ALBANY, Ga. -- Exuding grace, an 11-year-old student spoke Friday to a civic organization about her future. An established business representative followed her with a plan to help Southwest Georgia's future.
Fifth-grader Alaina Lewis of Sherwood Acres Magnet Elementary School spoke after receiving the Exchange Club of Albany 's Young Citizenship Award at the club's lunch meeting.
"I have learned that in life if I want to achieve something, all I have to do is set my mind to it," Lewis said. "That is exactly why I am getting this award right now. I set my mind on to do good in school."
It may have taken more than that to earn the award, a certificate, a thesaurus and a $50 check from the club.
"The Young Citizen Award finds the student who shows good citizenship at home, in school and in her community," said Bill Banks, club secretary. "It is given to someone who does not shirk duties when asked to do them. It is someone who is cooperative with teachers and parents. It is meant to show that good conduct is not only appreciated but rewarded."
Catherine Glover spoke about the chamber taking a more aggressive role in fighting poverty, expanding to serve the region and in dealing with state government.
"We have worked regionally with the Lee County Chamber of Commerce because there are so many people that live in Lee County and work here," Glover said. "Who better to set the standard for regionalization than the chamber? We have also joined with 23 chambers to develop a regional agenda."
With a loss of representation in the Legislature surely coming from reapportionment following the 2010 Census, Glover said it was time to band together as a region to preserve clout.
Glover said business issues in the city and the region were not about which side of town a business was on, nor were the issues about race.
"East side, west side, black, white ... it doesn't matter," Glover said. "What matters is your business and its bottom line."
Glover urged club members to grab some of the pamphlets she brought to the meeting. They outlined things such as the 23-county Southwest Georgia Chamber Council 2010 Legislative Agenda and the Albany chamber's "Strive to Thrive" program to fight poverty.
"The program to eliminate poverty is based on a national model," Glover said. "A healthy workforce cannot occur with a high rate of poverty."
Implicit in the elimination of poverty is the growth not only of a work force but of families, homeowners and consumers, all of which make for good business and a good community.
That sat well with Exchange Club members from Leesburg.
"If we focus on our region, we will all benefit as a result," said John Wright. "We have to think regionally, not just about Albany."