Local News

Grandson's Tribute To Take The Stage In Smithfield

Posted February 26, 2002

— Many of us are lucky to have had someone in our lives who believed in and encouraged us.

A Smithfield man has written a tribute for his mentor, who happens to be his grandmother.

Alma Jenkins, 85, has arthritis in her hands, but still praises the Lord with her music and her life.

"Singing in church always kept our family together," said grandson Spencer Jenkins.

That family connection inspired Jenkins to write a play based on his grandmother's life. The play is called "Burdens to Bear."

While the cast rehearses at Howell's Chapel, Mrs. Jenkins watches and remembers.

In 1957, tragedy struck her family. Her husband, a garbage collector, fell off the back of the truck and was killed. At age 39, Mrs. Jenkins was a widow with seven children to raise by herself.

"There are a lot of people who feel that when death strikes the family, that life is over, they can't make it. They just want to give up. In this play, I want to tell people that you can't give up, you have to believe, you have to have faith that God will carry you through," Jenkins said.

Mrs. Jenkins credits God for carrying her through. She worked hard cleaning houses and gave her children the best life she could, sending six of her seven children to college.

In 1985, Mrs. Jenkins was named North Carolina's Mother of the Year. Today, her children and grandchildren credit her example for their success.

"She has always told us, 'Reach for the stars, but if you fall on the moon, you're still on higher ground.' I'll never forget that," Jenkins said.

From the stage, grandson and grandmother hope their story will offer encouragement to others.

"If it encourages somebody, maybe this might be inspiration to them, and this might help somebody. If I can help somebody, then I feel like my living's not in vain," Mrs. Jenkins said.

"Burdens to Bear" will be performed in Smithfield at the Paul A. Johnston Auditorium at Johnston Community College. The performance takes place Saturday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Proceeds benefit the Jenkins' church, Howell's Chapel, in Selma.

Besides being the play's author and director, Spencer Jenkins directs WRAL's morning newscasts.


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