SCA Meeting Oct. 14

by Leslie Lytle, Sewanee Mountain Messenger

At the Oct. 14 dinner meeting of the Sewanee Civic Association, members and guests received promising updates on the Elliott Park Playground and the 2015–16 Community Chest Fund Drive. Following the business meeting, certified dietician Jade McBee Barry offered advice on how to beat the winter blues.

Civic Association President Kiki Beavers announced the organization successfully raised the $57,000 needed for construction of the Elliott Park playground, making a loan from the Opportunity Fund unnecessary.

“We now own the playground equipment,” Beavers said, congratulating the membership. Offering a historical footnote she said the Civic Association at one time owned Sewanee Elementary School, another community project funded by the organization

Parks Committee Chair Stephen Burnett said heavy rain and removing abandoned data and phone lines from the site had slowed progress, but construction of the park was well underway. At a community build scheduled for Nov. 7, volunteers will spread mulch and wood chips. Those wanting to help should bring pitchforks and shovels. University Physical Plant Services will provide a tractor and blade to help facilitate moving the material.

Reporting on the Community Chest fund drive, co-chair Elizabeth Clark Duncan said $4,300 had already been raised toward the $100,000 goal. Plans call for sending out more than 4,000 letters, asking area residents to contribute to the Chest which funds an array of area programs, with the majority youth-oriented.

“We want to increase the donor base so we can increase the amount we give in gifts,” Duncan said. Last year only 10 percent of letter recipients made donations, with the entire Community Chest funded by just 310 contributors. Send donations to Sewanee Community Chest, P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375.

Certified dietician Jade McBee Barry offered smart insight into why so many people suffer from the winter blues and how to avoid slipping into depression.

Lack of sunlight, high-carbohydrate and high-calorie foods, and a sedentary lifestyle combine to cause depression during the winter months, Barry said. Less sunlight leads to lower levels of vitamin D, necessary for mood balance, and to higher levels of the hormone melatonin, resulting in lower energy.

And while the sweet and high-carbohydrate foods popular during the holidays activate reward centers in the brain, making us happy, she said, the holiday overstimulation causes a loss of reward receptors, so fewer feel-good neurochemicals get to where they need to go to work their magic. The third culprit, Barry said, is sitting more during the winter months. The body draws less fat from the blood for use as fuel with the unhappy consequences of weight gain and, even worse, heart disease.

Barry recommended taking a vitamin supplement if one’s vitamin D level is below 30 ng/ml, standing instead of sitting, and walking 10,000 steps a day. She also offered a number of tips for making healthy eating choices: focus on whole foods, keep convenience foods out of the house, limit yourself to a three-bite sample of dessert, and at holiday gatherings don’t eat the non-homemade offerings. Barry’s number one rule for the grocery store: shop the perimeters, where the shelves are stocked with fresh and unprocessed foods.

The Civic Association meets next on Nov. 18.

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