Rotarian Nancy Tillinghast, Director of the Thomas County Library, is an active member of the Certified Literacy Community Program for the past eight years providing important leadership and the Chair of this committee in our Club. Under this program, annually free books are given to four year olds, dictionaries are given to third graders, a Back to School Blitz is conducted, a fund raising spelling bee is held and GED Scholarships are awarded. Rotary In cooperation with CLEP, Kiwanis, Flowers Foods and Thomas County Family Connections, purchased and distributed 675 dictionaries and 681 books to elementary school children in 25 classes at four elementary schools. The book Gotta Go Gotta Go was read to the children. This program stimulates a love of reading early that is a fundamental skill required for an education enhancing the student's development and academic performance which ultimately benefits the community. Involvement by our Club in this activity reinforces our branding as a major supporter of education and supports our community outreach. This is a continuing activity of our Club each year.
The project design incorporates a model of using youth leadership to establish a peer based program of personal responsibility leading to positive outcomes with respect to HIV/Aids and Drug Awareness. This project will impact 12 teens who will serve on the Youth Leadership Council as planners and conveners of the Summit. Another 175-200 teens attending the Summit will be impacted through educational and informative sessions.
Our Club recognizes academic and technology students of the month, their parents and advisors. Each student is asked to identify his guests at the meeting, typically parents and advisors or sponsors, describe their major activities in high school and their plans for the future. Having an opportunity to speak before a group teaches them about preparation and gives them confidence about such opportunities to speak in the future. The students are awarded certificates for their selection and have a picture made to be published in the Thomasville Times Enterprise. Recognition of these students rewards them for their hard work and encourages others to emulate them leading to more productive citizens. This activity supports our Brand as encouraging scholarship and citizenship in our student population. This is a continuing activity each year.
In connection with Thomas County Certified Literacy Committee Rotarian Nancy Tillinghast from our Club sponsors a community wide team trivia Bee Competition and we provided two teams of three Rotarians to participate in the trivia bee. Each team that enters pays a $300 entrance fee. The proceeds from the event are used to purchase dictionaries and other books to be given to elementary students in the community. The Club swept the competition with the Rotary GTD -- Greatest Trivia Dominators consisting of Rotarians Don Sims, Gene McNease and Rotary spouse Theresa Brown, winning the competition with the Rotary Nerds, Ron Salter, Lauren Basford and Jeff Zoller placing second out of nine teams.
Decor took a nod from the Rotary theme "Making a Difference". We incorporated jewel tone colors to mimic the theme logo. The bright tablecloth was set off by a royal blue organza overlay. Wooden lodge dishes were set off by a bright orange origami napkins and bright blue cups (glassware was not allowed at event). Anchoring the table was a gold Manzanita tree centerpiece with fresh greenery (courtesy, Singletary's Flowers). Multicolor ribbons were hung from the tree with little cards listing achievements by Rotarians worldwide and locally.
Our Club participated in the "Back to School Blitz" for 2000 students sponsored by Thomas County Family Connections. Over 27 participants handed out free school supplies and shared information concerning resources available, school activities and health support. Free eye exams, hearing tests and health screening were conducted. This activity provided school supplies to students who otherwise may not have been able to obtain them. The health screenings were very valuable to be sure that there were no physical obstacles to learning. Over 47% of Thomas County families are considered to be at the poverty level and need the support. This project reinforces our Rotary brand of supporting education and provides community interaction. This is a project that is supported each year. Rotarians participated in the planning of the event, packaging and handing out the supplies, as well as security. We contributed $500 to purchase supplies.
CampSTEMtastic at Thomas University serves three distinct purposes:
promotion STEM fields to low-income students, offering teachers-in-training real world experience working with studens on STEM lessons, and acting as a long term research project to collect data
on the outcomes of early and frequent exposure to STEM fields of study.
The Thomasville and Thomas County Food Bank provides supplemental food stuffs to a large number of local residents. We conduct an annual effort among members and associates to gather canned goods and other non-perishable food items for this Food Bank.
This year nearly 400 pounds of food goods were collected.
The annual day of service and celebration and volunteerism benefits more than 40 Different project sites and brings together more than 1,200 community volunteers of all ages, resulting in more than 4500 hours of Service.
The Rotary Club of Thomasville has provided landscape services at The Vashti Center, a residential and outpatient service for troubled adolescents in Southwest Georgia, a ministry of the United Methodist Church.
On a Saturday, October 21, 2017, 13 Rotarians, 1 Rotarian Spouse, 2 Rotarian kids and 8 Vashti volunteers joined together to refresh the landscaping on the commons areas at Vashti. This multi acre site was raked of debris, shrubs were trimmed, fifty bales of pinestraw were spread, and a refreshed look was created.
In this program high School students write an essay on a character value and how it applies to the student's life. Our Club participated in this program with Thomas County Central High School involving over 1,000 students, Thomasville High School and Bishop Hall Charter School. This program encourages students to think about values that are keystones to becoming good productive citizens. Winners will read their essays at a club meeting and be publicized in the Thomasville Times Enterprise newspaper. Rotarians plan to participate in the evaluations of the essays.
Every year the Community under the leadership of Rotarian Nancy Tillinghast, the Thomas County Library Director, and Rotarian Andre Maria selects a book to be read by the community members in conjunction with various activities including author appearances and other activities. This year our Club donated $1,000 as a Silver sponsor to the One Book project which will involve a title to be announced. This project encourages the youth of the city to read as they and their parents get involved.
The Thomasville Rose Show in April annually is recognized as a regional highlight for horticulturalists and rose enthusiasts particularly. We provide members and tools to set up the tables and table coverings as the show’s venue is built.
Another great time in 2017. Easy 5 hours of Coffee and stapling. I always enjoy the people and feeling of accomplishment
The Rotary Club of Thomasville sponsored two students to RYLA last summer and plans on sponsoring four rising juniors for The Youth Leadership Academy this year after which they will be invited to give a report at a club meeting. Last year's students, Keldron Riddick, from Scholars Academy, and Stuart Allen, from Brookwood, reported that they improved their leadership skills learned in team activities and developed new friendships from among the 100 other Georgia attendees. They will be prime candidates to become Rotarians in the future. This activity reinforced our Club brand as supporting education and is a project we support each year. This year we are only authorized two slots, but we have requested that we have two additional slots if they become available.
The Thomasville and Thomas County Salvation Army is a critical provider to the community members in need of spiritual, housing, clothing and other support. The RCT has a long history providing members to serve as bell ringers at the Thomasville Walmart to gather Contributions from store patrons. RCT members take responsibility for an entire week during the pre-holiday fund raising period.
This program funds taught sixty disadvantaged youth from Harper Elementary School eight hours of swimming lessons at the YMCA as requested by the president of the Harper Parent Teacher Association. This project serves two purposes. First it validates the importance of parents participating in the Parent Teacher Organization, a long term school goal which our Club has been supporting, but second it teaches important life saving skills to youngsters who would otherwise not be able to swim. This project enhances our Club's brand as doing all we can to support the youth of our community. The President of the Thomasville YMCA is Rotarian Tom Everett.
The Rotary Club of Thomasville has been and will continue to support local community youth sports as a means of developing physical, mental and spiritual sides of our youth. This year our club sponsored a YMCA football team and Director Will Felts coaches a YMCA soccer team.
Our Club supports Youth Leadership Thomasville. This program for high school juniors is adapted from the J. W. Fanning Institute for Leadership and Community Development of the University of Georgia. It focusses on developing leadership skills, team building and community awareness. This year's facilitators featured Rotarians Mary Beth Donalson and Lauren Basford as well as financial support from our Club. This activity further supports our Rotary brand of educational enrichment to develop future leaders in our schools and community.
The Morehouse School of Medicine partnered with several schools, community-based and faith-based organizations to implement the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. This 5 year federally funded initiative of $1.2 million per year will serve approximately 3,450 middle and high school aged youth over a five-year period in eight counties: Dekalb, Douglas, Dougherty, Grady, Jasper, Putnum and Thomas. All counties have teen birth rates above the national rate of 26.5 for every 1,000 adolescent females, ages 15-19. Under the leadership of Rotarian Andre Marria, Key Consultant, and Fidelity Manager, who was responsible for the program in Thomas and Grady Counties. Our club will be a partner in the program for Thomas County. An MOU is being drafted that will define our role and financial contribution.
An annual project for over 15 years our club has produced the SafeDrive Map to alert citizens, especially newcomers and student drivers, about the most dangerous roads and intersections in the Thomasville/Thomas County region. One indicator of the map's success is the fact that 4000 copies are distributed free of charge with help from all six Interact Clubs associated with our Club, all area auto insurance companies, the Georgia State Patrol Drivers' and Examination office and others. The map credits the Rotary Club of Thomasville as sole sponsor, branding Rotary as a leader in driver safety for the community.
The Rotary Cub of Thomasville supports the 1230th Transportation Company, Georgia National Guard. This company has deployed to the combat zone in Iraq and Afghanistan twice in the last 10 years. The Club honored some two hundred and eighty five of these soldiers and their families by supporting the Family Day Holiday party from 11 to 3, Sunday, December 3th, at the Exchange Club this year. On this day the soldiers and their families celebrated each other, were provided gifts and a traditional Turkey dinner with all the trimmings. The hall was decorated with holiday themes, holiday music and a Bounce House and slide were provided. Santa Claus made an appearance with gifts for the children and, in cooperation with the Thomasville Music and Drama Troupe, a soloist sang Christmas and Seasonal songs. In addition, supported by Thomas University two Noncommissioned Officers were honored with Peacemaker Awards and recognized for their service to the community. Thirteen Rotarians and two other volunteers prepared the food for the officers and non-commissioned officers to serve. Thirty Rotarians provided homemade desserts for the party. The event was covered in the Thomasville Times Enterprise. This project reinforced our brand of supporting First Responders and soldiers as this year's overarching theme and is an annual event.
The Rotary Club of Thomasville last year developed a program to honor each of the local service brances of our community: Law Enforcement (Thomasville Police and Thomas County Sheriff), both City and County Fire Departments, Emergency Medical Technicians, and the Utility Department.
Tax Aide is a Rotary award winning program in partnership with AARP, Thomas University, Hands on Thomas County and the Thomasville Library. Rotary and these organizations had initially come together to provide free tax service to the citizens of Thomas County for a second year. However, the reputation of the program has brought in clients from the neighboring Grady and Colquitt counties and distant Lowndes county. The service is provided every Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:30am - 4:00pm. The service started February 1st and will conclude after 11 weeks on April 18th. Through the first week in March over 110 low and moderate income households from Southwest Georgia will have been provided free Federal and Georgia tax preparation service. The results of this service are over $300,000 in refunds and credits for our most impoverished citizens. Subscribing to the theory that every dollar in a community turns over 3 times, then the impact on the community is the local circulation of $900,000. With the number of citizens served and the amount of their refunds, there is definitely joy in "Mudville".
This is a program funded by a District Grant and contributions from our Club in which Rotarians discuss six Character Pillars with before and after student evaluations for fifty students at The Vashti Center, Marguerite Neel Williams Boys and Girls Club, the Thomasville Community Resource Center and the Thomasville City Schools' Scott Elementary School. Vashti offers a residential program for students who are not able to live with their families and the Boys and Girls Club and the Resource Center are after school programs which helps young people become productive citizens. The Character Counts Program from the Josephson Institute involves the staff discussing with the students each of the character traits of Fairness, Caring, Citizenship, Trustworthiness, Respectfulness, and Responsibility for one month. Two Rotarians then meet with the students to discuss how the trait of the month has impacted their personal and professional lives. The students are then involved in a discussion about how this trait could apply in their lives and the difference it could make. The assessment of the program at Vashti was that “The Character Counts Curriculum has proven to increase the morale and values of the youth in the program.” We have branded our Club as giving priority to educational projects and this program reinforces this branding in the community. We expect this innovative program to have a similar impact this year and plan to continue it in the future.
Bullying is a documented problem in both Thomasville City School and Thomas County School systems.
Be the Voice that Stops Bullying – We have purchased and received 2 kits from the Roswell Club. We have distributed to two local middle schools (Thomas County Middle School and McIntyre Park Middle School) in October. Once they have completed the project, we will invite them to the Rotary Club to share the results.
Rotary sponsored the 3rd Annual Thomasville Scott Senior Center Valentine's Party for 85 seniors Feb 14, 2018. The community was included by having white trees with heart ornaments displayed in three locations (Thomasville National Bank on Broad Street, Thomasville National Bank on Remington Avenue, and Southern Pines Senior Living). Each ornament had the name of a senior and their desire for a Valentine gift. The community was encouraged to purchase a $10 gift or donate $10. The party began at 11:00a with dancing. Watching seniors move, smile, and cheer was the best part. One gentleman present had a feeding tube and rarely ventured from his walker. Yet, the music called him to the dance floor to show us his moves. Again, Rotary was able to offer a catered lunch by Henderson's, and Southern Pines donated a variety of desserts. Awards were given for Lady Valentine/Guy Valentine, best lady/guy dancer, and best lady/guy smile. ALL seniors were then given a Valentine gift provided by the community. Photos were taken by Rotarian Ben Wilds who captured some great candid moments. The event almost paid for itself with sponsorship money and donations. Seven Rotarians were directly involved and many more contributed gifts/donations for our seniors. Three members of a sponsorship came to volunteer at the party. This project impacts Rotary branding by making the broader community aware that Rotary is involved in the community benefitting seniors. CNS was present to capture some footage, which has been broadcasted numerous times.
The Rotary Junior Tennis Tournament is our oldest, continuous Community Service project, going back to 1978-79! Last year marked the 36th Year of offering boys and girls ages 6-18 a USTA sanctioned tournament. Competitors from four states including South Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Georgia have gained State Southern and National rankings while staying close to home. In past years numerous Rotarians helped man concessions and assisted with tournament administrative duties. Today only 2-4 Rotarians are needed for the two day tournament. Over the years the tournament has been self sustaining and actually has made money for scholarships in most years. Gene McNease and Tom Harrison are very proud of having provided leadership in keeping this valuable service project viable and well administrated for all these years. Our Club has hosted as many as 200 players in one tournament but normally it runs 50-75 players today. The Tournament this year will be 30 April and 1 May on the new Glen Arven hydroclay tennis courts. This is a continuing project that demonstrates to families from the southeast the commitment Rotary has to Youth.
Playground Maps of USA in Thomas County Elementary Schools
ELementary school children in our country need to have knowledge of the geography of the USA, particularly knowledge of the fifty states. The Rotary Club of Thomasville has consulted with the Thomasville City School system to gain permission to paint fifty foot wide maps of the USA with each state painted in different colors on their elementary school paved playgrounds. The result will be a year around teaching tool for children to improve and maintain their geography knowledge. The five Rotarians with participation from fifteen Interact Club students and their faculty advisor completed painting a 20’ x 40’ map of the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) under the covered playground (pavilion) at Harper Elementary School. The map will be used to provide geographical education to elementary students at the school.
The Rotary Club of Thomasville awards five $1,000 scholarships for advanced education to deserving students from Thomasville High School, The Scholars Academy, Thomasville Central High School, Bishop Hall Charter School and Brookwood High School. This money provides financial support to students who face ever increasing costs of post secondary education. Rotarians are involved in fundraising by conducting a weekly drawing and a football competition. Rotarians serve on the school selection committees and award the scholarships at graduation ceremonies. The media coverage of this project supports the branding of our club as having a primary focus on education and provides significant community awareness.
SOUNS is a program developed by Montessori and championed by Brenda Erickson to help children read earlier and better. Our Rotary Club provides SOUNS kits of letters that are used to associate sounds with letters so that children can associate letters with words that they can pronounce. Rotarians are also involved in the evaluation phase of the program to determine the progress of the students. Our Club supports SOUNS in the Thomas County Head Start program to approximately 159 children taught by 18 teachers. Each child participates in a 15 minute SOUNS exercise each day. Interviews with the teachers indicates that it is an effective tool to improve reading skills. This program will be conducted each year branding Rotary as an organization that cares for the next generation to have a chance at a quality education and it all begins with strong reading skills.
Rotary Club of Thomasville's Public Image enhances the Rotary brand by telling Rotary’s story to the public and promote the club’s projects and activities with a strong emphasis on all three (3) themes: our local club: “Recognizing Those Who Serve”, District 6900: “Dare To Be Better”, Rotary International: “Rotary Serving Humanity.”
Our Stellar Rotarian, John Brown, has given real impetus to the Interact program in our Club.
The Club Supports six existing Interact Clubs. The Interact clubs are Brookwood Upper School, Scholars Academy, Thomas County Central High School, CHART Home School, Thomasville City Schools Rose City Strings Orchestra and Bishop Hall Charter School. These clubs now comprise 205 students and 6 faculty advisors. They accomplished a record number of community and International Club projects. The students have had 193 volunteers to date that have worked on thirteen projects which have had a very positive impact on our community for 1795 volunteer hours and have raised $240 for an African Missionaries project with Global Outreach international. The report on the individual club's projects and activities is attached below. In addition to the student volunteers listed below, three Rotarians served as mentors for Interact Club students.
The Club hosts a Wine or Whine event the first Tuesday of each month at a local venue, often owned by a Rotarian. It is a good time for members and spouses to gather for beverages of their choice and snacks after a hard day's work. Typically a Director will update the group on a project or other matter of interest and then great fellowship and conversation ensues. Those Rotarians who participate earn a Make up.