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Senate hopeful visits Albany

Michelle Nunn, who is seeking a U.S. Senate seat next year, interacts with Haliey Harris, 2, while on a visit to the Albany Advocacy Resource Center preschool on West Broad Avenue Friday.  (Aug. 9, 2013)

Michelle Nunn, who is seeking a U.S. Senate seat next year, interacts with Haliey Harris, 2, while on a visit to the Albany Advocacy Resource Center preschool on West Broad Avenue Friday. (Aug. 9, 2013)

ALBANY, Ga. -- As a means to help highlight volunteerism, U.S. Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn paid a visit to the Albany Advocacy Resource Center's preschool Friday morning.

Nunn, who has taken a leave of absence as CEO of Points of Light to run for the seat being vacated next year by U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, visited Albany as part of her "What Washington Can Learn from Georgia" tour, which officials say is meant to highlight how individuals are tackling tough challenges in the state through self-empowerment, entrepreneurship and collaboration.

"We are profiling the extraordinary work of Georgia to come together and get things done," Nunn said. "The Albany ARC is something that engages all people ... to nurture and build self-sufficiency of kids (so they can contribute to society).

"They equip individuals to be full-fledged members of society."

The Albany ARC's mission, as stated on the organization's website, is to create "life-changing solutions for people with disabilities" with the vision of people of all abilities experiencing "the same opportunities, rights and freedoms as inclusive members of the community."

The organization was initially founded in 1963 as an advocate for children with disabilities in the form of a preschool.

"(Nunn's visit) gives more exposure to the community and those with developmental disabilities," said Sonia Prescott, education director at the Albany ARC preschool. "It takes a lot of money, but very little time (to help them).

"It will put the message out there that (children with developmental disabilities) need early intervention."

Prescott said increased awareness would be beneficial not just to the community as a whole, but also to parents who need to see how certain programs can help their children become independent alongside their peers without disabilities.

"There are some children we have here with autism who have stayed here for three or four years and have gone on into a regular school," she said.

As part of her campaign, Nunn has sought to visit 11 cities in 14 days, traveling by minivan with her husband, Ron Martin; son Vinson, 10, and daughter Elizabeth, 8. Prior to her stop in Albany, she visited the Children's Treehouse -- operated by Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services -- in Columbus on Thursday. On Wednesday, she was at the Georgia Industrial Children's Home in Macon.

"When I have gone around the state, what (I've been told) frustrates people is what is not happening in Washington," she said. "(Members of Congress) seem more interested in fighting political battles.

"I'm bringing my family (on the tour) so they can see that ordinary citizens should be involved in the electoral process."

Having spent 25 years at Points of Light, an organization dedicated to volunteer service, Nunn said she hopes to take with her to the nation's capital the mindset that people working together is a way to accomplish change.

"That is the spirit I'd like to bring to Washington," she said.

Her upcoming stops are expected to include Valdosta, Savannah, Augusta, Athens, Rome, Dalton and Atlanta.

Nunn is the daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, who represented Georgia from 1972 until 1997.