2017 Year In Review

2017 Year In Review

In 2017, Friends in Focus completed its fifth year as a non-profit organization. This is a huge milestone for the organization; data show many such entities do not survive beyond year three. As we share our accomplishments in 2017, we are pleased to continue our work for and with those we serve. Our mission remains advancing the educational opportunities of students in Montgomery County, North Carolina, plus improving and increasing programs and activities for senior citizens in Mount Gilead and the surrounding area. We are thankful for our supporters and resolve to continue to serve.

Below are some of the initiatives and accomplishments of Friends In Focus in 2017:

  • our mentoring program (Gator Good Guys) at Mt. Gilead Elementary School completed its fifth year. Our central theme is conveying to the young men (4th and 5th graders) the value of a top-shelf (quality) education and their roles and responsibilities as students. We continued to emphasize etiquette and why manners are important. Also the year long course teaches the value of teamwork and the value of being the right type of role models in their school and community.
  • Saturday Academy, our tutoring program, has a makeup of girls and guys, grades three through five. Working with over 20 students each month, focused on reading, math and etiquette, we are encouraged by the improvement of the students and see a link to the overall academic improvement of their school – Mt. Gilead Elementary. Our program, housed at Highland Community Center completed its fourth year and continues to grow. The main focus of this program is grade level proficiency, but also designed to introduce students to activities such as a museum trip and monthly sessions with themes of career exploration, Black History Celebration and the students’ role in their own education.
  • sponsored and produced the Fifth Annual Community Appreciation Gala, honoring Mr. Johnny Greene with the Milfred F. Greene Outstanding Achievement Award. Mr. Greene, a lifetime resident of Mt. Gilead was recognized for his many contributions to his community, for “Standing IN The Gap” and helping to address needs through leadership and teamwork for the benefit of all. With a change in venue to the James Garner Center in Troy, NC, to accommodate the increase in attendance, it was a great evening with over 200 guests and friends.
  • awarded ten (10) college scholarships for minority seniors in the Montgomery County School System, to help encourage more minorities attend college. These scholarships were presented to the students at the schools’ senior day awards programs. The scholarship program continues to grow each year. We are thankful for the sponsors.
  • entered into the third year of the ‘Reading For Success!!!’ program at Mount Gilead Elementary School, designed to provide assistance to students who need help to become more proficient in reading. Volunteers are assigned to classes and work individually with the students to improve their reading skills. McRae Industries, a local company, continues to take the lead by permitting its employees to volunteer during regular business hours to help with this program. We hope other businesses will follow its lead.
  • for the fourth year, co-sponsored and conducted a three-week summer enrichment program at Highland Community Center concentrating on reading skills. Partnering with the Montgomery County School System, which provides transportation for the students, this is a focused initiative designed to help students retain what was learned the previous 9 months, plus work to improve their individual reading levels. On average, each student improvement was slightly over one-half grade level. This occurred in three weeks, it is amazing what can be accomplished when we focus. Activities included a trip to Discovery Place in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • for for the fifth year, participated in the summer reading enrichment program (Give 5, Read 5) at Mt. Gilead Elementary School and donated 520 books for students to read over the summer to help prevent the dreaded ‘summer slide’. In five years, we have donated over 1500 books in support of this program.
  • working with the faith community and other volunteers to create a common purpose around education and community pride, helped sponsor and coordinate the second, annual back to school rally and picnic in Mt. Gilead, providing book bags and other school supplies for 150 students. Over 200 citizens attended, including a number of the school system’s administrative staff, teachers and elected officials.
  • continued the consulting relationship with Highland Community Center, focused on more activities for seniors and youth. Efforts are underway for more field trips and movies for seniors and a youth basketball program. Launched a fundraising campaign ($17,000) in 2017 to update and improve facilities and more than 50% of the goal has been reached to date. Overall, the strategic goal is to make Highland a center for all citizens in the community.

Thank you to all who have helped Friends In Focus grow in its mission in 2017. For more information about the organization and support opportunities, please see friendsinfocus.org or call (704) 905-9201.

“we serve, not because of what we give, but why we give.”

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