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Thumbs Up! - Aug. 1, 2011

Since the 1970s, Kay Hind has been the driving force behind SOWEGA Council on Aging. Hind has advocated for the rights and needs of many a senior citizen throughout a 14-county area and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. From Meals on Wheels to art classes to energy assistance to day centers, Hind has managed to take whatever funds were available and get the job done. A longtime dream for this tireless (and apparently ageless) worker has been to have a facility that will bring all of the local services under one roof -- a new one. All of the counties in the service area have built new senior centers over the past 25 years and Dougherty's turn is finally here. The new and renovated buildings, located on property donated by Phoebe Putney at the site of the old Byne Memorial church and school, will feature everything from a kitchen to a lounge to space for sewing and crafts to an exercise area. So as not to be left behind by the technology of today (and tomorrow), seniors will also have access to a computer lab. There are a lot of people to thank for this long-awaited and much-needed facility, but none so much as Kay Hind.

Sandra Cawthon is new to Albany. She has been on her job as director of the Regional Youth Development Center since May. For 25 years Cawthon has worked with juvenile offenders, a profession that has no easy days. Cawthon reports some improvements already in attitude and behavior of some inmates -- a good place to start. Despite common perception, many of the young people at the YDC are not gang members but rather describe themselves as "survivors." Hunger alone can lead a child to do something he or she would not ordinarily do. Cawthon understands her inmates and has all sorts of plans to offer the guidance that can turn young lives around. One of the plans is to invite community members into the facility and to become a part of the ongoing changes. Welcome, Director Cawthon.

On August 20, a book sale will be held at Palmyra Road United Methodist Church from 8 a.m-3 p.m. There will be hardbacks, paperbacks, children's books, CDs, electronic games, comic books, DVDs, puzzles and more. The church is accepting donated items for the sale and charitable donation receipts will be available. All proceeds from the book sale will go to Operation Paperback, a non-profit organization that puts paperback books in the hands of troops in the field and stationed on overseas bases. Books are also shipped to base libraries, hospitals, ships and, at times, domestic bases and families. The dollars raised from this sale will help purchase and pay shipping for requested books. Whether you give some or buy some (or both), it's a win-win for everyone.

Paul Jones founded the Ruff Riders in 1995 as a track and field club for kids as young as six years old. After fundraising and hours and hours of practice and training, 17 girls, Coach Jones and his son, Sir Paul, and Monroe High's Larry Bellamy loaded up two vans last week for the drive to the National Junior Olympics in Wichita, Kan. At the time of this writing, results were not in for individual events and participants but regardless of placements and medals, this is a a winning bunch. In the words of Paul Jones, "This is a different breed of kid. They call me every day wanting to practice. They're here on time, ready to go every day. They're special." So are you, Coach.

Today is the first day of classes for the Dougherty County School System. Many of the new bookbags, pencils, notebooks, scissors, markers and other items that arrive with students on this day were donated by people the kids will likely never meet. To each individual, every civic group, government agencies, every non-profit and each business that donated back-to-school supplies and/or uniforms, this "thumbs up!" is for you.