Today’s blog post comes from Cory K. Bennett, a Communities In Schools alumnus and Site Coordinator for Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Thomasboro Academy.
To honor the 9/11 memorial weekend, fellow Site Coordinator Janelle Dunlap, Alumni Network Specialist Mordecai Scott and I organized a beautification project on campus—an event Thomasboro Academy students never had an opportunity to participate in before. Thanks to donations from Toolbox of Charlotte, Hands on Charlotte and other generous local organizations, major areas of the school are now clean, groomed and landscaped, and the recreational basketball hoops open to the entire Thomasboro community have been replaced!
Throughout the Day of Service, students learned something about gardening and agriculture while enjoying a beautiful Saturday outdoors. For me, having Ms. Doby, a resident of the Thomasboro community for more than 20 years, alongside us made the day really special.
Ms. Doby plays the “grandmother” of the neighborhood for the students. On hot days she gives out popsicles, candy and fruit, and watches over those wandering and playing daily.
Ms. Doby said, “I watch the kids every day and it’s so good to finally see someone [like Communities In Schools] doing something with them, for them.”
This is essentially what drives Communities In Schools: the idea of giving back. For me, it’s kind of an ironic blessing; I was a student served by Communities In Schools, and now I work for the organization and serve the local community. Working as a site coordinator is a truly fulfilling way for me to complete the cycle and give back!
The wrap-up to the National Day of Service included the amazing volunteers from West Charlotte High School writing personalized “Tiger Treats.” Referring to the Thomasboro Tiger spirit, the messages serve as a reminder and a marker that someone took the time to make a younger student appreciate their school, feel pride for their neighborhood and pass on the responsibility to maintain the work done together as one!
The opportunity to reach back and pull the next student from where I was as a kid, to a place beyond what statistics say are attainable, is my goal and passion. I look forward to working on future beautification projects not only at Thomasboro, but for the entire West Corridor of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. By surrounding students with a community of support, we empower them to stay in school and achieve in life. As a witness and testament to Communities In Schools’ reach, I say my success story is yet to be completed. But thanks to my former site coordinator and Communities In Schools of Charlotte, my story has an excellent beginning.