Arts Richmond Gives Opportunity to Veterans Display Artwork

Written by Betty McIntyre

The Richmond Observer

Monday, 13 November 2017 13:15

ROCKINGHAM – With all the events and activities going on for Veteran’s Day over the weekend, included was one unique and interesting display in Richmond County. Arts Richmond hosted an art exhibit for local veteran artists on Saturday, November 11.

Many veteran artists have found artwork to be both therapeutic and healing. Army veteran Justin Spears was set up on the sidewalk in front of Arts Richmond Saturday afternoon with paintbrush and canvas in hand. People lined up to watch as he created a beautiful piece of artwork.

One could also hear pleasant tunes coming from local musicians Roger Campbell and Chris Herring as they played an acoustic set for several hours as attendees listened. The team has been playing together for five years and plays mainly in Richmond County.

Inside Arts Richmond there were more treats, as artwork was on exhibit from local veteran artists Brandon Parrish, Roy Armstrong, Jack Morgan, and several more. (Click on the link above to see the pictures of our Veteran artists)


The doors were opened at Arts Richmond from 12 to 5 p.m. while veteran artists displayed their pieces for the community to enjoy while also learning of the benefits artwork offers veterans. Tess Holtzapfel, president and founder of Community Patriot Arts Center (CPAC) located in Fayetteville, N.C., was there to explain the cause.

“I’ve worked over 15 years in healthcare and with veterans at the VA Hospital in Fayetteville,” Holtzapfel stated. “I was inspired to get CPAC together after seeing the need.” Holtzapfel started with creating workshops for veterans battling PTSD.“I was first inspired by the scripture in Isaiah 61:3 where it speaks of giving beauty for ashes,” she continued. “To appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified (reference to the scripture). The benefits veterans get from their artwork is amazing!”

Spears was in the army for 12 years. He was first introduced to CPAC through Steve Rylander who works with Patriot Outreach. Spears, who was inspired by watching Bob Ross paint, had begun painting his own pictures and displaying them in a local coffee shop. That is where he met Rylander who recommended contacting Holtzapfel. Spears is now active in the center and also has several of his paintings on display in Fayetteville at the Veteran’s Park.

Parrish, who is a local deputy and Marine veteran, was set up inside the Arts Richmond building while others watched him create a piece. Parrish was drawn to art at a very young age by his grandmother, who also loved art. He currently serves as committee chairman for Celebrating Veterans and Their Art.

Armstrong, a Vietnam veteran, exhibited a unique display of miniature replicas of the past. These hand-crafted facades brought pleasant memories to all who admired the artwork. Armstrong resides in Norman, N.C.

“Once when I was speaking to Spears, I was telling him how God is our master creator and we are all created in His image,” Holtzapfel mentioned about the positive effects of CPAC. “I believe when we use our God-given gifts, it is healing to us, it is how God designed us.” She also mentioned how much the workshops seem to bless all who attend. “They turn the trauma into something positive through the art they create,” Holtzapfel said.


For more information about CPAC, contact Tess Holtzapfel at 910-759-0784, email, or

Giving thanks to Richmond County’s veterans

News, Top Stories

Richmond County Daily Journal

By Gavin Stone -

Posted on September 28, 2017 by richmondcountydailyjournal

HAMLET — Roughly 80 veterans packed the Cole Auditorium Thursday to share a meal, and each others’ company, at the Senior Veteran’s Event.

The event was a chance to give thanks to the veterans, as well as provide opportunities for them to get connected with veterans groups and resources on how to get the services they need such as Veterans Affairs and Social Services, according to Jacqueline Welch, executive director of Richmond County Aging Services, who organized the event.

“[Aging Services] put on this event to bring veterans together and give something back,” said Dennis Holloway, a director with the North Carolina Baptist Men and communication liaison for AMVETS Post 316. “Most of them don’t do anything but sit around at home, they don’t have an active lifestyle and this gets them to where they all come together and they can all talk about their service.”

Richmond County Aging Services has provided these events for the last two years, and they try to hold three events a year, according to Welch. The events had previously been held at the Senior Center, but Welch said the program has grown so much that they needed to use Cole Auditorium.

“It really gives them somewhere to go where they can see other people who are going through the same process they are,” said Holloway, himself a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Lunch was provided by Freedom Baptist Church Brotherhood, 10-10-10 Ministries and Purdue Foods, with Richmond Senior High School JROTC cadets helping serve the food.

“I like to see the church packed out but I’d rather see people out during the week, serving the Lord,” said Ronnie McLean, senior pastor for Freedom Baptist Church.

Jasmine Ratliff, a senior at Richmond High and one of the cadets serving the food, said she enjoyed the opportunity to meet veterans. (Click on the link above to see the photos)

“It’s pretty cool because you get to ask them about their experience and what they went through,” said Ratliff, who hopes to become an officer after college.

While the veterans ate, the Chris Sorrell Project, a band made up of Chris Sorrell, a retired police officer, and Neil Ray, who served in the Air Force from 1975-79, played covers of “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne and “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, among others.

They were invited by Tess Holtzapfel, president of Community Patriot Arts Center, which provides veterans with various artistic outlets for their experiences. Ray said that the band had been picking up momentum since working with Holtzapfel in May.

Both men are lifelong musicians, though with different trades. Sorrell started playing guitar when he was 12 years old and Ray was first published as a poet when he was in third grade, now playing percussion. Sorrell said his years in law enforcement left him with post-traumatic stress disorder, and with his band he hopes to raise awareness about the experiences of police officers who can often be forgotten among those who’s service has left lasting damage.

“This is me pursuing my creative outlet, writing music and using the project as a forum to help Tess out with the veterans,” Sorrell said. “Because I’m retired police, my heart is kind of in that direction, too, so with the project I’m trying to…focus on getting people’s attention towards the fact that law enforcement gets forgotten a lot.”

Also with Holtzapfel was Justin Spears, a 12-year veteran who spent seven-and-a-half of those years in combat overseas. Spears said he picked up painting only about eight months ago after a few years out of the service, though you wouldn’t be able to tell that from looking at his work which was on display at the event.

“I wasn’t sure what to do with myself and it gave me a way to help relax,” Spears said. “There’s a peace that you get when you’re creating.”

Spears said that he was taking his paintings to a local coffee shop to showcase them when he was introduced to Holtzapfel. Since then he has started to see more and more veterans dealing with the weight of their service through artistic means.

“When I first started I didn’t have a community — that’s what Tess and the Patriot Arts Center did,” Spears said. “They’re opening me up to the community and allowing me to help people.”

By Gavin Stone

Richmond Observer

Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674.

Non Profit plays for Falcon Children's Home

By Monica Vendituoli
Staff writer

Fayetteville Observer

Posted Dec 24, 2017 at 1:57 PM Updated Dec 24, 2017 at 2:02 PM

Rick Ramos began singing “Mary Did You Know?” at 116 Person St. in downtown Fayetteville around 8 p.m. Tuesday, and the room went quiet.

After a few verses of the song, some children began singing along quietly.

Ramos was one of multiple members of the Community Patriot Arts Center performing music for residents at Falcon Children’s Home.

More than 50 children attended. The Falcon Children’s Home takes care of around 100 children who either have been orphaned, been placed in foster care or have been put up for adoption through other circumstances.

“I liked watching them just smile and have a good time and not worry about anything,” Chris Sorrells said.

Sorrells, a retired police officer, played his guitar, and Neil Donnell Ray played the drums.

Sorrells said music has helped him get through his toughest moments of post traumatic stress disorder.

“It’s part of a long process,” he said.

In 2009, four of his friends and fellow police officers in Lakewood, Washington, were ambushed and killed while doing paperwork on their laptops at a coffee shop prior to the beginning of their shift.

Sorrells was one of the first responders on the site and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and depression after the incident.

“At the time, it was like a whirlwind with stuff flying around everywhere,” Sorrells said. “Music helped me categorize and archive and label feelings. It cleared the air and made the whirlwind go away. Every title and every word in the songs had everything to do with what was going on in that moment and leading up to that moment.”

Sorrells and the other men are part of the Community Patriot Arts Center in Fayetteville. It is a nonprofit that encourages veterans and law enforcement officers to heal from traumatic events through creative expressions such as music and painting.

Tess Holtzapfel, the founder and president, started the organization after working for more than 15 years in health care, where she met many veterans living with post traumatic stress disorder.

“Going through the motions of expressing painful experiences with words and really taking the time to reach from within to create a poem or a song or any form of art is very healing,” Holtzapfel said. “Sometimes the creative process has a way of revealing who you truly are as well.”

After Ramos finished “Mary Did You Know?” he started playing “Jingle Bells.”

A young girl in the audience was invited to play the tambourine with him. Her face lit up with joy as she tapped along to the beat.

Staff writer Monica Vendituoli can be reached at or 486-3596.


Veterans Meet at Cole Auditorium for Afternoon of Information

Richmond Observer

Written by Betty McIntyre

Saturday, 30 September 2017 12:29

HAMLET – Senior veterans gathered at the Cole Auditorium on Richmond Community College’s campus Thursday for lunch, entertainment and a variety of information.

Veterans, aged 55 and older, were welcomed to the event at no charge.

Jacqueline Welch, executive director of Richmond County Aging Services, she stated the event first began in September, 2015. The event takes place three times each year, alternating between the Cole, the Senior Center in East Rockingham and the Senior Center in Ellerbe.

“This time we wanted to do something extra special for the senior veterans which would allow more room for participants,” Welch said.

The Cole Auditorium was chosen and would allow them to serve up to 150 people for lunch. Perdue donated the chicken, which was served for lunch. Freedom Baptist Church Brotherhood 10-10-10 Ministries did the cooking, and also provided all the sides to go along with the meals.  

Welch opened with a speech discussing the event details, then the National Anthem was played, with the Pledge of Allegiance following. Tess Holtzapfel from the Community Patriot Arts Center then took the podium. She explained the non-profit organization encourages veterans and families of veterans to pursue their artistic abilities through creative expression: drawing, painting, singing and playing musical instruments.

Dennis Holloway with the NC Baptist Men was next to speak. He began by stating, “my primary goal in life is to help people.” He went on to discuss the needs in Florida, as well as Puerto Rico, due to the recent hurricane devastation. Holloway invited everyone that could to reach out in any way possible and help.

Pastor Ronnie McLean, of Freedom Baptist Church, ended the opening ceremony by blessing the food in which students from Richmond Senior High School’s JROTC helped serve. Entertainment was provided during lunch by The Chris Sorrell’s Project. Sorrell is a veteran participant through the Community Patriot Arts Center.

After lunch the Folding Ceremony was held, in which Holloway, Johnny Autry, Johnny Patrick, and a few others performed. Robin Roberts, with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, gave a short speech thereafter.


Among the many vendors at the event was a representative aid to Senator Thom Tillis, who answered questions anyone may have. and there were more than 20 vendors and booths set up at the event to provide information for the veterans.


Included in these booths were Lowe’s, which was set up to help veterans sign up for the 10% military discount Lowe’s offers, VFW Post, Hamlet Police Department, North Carolina Wildlife (many divisions), American Red Cross, ART (Area Richmond Transit), Department of Social Services, Community Home Care and Hospice, Humana, Purple Heart Association, and a several more. Door prizes provided by vendors were also given out.


The senior centers in Richmond County offer many services and activities throughout the year. Volunteers are currently needed, with an immediate need for volunteers for the Meals on Wheels program. For anyone interested in volunteering, call (910) 997-4491 or on the web at and search the aging services department.