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Volunteer Spotlight

Posted: July 1, 2014 - 11:08pm  |  Updated: July 2, 2014 - 2:15am
Melissa Chesser and her daughters Megan, 8, and Madison, 12, make sandwiches for the children attending the Dream Academy in Harlem.  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
Melissa Chesser and her daughters Megan, 8, and Madison, 12, make sandwiches for the children attending the Dream Academy in Harlem.


Melissa Chesser instilled the spirit of volunteerism in her daughters at an early age.

Chesser and her daughters Madison, 12, and Megan, 8, have been helping the Columbia County Community Connections Dream Academy by making lunch for children in the program four times a week during the summer for the past three years.

“I’m a teacher (at Evans Middle School) so I just love to help people, “ said Chesser. “ During the summer months I want to keep the kids active and involved, and one way to do that is to volunteer.”

“The Dream Academy works with kids who need extra help through the summer,” explains Pat Grice, Food4Kids Coordinator for CCCC. “The program also provides field trips to places the children might not be able to go to otherwise.”

Thanks to the Chesser family, the participants have always been provided with a meal consisting of a sandwich, chips, pudding cup and drink. The food items have been provided by Columbia County Cares food pantry and a variety of other organizations.

“We make about 50 lunches a day and sometimes twice that many if they have a field trip scheduled the next day,” said Chesser.

She and her daughters spend several hours in the morning making sandwiches of barbecue or chicken salad, or whatever is currently available.

“The girls have been such a big help,” said Grice, “They could walk in here without Melissa and take over the project right now.”

“They know how to make the sandwiches and how many,” said Grice. “Not many kids that age could come in and do that.”

Twelve-year-old Madison enjoys her volunteerism.

“I like to help kids who don’t have a lot of stuff,” explains Madison.

In addition to helping the Dream Academy, Chesser has helped the community in other ways. She is a member of the church council at Lewis Memorial United Methodist Church and has taught the children’s Bible study classes for years.

“I was also active in the Girl Scout program for six of the eight years Madison was a member,” said Chesser.

“I do feel like I have a giving spirit,” said Chesser, “ and I want to get them (her daughters) involved also.”




Columbia County Community Connections is a nonprofit 501c3 organization dedicated to building partnerships in the community, finding resources, implementing programs to serve children and families and promoting volunteerism as a way to strengthen the community.

The Columbia County collaborative has chosen as its primary goal to improve our county’s graduation rate by working with the school system and the community, especially in areas where youths are at greater risk for falling behind or dropping out.

To achieve this goal, the collaborative has helped to provide:

* After-school and Summer Enrichment Programs for 500 youths in Harlem and Grovetown areas

* Summer employment and career education opportunities for youths

* 300 students across the county with bags of food on the weekend

* Anger-management, anti-bullying lessons and life skills classes for middle school youths

* Additional funds to fill gaps in services

* Awareness to the community of the cost to taxpayers for youths failing to succeed academically

* Family support services to parents in need of help for them to become stable and self-sufficient

* Mentoring to at-risk youths

* Opportunities for youths to participate in leadership programs such as Georgia Teen Institute

Columbia County Community Connections

5915 Euchee Creek Dr. Grovetown, GA 30813

(706) 650-5010


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