Keeping it Fair in the Classroom
In 2013, Thomasville received an award that was a great achievement for the entire community. The National Civic League recognized Thomasville as one of the 10 All-American Cities. Since 1949, the Civic League makes the award to 10 national cities that exemplify outstanding civic achievement and have incorporated citizen engagement and innovation into meeting community challenges. A local grassroots program, Divine Interruption, contributed greatly to Thomasville’s receipt of such an honor.
Tracy Brinkley began Divine Interruption in Thomasville on Valentine’s Day in 2011 by with the purpose of assisting students in the Thomasville City Schools who struggle with housing and food insecurities. The project is a joint initiative sponsored by United Methodist Church in Thomasville and the Thomasville City Schools.
The national average for homeless children in the United States is 1 in 50. In Thomasville the problem is more severe where initially the numbers were 1 in 25 students are considered homeless. “These numbers show that there is a serious concern on a local level,” says Brinkley.
Brinkley, who was a member of the Thomasville City School Board from 2000-2006, had a place in her heart to help these students. “We set out with a goal of several thousands of dollars and over the last four years we’ve ended up raising over $90,000. That number alone shows the severity of the situation and we knew others were interested in supporting the cause. We also have a family who has established a college scholarship for a graduating senior who falls into this category,” says Brinkley.
The Divine Interruption program allows students to receive toiletries, haircuts, basic supplies and school needs so they can feel comfortable in a school setting with their peers. To date, the program has provided thousands of hygiene kits, hats, gloves, coats, meals, gas cards and even transportation. As a result of these donations to Thomasville City Schools’ students, children are able to learn alongside their peers on an even playing field. The model for this unique initiative has been presented at the National Association for Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) conference and at the All-America City Competition in Denver, winning awards at both events.
One of the upcoming events that will help to provide funds for the project is the All-American City Triathlon. The event will be held on Saturday, April 25 at 4 p.m. at the Tom A. Finch Community YMCA. Proceeds from the event will go toward the Memorial Day Parade & Ceremony, Children@Play and Project Divine Interruption.
The Triathlon will include a 250 yard swim and 13 mile bike course covering both city and county roads, and will finish with a 5K run through trails and neighborhoods. Participants can split the course up among team members or participate individually in all parts of the triathlon.
For more information on this event or to learn about how you can get involved with Project Divine Interruption, visit www.allamericacitysprinttri.com or www.projectdivineinterruption.org.