Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County

PHOTO CAPTIONS, in descending order:

Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County officers for 2014-15 are (left to right) treasurer Bill McDaniel; president-elect Kristin Caso; president Alan Greer; Division 5 Lt. Gov. Leah Sandbach; immediate past president Lance Barnes; secretary Gail Carter; and vice-president Greg Fullerton. (Photo by David Shivers)

Kiwanis DoCo directors for the new year are (from left) Sami Harewood, Ben Lockett, Lt. Gov. Leah Sandbach, Jim Rodgers, and Sara Cornwell. Not pictured are Victoria Darrisaw, Scott Brown, and David Shivers. (Photo by David Shivers)

Kristin Caso receives her Henry Heinz Award recognition from 2013-14 president Lance Barnes.

New president Alan Greer makes remarks about the club’s 2014-15 year.

The Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County launched a new year October 1, preceded by installation of incoming officers and directors on September 29 in an evening dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Incoming Division 5 Lt. Gov. Leah Sandbach conducted the installation ceremonies and noted that this year will mark the 100th anniversary of Kiwanis International, founded in Detroit in 1915. (The Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County was chartered in 1952 under the sponsorship of the Albany Kiwanis Club.) As a result, Sandbach said clubs are being urged to find a way to use “100” in their activities or service projects during the year.

Special awards were presented to two outstanding Kiwanians. Kristin Caso, incoming president-elect, was the recipient of the Kiwanis Henry Heinz Award, denoting a $500 gift from the club to the Kiwanis International Foundation in her name.  Tommy Gay, outgoing as club secretary, was honored with the George Hixson Award, marking a $1,000 donation in his name to the foundation and the second time Gay has been so honored by the club.

2013-14 president Lance Barnes said it had been an exciting year and disclosed that almost $23,000 in financial gifts were distributed by the club during the year. Among the recipients were the Albany Sports Hall of Fame, Alzheimer’s Day Care, The Anchorage, the Kiwanis Student Art Contest, Boys & Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, Operation One Voice, Crimestoppers, Dixie Youth Baseball, Dougherty High School football, Family Literacy Connection, Megan’s House, Georgia Kiwanis District, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the international Eliminate Project, the SGHSA Key Club, Liberty House, sponsored youth activities, Second Harvest Food Bank, Special Olympics, Student Ministries, the Kiwanis International Foundation, and the Albany Center for Children with Autism. The club also conducted three activity fundraisers: the Annual Pancake Breakfast, the Charles H. Smith Golf Tournament, and the Pritchett-Pippin Dance Recital.

Newly-inducted president Alan Greer challenged the club to new heights in the upcoming year, including increased new membership, particularly young professionals, re-involving former members, new service projects, and, in keeping with the origin of the Native American phrase “Kiwanis”, to have fun in the process.

In April 2015 Kiwanis Club of Dougherty is slated to host, with the assistance of neighboring clubs, the Georgia Kiwanis District Annual Art and Music Showcase at the downtown Albany Municipal Auditorium, an event that will draw hundreds of visitors from across the state and help showcase downtown Albany. For the past several years the event had been held at West Georgia University in Carrollton.

The new officers for Kiwanis Dougherty for 2014-15 are: president, Alan Greer; president-elect, Kristin Caso; vice president, Greg Fullerton; secretary, Gail Carter; treasurer, Bill McDaniel; immediate past president, Lance Barnes. In addition to the officers, the board of directors will include Sami Harewood, Victoria Darrisaw, Sara Cornwell, Ben Lockett, Jim Rodgers, Scott Brown, and David Shivers.

 

PHOTO CAPTIONS

Top: Johnny Seabrooks talks to Nakoasha Dillard about her experience with Strive2Thrive.

Middle: Graduate Nakoasha Dillard and Strive2Thrive executive director Alvita Swain speak to the club about the organization.

Bottom: Nakoasha Dillard goes over some details with Tommy Padgett for inclusion in the club’s weekly bulletin.

Five years in, the Strive2Thrive anti-poverty initiative by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce is having a positive impact on lives in the community in its effort to break the cycle of generational poverty.

On September 22, the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County heard about the program from  its executive director, Alvita Swain, and one of its graduates, Nakoasha Dillard. Dillard’s remarks focused on how Strive2Thrive has profoundly improved her life.

Swain provided a little history, noting that S2T was started in 2009 as “the brainchild of Cynthia George, and she actually partnered with (former Dougherty school superintendent) Dr. John Culbreath to bring the mission to fruition.”

“What we realized is, poverty is a squatter in our own backyard,” said Swain, “and as a result the mission is to eradicate that. So what Strive2Thrive basically does we take families into our program and begin a journey with them, a journey to self-sufficiency. You’ve heard ‘a hand up, not a handout,’ so what does that actually mean? A lot of times, if you pass an initiative, what happens is we give people cars, we give people houses, and we give people jobs and we insist on manners, and they still end up in a cycle of poverty. And the reason for that is we don’t work with people on business (behavior). So that’s what Strive2Thrive does. We work with helping to change the mindset to show people how to be able to maintain those things so they aren’t caught in that cycle anymore. At one time we would say we’re trying to teach a man to fish, but Strive2Thrive is trying to teach a man how to own the pond, because it’s very important to build  transgenerational legacies so that the cycles are broken and people are free from poverty for generations to come.”

Strive2Thrive currently has 91 participants, said Swain, 34 adults and 57 children. Part of the program, in addition to education and training, is pairing participating families with “coaches,” or mentors, “individuals from the middle and upper classes who come and walk alongside the participant to help them understand the hidden rules of society, because we operate in a society that’s governed by middle class values. If you don’t know the rules, it’s kind of hard to be able to navigate.”

Nakoasha Dillard, a Strive2Thrive graduate and a 2005 graduate of Westover High School, related that she was one of four children and the only girl in a single-parent home. Her family always had the basics, she said, but still, “I always wanted to get out of the situation I was born into, I just didn’t know how.”

Her life changed dramatically in 2009 with the birth of her son, and she managed to graduate from Albany Technical College in 2011 with a biotech degree, “but I knew something was still missing.” While driving one day, she saw the Strive2Thrive sign outside the Chamber of Commerce office, “and I pulled over and went in and asked questions, because on the sign it said ‘We give a hand up and not a handout.’ I was accepted into the program and my life began for the better.”

Strive2Thrive, she said, taught her about personal and professional  development, resume writing, finances, and budgeting, and she “developed relationships with other families going through the same thing I was.”

Being paired with mentors Glenn and Dawn Clack was an invaluable part of the process, according to Dillard. Having someone “who would bear with me and not be judgmental of my situation…someone I could lean on when I was going to school or through a real difficult situation with my son. Whatever I needed I was able to call on them and they were always there.” The Clacks have continued to be there since Dillard’s graduation from the program, checking on her and encouraging her to continue her progress, she added.

“I’m very thankful for those people,  who  dedicated their lives to me for those two years and  are still willing to dedicate more of themselves to me and my child,” Dillard added.

While in Strive2Thrive, Dillard entered Albany State University and graduated last year with a bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration on biotech. Through Strive2Thrive community partnerships she has been able to purchase a more-dependable car for transportation and obtain better housing. Also, “I was able to learn about budgeting and finances so when I graduated from the program I could continue my life and be self-sufficient.”

Dillard emphasized, “If you really want to succeed, you have to change your mindset. You can go through the program and receive this valuable information, but if you don’t change your mindset, you will still be there (in the same situation).”

A professor at ASU encouraged students to write, and as a result Dillard has published a book, which she titled “Surviving College While Raising a Toddler”.  In it, she says, she opened her life to others who may be in the same situation and  talks  about having a support system, faith in God, improvement programs such as Strive2Thrive, and self-initiative at ASU. There is also a chapter “on my failures that I went through,” failures and disappointments that strengthened and taught her not to give up.

Dillard is currently employed as a certified pharmacy technician and in process of enrolling to earn a master’s degree in health services. With that degree, she says, “I can be an advocate in the community to say, ‘I have lived in the place you are living in,’ and keep pushing and do not give up.”

Ultimately, Dillard believes, “You do not have to stay in the same situation you are in, and the ‘generational curse,’ as I call it, can be broken.”

Our annual golf tournament is coming up October 20th. Info is on the form!

Our annual golf tournament is coming up October 20th. Info is on the form!

Dougherty County Schools’ athletic director Johnny Seabrooks, a member of Kiwanis of Dougherty, introduces the lineup of DCSS football coaches.


The high school football season is well underway, and on September 15 the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County got the traditional annual report from the head coaches of Dougherty County’s four high school teams.
Coaches Charles Truitt of Monroe High School, Corey  Joyner of Dougherty High School, Octavia Jones of Westover High School, and Felton Williams from Albany High School each talked about the early results for their  respective teams as well prospects for the rest of the season.
Coach Truitt commented that although the Monroe High record was a 1-2, “We look forward to continuing to get better as the season goes on.”
Although they are competitive on the playing field, all of the coaches expressed a commonality, and that is an emphasis on academic success for their players. Looking to the future, said Coach Joyner, the teams are grooming “young guys to be not only great football players but also to be great men.”
Kiwanis of Dougherty feeds the Dougherty High team once a year, this year on September 4, and Joyner expressed appreciation for that.
Coach Jones noted his team’s nationally-televised match-up against Lee County. Even though Westover lost 13-0, he said, “it was a great experience for all the coaches and all the kids and fans.” His team is taking a “one game at a time approach,” building on what they learn from their mistakes in each contest.
Coach Williams said there are 75 players in Albany High gridiron program, including 9th grade, junior varsity, and varsity, and “the kids are playing hard.”
In his introduction of the coaches, Johnny Seabrooks, a Kiwanis of Dougherty member and athletics director for the Dougherty County School System, thanked the club “for what you do for the Dougherty County School System and especially Dougherty County School System athletics.”

Dougherty County Schools’ athletic director Johnny Seabrooks, a member of Kiwanis of Dougherty, introduces the lineup of DCSS football coaches.

The high school football season is well underway, and on September 15 the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County got the traditional annual report from the head coaches of Dougherty County’s four high school teams.

Coaches Charles Truitt of Monroe High School, Corey  Joyner of Dougherty High School, Octavia Jones of Westover High School, and Felton Williams from Albany High School each talked about the early results for their  respective teams as well prospects for the rest of the season.

Coach Truitt commented that although the Monroe High record was a 1-2, “We look forward to continuing to get better as the season goes on.”

Although they are competitive on the playing field, all of the coaches expressed a commonality, and that is an emphasis on academic success for their players. Looking to the future, said Coach Joyner, the teams are grooming “young guys to be not only great football players but also to be great men.”

Kiwanis of Dougherty feeds the Dougherty High team once a year, this year on September 4, and Joyner expressed appreciation for that.

Coach Jones noted his team’s nationally-televised match-up against Lee County. Even though Westover lost 13-0, he said, “it was a great experience for all the coaches and all the kids and fans.” His team is taking a “one game at a time approach,” building on what they learn from their mistakes in each contest.

Coach Williams said there are 75 players in Albany High gridiron program, including 9th grade, junior varsity, and varsity, and “the kids are playing hard.”

In his introduction of the coaches, Johnny Seabrooks, a Kiwanis of Dougherty member and athletics director for the Dougherty County School System, thanked the club “for what you do for the Dougherty County School System and especially Dougherty County School System athletics.”

Three local organizations received support in the form of cash contributions from the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County during its weekly luncheon meeting on September 15. Photos from top to bottom, representatives Bob Lynch, Danny Dukes, and Phyllis Banks, respectively, accepted donations for The Anchorage, a substance abuse treatment center for men, $1,000; Second Harvest Food Bank, serving the Southwest Georgia area, $500; and Crimestoppers, which offers rewards for tips that help take law-breakers off the streets, $300, to continue their good works benefiting the community.  The checks were presented by club president Lance Barnes. (Photos by David Shivers)

PHOTO CAPTIONS

Top: Mark Masters of ACF Stakeholders and Albany State University explains to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County mission and methods of the stakeholder organization. (Photos by David Shivers)

Bottom: From left, Kiwanian Jerry Wessel, Albany Herald reporter Terry Lewis, and Mark Masters discuss regional water basin issues.

There has been much media attention focused on the “water wars” and litigation between Georgia, Florida, and Alabama over usage shares from the Appalachicola, Chattahoochee, and Flint rivers water basins. Less well known, perhaps, is work being done quietly  behind the scenes to determine the best, most equitable application of this natural resource among a diverse array of users.

Mark Masters, director of the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center at Albany State University, is also a member of ACF Stakeholders (ACFS), a grassroots, privately-funded organization comprised of the many and various facets of the rivers’ use and research. He shared with the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on September 8 what ACFS is and what they are doing to help resolve the water conflicts.

ACFS’s overall goal, according to Masters, is to answer positively the question, “Can the diverse users of the ACF Basin act cooperatively to create sustainable solutions among stakeholders that balance economic, ecological, and social values in the sharing of this natural resource?” The mission is to achieve equitable solutions among the stakeholders that balance economic, ecological, and social values and to offer viable solutions that ensure that the ACF Basin is a sustainable resource for current and future generations.

ACFS was established in late 2009, said Masters. It began by identifying 14 water user groups and dividing them into four sub-basins (Upper Chattahoochee, Lower/Middle Chattahoochee, Flint, and Appalachicola) and creating a board with 56 member representing the gamut from agricultural to industrial, municipalities and recreation and policy makers, “pretty much anybody who has anything to with water in the ACF Basin.”

“That group gets together quarterly to try to help slog through some of these tough issues that have facing our basin for a long time,” said Masters. “And consensus rules the day. Any one of those 56 people can pull the cord on the train and stop everything. We don’t move forward until everybody can live with it.”

He acknowledged that with such a large and diverse board, arriving at a consensus “can be pretty challenging. We want to enhance communication and I think we have actually met that goal.”

Masters recalled a stakeholder meeting in Appalachicola, Fla., where he observed an Atlanta water official sitting next to a Florida oysterman.

“Those two people would never have talked to each other without ACFS,” said Masters, adding that it was evidence of enhancing communication that “went an awful long way toward building trust among the real users.”

Another way of building trust that was “extremely important” was inviting input on what various users want and think they can live with. “We’ve take our watershed and broken it up into 17 what we call nodes, and a node is just a place on the river where there’s a gauge. There (are) 17 nodes…and 14 environmental interests. There are 238 blocks in our matrix, and so we said, ‘Here’s what I need at my spot on the water.’ That was extremely important to building our trust, because that’s something we’d never been able to get done before. Having the membership say ‘Here’s what I can live with’ was very, very important.”

The ACFS is in process of creating a Sustainable Water Management Plan it hopes will be finished by the end of this year.  An upcoming meeting will involve examination of “thousands of documents” including scientific research and modeling to look at the watershed and how Appalachicola Bay is ultimately impacted. Master described the process as “extremely difficult, extremely complex.” Also among the technical materials is a close examination of what Masters termed the “absolute impact” of the Floridan Aquifer on surface water.

Also among “the reams and reams of technical data,” said Masters, are key projections  forecasting water demands out to the year 2050.

“When we have that (SWMP) in our hands, we’re going to look to the three governors (of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia) and the Army Corps of Engineers and say, ‘Hey, this is what we think a good path would be to go to maintain the watershed,” he said.

As far as ongoing litigation between the states, Masters said, “I can’t speak to where the states are. With the litigation the ACF Stakeholders are under some restrictions here, so I’m not going to get very specific. I will say this about the Corps of Engineers: The Corps has been extremely supportive of ACFS. We’ve with their commanders. The timing, we feel, is pretty good with the Corps. They’re in the process of updating what’s called The Water Control Manual for the ACF and we’re trying to be sure we complete our process.”

“We are under no illusion that this is an easy fix,” Masters concluded, but, “We feel really, really good that we’ve advanced the ball, at least in terms of knowledge of the basin.”

Top photo: Erin Hutchins, director of the Albany Area YMCA’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, tells Kiwanis of Dougherty members about the program.

Bottom: From left, Kiwanians Chuck Darsey and Kevin Armstrong speak to Erin Hutchins about 21st CCLC  following the meeting.

 Children do better in the classroom when they develop the confidence to participate. According to Erin Hutchins, that’s the goal of Albany Area YMCA’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.

Hutchins, director of the program who came to Albany in 2011, talked to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County about 21st CCLC’s goals and how are they are being met on August 25. The program is administered with federal funds to establish community learning centers that operate during after regular school hours with three specific purposes: to provide opportunities for academic enrichment and tutorial services; to offer students a broad array of additional services, programs and activities to reinforce and complement the regular academic program; and, to offer families of 21st CCLC students opportunities for literacy and related educational development.

The overall goals are to improve student academic performance in reading and math as well as classroom performance and to increase parent participation in the educational process.

While the school year is underway, 21st CCLC didn’t start until after Labor Day. “The reason for that,” said Hutchins, “is so that teachers can test the children and see where these kids are” in their academic performance levels.

The learning centers are currently at Alice Coachman and Live Oak elementary schools in Albany, where classrooms can be used for the sessions, which run from 2:15 p.m. until 5:45 p.m. Work centers on things “to help children, to positively reinforce them and change their direction,” said Hutchins. They also focus on helping parents learn to communicate positively with children about their academic performance. (A new grant has just been obtained for the expanded program, which initially started at Magnolia Elementary School but had to re-locate when the Dougherty County School System decided to close that facility.)

“A parent calling a child stupid, that’s not acceptable,” Hutchins stated. “We’re trying to teach them how to communicate. That’s part of the YMCA mission, to help people be respectful and caring.”

While tutoring and break-out sessions are part of the program, field trips are also included. Previous outings have been to Wakulla Springs, Fla., the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, and the Butterfly House at Callaway Gardens.

“A lot of these kids have never left Albany, so they were really excited about this,” said Hutchins.

Public speaking classes are also offered to help boost students’ self-esteem. According to Hutchins, “There are quite a few children where you see quite a change because of their confidence level when they go into the classroom.”

The 21st CCLC has recorded success here. According to Hutchins, “There were 37 children last year that at an ‘F’, and by the end of the year they were at a ‘C’. We’re so proud of them and want to keep them going.

Top: Phyllis Colvin sings “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” to set the tone for the Affinis Hospice presentation.

Bottom! Kimberly Kimbrel explains Affinis Hospice’s services and philosophy, while clearing up misconceptions.

The program opened with a beautiful rendition of a verse of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”.

After she finished, Phyllis Colvin, social services director for Affinis Hospice’s Albany regional office, related to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on August 18, “When I think about hospice, I think about how when we come into contact with people, they’re tired and worn and their caregivers are weary. We need to come into their homes and provide them some type of support, and I feel that with hospice care we can come in and be that support, not only to the patient but also to their family members.”

Colvin then turned the program over to Kimberly Kimbrel, Affinis’ regional community outreach coordinator. From its Albany office, Affinis serves 21 counties in Southwest Georgia. In addition to Albany, throughout Georgia, Affinis Hospice has regional offices in Augusta, Cartersville, Gainesville, Newnan, Vidalia, and Watkinsville.

Kimbrel offered some history on hospice care and sought to clear up misconceptions she said people often have about hospice.

According to Kimbrel, the hospice concept originated with Cicely Saunders, a World War II English military nurse who recognized three “very important things people need as they are dealing with the end of life”: dignity and compassion, pain and symptom management, and counseling for psychological and emotional needs.  Hospice Inc. was founded in 1974 in the United States by Florence Wald and hospice care has grown nationwide since that time.

Also, said Kimbrel, “Hospice is not necessarily end of life, that might surprise you.” Affinis can provide services during a life-threatening illness, and it’s beneficial, Kimbrel said, to begin in-home services early “so that we can have a relationship with the family and teach them caregiving tips so that it’s not so hard on them.” Medicare pays 100 percent for eligible clients, she added, including medications and hospital equipment for a wide range of illnesses.

If a patient doesn’t have Medicare or insurance, however, Affinis doesn’t turn them away. Operating under the multi-faceted Community Health Services foundation umbrella provides additional resources, but “of course we have to have a population of people who have insurance so we can survive. We are a nonprofit company” and the foundation helps.

Kimbrel addressed several “misconceptions.”

“I had one family that was in hospital and they would not come on services with us because they thought we were going to stop Mom’s medication. We don’t do that, we don’t stop medication. We don’t stick somebody with morphine and keep pumping it in them. We don’t do any of those things, those are misconceptions. We let the family make all the choices for the caregiving that we do. We don’t do anything without the family knowing. Everything we do has to be approved by the family, because we understand that the family is the caregiver. We’re just there to help.”

Another false idea is that a doctor has to decide when hospice care is needed. “Hospice is not something that a doctor has to say you’re ready for,” Kimbrel said. “You need to make that decision, it’s a patient’s choice. You can actually call us.”

While a doctor does not have to refer a patient, a doctor’s order is needed for Affinis to go into a patient’s home. When a patient contacts Affinis, said Kimbrel, Affinis must contact their doctor and request the order and the patient’s medical records.

Also, Kimbrel added, “Hospice never wants to say you have to sever that relationship with your doctor. We don’t ever say that.” But, “We want to be your 911. If you have an emergency while you’re with us, call us. If you go to the hospital while you’re with hospice, we have to discharge you,” due to Medicare  regulations. “We have to discharge the patient while they’re in the hospital and then we’ll bring them back on afterwards.”

A patient may want to continue being seen in hospice by their regular doctor, but the decision is ultimately up to the doctor, Kimbrel said. Affinis has a local medical director, Dr. Michael Satchell, to monitor its patients, and some people choose to switch over.

“We go over our patients with our medical director bimonthly,” said Kimbrel. “Every two weeks we have a meeting and go over each patient, and the nurses will be there in the meeting talking about different things going on with each patient, if they need medicine changes or if they have a symptom that needs to be managed.”