Every year, the Community Foundation of Coffee County award community-based charitable organizations with grants to benefit their causes and community. This year, the foundation funded the following organizations: LIA Foundation, The Mary Hayes Center for Social Change and Hope Outreach Center.
Derrick, and his wife, Chandra Green, founders of LIA Foundation, were funded $2,000 to fully stock each shelf of their food pantry with different goods to provide a full-course meal to a child or family in need. LIA Foundation is a non-profit organization (501c3) that mainly focuses on child hunger in Coffee and surrounding counties. According to Derrick, LIA, Love in Action, represents a child they haven’t conceived yet.
“There are many great things that go on in Coffee County to try to lessen hunger but it’s still very much present in the community”, said Derrick after acknowledging the organizations and groups who have contributed their time and resources towards the issue. Derrick and Chandra both agree that, as being school teachers, they witness the need firsthand. “We see it on a daily basis; we see the kid that comes to school and can’t concentrate because he’s hungry.”
The LIA Foundation not only focuses on child hunger but provides assistance to those families in need. The organization plans on providing afterschool tutoring, GED and mentoring programs, individual and family financial planning and a clothing bank. On Dec. 7, 2017, The Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for the food pantry. Derrick explained that phase two would be to use his building, Worldwide Auto Brokers, as a commercial feeding site to deliver and provide hot meals to low-income families.
In addition to the food pantry, Derrick and Chandra are organizing a ‘Backpacks for kids’ program at their school. Their goal for this project is to create a more satisfying meal for children during the weekend and prepare enough food to feed more than one.
Instead of the foundation opening in January, the grant allowed for the pantry to open sooner than expected. “With that grant, we’re able to provide so many families with real meals instead of the little bags that probably won’t last but for maybe a snack,” said Derrick. During the special event, Chandra revealed that with the help of the Community Foundation grant they were able to instantly provide food to a family who was in an emergent need.
Five hundred dollars was awarded to The Mary Hayes Center for Social Change to help update the facility with a new water fountain, food warmer and beverage dispenser. The center has a mission to promote the guidance of at-risk students. According to Gwendolyn Reliford, service director, over three-fourths of their students are referred to them from either DEFACS or school counselors. This year, they’ve gained three special needs children and a few student-teachers from South Georgia State College.
The center offers an after-school program with the help of those college students and volunteers. They help students with homework, tutoring and preparation for the Georgia Milestone Test. Right now the Mary Hayes Center has an average of 39 students of which 85 percent maintained honor roll this past grading period and 12 of those students made straight A’s.
Students who attend the afterschool program work on developing good attitudes, anti-bullying, expressing themselves through arts and improving behavioral and moral characteristics. Every Thursday, they have bible-based sessions. “Every problem that they have, we try to find a scripture or something related in the bible to help them solve that problem,” said Reliford.
George Blampied, Chairman of The Mary Hayes Center, went on to express how thankful he was of the many contributors that offered their resources and time into promoting a positive influence in the lives of the youth and adults in the community.
The Hope Outreach Center was unable to attend the event but received $500 to upgrade the outdoor recreation area. The Hope Center is located in the Oak Park area in Coffee County. The center provides free services to children and families. They offer an after-school program, GED classes, parenting classes, a work and learn program and housing assistance − just to name a few. Their main purpose is to give spiritual and moral guidance to young people and have an understanding of the social needs of people.
Any community-based charitable organization including those who received funding this year are eligible to apply again. Applicants must complete the online application at www.cfcga.org/webportal.
Chandra and Derrick Green, founders of LIA Foundation, accept a donation of $2,000 from CFCC.