The McDuffie County Partners for Success, Inc. annual collaborative luncheon was held Friday, Oct. 28 at The Depot. Approximately 100 members, from Family Connection, the Adult Literacy Council, Communities in Schools, Health Coalition, and Prevent Child Abuse attended the lunch, which was catered by Neal's Barbeque.
Guest speaker for the event was Dennis Epps. Mr. Epps serves as the Coordinator for the Archway Pilot Project for the Office of the Vice-President of Public Service and Outreach and the Associate Dean for Extension. He is a certified Economic Development Trainer within the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education system. He is best known for his work in comprehensive community assessment and for his interest in rural economic development issues.
Mr. Epps spoke to the members regarding the importance of strengthening education and addressing issues such as teen pregnancy, the high school graduation rate, poverty and crime. Mr. Epps said many people think that working on teen pregnancy is a separate issue from economic growth, but it's not. Industries seeking a town to locate their business are looking for a charming place where their workers would like to live.
é─˙He definitely hit what we have been trying to get across," said Marcell Johnson, community facilitator for Family Connection. é─˙Youth development is community development is economic development. In this world-wide-web society, people see statistics. We've known it, and I'm glad he said it to everybody else."
Mr. Epps said today's society is competing in a knowledge community, which is taking the place of industrial labor. He said the é─˙new investment is in knowledge." Mr. Epps gave a power point presentation stating the goals for Partners For Success should be to have a clear and mutually agreed upon vision, identify and attack key issues, build strengths and assets, maximize available resources, and have courage and fortitude.
é─˙McDuffie's got good basics and good leadership," Mr. Epps said. é─˙It is a community with a bright future because it is a charming town. It is a good place to live, and that will attract growth and development."
This begins Partners For Success' seventh year as a community collaborative. The organization's mission is to create a quality of life for all citizens of the county by supporting and encouraging the development of healthy, stable families.
According to Dr. Mary Ann Kotras, executive director, PFS brought in approximately $400,000 in grant funds in its fiscal year 2005. Programs supported by these grants include K-12 mentoring, reading tutoring, First Steps for new parents, community domestic violence and substance abuse prevention program, support groups for teen parents and young parents, youth offender counseling, prenatal programs, life skills training, abstinence education programs, 21st Century Learning Center, summer school programs, tobacco use prevention classes, the Dearing Good Samaritan Health Clinic and vision care for children.