Thumbs Up! - Oct. 29, 2012

In the changes at The Herald that have resulted in the newspaper being printed daily in Tallahassee, there was a downsizing of personnel. A local organization has stepped in to help those former employees stay healthy. The Albany YMCA is offering to extend membership privileges until Feb. 1 to all of those affected. Those who are already Y members will have their bank drafts suspended until Feb. 1. “For over 100 years,” Executive Director Dave Wallace said in a letter to the individuals, “the Albany Area YMCA has worked diligently to help make a difference in our community during both good and bad times. We are committed to helping our neighbors maintain a healthy lifestyle regardless of the challenges they may be facing.” We appreciate the generosity that YMCA officials demonstrated with this thoughtful gesture.

Today is a big one for Girls Inc. of Albany and Sherrell Byrd Alexander. The organization that serves so many young girls throughout the Albany area has been a shining star in the community for many years. Most recently, the nonprofit was honored as a White House Champion for Change for its work in substance abuse prevention. Girls Inc. is also the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Nonprofit of the Year. The organization has an excellent record in many areas, from the prevention of teen pregnancy to graduation rates. Alexander steps into the big shoes left by Lakisha Bryant and her many years of work with the organization. This is, by the way, the same young woman who ran for the District 2 Dougherty County School Board seat against long-time incumbent Milton Griffin in 2010. The Albany Herald endorsed Alexander (then Byrd) and continues to stand behind her as she starts this new career.

Arthur Berry was chair of the Art Department at Albany State University from 1967-88. For many more years than that, Berry has been dedicated to his artwork and served as mentor to hundreds of students. Now retired, at least from ASU, the 89-year-old, despite declining eyesight, still paints. This month, Berry and 11 others received Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities. Gov. Nathan Deal formed the award to honor individuals and organizations for “significant contributions to Georgia’s cultural vitality.” Arthur Berry was an excellent choice.

Earlier this month, it was announced that 26 local Marines have volunteered to mentor students at International Studies Charter Elementary School. The “Mentors in Action” will be much more than homework helpers/tutors. The volunteers will talk and, even better, listen to the students, getting to know them and what their lives are like at home as well as school. They will serve as role models and friends. Col. Don Davis, commanding officer at MCLB-Albany, has urged the mentors to “be the example, don’t just set the example.” Thank you MIA for caring about these children.

Gasoline was 55 cents per gallon, the last ground troops were removed from Vietnam, “The Brady Bunch” was popular on TV, the average cost of a new home was $27,550 when Betty Johnson went to work in the Lee County Tax Office. The year was 1972. Now, 40 years and some months later, Johnson has completed her last bit of business for the county, at least officially. For your dedication to the citizens of Lee County, this “thumbs up” is for you. Now, go forth and enjoy your retirement years.