Gadsden County officials and the Sawdust Community Outreach recently celebrated the community with a family and friends day at Sawdust park on May 15.
Local residents were granted the opportunity to speak with elected school district and county commissioner representatives, enjoy a live DJ, games and free food.
The event was driven by the community’s initiative to combat violence with fun and fellowship.
County Commissioner Kimblin NeSmith and School District Chair Leroy McMillian were two significant sponsors for the community day.
Mcmillian occupies a school board membership for District 3, while also being the school district’s chair for Gadsden County.
“As a school board representative, these kids are a priority to me and I truly want them to do better. We want parents to know that we are here to help them with their children,” said McMillian. “We thought it would be great to get the children and parents together and motivate them in a positive way.”
Several community based programs were present to educate and offer resources to the families in attendance; Boys Town North Florida and the Apalachee Center shared information about their advocacy and dedication to extending their helping hands far beyond their location in Tallahassee.
The development director of Boys Town North Florida, Margaret Farris, expressed her leading concern with communities being educated about all of the services that are available to the youth of Gadsden County.
“We were so excited to be a part of this. Most people are familiar with our home-campus program that houses 30 kids, but what they don’t realize is we have programs that serve the community that are more preventative in nature. Our goal here today was really to be visible and inform the residents of Gadsden County about the in-home family services program and care coordination services program for families dealing with at-risk youth, “ Farris said.
The pattern of violence within the community has caused a shift in the relationship that residents have with their recreational parks and the Sawdust community is working to change that.
Avis Woods, the president of the Sawdust Community Outreach spoke about making the community safer not only for the youth but for the elderly.
“We’re out here today letting the senior citizens do what’s accessible to them, for them to not be afraid of coming out of their homes – to bring us back as a community and neighbors that love each other,” Woods said.
Although social distancing and masks were heavily enforced, the children managed to enjoy themselves with various activities that included playing on the playground, chalking the sidewalk, playing basketball, and blowing bubbles.
The Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office and fire department were there educating residents about hurricane season safety and providing them with resource bags filled with supplies that could be useful in the event of any natural disaster or household emergency.
The Sawdust Community holds their meetings every other Saturday at 10 a.m. at Sawdust Park. The meeting welcomes members of the community as well as district leaders.
Oriana Plummer – Gadsden County News Service
Photos by Oriana Plummer