Thumbs Up - August 15, 2011

The Missions Committee of Albany's First Presbyterian Church recently approached the Emergency Shelter at the Salvation Army about a service project for the facility. After more years than can actually be verified, the floor in the men's dormitory was worn and, despite frequent efforts to keep it clean, contained an unpleasant odor. The decision was made to close the dorm for two days and completely redo the floor. The One Love Church of the Nazarene opened its doors to house the men displaced by the work. Carpet was removed, floors sanded and an epoxy floor coating system applied. After drying, it was re-sanded and a top coat of sealer was applied. The new floor now smells like, well, "new." It is easy to clean and has a life expectancy of around 20 years. Great job!

Rachel Scott was the first to die in the shooting at Columbine High School in April 1999. Her father, Darrell, has founded "Rachel's Challenge" based on his young daughter's left-behind diaries. In an effort to change attitudes and stave off bullying, the associated curriculum will soon be implemented in the Dougherty County School System as well as many other systems across the nation. Rachel wrote an essay just six weeks before her life was taken, all about her code of life and ethics. The teen believed that it was imperative that people look for the good in one another. Rachel's father is challenging entire communities, including the schools within, to embrace the ideas his daughter left behind. In her words, "I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same." School is back in session and the time to start with this challenge is now.

Speaking of bullies, the staff of the Boys and Girls Clubs recently attended training for implementing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. The staff working with the youngsters of Albany/Dougherty clubs have been armed with valuable information that will hopefully take the wind out of the bullies' sails as well as protect those living nearby. If the children walking our neighborhoods today never become bullies, their numbers will grow smaller everyday.

A special thank you goes out to Target. The Salvation Army took referrals from several area agencies for the names of children needing special attention getting ready for a new school year. The Army solicited volunteers and provided necessary training. That done, off the children and helpers went on an exciting shopping spree. Backpacks and crayons, notebooks and glue sticks, pencils and paper, markers and scissors ... They got it all. Due to the generosity, flexibility and trust of Target and local agencies, 55 children headed back to school with all the supplies needed to get a good start on the new year. Whether victims of abuse, neglect, homelessness or simply from a family on the brink of economic disaster, these 55 children have one less obstacle in the pathway to academic success. It took a lot of people to organize this project, very special people. Again, thank you Target and the same goes to each person involved.

It is unfortunate, but true, that the care given to veterans is not always what it should be, especially regarding health care. What is fortunate, however, is the fact that at least one person elected to listen to the needs of citizens in Southwest Georgia has turned a listening ear to veterans. Sen. Freddie Powell Sims, D-Dawson, organized a forum held at Albany Tech last week to give veterans a chance to speak out about issues involving VA hospitals and clinics. While representatives from the camps of U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, and Johnny Isakson, R-Marietta, and U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, were on hand, Sims attended in person, a move that speaks volumes about her priorities.