Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What Do I Receive?

The opportunity to be with the 40 high school juniors of Youth Leadership Walker County each month is one of the great joys in life for me. They are eager to learn about their community and to develop their leadership skills. The meeting in December is always fun yet a true learning experience.

This was the problem given to them this month:  
Pretend you are a family of four and create a budget based on $1,580...about the amount a family at the poverty line brings in each month. 

After they grappled with that concept, they participated in the Poverty Simulation conducted by Alabama Possible.  I'm telling you, this was EYE-OPENING for our students!

They became a family of four, or three or six.... 

or in some cases a homeless person all by herself...

The simulation is designed to show the life of a distressed family over the course of a month. Students went through 15 minute "weeks" in which they had to work, pay bills and figure out how to make ends meet.  They had a few minutes in between each week to plan....

When the bell rang to "start" the week they did several things based on their scenario. 
Some went to school because they were children...

Some went to work and some paid bills or went to the local pawn shop to trade items for cash...

Some ended up in jail with "Sheriff Keene"

And some families were evicted because they did not pay their mortgage on time.

Regardless of the scenario students all agreed that living at the poverty level is no game. It is tough on families.  It is confusing.  It is scary. It's incredibly hard to work and make all the things happen that must happen in order to make a life for your family.  Our students gained a new appreciation for those in need and realized the hardships many of their friends at school go through daily.  

So many times when we talk about poverty we think about service.  Helping those in poverty becomes an act we perform, an event for an afternoon.  But is that really what community service is all about?

They discussed what it means to truly be a community servant.  Together, they decided that in order for service to work there has to be both "giving" and "receiving".  What is an act of kindness or service you have given to your community?  Answers come quick... 

getting an angel on the angel tree 

giving to a local charity 
buying supplies for those in need 

The harder questions seems to be, what is an act of kindness or service you have received from your community?  Many times we hear, "I haven't received anything".  The longer they sit, the more they remember.  

"My friend helped me with a math problem I was struggling with." 

"My church family cooked dinner for us when my mom was in the hospital."  

"My friend listened to me when I was struggling with something."

"A lady in front of me in the drive-thru line paid for my order.  I didn't even know her."

When we really begin to think about it, we all give and we all receive. Constantly. 

If we truly believe that, then community service becomes not an act we perform, but the very life in which we live.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ready to serve

Introducing our two newest Board members, Doug Warren and Robbin Reed Allen:

        Replacing Pat Willingham on our Board, Doug holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Auburn University, and received his MBA from the University of Alabama.
       In 2009, Doug became President/CEO of Community Health Systems, Inc., and all its for-profit and not-for-profit affiliates. He serves on many boards and executive committees. He is a graduate of Leadership Alabama and a member of several professional and civic organizations.  
       Robbin has the distinct privilege of holding the chair held by Mr. John T. Oliver, Jr. for the past nineteen years.  In January 2015, Mr. Oliver will move to Emeritus Status and will continue to attend our meetings and share his thoughts with the Foundation board and staff. 
       Robbin graduated from Walker High School, attended Walker College and graduated from the National Center for Paralegal Studies in Atlanta GA.  She is now the Corporate Paralegal, Secretary and Treasurer of Reed Energy, LLC. 
       She also serves on several boards and executive committees. She is a graduate of Leadership Walker County and a member of several professional and civic organizations.       
     Both Doug and Robbin are ready and willing to serve their community!

Believing every child should go to camp: Jackson Family Fund Established

It is our joy to share with you the addition of our newest fund, the Jackson Family Fund.  Founded with the belief that orphans and foster children should be afforded the privilege of attending programs like Camp McDowell, Nell Jackson along with, Anne and Eddie Jackson and Janet and Eddie Faught created this fund to provide educational enrichment experiences.  The donation reflects a passion for children without parents and to support the ministry of the Episcopal Church for the same.  This fund will strive to find and assist first children from Walker County and then any other county to attend similar life changing sessions.