Leadership Walker County grads focused on youth programs

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 4/14/18

This year's Leadership Walker County graduates all tackled projects to benefit area youth.Thirty-four people graduated Leadership Walker County on Thursday.  Chamber of Commerce of Walker County …

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Leadership Walker County grads focused on youth programs

Posted

This year's Leadership Walker County graduates all tackled projects to benefit area youth.

Thirty-four people graduated Leadership Walker County on Thursday.  Chamber of Commerce of Walker County President Linda Lewis said this year's graduates gave some of the best presentations officials have witnessed in the program, sponsored by the chamber and Bevill State Community College.

Of the five teams that participated this year, two teams created projects to benefit the Walker County Children's Advocacy Center. Other groups worked to benefit the county's Hope After Loss Organization (H.A.L.O.) and Youth Advocacy Programs of Jasper. Another group developed a plan to teach students the dangers of drinking and driving, along with other reckless behaviors.

"The common theme this year that really hit home was that every group saw the importance of youth and children," Lewis said. "These people come from various municipalities in our county, different backgrounds, but they come together for one cause, and they determine what their project will be. They become very compassionate with that project."

One group crafted a commercial to promote the Walker County Children's Advocacy Center and the center's largest fundraiser of the year, the Safe Kids Expo. Another group created a GoFundMe page to raise money to expand the center to provide medical services.

The advocacy center serves to provide forensic interviews and mental health therapy for children who are victims of physical of sexual abuse. They coordinate services with the Department of Human Resources, law enforcement and others.  

Britton Lightsey, the countywide manager of Alabama Power, and Lutis Moore, the principal of Jasper Jr. High School, both worked with other team members to raise money for the advocacy center. 

Lightsey said he is thankful to have been a part of this year's leadership program. 

"The main thing I will take away from it is the relationships built. They're going to be everlasting," he said. "I appreciate the time and effort that Bevill State and the chamber of commerce put into Leadership Walker County, because it takes a lot of time to put on a class, especially a class for over 30 people."

Moore said the program was especially educational and uplifting. 

"I felt that Leadership Walker County opened my eyes to a lot of great things that are happening within the county," he said. "Walker County has a lot to offer, regarding job growth, job training and quality schools. There's just so much that we can do and so much more that we can promote." 

Another group wanted to raise awareness for youth on distracted driving, alcohol and drug abuse and suicide prevention, using the slogan "Change One Save One." 

In addition to surveying county and city schools students to determine their impact in regards to troublesome issues, they plan to invite Mike Lutzenkirchen to give a motivational speech to all ninth- and 10th-graders in September.

Oakman Police Chief Ken Marbury was part of the Change One Save One group, and recently told the Daily Mountain Eagle that Leadership Walker County has inspired him to be more involved in encouraging the county's youth.

"I want to get more involved with the school system — especially from the seventh-grade to seniors — to truly make a difference and to change some of their attitudes," Marbury said. 

Andrew Brasfield, the multimedia coordinator for Bevill State Community College, and his team members worked to raise awareness about H.A.L.O., an organization that provides memory boxes as an emotional comfort to parents who have lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, etc.  

"Leadership Walker County this year was an amazing experience. I got to meet so many great people from across the county that I would never have never been in contact with otherwise," Brasfield said. "It was so nice to be in a group of people who focused on the positives happening in the county, rather than the negatives so many people seem to dwell on." 

The Salvation Army's Saderia Morman reflected on her group's efforts to benefit Youth Advocacy Programs of Jasper. The organization works with youth and families in the child welfare system.

Morman's group was able to secure fencing, landscaping and other needs for YAP. She said Leadership Walker County increased her pride in the county.

"It was an eye-opener to see many of the resources that we have in Walker County," she said. "It gave me more appreciation to be from Walker County. I was already Walker County proud, but now I'm even more proud of what Walker County has to offer."

Lewis said she is proud of all the presentations that Leadership Walker County graduates gave on graduation day Thursday, and she encourages others in Walker County to call her at the chamber if they would like to be in the next Leadership Walker County class that will begin this fall. The eight-month program covers various topics each month, and participants travel to many locations to learn about operations across the county and state. 

"We're looking for those leaders in our county," Lewis said. "Our leaders are out there, and no matter your age, no matter your background, we'd love to have you participate in the program."

Those interested in the program may call Lewis at (205) 384-4571.

The 2018 Leadership Walker County graduates include Benjamin Jacob Aaron, Scott Aaron, Kelli Adkins, Melonie Aldridge, Michelle Anderson, Daryl Atkins, Robert Boylan, Andrew Brasfield, LaToya Cosby, Debbie Daniel, John Hramec, Linda Ingram, Sherry Jones, Kelly Lay, Britton Lightsey, Lisa Lockhart, Chris Maddox, Terrell Manasco, Ken Marbury, Tammy Merritt, Haley Moore, Lutis Moore, Saderia Morman, Morgan Parker, Bart Reeves, Martin Roberts, Kathy Robinson, Amanda Shubert, Linda Sides, Justin Tidwell, Patrick Stacks, Carol Stephens, Cody Williams and Misty Whisenhunt.