By Christie Pool
As I looked back over our papers from this past year, perusing front page headlines and compiling our top stories of 2015, I also noticed the stories on the inside pages. There, apart from breaking news, are the stories of our community; the stories that show how we treat each other. In those pages, I was reminded just how much good there is here.
Each week, the front page of the Progress is filled with an assortment of news: events that can be crime related or that tell us what our government agencies are up to. These “hard” news stories make up an essential part of our weekly coverage. But the rest of our paper is filled with the amazing things members of our little community are doing to better those around us. Whether building a Habitat house or packing lunches for kids who might otherwise go hungry in the summer, the people of Pickens County put their hearts into this place.
So, while our “Top Stories” may have grabbed a spot on the front page, here’s a list of just a few of those “inside” news pieces that speak volumes about who we are. We here at the Progress couldn’t be more proud of our community and are happy each week to let people know all that is being done here.
Feb. 26 - Holiday Market & Expo awards grants to non-profits. With 80 vendors and more than a thousand attendees, the 2014 expo generated $3,000 in profit that the organization returned to our community in the form of grants to six local non-profit organizations. Monetary donations went to: Appalachian Children’s Emergency Shelter (ACES), Partners of Pickens Pets, Weekend Snack Program, Boys & Girls Club of North Georgia, Youth Leadership Pickens and Pickens Ferst Foundation.
March 12 - Piedmont Mountainside builds a Learning Garden for West End Boys & Girls Club. The hospital, in partnership with the Pickens County UGA Extension and Master Gardeners, built a garden with four raised beds and six tomato cages. The Live Better program was developed to create healthier communities through sustainable health-related education. Local businesses like Hinton Milling and the Jasper Home Depot donated supplies for the project.
March 26 - Good Samaritan opens new building. The building was completed on time and under budget thanks to an army of volunteers. The 4,750-square-foot Dr. Joseph A. Wilber Building opened to patients March 16, 2015. Good Sam is a not-for-profit, community health center that provides health services to community members regardless of ability to pay or insurance status. The center has treated over 9,000 patients and has over 300 volunteers.
April 9 - Community donates 250 books for children. To celebrate Rotary International’s 110th birthday, the club started the ‘Rotary Reads Literacy Project,’ collecting infant through teen books. Citizens donated over 250 books that went to groups like Prevent Child Abuse Pickens, Head Start, ACES and the Boys and Girls Club of North Georgia.
The following week we ran a story about the local Rotary club donating 384 dictionaries to every third grade student in the county.
April 30 - Pickens Community to observe National Day of Prayer May 7th. The Pickens Ministerial Association led prayer services on the steps of the courthouse in observance of the National Day of Prayer. Heads bowed at noon as pastors and members of churches from around the community offered up prayers on behalf of our families, nation, our state, county and cities.
May 7 - Heads shaved to fight childhood cancer. Mount Zion Baptist Church raised over $5,500 for childhood cancer research by shaving 26 heads and cutting one ponytail at their second annual St. Balderick’s Foundation event.
May 21 - Hungry children to be fed this summer. With 2,000 children on the free and reduced school lunch rolls in Pickens County, the area is vastly underserved during the summer when children are hungry. To help remedy this problem, MUST Ministries coordinated an effort to feed the children for the 3rd summer in a row, providing summer lunches of sandwiches and healthy snacks and distributing them. The Weekend Snack Program packed and delivered over 13,000 snack bags for student for the 2014-15 school year.
June 4 - Boy Scouts serve up flapjacks to benefit disabled women. The Progress and E.W. Hightower Lodge #679 sponsored a pancake benefit sale at Fatz Cafe to benefit Ginny Reynolds, a Nelson resident whose home was flooded in late April. Reynolds is a disabled woman who relies on the support of a wheelchair to get around. Local Boy Scouts took orders and served the pancakes.
July 9 - Habitat gears up for construction at New Hope Acres. 99 Hope Street was the first house in Habitat’s subdivision and the 16th Habitat house in Pickens County. Habitat plans to build seven houses on lots in the Philadelphia Road neighborhood.
Sept. 17 - Piedmont Auxiliary donates $5,000 to Friends of Mountainside. The money went towards funding for an advanced vascular diagnostic that precisely shows the flow of blood through arteries.
Oct. 22 - 50 Pickens families will be served this year from successful Prevent Child Abuse Long Table. The proceeds from the event, a fine dining evening at the Pickens airport, allowed Prevent Child Abuse Pickens to offer services to 50 families in the coming year.
Nov. 26 - JeepFest provides $134K to non-profits this year. Groups such as the Georgia Sheriff Youth Homes, The Joy House, Pickens Special Olympics, Pickens Drug Court (to provide Christmas presents for children of people in the program), Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post, Jasper Elementary PTO (playground project), the Weekend Snack Program, N. Ga. Pregnancy Center, Boys & Girls Club of Pickens County, 4-H SAFE team, the Appalachian Children’s Emergency Shelter and St. Jude’s Hospital all got a boost from the two-day celebration of all things off road.
Dec. 11 - JMS club donates 1,202 canned items to food pantry. Middle school students collected this food to help those less fortunate. And CARES, as always with their volunteer force, sees that it the food gets to where it is needed.