Congratulations to Barbara, Tracey and Drew! They are among several other recipients of the Heart of The Community Award.
As a parent of two sons with speech/language disabilities, Barbara Monday returned to school to earn her degree in Speech/ Language pathology. She wanted to make sure she could assist her sons and other students to the best of her ability. She worked in the field for 25 years serving students in a variety of school based settings.
Knowing that her youngest son would never be able to live independently as well as other special students in the school system, Barbara was concerned about what would happen to them when they graduated from school and their parents could no longer care for them. Along with other parents and caregivers of DIGS (Developing independence Growth and Security ) their mission and goal became to provide safe housing, work and leisure opportunities for adults with development challenges.
While all of the many activities of fundraising activities were going on she continued to press forward to some of their other needs. Under her leadership other projects that she has coordinated include:
— Established the “Just As I Am” special needs choir. They currently have 47 members and the donations they receive go toward the home-building fund and to support all the leisure activities.
- Snap Happy Camera Club
- Arts Hearts Art Club
- One Step at a Time Dance Club
- Signing with Friends. Members learn basic communication skills using modified ASL taught by a DIGS ‘adult’.
- One Step Closer, The DIGS ‘adults’ learn to work as a team and use a variety of tools safely while creating garden art as a fundraising activity. The ‘adults’ also help to set up and staff booths at area arts & crafts festivals.
According to Tammy Bryant, “Barbara’s creativity and her commitment to provide opportunities for our special needs population are never ending. Thanks to her vision and leadership, we now have many programs and activities for our special needs population.”
The vision to build the personal care home started in 2006 and now 7 years later the personal care home has become a reality. Construction of the first DIGS home was completed in December 2013.
Tracey and Drew learned at an early age that serving others is what we are called to do as Christians and as responsible members of this community.
Tracey, a graduate of Pepperell High School, Floyd College and North Georgia College and University, Tracey continued her education and received a master’s degree in speech language pathology from the University of West Georgia. She received her Educational Specialist Degree from Lincoln Memorial University. She currently serves at Model High School as a Speech Language Pathologist.
Her volunteer activities began when she was in high school when she volunteered at Floyd Medical and continued through college. She continues to volunteer in outreach programs at Rome First United Methodist Church.
She is the leader of Rome Area Skills for Life program promoting life skills and independence to a group of autistic adults. She mentors one of the students by encouraging her autistic gifts and raised money to take her on a dream visit to Disney World.
She leads a group called T.G.I.F. (Thank God I’m Forgiven) at Rome First United Methodist Church. This is a group of adults with life challenges and disabilities. They are taught life skills they desperately need.
Drew, also a graduate of Pepperell High School, attended Coosa Valley Technical College.
He became a volunteer with the Community Kitchen four years ago and found a passion for their ministry of feeding the hungry. He currently serves as manager of the Community Kitchen and has expanded the partnerships that exist with businesses and restaurants to secure donations of food. He works part time at Floyd Training Center where he supervises young men with disabilities.
He serves with Tracey as a mentor with the Skills for Life Program. He too has mentored a young man with autism exposing him to social situations and teaching him life skills.
Other volunteer activities include:
- Action Ministries of Rome annual “Jesus in the Park” event
- Volunteer community basketball, football and baseball coach
- Volunteers in Outreach programs at Rome First United Methodist Church
Again, Congratulations to Barbara, Tracey and Drew your continued support, and service to our ‘adults’ help make a difference in our community. Your efforts certainly come from the ‘Heart’ .