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John Flynn’s latest CD honors a fallen U.S. Marine and other American heroes. Photograph by Phil FlynnJohn Flynn sings his conscience.

Like many performers, the Brandywine Hundred folk artist has been inspired by events such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the ongoing war in Southeast Asia. Unlike many performers, Flynn is working hard to help those who are less fortunate.

Flynn’s recent CD release party at the Baby Grand in Wilmington, for example, raised $2,000 for construction of a safe house for veterans returning from war. Flynn wrote “Semper Fi” to share the story of Eric Hall, a U.S. Marine who returned from Iraq only to succumb to post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We haven’t done enough in the country to address the situation,” Flynn says. “It’s not in their nature to come home and ask for help. They say, ‘I’m going to suck it up and handle it myself.’ Sometimes, you can’t set your own broken leg.”

Flynn, who’s been making music for 25 years, performs across the country. He also leads discussion groups at local prisons and does charity shows for organizations such as Camp Dreamcatcher for children with HIV/AIDS.

Flynn hopes that “America’s Waiting,” his eighth CD, will inspire others to step up and pitch in. “You write a song to reach over, under or around the fence,” Flynn says. “It’s asking questions, not telling folks what to think, but waking them up. When it happens, it’s quite a powerful thing.”

Gene Shay, a folk music guru from Philadelphia and a friend of Flynn, says the singer-songwriter is the real deal.

“Aside from his obvious talent—he’s one of the best—he has a sense of responsibility,” Shay says. “He always has something going on, and it’s always good. He shares himself with the public. He’s one of the best in so many different ways.”

Flynn’s work is admired by legends Arlo Guthrie, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson. Flynn has performed with all three and Kristofferson has sung on two of Flynn’s albums.

“I would love to say John’s right on the cusp of stardom,” Shay says. “He is a star to many people. He has not achieved the trappings of stardom as far as record sales and a national audience, but people in the business respect him. It only takes one song.”

In the meantime, as one of his songs says, Flynn will strap on that guitar and go wake a heart.  —Drew Ostroski
 

 Page 2: Agents of Change | Three vetern travel agents form a unique partnership to develop the best–and most reasonably priced–vacation package for you (and to help the economy, too).

 

Bob Older cuts the ribbon on The Travel Center. Photograph by Creative Image Photography Agents of Change

Three veteran travel agents form a unique partnership to develop the best—and most reasonably priced—vacation package for you (and to help the economy, too).

It’s no accident that Bob Older opened his new travel agency in a strip mall adjacent to the offices of mighty Liberty Travel—a chain with more than 160 locations. “We are just trying to show people that there are alternatives,” he says. Older, who owns Creative Travel, is one of three veteran agents who joined forces to create The Travel Center on Kirkwood Highway. He is joined by Elaine Lux of A World of Travel and Barbara Patterson of All Around Travel. Perhaps the most unique feature of the new agency is that, though its owners sometimes share commissions, they remain competitors who retain business from their individual agencies. The three pool resources to expand their client base and promote the business. “Nobody else in the country is doing this,” Older says. “The three of us provide better pricing and better service. We can compete with the big conglomerates and online entities.” Conglomerates, say, that are five doors down or a mouse click away. “A lot of people are complaining that companies are sending jobs overseas, but these are the same people who are going online to book a vacation,” Older says. “That money is leaving not only the state, but the country.” Older says the poor economy should not pose a road block to the new venture. “People are still traveling,” he says. “They may want to cut expenses, but people are still getting married and going on honeymoons. Business is still there. It’s up to us to get it.”      —Drew Ostroski
 

Page 3: Biden Time | A monthly review of the veep.

 

Biden Time

A monthly review of the veep.

Joe hit one out of Dodger Stadium during a memorial for fallen firefighters: “We all say, ‘We never forget.’ [Firefighters] mean it. They will never forget. Any time, any problem, under any circumstances, you will have a family bigger than your own to go to.”

While in Iraq, the veep was asked about his boss calling Kanye West a jackass after an incident on a TV awards show. Joe had no comment because he said he didn’t know about the incident. Lucky him.

Defending the administration’s stimulus package after its first 200 days, Joe said, “The recovery act is not a single silver bullet. I think of it as silver buckshot.” Joe’s hunting buds should hope the veep isn’t channeling Cheney.
 

Page 4: A Hospitable Bunch | The Junior Board of Christiana Care celebrates a milestone–and its many years of service to the local hospital system.

 

Junior Board president Barbara Burd (left) and emeritus member Jane Utley at the Window Box gift shop at Wilmington Hospital. Utley has been a member of the board since 1958. Photograph by Jared Castaldi A Hospitable Bunch

The Junior Board of Christiana Care celebrates a milestone—and its many years of service to the local hospital system.

This month, members of the Junior Board of Christiana Care will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the melding of three local hospital boards. Since that merger, the non-profit group has donated more than $11 million to Christiana Care Health System while volunteers have given about 17,000 hours of service annually.

The Junior Board also surpassed the $1 million mark this year for funding nursing scholarships. The group, with more than 200 active members, runs hospital gift shops, volunteers at a surgical suite at Wilmington Hospital, delivers birth records, and greets and registers patients at Christiana’s other facilities.

The board’s biggest fundraiser is the annual Medicine Ball. But president Barbara Burd says the ball bounced a little differently this year due to the struggling economy.

“We had a non-event,” Burd says. “We sent an invitation that told people to stay home, sit back and relax. It said, ‘The Medicine Ball is taking a break, but we know nurses never do. We need your support.’ It did quite well.”

Burd says the Medicine Ball will be back in full swing next year, on April 23.

The history of the Junior Board dates to 1888 when local women raised $10,000 to build and equip Wilmington’s first hospital. In 1984, the junior boards of Wilmington General, Memorial and Delaware hospitals merged into the current body.

The board is comprised primarily of women between the ages of 40 and 60. The 102 emeritus members (age 80 and older) and 94 associate members (10 years on the board) are no longer required to volunteer 50 hours a year, but a handful still work regularly.

There are no men on the board, but longtime members have told Burd there was once a man among the ranks.

“We don’t exclude men,” she says. “In fact, we wear salmon-colored jackets when we volunteer and our by-laws say men would wear a salmon-colored tie.”  —Drew Ostroski
 

 Page 5: Hollywood in Bridgeville | Bar owner Alex Pires’ first feature film brings well-known actors to Sussex and, perhaps, Sussex to Tinseltown.

 

Judd Nelson and Lea Thompson star in “Mayor Cupcake,” which was filmed in Bridgeville and in Delaware’s beach towns.Hollywood in Bridgeville

Bar owner Alex Pires’ first feature film brings well-known actors to Sussex and, perhaps, Sussex to Tinseltown.

Delaware’s scrapple capital will soon grace the silver screen thanks to a new movie written, directed and produced by Dewey Beach bar baron Alex Pires. “Mayor Cupcake,” a full-length feature set in Delaware, was filmed in Bridgeville and at the beach last summer. It is Pires’ first turn as a director.

The film stars Lea Thompson of “Caroline in the City” and “Back to the Future” as Mary, an uneducated woman who bakes cupcakes at Jimmy’s Grille (owned by Pires’ Highway One Limited Partnership) in Bridgeville. Mary becomes mayor when her daughter secretly places her on the ballot. The inexperienced “Mayor Cupcake” rises to the occasion, bringing new life to Bridgeville.

The film is a family project for Thompson. Her two daughters play her daughters in the movie. Her husband, Howie Deutch, has a prominent role as well. Judd Nelson of “The Breakfast Club” and “St. Elmo’s Fire” plays Mary’s husband.

Pires believes Thompson was drawn to the role for the same reason he expects other women to enjoy the movie. “There are very few movies where women are heroes,” he says. “Our society usually has guys being the hero, and the girl is on the sideline going, ‘Go get ’em, hon.’ Here, the guys are on the sidelines. Women are extremely talented, but too often they aren’t given a chance.”

Pires wrote the screenplay with Art d’Alessandro. He describes the flick as a Capra-esque film from another era. “It’s a feel-good, happy film,” he says. “You get goosebumps watching it.”  —Marianne Nagengast
 

 Page 6: A Little Time, A Big Difference | A new push for youth mentoring is on–and you heard it from the lieutenant governor.

 

Matt Denn with his current little brother, Kyrell.A Little Time, A Big Difference

A new push for youth mentoring is on—and you heard it from the lieutenant governor.

Delaware once had nearly 10,000 volunteer mentors. With that number having fallen by half, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware and Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn are working to reverse the trend.

Denn, who served as a Big Brother after attending law school, returned to mentoring in January. He has seen how a positive adult can influence a child, and how the relationship benefits the mentor.

“You really see a difference in the kid and see how important the relationship is, even if it’s only an hour a week,” Denn says. “That’s a great feeling. I know it’s a cliché that the mentors get as much out of it as the kids do, but I do think it’s true.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters makes it easy for anyone to be a mentor. Community-based mentors meet with their “littles” a few times a month on weekends or after school to engage in activities such as crafting, going to lunch or hitting a ball game. Those in the school-based mentoring program meet with their Littles at school for about an hour each week.

“It’s not about being a tutor,” says Jeanne Kasey, the organization’s public relations and fund development manager. “It’s about spending one-on-one time every week in order to build a strong foundation for kids.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware has about 100 children on its waiting list. Most are boys who need male mentors.

If you’re hesitant about mentoring, Denn has a couple words of advice: “Do it.”  —Marianne Nagengast

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