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Turning Small Change Into Life Change

Jackson EMC members who contribute pennies through Operation Round Up can take satisfaction in knowing that the small amount of change they give each month brings about positive change throughout our communities.

Organized in 2005, the Jackson EMC Foundation oversees the funds collected through our Operation Round Up program, where monthly power bills of participating members are rounded up to the next dollar with the extra change providing grants to charitable organizations and individuals in need. Almost 90 percent of Jackson EMC members take part in this philanthropic program.

On average, each participating Jackson EMC member contributes about $6 per year to Operation Round Up. By giving this small change – roughly the cost of a fast-food meal – our members join together to create change that constructively impacts the lives of our neighbors. Each month, an average of $85,300 in grants are distributed; in the past eight and a half years, our members’ contributions have put nearly $9 million into surrounding communities to positively impact individuals and strengthen service and charitable organizations.

Foundation grants help charitable organizations cover the basic needs of our area’s less fortunate. At a time when other program funding has been cut and local and state governments have reduced services, the Jackson EMC Foundation supports groups that feed the hungry, house the homeless, educate the young, provide medical services for the sick and boost job skills of the under- or unemployed. Individuals in need are helped with immediate needs, such as repairing an air conditioner so a family doesn’t suffer in the summer heat or making disabled-accessible changes to a home so an automobile accident victim can lead a more normal life.

Read the stories that follow to learn just a few of the ways your small change makes big life change possible. For more on the Foundation, visit www.jacksonemc.com/ foundation. Be on the lookout for the Foundation’s online annual report in October where you’ll learn about more grant recipients.

Jackson County Habitat for Humanity  |  www.jacksoncountyhabitat.homestead.com

Building Homes, Community and Hope

A year after moving into a home of their own, Desmond and his four children have settled into their new neighborhood in Jefferson. Employed by Dayton Superior concrete company in Braselton, the single dad had been living with his mother in Statham but sought a home of his own for his family.

“It’s not crowded like it used to be,” says his older daughter, 14-year-old Shaquita. “There’s more privacy for us, and for Dad, too.”

In June 2013, Shaquita and her 13- year-old sister, Shicuria, along with their brothers, Shikeem, 15, and Shivade, 10, moved into their new house, constructed by Jackson County Habitat for Humanity. The same month, a groundbreaking ceremony was held next door on what would become Habitat’s 12th house. The kids helped work on both houses, hammering nails while getting to know their neighbors.

“Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, community and hope,” says Paul Brown, the Jackson County affiliate’s executive director. The nonprofit depends on donations like those from the Jackson EMC Foundation, which provided a $10,000 grant for plumbing, electrical equipment, HVAC and cabinets for the family’s house.

“In recent years, donations have suffered a gradual decline, but Jackson EMC has been consistent,” says Brown. “Without the Jackson EMC Foundation, we would only have built about half as many houses as we have.”

“To be helped by others feels great,” says Shaquita. So great, in fact, that she wants to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in the future. “I’d like to do for others what they did for me.”

Good News Clinics  |  www.goodnewsclinics.com

Good News Clinics Keeps Family Healthy, Hopeful

When Brian, 52, first visited Good News Clinics in Gainesville, he was searching for help with acquiring life-sustaining medication. Six years later, the diabetes patient attributes life itself to his community’s free clinic.

“The insulin I take costs $1,600 a month, but I can’t work because of all my medical issues,” says Brian, of Flowery Branch. “If not for Good News Clinics, I don’t know how I’d survive.”

A self-employed commercial construction contractor until diabetes took hold in 2008, Brian takes five insulin shots daily. He also suffers from hypertension, osteoarthritis, progressive degenerative disc disease and sleep apnea. When speaking of his own medical issues, he is stoic. But when conversation turns to his wife, Sheila, tears well up in the tender brown eyes of this gentle man.

“She was diagnosed here with breast cancer two years ago and is now a cancer survivor,” he says. “I still have my wife because of this clinic.”

Addressing the needs of underserved and uninsured residents of Hall County, Good News Clinics provides free medication and medical, dental and vision care to patients. Staff healthcare professionals team with volunteer medical doctors and dentists to provide care, and all services are free. To assist, the Jackson EMC Foundation granted $15,000 to replace inefficient and outdated computers as the clinic transitions to an electronic medical records system.

Brian gets emotional when speaking of Good News Clinics. “Any help this facility can get goes to the good,” he says. “They want to help everyone they can.”

Gwinnett Tech Foundation  |  www.gwinnetttech.edu/foundation

Nontraditional Students Accelerate Forward

If predictions hold true, according to Stephanie Rooks, dean of Adult Education at Gwinnett Technical College (GTC), 60 percent of all jobs will require at least an associate’s degree by the year 2020.

To help nontraditional students earn degrees, GTC’s Adult Education Department offers the Accelerating Opportunity program, which pairs Adult Basic Education or English as a Second Language teachers with technical education instructors in the classroom to help students progress faster and more confidently as they work toward certificates, diplomas and/or degrees.

The program has been a godsend for Alexa. A pre-DMS (diagnostic medical sonography) student, she moved with her family from Nicaragua to America almost 20 years ago and has lived in the Atlanta area since 2007. She first enrolled at GTC to learn English and eventually earned her GED.

“My dream was always to have a career, but I was terrified to study here because of the language,” says Alexa, who is on a business administrative technology pathway with a medical concentration; she earned her medical billing certificate in May. “I always wanted to be a doctor. When I achieve my degree here, I may feel more confident to go to medical school.”

The college’s Adult Education Department currently serves 3,660 students in 11 GTC locations across Gwinnett County. The Jackson EMC Foundation this year granted $15,000 to the Gwinnett Tech Foundation to use for Accelerating Opportunities.

“This grant helps second chance students go to college and move forward into a career,” says Jennifer Hendrickson, director of Institutional Advancement. “The stories our students share will move you to tears. Many are the first in their family to graduate high school, then college.”