How To Save A Life by Shamica West

“How to Save a Life”

It’s election season!   As political platforms are presented, we are faced with the awesome responsibility of deciding which candidate will move America forward as the framers intended.  While the candidates and their supporters debate the major issues there are others on the ground who struggle daily to do what I feel is some of the most important work in our society.  Making the difference in the lives of our posterity!    After the streamers and confetti are swept up on the evening of November 6, 2012, the work of securing the blessings of liberty in our communities continues.

I believe that this work starts and ends with an individual’s commitment to change a life, on purpose.  Not one of us achieved success on our own.  Whether it was the encouraging words of a neighbor or a word of correction from a teacher; we all have come through this journey called life holding on to someone’s hand.  Many of us were blessed with a circle of support from which we drew strength and direction.  While others struggled to find that one person on whom they could depend.

So how does it work?  How do you make a difference in someone’s life?  Where do you find someone that needs your guidance?  How do you pay forward the gifts that life has given you?  When I think of the answers to these questions, I think of a song by the pop-rock group The Fray.  Lead vocalist and songwriter Isaac Slade, was inspired to write the song after participating in a mentoring program.  Slade was matched with a young man who was making choices that would make his journey more challenging.  You know, the kinds of choices we hope our children never make.  The young man’s decisions subsequently caused him to lose all the relationships that he had, as his friends and family were not willing to stand by and see him destroy his life.

So I ask the question again, how does it work?  How does one “save a life?” It starts with my personal mantra:  Touch the life of a young person on purpose.  When we set out to impact the life of another or to become that source of support for them, it is important that we are intentional in our efforts.  In my work with youth, I have been blessed to learn a tremendous amount about them and their personal struggle.  As I engage them, I have also learned many things about myself.  Through our relationship, I have found that the character growth experienced, is mutual.

In the spirit of this year’s election season, I’m going to share my FIVE POINT PLAN to being an effective mentor.

 1.      Empty yourself of value judgementsAs seasons change, values change.  The belief system with which we grew up is vastly different from what people believe today.  Access to the media, has made the world smaller and the power of choice greater.  When one begins to engage a young person, do not see them through your eyes and how you were raised, see them as individuals with a story.  Respect that story and build your relationship.

2.   Listen, there is power in someone’s story.  The best thing that you can do for a young person is listen to them.  In the song “How To Save a Life”, Slade wrote  “Lay down a list of what is wrong the things you’ve told him all along and pray to God, he hears you…”   Do not proceed to give what you think are the best solutions to their problem.  If in your listening, you hear something that leads you to believe that the young person is treading in dangerous waters, start asking them questions so that they can also listen to themselves and begin to be the problem solvers that they were ordained to be.

3.     Schedule and spend quality time with them.  Famed Psychologist Abraham Maslow, proposed that humans have a hierarchy of needs and that only when those needs are met, can they attain self-actualization.  According to his theory, humans want to belong.  This rings true with youth.  At the core of their existence is the need to be a part of some core group.  Having a mentor gives a young person a sense that someone else in this world cares deeply about them. Further, because that person doesn’t judge and because he or she listens and now spends quality time, the young person feels that they matter.  Having their needs met, the young person feels empowered to meet their full potential or become self-actualized.

 4.  Be consistent.  There is nothing that disappoints a young person more than a broken promise.  When you have spent so much time and energy investing in the life of a young person, it would be foolish to let them down.  Respect their time and be consistent.  Maintain open lines of communication so that if there is a promise that you cannot keep, you let them know in advance.  A belief system that I have found useful and effective is to “under promise and overdeliver.”  When you do this, you will acquire the trust of your peers as well as a young person that you serve!

 5.     Teach them a skill.  Sharing a skill with a child is like giving them a gift.  Turning one’s talent into a marketable skill has the potential to change one’s life forever.   Schooling and education is important but not everything can be learned in a classroom.  If you are mentoring a young person, LISTEN to them and help them explore their talents and gifts.  Once you have identified their talents, help them explore possible career choices that would compliment their talent.  Schedule regular time with them to build and develop skills in that area.  Help them to become so proficient at that skill that they could perform it while you are not present.   Your work with this child will create a multiplier effect in their lives and in their community.

What are some things that you have found helpful in working with youth?  Share your tips in the comment section.


Shamica West has worked with young people for the past 15 years as the Director of Operations for the Talented Tenth Leadership program.  She also served as the Dean of Student Services for Tennessee’s first single gender charter school.



“I Don’t Agree With Any of This, I’m Leaving” by Debbie Akers

Do we feel that we have accomplished something significant if we write a check for groceries for a family who is hungry? If we provide some extra shirts and shoes to children who are wearing the same dirty outfit every day to school? If we help with utilities so children are not left without heat and lights? Aren’t these things extremely important?

Of course they are! However, I am learning that these beautiful acts of mercy and love are simply keys that open the door to truly minister to a family.

This week I had decided that meeting with a woman, helping her plan a few meals for her family, and then taking her grocery shopping would be a beautiful way to minister to her. Little did I know that after 30 minutes of shopping and a buggy full of items for three complete meals that she would turn to me and say, “I don’t agree with any of this and I am leaving”. She simply pushed the buggy to the side and walked out of the store.

What? Why in the world would she do that? Her kids are going to be hungry and we are ten feet from the checkout! She has food stamps to cover this! My idea of a successful day was food in her cabinets and at least three hot meals for her children. Instead, I was driving home with an unhappy woman with no food and leaving her with no options for transportation to get anything later. Was this a “successful” day of ministry?

Besides the fact that this woman was not truly equipped to make sound decisions and had very little coping abilities, I discovered that she had only slept one hour the night before. After arriving at her home, I suggested that she lay down for a nap. I offered to get the kids off of the bus, do their homework with them, and find them something to eat for dinner while she rested. She accepted. I spent two hours with three of the most thankful and precious kids I have ever met. I found two cans of soup and one can of ravioli in the cabinet (thanks to Meals to Grow at University Place). We heated up the soup and used the only three bowls, two spoons and one fork in the house and gave thanks for our meal. We did as much home work as we could with three kids, two pencils and no books in the house. We laughed and played while the mom rested.

After I returned home, I got a call from the mom. She still had no excuses for the shopping episode. Instead, she simply thanked me for allowing her to rest and for taking care of her kids. She said, “Why? Why would you do that? No one has EVER done anything like that for me before”.  Ministry that was supposed to look like full cabinet and full tummies ended up as a woman who has suffered for years, seeing that she could be cruel, unthankful and maybe even irresponsible, yet someone could still show her kindness and love her children.

Love is patient. Ministry to the hurting and poor is slow and tough. Christ alone defines success. We simply walk in obedience, willing to show HIS love to others in a variety of ways . . . and not necessarily the way we would define it.

How will you love those who are hurting this week? Please drop me an email and let me know if you are looking for a place to serve. Christ longs to show Himself to be a loving and faithful God through willing servants like you.

Debbie Akers is the Volunteer Missions Coordinator at Trinity United Methodist Church. Her email is

My Experience Teaching Strings That Sing by Meagan Kish

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to teach at the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra’s summer violin camp in partnership with Burritt on the Mountain entitled “The Four Seasons.”  It was a week-long day camp that focused on aspects of each season of the year including a new song taught each day highlighting the daily season.  There were approximately 33 students in total that attended.  This year it was a privilege to have 8 students from University Place attend.  This would not have been possible without the help of Village of Promise, who not only sponsored all eight children, but also transported them to and from camp and provided lunch for them each day.  The students were all recent second grade graduates who had completed the semester-long series of violin lessons last Spring.  These children admittedly had less exposure to violin than many of the students who attended the camp, but it never showed.  The group fit right in and remembered everything they had learned throughout the previous months.  It was such a pleasure to see them grow as the week continued, even learning to read a bit of music by the end.  Where they really shined, though, was at the week-end concert in the little chapel at Burritt.


Each day at camp, the violinist had an hour of violin instruction, but also participated in outdoor adventure games, crafts, and general music class.  It was during these extra activities that I saw the students who attended through the help of Village of Promise really develop.  There were many opportunities outside of the perfectly structured environment of a school for things to go awry, but even in that short amount of time, I saw several of them learn to deal with anger triggers, social anxieties and challenging situations in a new way.  It was amazing to see how much potential they had to be strong leaders once they were given a chance outside of their daily environment. I think this is in part due to the calming and therapeutic influence music can have on an individual, but I also think it can be attributed to the never-ending persistence of the staff and volunteers at Village of Promise who are constantly encouraging the children at University Place school to recognize their potential, and to know that they are loved.

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

I don’t know about you, but I just finally got a whiff of this pungent reality show this week. A spinoff of “Toddlers and Tiaras” I’d heard it about on various social networking sites. Thinking it might be fun to watch fellow natives of the stroke belt act, well, like home grown folks I tuned in. I was thinking a 2012 version of “The Beverly Hillbillies”. Ummmm…as Lyndon Johnson used to say “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining”. I am pretty sure he used more colorful language. Don’t tell me this is entertainment, TLC. Ironically, TLC used to be The Learning Channel. Not anymore my friend, not anymore.

Consider this blog your free informational review of what makes Honey Boo Boo a trip to the bottom of civilization’s grits heap. This train wreck of a Georgia family is so far from entertainment that it is chock full of sad, depressing events tarted up to look like “fun loving real life”. If you consider morbid obesity, glaringly bad grammer and sentence structure, a lot of baby daddies, a pregnant 17 year old, more obesity and sloth fun, then this is the Las Vegas of entertainment stops for you. Sadly, this show’s ratings matched that of CNN’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention in the key 18-49 demographic, including BIll Clinton’s speech. Of course, this is the prime age of most parents raising children in the home.

Probably the most woebegone aspect of the series is the focus of the family on beauty pageants, significantly on Honey Boo Boo’s performances. One of  four children, Honey Boo Boo is a pretty precocious 6 year old and that is what makes this even more deplorable. She has both promise, brains and potential. One sees the emphasis on beauty, prancing and gyrating for this little girl verses the lasting gift of intellectual development. The family’s finances seemed to be squarely parked in the drive in of the pageant theatre. It appeared that they spend precious little on books, toys, musical instruments or enrichment activities that would encourage Honey Boo Boo to succeed in academics. It looks like an educational sign of the apocalypse.

Honey Boo Boo loves her “go go juice” of Red Bull and Mountain Dew which results in a pudgy precocious little girl with very awful grammer. Boo Boo nor her 303 pound mama don’t seem to be in on the joke which is the shabbiest thing of all. If statistics follow Honey Boo Boo and her siblings, and I suspect they will, then the positive relationship between physical activity and grade point average may not mean a  scholarship to Harvard is in the offing.

Seventeen year old sister Anna’s mother and family matriarch June makes sure we all know she had Anna at 15. Anna is the ripe old age of 17 and pregnant. Another strike against Anna escaping illiteracy and a bleak future. One can only wonder what will befall the three other daughters before this smash up is over.

Could there be anything more diametrically opposed to the mission of Village of Promise? We have children and their families clawing and sacrificing to scratch up a better life for their children and earn a chance to escape generational poverty. We offer fitness programs, tutoring, mentoring, inspiring books, violin lessons, enrichment activities, guided teaching and even outdoor gardening. All the while, TLC will enjoy its  high Honey ratings and is banking that this family will steep and marinate in half wittedness and short sightedness at the great risk to those 4 children. I hope if you do watch this abuse of parental judgement you will know that there are so many better ways to spend your time. Village of Promise is one of them.


Sleep, Creep and Leap

The late ebullient Bill Nance, Huntsville landscaping design legend, described to me how a pathetic line of 15 cherry laurel trees along my lot line would someday provide a privacy screen, a line of defense from the outside world between my house and the car and foot traffic. Here’s what I saw: straggly, barely alive trees in the heat of an Alabama spring that allowed every person or dog who ventured by to peer through those spindly saplings, into my yard, onto my porch and into my life. It was a discouraging sight to see.

And that’s when he uttered the common gardening phrase,  “Those trees will sleep the first year, creep the second and leap the third!”. Bill said it like he meant it and somehow believed it! I suspect every new endeavor has a similar way of growing and evolving. Our first year third quarter at Village of Promise is upon us and one of our objectives is and always will be transparency. We knew we would make mistakes, and we have. We knew we would spend a LOT of time just getting people to remember our name and our logo, and we have. We also knew we were in the service industry to the parents, the children and the teachers at University Place Elementary School.  Our biggest objective was to help those children succeed in school and to know that we cared about them and their families.

Did we sleep? No, but we sure did have some moments that made us look to heaven and wonder if this could even be done. Maybe sleep is really a drowsy prayer of sorts. There have been many days full of mental and physical exhaustion and there were times we wondered if anyone noticed what we were trying to accomplish at University Place.

But, then there would be those days that a child would smile and exclaim how much they liked school! Another couldn’t wait for summer camp or to hold a violin!   A seasoned teacher might say “Thanks for what you are doing”. Our volunteers would bounce in ready for whatever we threw at them. They encouraged us! The days when a generous donor would reach out and give were red letter days too. All these occurrences showed us that we were on the right track-that every child has promise and potential and deserves a fair shot at college no matter what their economic background. They believed, like us, that the seeds of education germinate in early childhood. We would inch a bit closer to our goal-like the purple vinca in summer. We planted programs that were wildly successful and some that needed pruning. We knew to be new and tender in the ground we had to make some changes to make the programs even better, to deliver on our promise to “help every child find their promise”.

As we head into fall, we are offering an early morning story telling class for the children and a fitness class for our University Place parents free of charge. Both of these projects offer an inspiring spiritual component. Our teachers would frequently talk about basic nutrition with the children when they had the opportunity to serve healthy meals and snacks. So this year, we promulgate a bit more to offer an outdoor garden with our partners. Nutritional information and grocery shopping techniques for our families are also a part of our outreach to the Village neighborhood. In short, poverty does not have to be a precursor to poor health and fitness.

And as we continue to grow we hope to enlarge on these programs that we have set out, pruned and have anticipated for a harvest of children who will break the cycle of poverty. I am holding the talented Bill Nance to it-we prepare to leap  as we look to provide shade from the harsh world, to sow a line of defense from the status quo of educational low standards in Title 1 schools, and to reap a better life for the children of Village of Promise. And, yes, Bill was right-with watering and patience those lovely swaying trees provide shelter, shade and comfort. They have given back so much more than I ever dreamed possible.

SongLever by Monroe Jones

How Did I Get Myself Into This? 

(The Origin of SongLever)

Man, you never know what’s around the corner. I’ve always considered myself to be wired pretty much one way. A one trick pony who does one thing—produce records (CD’s) for artists. And that’s been great. I’ve always considered myself one of the most fortunate people on the planet to be able to do what I have a passion for. So, as much as I’d love to say this spirit of philanthropy came over me and there was this selfless decision to teach kids, but of course that’s not the way it happened.

Hmmm….I remember it like it was yesterday (enter squiggly lines, blurry picture, and harp noise). My oldest daughter was in fourth grade, and her teacher stopped my wife in the hall with the “Hey, isn’t your husband in the music business?” ploy. My wife comes home and tells me basically that they need help with a songwriting class they’re teaching. Great school, great teachers, great curriculum—but in this case, circumstances beyond their control caused things to be fouled up. Time had run out, kids’ hearts were hanging in the balance, and I conceded (picture everyone in Whoville missing out on Christmas). Since things were looking desperate at that point, I was allowed more rope than I deserved, so I proceeded to bite off way more than I could chew… “I know—we’ll have a contest where songs written by the kids will be chosen and recorded! We’ll do full on masters with session players and artists singing lead (music biz. speak)! We’ll do final mixes and burn CD’s for every kid in the class! We can get all that done in a week…right?”

I was clueless, but committed; and every time I felt overwhelmed I just pictured all the little Whoville children. Not really, but it was a lot of work for sure. However, I started to realize something that I hadn’t seen coming. I was getting into it. The songs were brilliant. My friends dove in with me and we were having fun making music just like we’d been doing for years, except without the pressure, and the industry-imposed agenda. It felt really good! So, I found myself investing time and energy, staying up late, taking ownership, and excited about playing the kids’ songs for them. Finally the big day arrived (the following week). I must have dismantled half my studio and loaded it into the car because I was so concerned that the tracks wouldn’t sound the way they should. After all the gear was set up and ready to go, we had some kind of opening chit chat that I really don’t remember. I do remember being pretty nervous. Go figure, I’d done song and dance routines for label executives for almost twenty years at that point, but to have a class full of fourth graders staring up at you waiting for something to happen…scary stuff indeed.

We took the plunge. I had the first co-writing team stand up as I cued up the track. The class clapped and we talked about the great things in their song. Then I pressed “play”, and couldn’t believe the response—teachers weeping, kids staring up at me with that “deer in the headlights look” as they recognized their lyrics wrapped up in a track that (forgive me Barney) sounded like the real deal! As I tried to keep it together and be cool, I remember being blind-sided with emotion. It was all completely unexpected, and I was hooked! Imagine that; a new passion! As a few more years passed I found myself thinking about that experience more and more. And somewhere along the way, it grew into a full-fledged pursuit. My thinking became, “If I can figure out a way to pay the bills, I think I could do this full-time.” Well, here we are! I must say that the shrinking of the music industry over the years has given me a nudge, but I love doing this so much that at times I wonder if all the water under that bridge over the last twenty-five years was just to prepare me for what has now become the SongLever pursuit.. It’s funny, I’ll occasionally run into friends and colleagues that I haven’t seen for a while and tell them what I’m doing, and they’ll say that it’s admirable or whatever, and I think, “Are you kidding me? The pleasure’s all mine!” So, the plunge has been taken—here we go!


-SongLever is a music-based curriculum that empowers kids to write, record, post, and even sell their songs on a social website. Song Lever teaches their curriculum in schools and groups. Contact today!

Monroe Jones can be reached at

Check out some SongLever videos:

Monroe Jones: founder and CEO of SongLever, Inc,. is a Grammy Award winning producer, a five time Dove Award winner, and a four time Dove nominee for Producer of the Year. He has produced over 30 number one records, and has also produced records that have sold in excess of ten million units. Artists he has produced, written for or played with include Stevie Nicks, David Crosby, Jackson Browne, U2, Billy Preston, Duane Eddy, Cliff Richard, Third Day, and Chris Rice among many others.







Every Child Has a Story by Beverly Jones-Durr


I have always loved the smell of a bright new morning.  I grew up in Birmingham Alabama, where the summers were just hot. The sunlight would burst through the curtains momma made and wake me every morning.  In the air was the sweet smell of honeysuckle which grew underneath my window. Sometimes, when we were favored with a night breeze, I would lie in bed with my eyes closed with that scent flowing into the darkened room. I imagined myself far away from the southern heat of summer.  Flying a jet plane or saving a life in the operating room.  I would fly through the galaxy perhaps even discovering a brand new star or solar system.  I would see myself living in Europe and speaking French on the Champ-Elysees while shopping in the most prestigious shops.  I really enjoyed my tour of the Castle Neuschwanstein near Munich.  My dreams were limitless.  Not because I was special.  I didn’t feel special.  As a matter of fact in my home I was invisible.  I come from the era of “children are to be seen and not heard.”  That was practiced well in my family.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents for all they did for me and my sisters.  However, they never engaged the village for help.  They were proud African Americans who wanted to do things on their own.  They lived the life they were taught.  I have always been an extravert and I am sure my mother had no clue what to do with me and all that energy.  So, she sent me to the library!  There I fell in love with books because it was through books that I could travel anyplace I wanted and be anything I wanted to be.  One of my favorite books is the Bible.  Imagine a little child of 6 sitting on the carpet reading a huge edition of the Bible.  I found the stories in the Bible more interesting and very relative.  God spoke to me through his word and I knew at an early age that I was special to Him.  I wrote God letters which developed into journals that I still have today.  I grew up with God.  Imagine now those children who did not.  Imagine further being a child who doesn’t dream of the future because they are struggling with their present.  I believe that every child has a story.  I don’t know what I would have done if I did not have God to help write my story.  I have a grandson whose name is Benjamin.  Through the eyes of that precious little child I realized what God wanted me to do.  I write children stories.  Not just any story. My stories are written to demonstrate the character of the child.  They show where the child wants to be in the future and all the things, people and places the child loves.  Actually, it was more like an assignment. I believe God has gifted me with the ability to not only write a story but help children discover their story.  God moved me to Madison, Alabama nearly four years ago.  During this time, I have retired from a fulltime job and devoted myself to this assignment.  I contacted Village of Promise and asked to volunteer.  Actually, what I said was, “God sent me here to volunteer doing whatever you need me to do, but I really would like to work with children and write stories”.  Gloria Batts, co-founder of The Village of Promise chatted with me for a bit before she introduced me to Linda Riley, professional storyteller.  Bam!  God had moved three women together for a purpose and a journey that was simply awesome.  The Children/Parent Writing Camp- 2012 developed from that first meeting and has produced amazing stories from 10 young elementary school authors.  I am so proud of the work they all produced during the two week camp.  I am already thinking of how to improve and include more children next time.  I believe that no child should grow up dreamless, hopeless or limited.  Children should always have a voice and a vision of their future.  Children that know God understand how special they are and strive to be like Jesus.  With that kind of love and support these children can move mountains!  I am a permanent part of the proverbial village needed to raise a child.   I have been assigned by God to ensure every child in my village has the chance to dream, imagine, plan, enjoy and tell their story.  It is a journey that has become a walk of joy, love and God’s amazing grace, and I am loving every step.

What is Village of Promise All About?

Since we have launched our revamped website last month, I have been compelled to consider what Village of Promise is doing in authentic and fresh ways. Who are we? Furthermore, what we do and why?

Village of Promise is inspired by the work of Geoffrey Canada, CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone. However, this is Huntsville, Alabama not Harlem, New York. Huntsville’s poverty is unique to Huntsville and is OUR community’s poverty-not someone else’s messy dilemma. To that, all poverty is local. Huntsville’s poverty lives and walks side by side with affluence, its consumers pricks at our conscience (well, hopefully) and it is certainly not part of our rah-rah “We are rocket scientists” city pride.

We are sounding the alarm that far too many of our children in distressed low income neighborhoods are not doing well in school. In fact, an unacceptable number of kids are testing staggeringly below grade level. They are living in conditions that do not help them learn. They often do not have transportation, resources for learning or access to health care.  Those conditions in turn leads to more poverty, more homelessness, more crime, less employment and more despair.

We have many Village of Promise parents working 2 jobs to just provide the basics. Our parents desperately want a better life for their children. Our parents at University Place Elementary beam with pride at their children’s academic accomplishments and we see their hunger to escape the grip of poverty.

Like many Southern cities, there is a rich architectural heritage in the  downtown homes and buildings, many built prior to the Civil War. But, travel just a mile down Clinton Avenue from downtown’s Big Spring Park and you will discover  several homeless camps. Good solid people from First Stop, Village Outreach and First Presbyterian Church work the camps and minister to those living in the squalid conditions. Lincoln Village Ministries are in the poverty trenches everyday in the Lincoln Village neighborhood. Travel a few more miles and you see the sprawling fenced in campus of the Downtown Rescue Mission. They are doing tireless, daily work on behalf of the homeless and poor in Huntsville. Poverty exists in this city and it can be hard to look at.

But, what if we could take a generation of children in Huntsville and give them a better education starting as early as infancy and even prenatally? What if we could follow those children and their families with every service, educational opportunity, community support and medical care? Would we see less poverty in Huntsville? Canada says “yes” and his results bear that out.

We are casting a net around University Place Elementary School and Westlawn Middle School because they sit in one of the poorest, most underserved neighborhoods in this city. Even though Village of Promise is in its first year on this great journey we are already seeing intangible results that cannot be measured. But these results can be measured with the heart. Our children are experiencing improved reading scores, more self control and more anger management. We have been wide eyed to see an enthusiasm to learn, increased vocabulary mastery and writing skills in the Village of Promise children. We celebrate each and every moment with these children and their families. Our kids have already told us they are doing things they have never done before- like play four square, visit Green Pea Press and attend our summer camps at Burritt Museum and Huntsville High School. There has been a trip to Cathedral Caverns and the fun of inventing things. Furthermore, Summer of Innovation Camp is yet to come!

Who are we? We are a retinue of volunteers, staff members, educators, board members and investors that are committed to the highest ideals of giving a child in our target neighborhood the best chance at an excellent education. These people are committed to Huntsville and its poor because they cannot look away from poverty and its by products.

A successful education plan could be defined by how well our children are prepared to become productive citizens. We are not just talking test scores-we are committed to the ideals of honesty, integrity, service to others, fidelity, spirituality, compassion and industriousness. We believe in our kids and their ability to succeed academically. We achieve those standards by every possible best practices that will yield positive results. The end game for us is that these children will go on to college, and that they will someday return to Huntsville and continue to be productive citizens. Better yet, it is our dream that they will come back to their neighborhood and be part of a transformation of their homes, streets, blocks and city.

By developing these children academically we are breaking the cycle of generational poverty, prison, joblessness and homelessness in Huntsville, Alabama in 2012 and beyond. That is what we do and who we are.

But why do this work? In 4 words: because someone has to.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said,”In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. ”  Village of Promise refuses to be silent about poverty and its relatives. We promise to be a friend and supporter to the teachers, administrators and staff at University Place Elementary School and West Lawn Middle School, but most of all to the children.

Take the time to browse our website and Facebook page to find our more about Village of Promise.


Why Volunteer? By Bernadette Williams

Why Volunteer for Village of Promise?

Because we need you!

Research shows that individuals volunteer for a variety of reasons.  Four of the most commonly sited reasons are:  people want to make a difference, they want to learn something new, they want to do interesting work, and they want to know that what they are doing is appreciated.

Whether you work full-time, part-time, are retired, or are a stay at home mom or dad,  volunteering for Village of Promise will more than likely make a difference in someone’s life.  You WILL learn something new; about children, about yourself, about your community.  The work you do will ALWAYS be interesting. There is nothing boring about working with children! We will make sure you know how much you and your time are appreciated.  And we need you!

Our hope is that Village of Promise volunteers have a desire and need to not only help children succeed in school but to succeed in life.  One never knows the impact a volunteer may have on a young boy or girl’s life.

Village of Promise has several volunteer opportunities available during the Summer of Innovation camp taking place at University Place Elementary School July 23-27.  Please contact Bernadette Williams at to volunteer or for more information about other volunteer opportunities.


Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and help them become what they are capable of being. “ –Goethe