Q&A with Sarah McFarland, Alpha Omicron Pi’s President

Samford University is home to six panhellenic sororities, one of which is Alpha Omicron Pi. The sorority is lead by an executive council that strives to make the chapter the absolute best it can be. Sarah McFarland, a junior accounting major from St. Louis, Missouri, has been the chapter president of Samford’s AOII for the past few months. Although McFarland enjoys binging shows on Netflix, hanging out with friends and eating far too many scoops of Edgewood Creamery icecream most of her time is spent serving with and for her fellow sisters. I got the chance to sit down her McFarland and ask her about her experience serving in such a crucial role and being a full time student.

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5 Ethnic Restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama has a wide variety of different cultures especially when it comes to food. Below are five ethnic restaurants to enjoy with your family and friends!

1. Grab some delicious bbq at Saw’s

It’s only in the Southern US states where the word barbecue is not an adjective. It’s a noun, and for some, it’s a world all its own. Walking into a true hole-in-the-wall barbecue such as SAW’s BBQ is more than just a place to get some really good food to go, or to sit and enjoy a leisurely meal. It’s an experience.

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Earth Day Purpose and Celebrations

Earth Day comes around every year on April 22 but the history and idea behind the day is not commonly discussed. The concept for Earth Day was for the nation to focus on the environment for one day. Founder Gaylord Nelson was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After seeing the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara and being ruled by the student anti-war movement, he related the public needed to be aware of the air and water pollution they were contributing.  Nelson worked until the next year

Earth Day Network states that “on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.” Learn more about Earth Day.

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“Coffee-coffee-coffee, is a saying. It’s a funny, desperate cry for caffeine.”

Here in Birmingham, coffee seems to run through the city’s veins like it runs through the fictional veins of Lorelai Gilmore. If you’re looking for a place to study, catch up with a friend, or fuel your day, we’ve got you covered. Here are five unique coffee shops in Birmingham, AL.

1. seeds coffee company, 174 Oxmoor Rd, Birmingham, AL 35209

Seeds is has an industrial-rustic chic and laid-back atmosphere that’s always buzzing with studious college students and twenty-somethings.

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Three Inexpensive Nights Out In Birmingham

You deserve a night out. If you are a college student like me, you are probably juggling six or more classes, an internship for academic credit and a paid full-time job just to pay your rent. Because of all these things, you have the right to treat yourself every once and a while. The issue often tends to be that, though you may want a night out, you cannot afford to spend a lot of money. That is where I come in. Having lived in the city of Birmingham my whole life, I knew quite a few spots that can help you save a few bucks while enjoying what the city has to offer. Here is a short list of three different locations in Birmingham on the cheap. You can find directions to each location by clicking on the venue name in the list.

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Breakfast in Birmingham: Demetri’s Barbecue

Demetri’s in downtown Homewood is more than just barbeque.

While the restaurant is known for its pork sandwiches and ribs, it is possibly better known for its breakfast.

Yes, breakfast at a barbecue joint.

Demetri’s offers a variety of breakfast options including omelettes, traditional breakfast platters, huevos rancheros and a unique take on French toast.

If you visit on a weekday, you will run into professionals having business meetings over eggs and toast, sisters meeting for toast and Southern grits and retirees arguing about state politics over black coffee.

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The décor is typical of a barbecue restaurant, with wood-paneled walls and orange barstools. At breakfast, however, the setting and slight smell of smoke allude to storybook mornings in the country.

The specialty French toast at Demetri’s is a favorite for locals and visitors alike. Even a small order begins a hefty portion of dense, thick-cut bread that is dipped in egg and coated in crushed cereal. The result is a crunchy crust and chewy center, topped with powdered sugar and, if you choose, maple syrup.

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Demetri’s is open for breakfast Monday through Saturday from 6:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.

Birmingham has a lot to offer if it’s 8:00 a.m. and you are hungry. Join us as we explore the different options around town, and look for the print copy of Exodus in early December for the full list.

5 Things I Learned On A Police Ride-Along

When I received the opportunity to ride-along with a police officer from the Homewood Police Department, I jumped on the chance. Some of you may have heard of these ride-alongs, but I had no idea that normal citizens are allowed to simply hop in the car with a cop and join them on their daily shift. I went during the morning shift on a Tuesday, so my experience was nothing short of uneventful. Unfortunately, I don’t have a story about a high speed chase through downtown Homewood on a Tuesday morning. However, I did gain some fairly useful (and not so useful) knowledge during my ride-along, which I’ve compiled together to share.

  1. Don’t let your license plate tag expire. The police well-trained to spot expired tags, so it’s second nature for them to look at the tag on every car in front of them. This is one of most common ways to get a ticket, and you can easily avoid this problem by renewing your tag each year. Fun fact: if you go to renew your tag between the 10th and 25th days of your designated renewal month, you’re less likely to wait in a long line.
  2. There is an entire store of police officer uniforms, and it’s actually pretty fun. We visited McCain Uniforms, and it is basically a police officer’s candy store. They have Oakley sunglasses, fancy flashlights, the latest duty belts and everything in-between. Even as someone not in the police force, I quite enjoyed wandering around the store and trying on the fun hats.
  3. They don’t eat donuts (at least that I saw), but they do love breakfast. Since I did my ride-along during the morning shift, I got to go to breakfast with several of the officers. They have a few different locations around town that they frequent. On the morning I went, they chose De Vinci’s Pizza, which had surprisingly incredible breakfast options. (Click here to see their breakfast menu.)
  4. “10-4” is actually a phrase they use – a lot. I knew before this experience that “10-4” was the radio communication code for affirmatives, such as “understood” or “copied.” However, I thought it was more of a phrase that people said for fun, not one that police actually use frequently for their radio communications with each other. Not going to lie, this really excited me.
  5. Police officers really aren’t out to get you. Cheesy as it may sound, they’re here to help us. We may hear about police letting the “power get to their heads,” etc., and I’m sure there are some who do. But the majority of these men and women are hardworking people who just want to help their communities and keep us safe.


To see more photos from my ride-along, be sure to pick up our upcoming issue of Exodus in December.

Homewood decor shop ‘specializes in rustic’


Seibels brings the great outdoors to the heart of downtown Homewood.

Pedestrians might easily miss this furniture and home decor store, camouflaged among the many shops of Homewood’s quaint 18th Street shopping district. But inside its blasé exterior lies a unique, eclectic wilderness wonderland.

Originally founded in 1994 as a catalog, Seibels offers home furnishings and accessories used primarily for camps and cottages. After opening in 2000, Seibels began building clients customized beds, swings and tables — all with a country-style twist.

“We specialize in rustic,” manager Trissy Holladay said. “That’s our niche.”

But rusticity isn’t the only thing that makes Seibels’ merchandise unique. Holladay explains that most of the shop’s offerings are handmade, giving them an unusual level of quality.

“[Our merchandise is] not made in China, it’s made here,” Holladay said. “That means you can get the exact size and color that you want.”

Holladay says one of Seibels’ most unique and popular offerings is its custom-made beds, which are constructed with pallets – or platforms used to ship furniture.

And with the holiday season fast approaching, Seibels is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Large Christmas trees dominate the store’s floor space, adorned with ornaments resembling fishing boats, campers and antlers.

“We also have a niched Christmas,” Holladay said, showing off the different ornaments.

Holladay emphasizes that, despite Seibels’ rustic theme, the store is meant to be for everyone.

“We’re not just for lake and mountain homes,” she said. “We’re for everyone who loves rustic.”

By Jonathan Adams

VisionWalk gives hope in a dark place

VisionWalk’s Natalie Linton paints her face to support the fight against blindness.

Last Saturday, Birmingham’s fifth annual VisionWalk rallied a diverse cast of people to Homewood Park for one cause – the fight against blindness.

University of Alabama student Nicole Mullins was looking for volunteer opportunities. Aaron Sparks came because his wife, Amanda, heard about the event at her office. UAB Department of Ophthalmology’s Megan Yates just came to lend some enthusiastic support.

Birmingham is just one of 51 cities hosting VisionWalk, a seven-year-old fundraising event for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. So far, VisionWalks across the nation have raised $28 million in the fight against retinal degenerative disease, according to the organization’s website.

Events assistant Kensi Magnum announced that 2013 was one of the organization’s best years. “It’s a wonderful cause,” she said. “We have really given hope.”

Walk chair Randy Ferguson agreed, citing a personal connection to VisionWalk. Ferguson’s daughter Lauren suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary condition that attacks her peripheral vision.

“Five years ago, I didn’t think there was any hope for a cure,” Ferguson said. “But thanks [to VisionWalk], we have hope. This is a great thing.”

Hope is exactly what psychologist Laura Dreer hopes to give to the visually impaired community. Dreer, who first moved to Birmingham to study traumatic brain injury, noticed there was little psychological aid for adults with visual impairments. To fill that void, she started UAB Connections, a support group for adults adjusting to blindness.

“Of course it affects your eye,” she said, “But [I’m here] to show they can still have a great quality of life.”

Marcellus Scott, who is legally blind, needed to hear that message.

“Connections is a great support,” he said. “It’s a struggle to live every day, but at least you know you’re not alone.”

Paul Mayo, a friend from the Department of Rehabilitation in Homewood, concurred. Also legally blind, Mayo dedicates his time to raising awareness for people with little to no vision.

“I’m just trying to give a little back of what’s been given to me,” he said.

For more information on supporting the Foundation Against Blindness, visit this link.

By Jonathan Adams

18th Street: A Success Story

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In a culture filled with Wal-Marts and free shipping, people who enjoy supporting small businesses may have a hard time spotting them among all the familiar logos and super sales. However, 18th Street in Homewood is far from the usual.

18th Street has been around for more than 100 years. It’s a street known for its small businesses and out-of-the-ordinary merchandise.

But what really makes 18th Street so special is its ability to thrive in this age of consumerism that emphasizes quantity over quality.

Business owners on 18th Street give a lot of credit to the community. Linda Strickland, the owner of Ambiance, a store that displays a wide variety of unique home décor and fashion, says that Homewood customers and their concern for the city’s economy make the difference.

“We’re fortunate to be in Homewood because Homewood is an area that has a very dedicated shopping base,” Strickland says. “They prefer to shop in a local store. They’re not looking to save a dollar by buying the products online.”

That sense of community unites not only shoppers, but also store owners.

“Every business strives for their own unique footprint,” says Allen Bailey, manager of Seasons to Celebrate. “Nobody tries to copy what anybody else is doing. And everyone tries to offer their customer value for what they’re purchasing.” KB 18th St 3

Although offering that value while still turning a profit can be a challenge for small business owners, the shop owners of 18th Street feel that because of the Homewood community, they are up to the challenge.

“We can’t compete with the big retailers because we can’t offer the deep discounts that they can,” Bailey says. “However, people in Homewood want to support the community and they will come to 18th Street to do that.”

Photos by Kaitlin Bitz