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Thumbs Up! - Jan. 27, 2014

ALBANY HERALD EDITORIAL BOARD: See who deserves a thumbs up this week.

Each year a cancer survivor is chosen to turn the switch on the Lights of Love Christmas tree at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Last month, the honor went to local businesswoman Patsy Martin. A goal of $50,000 was set by the Junior Woman’s Club of Albany and the Phoebe Foundation. The 2013 fundraiser was aimed at remodeling and refurnishing the radiation oncology clinic waiting room area at the Phoebe Cancer Center. The area has remained virtually untouched in a decade and needs a serious face lift. Patients and family members that use that part of the hospital have enough on their minds and should be, at the very least, comfortable. The goal was high but the outpouring of support for the cause was even higher. With all the donations tallied, the sum raised came to more than $70,000, the highest ever. Whether it was one dollar or many, every donation was a part of this awesome success.

One sixth-grade teacher at Worth County Middle School and one of her language arts classes have earned some bragging rights. Jarshee Jenkins became an Accelerated Reader (AR) Model Educator when her students secured certification as an AR Model Classroom. To gain the recognition, students allocated 20 minutes daily for independent reading and maintained an 85 percent accuracy on all AR tests taken within a 12-week period. Every classroom has students who seem to soar toward high achievement, but a teacher who can encourage an entire class of middle schoolers to work as a team toward a goal so important to a good educaction has a special talent.

Volunteers from Georgia Power joined other volunteers from the area to spent their Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday in the service of others. Citizens of Georgia Power sent workers to the Salvation Army and the Flint RiverQuarium. At the Salvation Army warehouse, there was much to do, including sorting through donated food. At the RiverQuarium, there also was no shortage of work to do, including cleaning out a tortoise exhibit. Every volunteer hour saves the organizations time and money that can then be spent serving others. The willingness of Georgia Power employees to make MLK Day one of service would undoubtedly have made the day’s namesake proud.

Speaking of MLK Day, one of the greatest honors bestowed upon individuals locally each year is that of the Dream Award. The two recipients for 2014 are Professor Veronica Adams-Cooper of Albany State University and Lt. Terron Hayes of the Dougherty County Sheriff’s’s Office. When not in the classroom, Adams-Cooper serves on numerous boards and/or committees. She has led poverty studies, worked on improving low-income housing and is a strong advocate of parental invovlement, just to name a few of her community efforts. Hayes directs the Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit of the DCSO, but that is just his day job. Hayes has a deep love for the community and especially its young people. Race and socio-economics mean nothing when it comes to helping juveniles make sound life choices. Hayes has a positive impact on the lives of so many preteens and teenagers in this area, perhaps more so than he will ever know.

The 2014 MLK Youth Service award belongs to Jayda Robinson. Now 17 years old, Jayda made a statement in 2010 that changed her life. Jayda stated in a conversation that sex is for marriage. She was overheard by Bishop Jimmy Sneed, who encouraged her to write down 20 reasons why her simple, yet profound, statement was true. That led to a book, which led to speaking engagements which has led to, well, a lot of things. Jayda is a student at both Albany High and Darton State College and will receive a high school diploma and an associate’s degree at about the same time. The future is indeed bright for Jayda Robinson.

The Albany Herald Editorial Board