CSA Executive Director Demetrius Ramsey spearheaded the implementation of both programs, asking for mentoring support from the board, which he received.
One program gave 10 area students the opportunity to work at the CSA in almost every capacity. These students included: Madaline Campbell, Malcom Carter, Justice Goodner, Marcus Hunter and James Crosby, who are attending Cleveland State Community College; Kala Gibson, attending Middle Tennessee State University; Nicholas Johnson, attending a technical school; Danesha Jones, attending Austin Peay State University; Rondazz Mee Jr., attending Mont Clare Academy; and Brice Sharp, attending Lee University.
“They assisted us in a wide number of services,” Ramsey said.
The students reported they felt “blessed” to be chosen for the new program and gave thanks to CSA for the opportunity and the mentoring.
“I took advantage of the opportunity,” said Gibson. “I now see how I can help others.”
“I never thought I would be spending my summer helping kids and seniors,” Jones said.
“It was a true blessing to see the light in the [seniors’] faces,” Sharp said. He especially remembers going to both the Walker Street Senior Center and the Bradley County Senior Center off Stuart Road. They would play pool, Scrabble and card games. “Sometimes, however, we’d be the only person they might see all day.”
Sharp never realized how many people there were who needed these services.
“It impacted me emotionally and spiritually,” Sharp said.
The same goes for Goodner.
“I would never have guessed how many people needed help,” he said. “I wish I had known before.”
He particularly loved working with the summer camp youngsters, as well as the seniors, helping with intake paperwork and vouchers for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, as well as helping unpack and distribute the food for the commodities program.
“It was a long week of hard work, but it was fun. The youth camp was excellent, touching, heart-warming,” he said. “The folks had it hard, but they were still kind and loving. And the senior center was full of energy.”
This CSA program for youth was Hunter’s first job.
“I learned how to work in the community,” Hunter said. He is currently planning on majoring in criminal justice to become a probation officer. He remembered helping tenants at the shelter fill out needed applications. But he particularly liked mentoring the summer camp kids and teaching them that they too could be successful and live out their dreams. “I could see myself doing this (community service work) for a career.”
The summer camp was seemingly perfectly made for Mee, who plans on majoring in child psychology.
“But I’ll remember the college crew and working together the most,” he said.
Summer camp participants joined in various programs as well, including tennis, basketball and golf. Next year, CSA is hoping to add soccer. Dr. Harry Johnson, assistant director of the CSA board, reported that 105 young people attended this year’s summer camp.
CSA hopes to continue both programs next summer.
“The support from the community was outstanding,” Ramsey said.
CSA’s board meeting is held on the fourth Thursday every other month. The next meeting will be Sept. 22.
Updates on other CSA business:
— The CSA is currently providing local families with 450 hot meals and 155 frozen meals every week. Those wishing to provide information about area residents who need meals delivered may call Faye Goldston, coordinator for Bradley County, at 479-4111, ext. 100.
— The CSA needs vehicles for its meals program, Ramsey said. For more information, call 479-4111.
— Between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helped 1,034 families with regular heating issues for a total of $428,025 and 1,260 with emergency heating issues for $503,700. Around $300,000 that was not used will probably have to be returned. “There are people out there who qualify for assistance but aren’t coming in,” said Jackie Westfield, program coordinator. Clients previously served between July 2010 and June 30 of this year can not be helped during the period ending Oct. 1.
— A total of 261 homes have been assisted with the Weatherization Assistance Program. Twenty-two homes are waiting to be completed, but 121 homes are pending.
— More than 1,000 households have been certified for the commodities program. At the last distribution on July 21, 868 families were helped. The next commodities distribution will be on Sept. 29.
— Bradley and Rhea counties have 57 summer feeding sites. During June, CSA served 62,537 meals, including breakfast, lunch and snacks. An audit, held every three years, on the CSA commodity program is scheduled for Aug. 8. Feeding sites can be found at the Boys & Girls Clubs, and area churches and schools.
— The Senior Center on Walker Street is welcoming about 68 area residents who have signed up for its nutrition program and about 30 visit the center’s other activities every week. CSA encourages seniors to join in the various programs at the center.
— Although no current vacancies are available with CSA’s housing program, in May, June and July, 15 potential homeowners have completed the organization’s homebuyers education courses and will soon become homeowners.
— The Cleveland Emergency Shelter Program served 191 individuals. More than 72 percent of those looking for permanent housing found it. In addition, almost 77 percent of clients who were looking for work were offered jobs. More than 11,000 meals also were served during this April through June period.