and where I can trace my ancestors back to the 1700s.

When I read the Mailbag letter titled “Electoral College Debate Grows Tiresome” in the June issue, I was surprised and disappointed to read such divisive political opinions about red and blue voting trends, urban area “consumers,” rural area “producers” and other constitutional commentary.

I thought this was a publication meant to be light, sometimes interesting and instructive and enjoyable, but NOT political. But, I found this letter to be opinionated, uninformed and divisive.

Regarding the number of counties “won” by Trump, the author is quoting nearly verbatim from a 2016 email widely circulated via social media. And, according to FactCheck.org (a wellrespected non-profit project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center), “The Associated Press debunked the claim that Clinton only won 57 counties across the country in an article published Dec. 6.” Further, I know many “rural Virginians” who DID NOT vote red. I believe the recent election for governor proved that Virginia has many rural areas that vote blue!

And while all history lessons are somewhat biased, I am confident that Virginia teachers check their sources and try NOT to teach political propaganda as “historical fact.” I do hope that, in the future, Cooperative Living will avoid printing such divisive political opinions in today’s volatile environment.

— Barbara Aikens


The Virginia Cooperative Council (VCC) would like hear from you if you attended VICE (Virginia Institute on Cooperative Education) or NICE (National Institute on Cooperative Education).

VCC would like to know when you attended and what impact the experience might have made in your life.

If you’re a NICE or VICE veteran and would like to share your experience, please contact Allen Melton at [email protected] or 804-281-1211.


Just finished reading the June issue and as always enjoyed the magazine, but one thing definitely could be improved. The map on page 7 needed to be enlarged. There is no benefit to including the map if 90 percent of your readers can’t read the type without using a magnifying glass and the other 10 percent would have to strain their eyes under good lighting.

— Max Weber


We inadvertently omitted photo credit for the June issue’s cover photo and the photos used to illustrate the cover story. Therapy-dog handler Linda Peters provided the cover photo of Tucker the golden retriever relaxing by the pool, and the inside photos were provided by Linda Peters and the story’s author, Preston Knight.