'It's going to be life-changing': Richmond Co. Success Center offers students, families all kinds of help

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Thursday, August 15, 2019
News 12 at 11 o'clock

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- The new Richmond County Success Center is built to help students both inside and outside of the classroom.

The new center gives students and families a one stop shop for any type of challenge they face.

"We're wrapping our arms around the student," said Natalie Bracey, manager of the project. "We're making sure that we're providing services for the whole child and the whole family."

The center receives no federal funding. All of the money comes from community partnerships with places like Golden Harvest Food Bank and Weinberger.

Gwendolyn Askew is the parent facilitator at Performing Learning Center. She sees families struggling all the time.

"I see it almost on a daily basis," she said. "I have someone come in my room and give me a sad story."

Askew added the success center is so important for the area. Travis McNeal, executive director of Golden Harvest Food Bank agrees. He said when kids are hungry, their grades will suffer.

"The last thing that they're going to think about is doing their homework," he said.

The center looks to put an end to that. Golden Harvest will donate $500 worth of food per month. That may not seem like a lot at first, but every .19 cents equals 1 lb. of food. So that $500 turns into more than 2,600 lbs. of food donated every month.

Another feature of the success center is a boutique. Students can take community-donated clothes, and there's even a washing machine for them to use.

Dr. Ed Sanderson is the director of student services for the school district.

"It's going to be life-changing," he said.

Dr. Sanderson got his Ph.D. in school psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi.

"Reading and math is important but the social-emotional side is just as important," he said. "If you take care of yourself, you're going to do better in school. You'll be able to concentrate better."

The hope is by helping them outside of school, students will see an improvement inside of school.

"If we can help the students emotionally by making sure that they have enough food to eat, making sure that they have enough clothing and a place to live, we're going to definitely see an increase in achievement and attendance in the schools," said Bracey.

The center is open and available for Richmond County students and families. It's open Monday-Friday from 7 am to 6 pm. Bracey hopes to expand to weekends in the future.

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