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Thursday afternoon, Clay Lott, president of the Douglas Rotary Club, presented Vernon Talkington with a check for $10,000 to assist the HOPE Center with the programs and activities Vernon and his wife, Angie, conduct through the HOPE Center.
The funds came from money raised through the Joe Day Memorial Golf Tournament which Rotary hosted in April.
The Talkingtons came to Douglas 24 years ago while on a sabbatical after 20 years in ministry in Illinois. They passed through Douglas on their way to Panama City. While they were in Douglas, they visited the Oak Park community. Burdened by the number of children they saw in the community, their one-year sabbatical turned into four months. They returned home to Illinois and promptly moved to Douglas.
For the last 24 years, the HOPE Center has been a place of refuge for the children and families of the Oak Park community. Their work depends entirely on donations and gifts, and funds from the Joe Day golf tournament have been vital to the HOPE Center’s continued work in the community.
During his remarks Thursday, Rev. Talkington stated that the way to reach at-risk children is to enter into their suffering with them. “All the programs in the world won’t work if you aren’t willing to suffer with them,” he said. He cited Jesus as an example of someone who put value on what the culture of his day believed had no value. Children, Rev. Talkington said, haven’t alway been valued by societies throughout history. Even in today’s culture, those children who live economically depressed, crime-ridden communities often fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to overlook and dismiss them as more headline-friendly projects grab attention.
But the Talkingtons and the HOPE Center are making sure that does not happen in Oak Park. They live and work in the community they serve. They get involved with the families and children who participate in their program. And because of their influence, the children of the Oak Park community are loved and valued.
The Douglas Rotary Club would like to thank all of the hole sponsors and contributors to the golf tournament. These funds make an immediate and lasting impact on the Douglas-Coffee County community.