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Thumbs Up - August 13, 2012

The Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act (USERRA) was created as a way to promote cooperation and understanding between National Guard and Reserve members with their civilian employers. Darton State College, a member of the Service members Opportunity Colleges, is an approved institution for both Tuition Assistance and Veterans Affairs educational benefits. GI Jobs Magazine has recognized Darton as a Military Friendly School for 2012. Along that same line, Dr. Jeff Kluball, director of music at the college, was recently presented with the Patriotic Employer Award from the Employers Support for the Guard and Reserve. The recognition came following the nomination from fellow faculty member Dr. Christopher Walker. Walker stressed the cooperation of the institution, and especially Kuball, as he serves in the Air Force National Guard and the 572nd Air Force Band, one of only five Air National Bands in the country. Thank you, Dr. Walker for serving and you, Dr. Kluball, for supporting him.

A fact many are unaware of is that the U.S. military does not provide pillows for combat soldiers. Whatever the thinking of those making that decision, there is a group of mothers that began in 2009 to remedy the issue. Pillows for Patriots, based in Beaufort, S.C., has shipped almost 47,000 pillows over the last three years to soldiers in combat. The group would like to distribute pillows to soldiers as they board the buses on base headed for the war zones. Individually, the pillows cost a mere $3.50, less than some cups of coffee. If you want to really make a difference, here is the perfect opportunity. Visit www.pillowsforpatriots.org for more information.

One family at a time, Albany’s anti-poverty program Strive2Thrive is making inroads that will change lives for generations to come. At the 2012 American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) National Convention, the Albany workforce development program walked away with the Gold Communications in Excellence Award by the ACCE before being named “Best in Show” in its category. That particular initiative seeks to partner working professionals with Albany families living in poverty. Congratulations.

It was last November when Tracie Turner, a Worth County School System social worker, and co-workers began what came to be called the Angel Fund. While donors were generous during that month and the next, no additional money has been collected. Through frugal management (hear those pinched pennies scream), the Angel Fund was able to provide five bookbags with supplies as well as some shoes and clothes to start the current school year. Where else have the dollars gone, some may ask. Two seniors last spring were living without adults but were determined to graduate. The students took care of the academics and the fund paid for the caps and gowns. Others have received medicine, personal hygiene items, food and much more. The funds are exhausted now but the need is ever present. Contact Turner at (229) 776-8600 to give whatever you can. No amount is too small.

What took years to get started is now moving at an amazingly fast pace. Since Oxford Construction was given the go-ahead to begin demolition of the worst eyesore in Albany, the Heritage House, workers have created the most beautiful stacks of rubble one can behold. Regular drive-bys have proven quite delightful of late. The route down Oglethorpe, that was once one to avoid, can now be something to look forward to. The site changes with each day. The piles of rubble grow fewer and smaller. The big machinery is cranked up and soon the blighted property will be only a bad memory. Newcomers will never know just how bad the Heritage House was; and that is a marvelous thought.