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Shiflett ‘auction central’ for charity

Every three or four years, when funds earmarked for charity get low, Julia Shiflett’s elegant and spacious Concord home becomes “auction central” for Dixie Highway Garden Club.

Those funds help Shiflett use such elegance and spaciousness for a special purpose twice yearly: making her home along Madison Lane a wonderland for several young adults with learning disabilities.

This “Garden Club” experience connects Shiflett and her club to Sonshine Ministries, sponsored by First Baptist Concord, which assists those with learning disabilities.

“We’ve won awards with our parties because we’ve introduced them to so many things in nature that they didn’t know before, so that’s been good for them I think,” said club member Ann Fowler of Farragut, mother of one of the young adults, Lisle.

“There’s so much for them to do here. When Julia has a party, we just enjoy it so much,” Fowler added. “As soon as it’s over, when I see the young people again, they say, ‘When are we going back to Julia’s?’ They love to come here.”

Lisle “wrote her a very nice thank you note her telling what all he enjoyed; he loved the trees and the games and just being in her house,” Fowler said.

Garden Club started, “I’d say six or seven years ago,” Fowler said.

Shiflett, a past president of Dixie club, said, “I think it’s near and dear to everybody now. We’ve gotten to know these young people. We do the food, we do games for them.

“In the springtime we go outside and listen to the birds, pick the flowers, and they pet my animals,” Shiflett added about her two alpacas and two small goats.

“It’s amazing that these animals come up to them to be petted, which is very unusual. The goats and the alpacas are not normally very friendly. They bond with them.”

Shiflett’s most recent “Garden Party” was held “for Christmastime this year,” she said about hosting 19 Sonshine young adults, a few of their parents and “about eight” Dixie club members.

“It’s because I’ve got room and I've got lots of garden out here,” Shiflett said. “I have a very large herb garden, and they love to go out and touch the herbs and the flowers, and they pick those,” in addition to working on occasional crafts projects.

“They've been here enough to where they know where the different rooms are,” she added.

Dixie club also donates to “Random Acts of Flowers,” Shiflett said about the organization that collects donated flowers for severely ill hospital patients.

As for auction proceeds, “None of it stays with us,” Shiflett said. “Our dues support us.”

The auction itself included various high-end items. “I brought all the sweaters,” Shiflett said. “And I collect purses,” having put up for auction 14 of her novelty purses.

Various pieces of crystal, garden sculptures and garden-related books also were among the auction items.


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