As cutbacks loom in every sector of the economy, the Augusta Woman’s Club played the role of smile-makers Tuesday, delivering $5,200 in scholarships and donations to 15 local nonprofit organizations during its second annual Giving Day.
The contributions are expected to help feed, vaccinate and house 120 stray cats and dogs at the Augusta Humane Society; plant 50 shrubs along Pendleton King Park’s newly irrigated Azalea Walk; and pay to possibly double the size of Safe Homes’ 16-bed women’s refuge.
Also benefiting are three students from Augusta’s Charles Henry Terrell Academy and Georgia Regents University, each of whom received educational scholarships from the club.
“Thank you all so very much,” Selena Nicholson, a senior early childhood education major at Georgia Regents University, said to the club after receiving a $1,000 scholarship. “This could not have come at better time for me and my family.”
In July, Nicholson said her husband lost his job and has been unable to find a new one.
Despite the challenges of not knowing whether she would have the money to graduate, Nicholson has maintained a 3.9 grade-point average.
She said she was ecstatic about the club’s donation.
“Without their help, I wouldn’t be able to continue on my educational path.”
Neema Colon, 15, a junior at C.H. Terrell Academy, and Samantha Johnson, 14, a sophomore, are just beginning to think about their future.
Colon wants to pursue a career in forensic criminology, while Johnson is interested in optometry.
Each received a $100 scholarship Tuesday.
“For them to take the time out of their day and award us a scholarship, really means a lot,” Colon said. “I’m not going to take it for granted. I plan to turn around and help others.”
“The Augusta Woman’s Club plays a huge role in the community,” she said. “I feel their scholarship puts me one step closer towards achieving my goal of becoming an optometrist.”
The Woman’s Club also assisted the musical program where the two students play bass and keyboard – the James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils (JAMP).
The club gave a new $300 drum set to the program’s Mini JAMPers, a group of children ages 5 to 7 who discover their musical ability through playing percussion.
The program also received a donation toward its JAMP Masters, an experienced performance group that has opened for Prince.
“A lot of programs in Augusta need help. They could’ve picked anyone, but they chose us,” said Deanna Brown-Thomas, daughter of the late “Godfather of Soul” and founder of the school named in his honor to help local youth “Stay on the Good Foot.”
“I am so thankful the community embraces and supports JAMP because we have some real talented musicians,” she said.
Mary Beth Jacobson, third vice president for the Woman’s Club, said the group has made donations to the community for 100 years, but Giving Day is significant because it unites.
“We used to deliver money in the community, but now everyone is together in one place to hear all the awesome things they’re doing,” she said.
Jacobson said in two years she has met more people and heard more stories than she would have going door to door to deliver checks.
“You hear stories in the news all the time of people who are concerned only about their own well-being,” she said. “You don’t see that here. It’s selfless.”