Giving Tuesday 2019

There’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday…and then there’s Giving Tuesday, an international day of giving!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 27th, we’ll be sharing all the many ways that you can give to Sawyerville. We hope you find a way be involved in this powerful ministry!

GT2019Sawyerville runs on volunteer power! Here are a few opportunities:

  • Help at the annual Christmas Party at Greensboro Elementary School on Sunday, December 15th
  • Host a job shadowing experience for one of our high school mentees
  • Apply to serve as a Summer Camp Counselor – applications open in January!
  • Apply to teach at the Summer Learning Program

If any of these interest you, please email Crystal Jones, and she will share more information.


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All of Sawyerville’s five programs are free for both participants and staff. This way, everyone has access to Sawyerville. To keep Sawyerville free, we need your help! Please consider making a tax deductible donation of any size.
Give online here.

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Would your parish, office, or school like to collect supplies for the Summer Camp or Summer Learning program? We need a wide range of items and lots of them! This is a great way for individuals to have a tangible connection to our summer programs. To sign up for a supply drive, contact Crystal Jones.

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Did you know that we have a need for meals year-round now? That’s right, not just in the summer. The Mentoring program and Person2Person both need meals for groups of roughly 25-35. Providing a meal is a labor of love, and we promise you won’t find a more appreciative bunch! Sign up for a Person2Person meal here, and let us know if you’d like to make a meal, either in the summer or during the school year, or if you have questions about this opportunity.

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This Christmas, consider giving to Sawyerville in thanksgiving for a loved one. We’ll be glad to send them a special card to notify them of your gift. When making your gift online, just add a note in the box provided letting us know who the gift honors and how to contact them. Make your thanksgiving gift here.
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Welcome, Breanna!

We are excited to announce that Breanna Mitchell has joined our staff as the Summer Learning Coordinator! Breanna will work at Carpenter House in Birmingham throughout the year to prepare for this summer’s program.

Breanna graduated from the University of Alabama in May 2018 with a degree in human environmental sciences. She has served as the Upper Camp Co-Coordinator at Sawyerville Summer Camp for the past two summers. Breanna has also worked at Tuscaloosa’s One Place and the Church of the Highlands. She has many, many gifts and talents, and we are lucky to have her on our team!

Share congratulations and best wishes with Breanna at her Sawyerville address—breanna@sawyerville.org.

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Twenty-five Years of Sawyerville Summer Camp

The following article was published in the Alabama Episcopalian, the Diocese of Alabama’s quarterly magazine. If you would like to receive the Alabama Episcopalian in your mailbox, contact Kelley Hudlow at khudlow@dioala.org.

At the end of the summer, Dashauna, a rising third-grade student at Greensboro Elementary School, wrote a reflection on her experience at Sawyerville Summer Learning: “My favorite class is science because we dance. My favorite field trip was the zoo because I saw a giraffe. Playing the whole game of chess was my favorite memory.” Dashauna sums up the highlights of Sawyerville Summer Learning—our students learned a lot in their academic classes, but they also had fun doing it. They took four field trips that broadened their horizons. And they were exposed to new skills like chess and swimming. Thirty-three students completed the four-week program, and on average, they gained 1.5 months of learning in math and advanced by 2.7 reading levels. We’re so proud of their hard work, and we’re grateful to the Diocese of Alabama for supporting this ministry.

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This summer marked twenty-five years of Sawyerville Summer Camp here in the Diocese of Alabama. That’s twenty-five years of individuals and churches working together to create a safe place for children in Hale County to play, pray, and learn. The day camp began in 1993 on a Friday when members of the Black Belt parishes placed a sign on the community center door in Sawyerville, AL that read “Camp on Monday.” When they returned Monday morning, there were seventy-five children ready and waiting for camp. Clearly, these parishioners had discovered a deep need in the community, as well as a solution they could provide: camp.

The Rev. Rob Morpeth, one of Sawyerville’s founders, has been known to say that camps are part of our diocese’s DNA. From Camp McDowell to Special Session, Sawyerville to Foothills, camp is something we do well. Camps are an integral part of our children’s spiritual formation, and they provide opportunities for connection across the diocese. Twenty-five years ago, the good folks of the Black Belt decided to bring all that goodness to the tiny community of Sawyerville and to the children and youth of Hale County.

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Since its inception, Sawyerville has grown by leaps and bounds, the kind of growth that can only be explained by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. While the first camp session had 75 campers, this past summer, we welcomed over 720 campers. We added the learning program in 2014, which now has the capacity to serve 40 rising third- and fourth-grade students. Our goal of improving race relations in Alabama has evolved into a race relations pilgrimage for youth and young adults called Person2Person, which takes place in Montgomery over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. Several of our former campers who have grown up to become volunteer counselors requested help as they navigated their final years of high school. Sawyerville answered this request with Sawyerville Mentoring, and this year, we’ll connect six juniors and six seniors from Greensboro High School with not one, but two mentors who will coordinate job shadowing and college campus visits for them. Finally, in honor of Leslie Manning, who directed Sawyerville for nine years, we have created the Leslie Manning Scholarship Fund, which supports former campers and counselors seeking higher education, and this year, six young people each received a $1,000 scholarship.

All of these programs—Summer Camp, Summer Learning, Person2Person, Mentoring, and Scholarships—answer a need from the community, and they are all things that we, as a diocese, can do well with God’s help.

Creating and implementing these programs does require an immense amount of work. The kind of work that leaves you sweaty, tired, and happy. At Sawyerville, we frequently say, “many hands make light work.” That motto reminds us that yes, we have a lot of work to do; perhaps it seems insurmountable, but we can do it together, faster and better than if we tried it alone. When parishioners of all ages, parishes, and clergy work alongside members of the Hale County community, we can take on this important work that lifts up children and youth, glorifies God, and helps to build God’s kingdom here on Earth.

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There are countless ways to be involved with Sawyerville. Here are just a few ideas of how you can join us, how you can help us make light work:

  • Serve as a mentor to a junior or senior from Greensboro High School
  • Coordinate a job shadowing experience or college campus visit for a junior or senior from Greensboro High School
  • Volunteer to help at the annual Sawyerville Christmas Party at Greensboro Elementary School
  • Collect supplies at your church, office, or school for one of our programs
  • Serve a meal at one of our events—we have events year-round and serve groups of 20 to 120
  • Invite Sawyerville to give a presentation to your Sunday school class or small group
  • Spread the word about Sawyerville by sharing our social media posts or e-newsletters
  • Give to Sawyerville—a gift of any size has a positive impact on the ministry

Visit our website, www.sawyerville.org, and reach out to Crystal Jones (crystal@sawyerville.org) or Claire Cotten (claire@sawyerville.org) to ask questions or to volunteer. As we gear up for a new program year, now is the perfect time to jump in with us.

Thank you to everyone who made our 25th year one of the best ever. Thank you to the volunteers, the donors, the supply collectors, the meal makers, bus drivers, teachers, and those who pray without ceasing. Each of you make this ministry possible.

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Upcoming Events Benefitting Sawyerville

October is a busy month for Sawyerville! We hope you’ll join us for one or all of these events.


The Nationwide Launch of Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

Patti Callahan, an amazing author and friend of Sawyerville, will launch her latest book, Becoming Mrs. Lewis, at an event to benefit Sawyerville.

Monday, October 1st, 2018

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

3736 Montrose Road, Birmingham, AL 35213

6:30PM – $35 ticket includes a signed first edition of Becoming Mrs. Lewis

Special Private Reception – 6:00PM – $100 ticket includes a signed first edition of Becoming Mrs. Lewis, wine, food, and preferred seating

“From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.”

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Visit the Alabama Booksmith website to purchase tickets.


8th Annual 5K for Sawyerville

Whether your walk or run, the 5K is a great way for those of all ages to support Sawyerville! All proceeds will benefit summer camp, summer learning, mentoring, scholarships, and Person2Person.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

(Alabama plays at Tennessee, Auburn plays at Ole Miss)

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

905 Church Street, Greensboro, AL 36744

8:00am – Registration

9:00am – Race begins

$25 per registration. Scholarships are available. Register here. Visit the website to see the race map and elevation chart.

Want to come but don’t want to run or walk? You can also volunteer. We need volunteers to help cheer, direct runners, and pass out water. Volunteer here.
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Give Back Event at Innisfree

After the 5K, join the Sawyerville Junior Board at Innisfree in Tuscaloosa! Buy a Sawyerville cup for $5 and receive all kinds of great drink specials.

Saturday, October 20th

(Alabama plays at Tennessee, Auburn plays at Ole Miss)

Innisfree Irish Pub

1925 University Blvd, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

1:00PM – 5:00PM

 

2018 Leslie Manning Scholarship Recipients

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This year, six scholars will receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Leslie Manning Scholarship Fund. In 2017, we awarded $2,500 in scholarships, and this year we have more than doubled the amount to $6,000. Thank you to all who give to Sawyerville and this scholarship fund!

We are very proud of these young people, and we wish them the best in their studies. Please hold them in your prayers during the school year and beyond.

Nahia Constant

University of Montevallo

Ty’Nedra Edwards

The University of South Alabama

Regiana Fields

The University of West Alabama

Robert Hunter

Shelton State Community College

Tatyana Lawson

Alabama A&M University

Shalequia Pond

Florida Institute of Technology

The Leslie Manning Scholarship Fund supports former campers and counselors from Hale County as they pursue higher education. Applications for 2019 will open in early October 2018 and close in early February 2019.

If you’d like to contribute to the Leslie Manning Scholarship Fund, please click here.

The Hardest Goodbye

What an amazing summer it’s been! We recently waved goodbye to our campers for the last time as Sawyerville Summer Camp 2018 came to an end. It has been such an amazing summer filled with laughter and smiles. It is always so hard to say goodbye to Sawyerville.

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Camp wasn’t the only thing that ended this week. We also finished up our Summer Challenge! We raised $18,225 which means with the matching gift from the Thomas E. Jernigan Foundation we raised a grand total of $33,225! Amazing! Thank you to all of the 200+ donors, the social fundraisers, the staff members who participated in our challenges, and a special thanks to the Jernigan Foundation for $15,000 matching gift! We didn’t only raise money, but we had fun doing it! The Pie in the Face Challenge raised $2,400 with 96 individual pies.

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Our first ever Cool Down Challenge raised $5,175 with 345 individual staff challenges. The campers had a blast cooling down their counselors. It was a great way to celebrate the last day of camp! You can see a video of the Cool Down Challenge here.

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Thank you to everyone who gave to Sawyerville this summer, whether as part of the Summer Challenge, or in their donations of time, resources or prayer. The amazing summer we had in Greensboro would not be possible without the help of so many. Thank you!

We’re taking a break for the week of July 4th, but we’ll be back for the fourth and final week of Sawyerville Summer Learning, July 9-13!

Oh! The Places You Will Go!

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Last Friday, our students visited the Birmingham Zoo for their field trip. They had an awesome time walking around and learning everything they could about the animals.

Also, a big thank you to Heather Cooper and friends from across Birmingham for bringing us a delicious lunch from Taco Mama!!

Summer Learning would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of many wonderful teachers! This summer, we have five teachers who have been and will be here all four weeks of summer teaching our students.

Mrs. Linda Fields is originally from Greensboro and lives in Moundville now. She is the school counselor at Greensboro Elementary School. This summer she is our Dean of Students here at Sawyerville Summer Learning. This is her fourth year on the team.

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Linda Fields, Dean of Students

Mrs. Wanda Williams is from Indian Springs and is a retired teacher. She taught English at Jefferson State for 28 years. She also taught English at Advent Episcopal School for 16 years. This is her third year teaching reading intervention at Summer Learning.

Mrs. Brenda Teacher is from Greensboro and teaches third-grade at Greensboro Elementary School. This summer, she is teaching fourth-grade math. This is her third summer teaching for Summer Learning.  

Mrs. Ann Webb is from Union Town, Alabama and teaches third-grade reading at Greensboro Elementary School. This summer she is teaching fourth-grade reading intervention. This is her first year teaching for Summer Learning!

Mrs. Kristen Taylor-Rhodes is originally from Chicago. She moved to Sawyerville in 2003. She is a sign language interpreter for Perry County. This summer she is teaching fourth-grade Science. This is her fourth year teaching for Summer Learning.

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Kristen Taylor-Rhodes, Linda Fields, Ann Webb, Wanda Williams, Brenda Teacher

We also have three lovely teachers who will be with us for three weeks this summer.

Mrs. Meg Sims is from Mountain Brook. She is an instructional aide at Brookwood Forest Elementary in Birmingham. She is teaching third-grade math this summer. This is her first year teaching for Summer Learning.

Thomas Lane is from Florence, Alabama. He now lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee where he is the creator and director of Chess Ninja. He teaches chess to both third- and fourth-graders and this is his third summer with us.

Mrs. Betsy Ward grew up in Greensboro. She is the librarian at Greensboro Elementary School. She is teaching third-grade reading intervention this summer. This is her third summer doing reading intervention at Summer Learning.

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Besty Ward, Meg Sims, Thomas Lane

Last week our students were tested on their reading skills to see how much they have improved. Of the twelve third-graders that were tested, one advanced two reading levels, two advanced three reading levels and two advanced four reading levels. Of the five fifth-graders that were tested, two advanced one reading level, one advanced two reading levels and one advanced four reading levels.

We are so proud of our students and the progress they are making! We cannot wait to see the improvements they have made this week!

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All our photos from Summer Camp and Summer Learning are now available on our Flickr. Click here to view the pictures.