Taught to Fish
You’d better get a hobby
As they worked the Jaws of Life to free
him, all Taylor could think was that he
wasn’t saved. While he was driving a state
vehicle for his work as a chief probation
officer in 1999, a tire blowout caused him to
veer off the road and flip over. He had two
collapsed lungs from the airbag impact, pulverized shoulders and brain damage. They
told him he was going to die.
“It gets real real quick when they send
the chaplain to your room. Then you start
talking to God.”
Taylor endured three surgeries to repair
his lungs and shoulders. He still experiences
shoulder pain and some short-term memory
loss. Twenty years into his work, he had to
take a disability retirement.
He lay on the couch at home, hurting
and depressed. His doctor diagnosed him
with PTSD and said he’d better get a hobby.
Fishing was out, with his crushed shoulders.
Gardening, he assumed, was, too. But the
doctor said plant a little garden in the front
yard — work on it for as long as you can ev-
ery day, even if that’s just for a few minutes.
Five minutes became 10, and 10 minutes
became an hour. Before long, he was regaining his strength and his spirit and had a
nice crop of tomatoes, cucumbers and other
produce to show for it.
He put a sign out telling anyone who
came by to take whatever they wanted for
free. Somewhat to his surprise, many took
him up on it.
“I started seeing the need in my commu-
nity,” Taylor said.
The Rev. Grace Hackney was the new
pastor of the predominantly white Cedar
Grove United Methodist Church in 2003
when she met Taylor in downtown Hillsborough, helping a couple of his neighbors
sign up for public assistance.
It was the start of a relationship that fed a
need Hackney and Taylor shared — to help
people in a community that’s more compli-
cated than it seems on the pleasant drive up
N.C. 86. South of the county seat, there is
not a great awareness that extreme poverty
and racial divide are, as in many places, at
home in Orange County.
Before long, Hackney and Taylor were
putting food in the back of her old Volvo or
his truck and taking it to people he knew in
It took a tragedy in Cedar Grove to draw
Taylor’s mother, Scenobia, into the picture.
A family friend and owner of a bait-and-tackle store was murdered in 2004. Scenobia
Taylor, now 89, was moved to do something
for the common good: She decided to turn
five acres of her land into a community
garden, and she worked with Hackney,
ultimately deciding to give the land to the
However rooted in kindness, the idea
Julia Sendor, second from right, works with volunteer high school interns to pack blueberries into pints for delivery at the Anathoth
community garden, where she is co-manager. Sendor, from Chapel Hill, says she “didn’t even know there was a Cedar Grove.”