Kari Urban, Paula Davis, Beverly Renkes, Clint Elliott, Amy Durant and Kathy Adams at the LH YMCA

Kari Urban, Paula Davis, Beverly Renkes, Clint Elliott, Amy Durant and Kathy Adams at the LH YMCA

Lake Highlands Women’s League members visited a variety of neighborhood charities and schools Monday, delivering donations and spreading good wishes. The grants were proceeds from their annual Holiday in the Highlands home tour, which raised a record-setting $213,195. Almost $95,000 was given to community agencies and LH-area schools, and the remainder will be used for college scholarships for LHHS graduates.

“This money will be used for our Make-A-Splash Program,” said LH YMCA Executive Director Clint Elliott as he received his check. “The numbers are staggering, especially the number of apartment drownings. If we can teach kids to swim, we can definitely save lives.”

Elliott said his goal is 24 apartment complexes – more than ever before in LH.

“It’s hard to measure when you’re working in prevention, to say how many kids didn’t drown this summer because of what we did, but we do see how many kids enjoy the program and learn safety in the pool while they come into our care.”

The program begins June 8.

Von Ensley, principal at Forest Lane Academy, was also grateful. She took members into Ms. Garcia’s first grade class, where students were translating words back and forth between English and Spanish. Last year’s LHWL gift was used to purchase equipment used to produce take-home DVD’s, full of high frequency words for practice.

“I hear often from my parents, they say I can’t help my child read these words in English because I can’t speak English. When these children take home instructional materials in English and Spanish, many of their Spanish–speaking parents are learning English, too. And the English-speaking parents learn some Spanish, too.”

This year’s gift will purchase additional teaching aids.

About 20% of the students at Wallace Elementary come from Burma, and most are fresh from refugee camps in nearby Thailand.

“When they arrive here, sometimes in second or third grade,” said Principal Debbie Yarger, “most have never been to school before. Most have never read a book – some have never held a pencil.”

“Your funds will be used for Saturday School,” said Yarger. There, students will learn about American culture, including holidays such as Halloween, and about Lake Highlands and Wallace traditions. Teachers can also see students interacting in a more relaxed environment.

Caren Bright met members in the parking lot where she recently distributed more than 30,000 donated diapers through Pamper Lake Highlands, the charity she began about a year ago.

“When we started, we were living in poverty in a one bedroom apartment. This program is designed around what Lake Highlands did with my family – break that cycle of poverty.”

Caren shared the story of a woman who recently called her asking for help. Though she had no diapers at all, she sent her child to day care because she needed to go to work. It wasn’t long, said Caren, before the day care called requiring diapers.

“She called us, we helped,” said Caren. Providing diapers helped her get back to work.

Also receiving grants are: Audelia Road Library, Gateway of Grace, Forest Green Library, Healing Hands Ministries, Kids-U, LH Junior Women’s League, LH North Recreation Center, Network of Community Ministries, The Warren Center, Aiken Elementary, Hamilton Park Pacesetter Academy, Lake Highlands Elementary, Merrimany Park Elementary, Moss Haven Elementary, Northlake Elementary, Skyview Elementary, Stults Road Elementary, Thurgood Marshall Elementary, White Rock Elementary, Forest Meadow Junior High, Lake Highlands Junior High, Lake Highlands Freshman Center and Lake Highlands High School.

Forest Lane Principal Von Ensley gives LHWL members a tour

Forest Lane Principal Von Ensley gives LHWL members a tour

Wallace Principal Debbie Yarger welcomes LHWL members

Wallace Principal Debbie Yarger welcomes LHWL members

Principal Frank Miller with LHWL Disbursements Chair Beverly Renkes and President Paula Davis

Principal Frank Miller with LHWL Disbursements Chair Beverly Renkes and President Paula Davis

Caren Bright of Pamper LH receives a check from LHWL members

Caren Bright of Pamper LH receives a check from LHWL members

Healing Hands Ministries

John Greene, Geli Brown, Paula Davis, Beverly Renkes, Janna Gardner, Dr. Chris Berry, Germaine Carkum, Kathy Adams, Amy Durant and Kari Urban at Healing Hands Ministries