Sixteen is a magical age. Puberty is finally over and the self-conscious feelings about acne have left no permanent scarring. It's time for high school parties, dating and more importantly, a driver’s license.
Experiencing freedom for the first time from behind the wheel is exhilarating. The realization that the days of taking the bus are over. Life is good. Grab the keys, pick-up the friends, all are ready for a night on the town.
The car being driven is an older model, pristine condition, and seats six. With new driver’s license in hand, it’s easy to change the age with black ink or by using an exacto knife to etch a new birth date that says ‘21’.
Time to head to the liquor store, the one that sells to minors with a decent fake ID, piece of cake. Purchasing pure grain alcohol is no problem. It will make the perfect Hooch. Six friends head-out to the drive-in movie with a fruity cocktail containing 120-190 proof alcohol. After arriving, it doesn’t matter what ‘flick’ is on the big screen. Everyone’s equipped with red Solo cold cups. Make it a ‘big pour’ with some fruit slices and it’s time to party.
At the end of the evening, everyone’s gone. They’ve disappeared. What happened? The six-pack of friends have scattered. All the drive-in hooch buddies are nowhere to be found. Head is pounding and the night is a blur. It happened again. Then, it happens again and again.
It’s just the beginning of many years of addiction to drugs and alcohol. Roberta Friend Rhodes is a ‘hometown girl’ from Paducah and experienced many nights such as this before getting the help she desperately needed and wanted. Because of this experience and others like it, Rhodes, affectionately called ‘Berta’ , got the help she needed and decided to ‘pay it forward.’
Rhodes was one of the lucky ones. She had people around her that woke her up to the problems she was having with her addiction. They stayed after her and supported her until she made a decision on her own to seek help.
As part of her amends, Rhodes found a program at the Louisville Medical and Dental School that specialized in addiction counseling. Rhodes will admit that her training had a lot to do with her own experiences with alcohol and substance abuse. “By me using drugs and alcohol, going to treatment and completing recovery, it was the best education I could’ve had to better educate and treat others with substance abuse problems,” said Rhodes.
After graduating college, Rhodes became a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Later, she continued her education and became a Licensed Addiction Counselor.
Rhodes has treated many patients throughout her years as an addiction counselor. She’s has worked in Kentucky but now treats adolescents and adults with substance abuse and mental health problems in southern Indiana.
Rhodes said treating patients during the pandemic has been 'a horse of a different color.' “COVID-19 has really impacted my patients,” she said. “Patients weren’t allowed in the office and therapy sessions had to happen virtually by Zoom. Many of the patients didn’t have mental, emotional or physical support and ended up relapsing.”
Rhodes said when patients were finally allowed back into the office, they were scared of exposure to the disease. Coming back into the office setting was good for the interaction but upsetting to think about contracting the deadly virus. “Patients are required to wear masks and though scared of COVID-19, they're very grateful to be able to interact with others again,” she said.
Therapy is a two-way street, admitted Rhodes. In order to be able to treat others, she has to take care of her own mental health. Much of her therapy happens outside the traditional office setting. For Rhodes, being outside is the thing that quiets her mind. Being able to garden, camp, travel, take care of the farm, is therapy.
Rhodes is a Certified Equine Assisted Psychotherapist and ‘fell in love’ with the treatment. Her affection for animals is undeniable. She has dogs, cats, horses, chickens, ducks, geese, and a parrot and "the only payment required is food," said Rhodes. Rhodes isn't the only one benefiting from equine therapy, her patients do too.
Other techniques used in Rhodes’ practice include cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based counseling, reality therapy, and creative therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to change patterns of thinking or behaviors that are behind people’s difficulties. This type of therapy may be referred to as ‘talk therapy.’
Mindfulness-based counseling (MBCT) is a modified cognitive therapy with meditation practice and breathing exercises. According to Psychology Today, MBCT therapists teach clients how to break away from negative thought patterns that can cause a spiral into a depressed state so they will be able to fight off depression before it takes hold.
Reality therapy focuses on current issues affecting the person seeking treatment rather than past experiences. This therapy encourages problem-solving and believes that people experience mental stress when their basic psychological needs haven’t been met.
Creative therapy is based on the idea that when someone works creatively under the guidance of a qualified therapist, they become more expressive and communicative. Different ways to express oneself through art include drawing, painting, dance, drama, music, and poetry.
Rhodes works at the North Clark Medical Group in Jeffersonville, Indiana as an addiction counselor. Though the road has been long, Rhodes has been sober for many years. Her animals are always ever present in her life. She is a Christian and extremely devoted to her family.
In addition to her love of God, family, and animals, Rhodes is an excellent photographer. Knowing the path Rhodes has walked down makes one wonder the type of inner strength it must take to, not only pick up her own spirits but help others do the same.
When asked what a good day looked like, Berta replied, “A good day for me is when I wake up and say, Thank you God for letting me wake up.”
Fotoula or “Toula” Portokalos, a Greek American woman, and a non-greek, Ian Miller are on their first date. They’ve just finished dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant and decide to take a romantic walk across a fairytale-like pedestrian bridge. Ian starts to gently nudge the conversation in a direction Toula is slightly uncomfortable discussing. He wants to know what it was like for her growing up.
After weighing her options and knowing the importance of building relationships through intimate conversation, she says to Ian, “I’m Greek, right?” She goes on to explain that she has 27 first cousins and that her whole family is big and loud and always in everybody’s business. She discusses holidays and how her uncles fight over lamb brains and her Aunt Voula chases her around with a forked eyeball insisting she eat it because it will make her smart. It's an exchange in dialogue that has stayed with me for years. The point being...the large families of yesterday aren't large families today, at least in quantity.
The number of women giving birth compared to 50 years ago is quite different. Fertility in the U.S. has been on decline since the post World War II baby boom. In the mid-1970s, 40% of mothers that had reached the end of child-bearing years, had four or more children. Today, the same percentage of mothers at the end of their child-bearing years, has only two children. Fewer children, fewer cousins.
In “My Big Fat Greek Wedding’, Toula, played by Nia Vardolas has 27 first cousins; I have 20 first cousins. Everytime I watch this movie I think of the first date scene when Toula says she has 27 first cousins. Today, that number is unheard of. I have yet to meet many people if any my age or younger that have such a large number of first cousins.
There are so many fond memories of my childhood that were built around special times with my cousins. Remembering the large family gatherings at my grandmother Davis’ house, puts a smile on my face. My sweet grandmother was a Christian first and a southern-style home cook second.
At the dinner table there was always fried-crispy okra, purple hull peas, butter beans, cornbread, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese (made from ‘free’ government cheese the neighbor used to share), mouthwatering yeast rolls, and the biggest, fattest, sweetest, home grown tomatoes ever. All of these wonderful fresh vegetables came from the garden she had outback her house along with the rows and rows of peach trees.
After saying ‘the blessing,’ we would load our plates full of food until they were overflowing. While the kids were still on their first plate, we would watch our uncles go back for seconds and thirds. After dinner, the uncles would retire to the front room to watch television with grandpa, and the aunts would clean the kitchen to later sit around the dinner table for a scoop of fresh, peach cobbler. And we, the kids, would either go outside and play in the cotton field right next to our grandparents house or go back to grandma’s bedroom to get out the jar full of colorful buttons and tell stories about things going on in our lives.
On my dad’s side of the family, we would get together at our grandparents house in Memphis Tennessee where there was always plenty to do. Most of the time when we visited, the kids would go outside and play in my grandparent’s big fenced-in backyard. There was a basketball goal and a tree swing. We would play wiffle ball, football, anything that had to do with a ball. The Burnett’s were big ball players, very competitive. If there wasn’t a ball to be tossed around, we were playing music.
As the cousins got older, we stayed in touch as best we could. We’re all spread out from the tip of Indiana to Florida and on over to Houston, Texas. There are so many stories to be told. The first time I ever sang karaoke, and the last, was with the twins.
Karaoke was a big draw at their country club and one evening while visiting them in Mississippi, they invited me to the country club bar. I believe they knew what they had planned for me. In order to take part in their weekly sing-a-long, I had to have a few shots of liquid courage. Once I started singing, I never wanted to stop, though I know the rest of the room was very ready for me to pass the mic along to someone else. We shut the place down that night.
My 20 first cousins are quite diverse and it’s true, you don’t stay mad at your cousins. It’s not like getting upset with your husband or your wife, your mom or your dad, your brother or your sister, cousins are very different. I ran across several really nice quotes about cousins. “Cousins are friends that will love you forever.” “Time passes and we may be apart, but cousins always stay close to your heart.” “In my cousin, I find a second self.”
‘Hometown Boy’ Ryne Burnett followed his passion
and got the career and the girl
Ryne Burnett is a Golf Professional at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio. Originally from Paducah, Ky, Burnett was introduced to golf at a young age with a set of Little Tykes plastic golf clubs. At age 12, he started playing golf courses with his Dad and grandfather ‘Poppy.’ Most summers were spent at Paxton Park in Paducah learning to play the game. The ‘game' kept him focused and with that focus, led him to a career as a golf professional and an engagement with the girl of his dreams.
After graduating from Lindsey Wilson College, Burnett started his golf professional career at Drake Creek Golf Club in Ledbetter, KY.
“I literally began as a Golf Professional two days after graduating from Lindsey Wilson College in 2013. During this time, some of my best moments were assisting with the junior golf program. A proud moment was when I helped coach the Western Kentucky PGA Junior League All Star team that won a Kentucky Section Championship in 2015.”
After working at Drake Creek Golf Club for almost three years, Burnett took a position in Champaign, IL as a Golf Professional at the Legends Driving Range and Executive Course.
“Executive courses are simply a shorter course, mostly Par 3s and a few Par 4s. It was there, I received an opportunity to be in charge of an entire golf operation, from hiring and scheduling staff, to running a junior program and golf events at the facility. A few times we were able to host University of Illinois fraternities for events, along with several local business leagues.”
Burnett said that many golf professionals split time between clubs during winter and summer months. He decided to try a winter at The Club of Ibis and enjoyed every minute of it.
“A lot of golf professionals split time between clubs in the northern and southern regions of the country, for example work in Michigan during the Summer and Florida during the Winter. I took this route in November 2016, taking an Assistant Professional's position at The Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach Florida. I was able to take it easy at Ibis, which helped me ease into the environment of a private country club. This is where Martin Hall teaches when he’s not on the Golf Channel, and that led to hosting several PGA Tour players for various product days and golf shows. The best was meeting John Daly, who is a great person to be around and kept me laughing during his show with Martin.”
After leaving his summer job in Florida, Burnett started a position as the Assistant Professional at Triple Crown Country Club in Union, KY.
“This is where my passion for junior golf was deepened, through the clubs recent history of producing collegiate level talent, and being involved in the development of the juniors coming up. Along with serving on the Kentucky PGA Player Development Committee, I coached two PGA Junior League All Star teams to Runner Up Section Championship finishes, along with coaching a local Middle School team to a victory by 44 shots in the League Championship in 2017.”
The next career move earned Burnett an award to the first Operation 36 Top 50 coaches list and as an extra bonus, got engaged to his fiancee, Lindsey.
“In December 2018, I received an offer to join Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati. At Kenwood, I’m the Junior Golf Leader and run all Junior Golf programming. In 2019, 160 students signed up for various programs including Operation 36 (Ages 7-17) and Birdie Basics (Ages 3-6). This summer, 170 students are participating. For the 2019 season, Kenwood became the #1 ranked facility in the world in the Operation 36 network, and I was named to the first Operation 36 Top 50 coaches list.”
Burnett explains the basics of Operation 36 and Birdie Basics.
“Operation 36 takes traditional golf learning and flips it upside down. Students work their way from 25 yards back to the full tee box, working to shoot 36 or better at each yardage division. This mission is supported by a weekly coaching program. Birdie Basics involves a focus on play for younger golfers, by giving golf games a story to follow around a mascot. We also change the language so they understand and can relate and learn that much more!”
When discussing his personal life and his fiance' Lindsey Morano, Burnett said their first date was a holiday affair.
“On our first date, Lindsey and I wrapped Christmas presents together. She loves animals and cooking and is trying to learn the game of golf. We got engaged on November 3rd, 2019 and are looking forward to our wedding on October 17, 2020.”
Over the past several years, Burnett has earned a couple of first place finishes at various tournaments including a championship win.
2017- KPGA Pro-Am @ Big Spring Country Club, Louisville, KY - Low Professional
2017 - KPGA Section Championship - University of Louisville Golf Club, Simpsonville, KY - 7th
2018- Kentucky Open - Big Spring Country Club, Harmony Landing Campus, Goshen KY - T21st
2018 - KPGA Assistants Championship - University Club at Arlington, Richmond KY - T2nd (Qualified for National Car Rental National Assistants Championship - PGA Golf Club, Port St. Lucie, FL - Missed Cut)
2019 - Gem City Classic - Walnut Grove CC, Dayton OH - T3rd
2019 - Western Hills Pro Am - Cincinnati, OH - T1st
2019 - SOPGA Southwest Chapter Stroke Play Championship - 1st Place
Monday, July 13, Burnett will play the Maketewah CC tournament in Cincinnati, OH.
“This will be my first tournament in close to a month. I find myself at that point in my career most golf professionals experience; finding ways to put together a decent score with a severe lack of practice and rounds played, while working a 40-60 hour work week. Maketewah CC is a club with a rich history and an excellent golf course, which should make for a great challenge.”
Burnett’s current passion is coaching. He’s offered a few golf tips: