The Tifton Housing Authority will be hosting a reunion Oct. 11 for the youth who were involved in their first abstinence and crime prevention program, which will then conclude with a march for peace Oct. 12.
Jadonna Jackson, resident initiatives manager for the Tifton Housing Authority, said she began working for the local Housing Authority in 2001. She helped organize the first abstinence and crime prevention program during that time.
The reunion will take place from 5 to 6:45 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Tifton Housing Authority administration office. Jackson said there will be a meet and greet and then they plan on attending the Tift County football game. Following the game, there will be a dance at the Housing Authority from 10 p.m. to midnight.
Jackson says the reunion is being held “to honor those who have gone on to do bigger and better things.”
“There are many success stories within public housing,” she said. “This will hopefully enlighten the community on what goes on in public housing.”
Members of the abstinence and crime prevention committee also include Ashley Mitchell, who earned an accounting degree from Valdosta State University; Dallas Neloms, who earned a physical education degree from Albany State University; and Shontavia Akins, who is a great mother to two children and a hard worker, says Jackson.
She said two locals who were in the program and now have successful careers are Tara Bridges, who is in the National Guard currently serving in Afghanistan, and Bridges’ brother, Adrian Smith, who is in the Navy.
Concerning the march Oct. 12, Jackson said it is open to the public as well. They will begin lining up at 9:30 a.m. on Old Omega Road near Tenneson Nissan. The march will begin at 10 a.m. The Tifton Police Department and Tift County Sheriff’s Office will escort the crowd. Also, Community Mortuary is collaborating with the Tifton Housing Authority on this event, and Pizza Hut will be attaching flyers about the event on their pizza boxes this week.
The following is the direction of the march: From Old Omega Road take a left on Park Avenue, a right on 13th Street and then cross South Central Avenue. The march will conclude at Dees Apartments with a ceremony. Tifton Mayor Jamie Cater will do the welcome, and the guest speakers will be Terrance Garrick of Columbia, S.C. and Taneshia Marshal of Atlanta, who grew up in Detroit, Mich.
“We want everyone in the community to come out and support this event because of the high crime rate,” Jackson said.
The theme is “Remembering our past and saving our future.” The last march held by the Tifton Housing Authority was in 2008. Jackson said it was a huge success and she’s hoping this year’s march will be even more successful. She said looking at the crime statistics for Tifton, “something needs to be done.”
“So, if it means bringing back kids who lived in public housing to show they can make it...whatever it takes to get the point across,” she said. “We remind our kids daily that it’s not where you come from, it’s where you’re going.”
Jackson also praised Tift County Commissioner Melissa Chevers on her efforts in promoting nonviolence in the community.
“[She] has done great work trying to put an end to the madness in the community. We support her efforts in trying to make things better,” she said.
She added, “We hope all city and county officials will come out and support our efforts in bringing peace back into our community.”
The abstinence and crime prevention program is still in place today. Debra Jackson is the youth program coordinator. Other programs offered at the Tifton Housing Authority include the summer literacy program for grades K-3 (now offered throughout the year) with Joyce Mims as the instructor; THA Unity Dancers with Cassandra Reese as the dance instructor and the GED program with Harriet Kirby as the instructor. They also do a lot of collaborative work with Dr. Luke and Jeanine Webster at First Baptist Church, who have been very involved with their youth.
Jackson said these programs are offered in hopes of taking kids from the negative things going on in the community and bringing them in to do something constructive.
For more information, contact Jackson at 382-5434.