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Thumbs Up! - Aug. 5, 2013

National Night Out was once again a success as hundreds turned out at Radium Springs Middle School. The annual event focuses on the partnership residents and public safety officials can have in the prevention of crime while sending a message of unity to the criminals that the neighborhoods are fighting back. Planning and pulling off such an event is no small task . Co-sponsors were the Dougherty County Police Department and Hines Memorial CME Church but many others were instrumental in providing food, music, bookbags and school supplies.

When plans were first made public about creating a museum in Albany to honor Paula Deen, it seemed like a wonderful idea. Some folks, aka fair weather fans, backed off the excitement when it was discovered that the celebrity honesty admitted using a racial slur some 30 years ago. The true fans and those not prone to stone throwing are still eager to see the Paula Deen & Sons Museum find a home nearby. There is a committee in place and work has already begun on the business/legal end of the museum's creation. Suggestions as to location are being considered. Investors and developers are offering ideas. Wherever the museum lands, here's hoping Deen's merchandise will be made available for purchase by those wishing to support another fine Albany native.

Dougherty County Family Literacy Council, Inc. works to break the cycle of illiteracy, a major player in the cause of poverty. Low income families with a child under the age of eight participate in all four program components: Adult education, early childhood development, parenting and parent and child together. The adult education portion of DCFLC increased its program this summer to five days a week and six hours each day. By working with the family unit, everyone benefits. Like all such programs, there are needs and not all monetary. Baby products, gift cards and toiletries are always welcomed. Even better is the gift of time. Find out more about this incredible program by attending the next Family Connection Collaborative meeting on August 14 at noon at the Georgia Department of Human Services on Oglethorpe Avenue.

SASCO Chemicals has planted seed money for a pilot program at the Boys and Girls Clubs in Dougherty County. Thanks to Marc and Rusty Skalla, their company has taken the first step to bring "Diplomas to Degrees", a program intended to provide access to tools and resources encouraging Albany teens to stay in school. The brothers see a problem with a 67 percent graduation rate, as we all should, and donated $30,000 to help increase that rate, whether by one or 100.

Today is the day that Dougherty County students return to the classroom. Many children (and parents) are eager for school to resume while others, not so much. A child was recently explaining to an adult that his mother had the money for shoes and clothes but not school supplies, too. The soon-to-be 4th grader was concerned that his little sister, entering kindergarten, would not have a bookbag and so, took some money he had gotten from his grandpa and bought her one. In too many cases there is not enough money for any of the things kids need to have a good first day at school and there is no grandpa with a little money or an older brother willing to spend it on a little sister. The people of Albany have stepped up in more ways than can be told to help with uniforms and supplies. Thank you to each individual, church, business for all the back-to-school donations. And, thumbs up to at least one big brother with a big heart.