Many plans moving forward to elevate lives in Sand Hills neighborhood

Javon Armstrong, president of the Sand Hills Neighborhood Association, walks down a street in Sand Hills in Augusta.



Have you ever heard the old story of the two spirations? They are essential for every worthwhile achievement. If either is missing the enterprise is doomed to failure, and if you have not been making your life as successful as you would like, you must go to work and find which of them has been overlooked. I am sure it is hardly necessary to tell you that the two spirations in question are inspiration and perspiration.

– Emmet Fox


Undoubtedly, Augusta’s inspiration shines brightly during Masters Week, rain notwithstanding. Whether you’re outside the gates or on the hallowed greens, our best time of the year is now.

Still the dichotomy that exists for my community of Sand Hills leaves a conflicted sense of pride. I love
my hometown, but we still have great challenges before us.


RECENTLY ONE OF those challenges resurfaced on an episode of the syndicated reality TV show Cops that was filmed partly in Augusta. Many thanks to local TV news reporter Jorge Lopez for doing a story on this in February. On a recent Sunday afternoon, he was out looking for Hill residents to interview to get residents’ opinions on the show focusing on Augusta. By pure circumstance I was passing by, and I was interviewed.

Working two jobs, I’ve had to take a hiatus from deep community involvement, and honestly haven’t felt very inspired. Tired of the roadblocks, political quagmire and the old ways of thinking, I needed to recharge. While I love volunteering and still believe in a great vision for my community, I had to step back, get finances somewhat on track and then start anew. To quote one of my favorites artist, Jay-Z, “I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them.” So now I’m in somewhat of a position to make something happen.

Then Cops showed up – an excellent reason to get started again.

Now the “perspiration” must begin. One person can’t do this alone.


THERE ARE SO MANY components to creating success. For many to say that the community is disinterested in a better life infuriates me. It’s human nature to want better. Not everyone can make a plan to get there, and even the best-laid plans (such as Sand Hills’ 2004 master plan) get shelved in my fair city.

Ultimately it’s about the children, isn’t it? Kids such as little Angela, who lives across the street from our community center. She helped with our garden last year and is one of our youth leaders. Or kids such as Marques and Chris, who want more activities in their neighborhood and a basketball goal. Even Yumi at the OK Pantry talks about the “food desert” in Sand Hills and the need for healthy fruits and vegetables. All seek a better life.

Not big on just talking about the problem, we’re developing solutions. I am sincerely grateful to Darlene Price, executive director of the East Central Georgia Regional Library, who has been instrumental to creating a free tutoring program at the community center. The library provides online homework assistance through Mondays and Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m.


THANKS TO Clora Roberts and Linda Gardner for assisting the kids, and to Augusta Parks’ Brandi Robertson and Ann Knighton for being so supportive. Augusta Commissioner William Fennoy also has been a huge supporter, and already is assisting in plans for summer. ECGRL summer reading and Spanish classes are in the works. Also, a collaboration with the Imagination Station Children’s Museum is forthcoming.

Personally, my inspiration comes from my two beautiful children, Jaden and Tesslyn. Although family and friends don’t always appreciate my actions or audacious nature, I do it principally to create a life that they deserve. So when I have these sometimes larger-than-life plans, fund-raisers or events, understand the true reason for my passion.


MY JOBS AT Convergent and Bi-Lo provide a larger opportunity and serve as stepping stones to a new path. Bi-Lo is working with the neighborhood on its Food Detectives Program, teaching children about healthy living. Look for an upcoming collaboration with Katie’s Krops, Bi-Lo and the neighborhood for our community garden. Katie Stagliano lives in Summerville, S.C., and is committed to end hunger by helping kids create gardens where they live – a perfect match to Sand Hills’ commitment to improving our present conditions.

So good things are in the works, and many are taking notice. Our newest neighbors, VeryVera and Fireside Ministries, have joined our cause, and are anxious to be a part of our growth. Fireside’s Phin Hitchcock and his crew have fresh plants and vegetables, and Vera Stewart is holding cooking classes at the Sand Hills Cottage, both on Wheeler Road. Remember, Vera: To find your voice, follow your heart. That’s something I have to remember myself.


SO GET READY, Augusta. With the political winds
stirring, and doing my best to stay upwind, the neighborhood association is
planning a health fair later this month. We hope to assess local candidates’ health and see if they have their fingers on the pulse of the CSRA as a whole. I don’t need a fancy speech, but what’s the plan to move the city forward?

To finish with famed spiritual; leader Emmet Fox: “Refuse to tolerate anything less than harmony. ... You can have a happy and joyous life. ... But to do so you must seize the rudder of your own destiny and steer boldly for the port that you intend to make.”

What’s the next move, Augusta?


(The writer is president of the Sand Hills Neighborhood Association.)



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