Volunteers honored for service

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By Alice Du Pont

They joke that they are the best paid group of people in Gadsden County  because they work for free. What they lack in money is made up by the  satisfaction they derive from helping others. The volunteers of Mother Care Network Inc. were honored Sept. 28 with a dinner and praise for what they have given to the community.

Former State Rep. Curtis Richardson, keynote speaker, said the volunteers under the leadership of founder Arrie Battle have been addressing the issues of health care for infants and children for the past 7 years. They have been a godsend to the county, he said.

"There is a place and a role for government in the lives of its citizens. There is also a place for personal responsibility and we must assume that responsibility. There is something noble about grassroots organizations like this one that serves the basic needs of people. We have a man in the White House now who began his career in the housing projects of Chicago serving people who couldn't help themselves," Richardson said.

These volunteers, he said, are teaching women they can impact policy decisions made at the state, local and federal level.

"We've got a lot of work to do. There is illiteracy, infant mortality (and) lack of education which leads to lack of viable employment where fathers and mothers can take care of their families properly in Gadsden County. We have a state that is more willing to build prisons that invest in education. We've got a lot of work to do," Richardson told the volunteers and their families.

He said he didn't want anyone to think that he singled out Gadsden County because the problems he described are nationwide.

Battle founded Mother Care Network Inc. in 2002. It was initially made up of women who were mothers and willing to share their knowledge with young women and first-time mothers. Battle recruited volunteers from churches throughout the county who were willing to go out and talk with these young women in their homes about caring for themselves and their children.

Since its inception, the volunteer base in the organization has gown to include younger women, men, community activists and university professors.

Battle said the organization had partnered with the Gadsden County Health Department, Premier Bank, consultant Greg Dowling, the Florida A&M University School of Allied Health and the Florida State University Better Health For Life organization to increase the services they are able to offer to the county.

Six local churches were honored for the contributions they have made to the organization. They are: Arnett Chapel AME, First Elizabeth MB, Elizabeth AME, St. John AME, Mt. Zion PB and Greater Harvest Christian Fellowship.

The 2009 volunteer honorees were: Diana Germany, Emma Gunn, Felecia Battle-Jones. Emma Baker, Lucille Bostic, Henry Davis, Sharon Franklin, Kenneth James, Kimberly McNealy, Beatrice Redding and Lizzie Thomas.

To find out more about Mother Care Network or to become a volunteer, call Battle at 850-570-1296.

Send your comments to adupont@gadcotimes.com.