TN First Lady Maria Lee participates in “Make a Difference Day”
Seeking to increase community involvement in local work, the South Cumberland Community Fund (SCCF) launched “Make a Difference Day” in 2017. This past weekend, the organization hosted its third workday at local elementary schools as volunteers helped school staff and faculty prepare for the new school year.
In addition to local volunteers, Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee was on hand at several schools. Lee assisted volunteers while learning about local school programs and SCCF. “Make a Difference Day” is a perfect example of “Tennessee Serves,” an initiative launched by Lee in May, designed to encourage Tennesseans to serve one another and volunteer in their communities.
Lee stated that what she saw on the Plateau is exactly what “Tennessee Serves” encourages.
“Neighbors helping neighbors,” Lee said. “Because we just feel like when people are helping each other, that’s what is going to make a difference in these communities.”
Lee also had a message for all Tennesseans as she toured Monteagle, Tracy City, and Coalmont elementary schools.
“If you can, get involved,” she encouraged. “Look around your neighborhood, find out what’s going on, where the nonprofits are working, and just jump in and help!”
According to SCCF, past participation in the event has totaled approximately 400 volunteer hours for the four-hour project. Funding is provided by SCCF, which this year totaled more than $10,000. Funding included $800 per participating school (North Elementary School, Palmer Elementary School, Pelham Elementary School, Swiss Memorial Elementary School, Tracy City Elementary School, Monteagle Elementary School, and Sewanee Elementary School) for materials, food, t-shirts, and advertising.
Support for “Make a Difference Day” is provided by the AmeriCorps VISTA program. Each VISTA member is assigned a school in addition to their community affiliation to provide logistical support and planning.
This year’s projects included painting, outside cleanup, gardening, playground work, thank you notes to faculty and first responders, and painting signs that say “Ready for a great year.”