In today's world of committees and politics, it is a pleasure when there is one that "gets it right." I had this pleasure this past week in several different areas of McDuffie County. First on my list is the Thomson Shrine Club. Known in the past for being partiers, (or so I'm told), I did not find this to be the case with today's Shriner.
I sat at the dinner table and talked extensively with past President Kenny May and current President Pete Coffield. If you're ever invited for any reason to a Shrine Club meeting, be sure to go - the food was plentiful and just plain good.
The Shriners are held to a "code of conduct as rough as the 10 Commandments," according to Mr. Coffield. They can be discharged from the organization if found non-compliant.
Also, in researching the Shriners Hospitals, I learned that not only do the Shriners provide free specialty medical treatments to children, they also pay for all the family's expenses, including transportation, lodging and meals. The hospitals receive no payments from insurance companies or government funding.
Now, I have worked some in the medical field in my past. I understand how significant this fact is. It means the Shriners are able to do what is best for every patient without any outside agency pointing a finger, asking a single question or deeming any expense unnecessary. They can do what is best for each individual patient, and not do something just to follow policy.
In short, the medical staff and family of the patient can deal with the situation without getting a headache. Now this can make the Shriners appear a little selfish. They insist on paying for treatments received only at their hospitals. "We're not in the business of paying other hospitals, we're in the business of saving children," Mr. May said. For more on the local Shriners, read the story on Page 1B.
The other group I found getting it right is Partners for Success, the McDuffie County Board of Education and the Georgia Board of Education, who are addressing the low graduation rate. The state funds "graduation coaches" to work with students who are just a hair shy of meeting all the requirements. All it takes is one bad semester for these students to fail. Unfortunately, statistics show this happens too often. The graduation coaches help these young people jump on the other side of that line drawn in the sand. At a conference last week, I witnessed this group in action, along with their students. I saw the glowing faces of students who shared their stories after experiencing a turn-around. I heard determination from newly inspired students. And that's what it's all about. You can read that story on Page 1D.