Thumbs Up - Jan. 21, 2013


In the wake of the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., an assembly was held at Northside Elementary School in Albany. Counselor Tyjuana Burton spoke with students about the event, what the loss must feel like and allowed students to ask questions and talk about their own feelings. After the open forum, school Assistant Principal Yvette Simmons spoke about safety, weapons and emergency procedures. Burton recommended that each class write a letter to the students, faculty and staff at Sandy Hook. The carefully and thoughtfully written messages were packaged and mailed to the far away school. Lessons learned by the Northside students will have lasting effects, both here and there.

Just as when he was in the competition, Phillip Phillips has not forgotten from whence he came. With all sorts of restrictions and such written into his American Idol contract, Phillips has limited control over where he can perform, at least for a while yet. That did not stop him, however, from popping in at the State Theatre for “Bleep Cancer! A Benefit for Jessica Wilson.” Wilson, a wife and mother who has been battling cancer since April 2012, was the the guest of honor as Albany’s music community staged its 10th annual fight cancer benefit. “It’s great to be here,” Phillips said. “ I want to help out.” That humble, home-loving attitude (along, of course, with his talent) is one reason Phillips is the reigning “American Idol.”

With the help of a grant from Firehouse Subs, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital’s Network of Trust will purchase 17 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) that are to be placed in Dougherty County Schools. Once in place, every school within the system will have an AED. This will allow for immediate care for students, faculty, parents and staff in the event of cardiac distress and could literally prove to be a lifesaver. Thank you, Phoebe and Firehouse Subs, for caring about the people involved in the education system of Dougherty County.

Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful’s environmental education program has been named the top affiliate in its size category in the nation by Keep America Beautiful Inc. The award is no small accomplishment, as the success of KADB relies almost entirely upon volunteers. Each volunteer is counted at KADB events, and although many are repeat helpers, the number of participants over the past 12 months tallied an impressive 73,000. Congratulations.

While it may not have been traumatizing for then-4-year-old Ty Christian West when he wandered out the door of his home only to later be found under someone’s garage, such was not the case for his mother. Any missing child is cause for great concern, but in Ty’s case, it was multiplied by the fact that the youngster has Down syndrome and autism. Once his mother, Ann West, was able to take her child safely home, she realized that there was nothing in place to help locate a missing child. Enter Project Lifesaver. Through the Albany Police Department Family Protection Unit, three waterproof tracking bracelets were donated recently with Ty being the first recipient. The devices are not just for children but can also be used for Alzheimer’s patients and others with cognitive conditions. Each device costs $250, not much when considering saving someone’s life. Donations can be made to the APD Family Protection Unit. Ty’s mom did a bit of fundraising on her own and presented a check for $600 to APD officials.