There are currently 10 computers for children to use at Open Door Community House and Kim Jenkins is going to have to redesign the small room in which they are located to make room for about 10 more.
“It is a nice problem to have,” said Jenkins, executive director at Open Door for the last 14 years.
Thanks to a gift of $12,000 by longtime educator and author Charlene Black, Open Door will have twice as much technology from which students in its Mathews Promise Academy may benefit.
The money for the computers and also some Bibles comes from the proceeds of a book, “God Had a Plan Even for a Little Girl From Dexter,” written by Black.
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The book, published by Xpress in Columbus, is a biography focusing on Black’s connection with United Methodist Women and the United Methodist Church. She was once president of South Georgia UMW.
“They just do a wonderful job there,” Black said of Open Door. “I am delighted they are going to be able to help the children.”
Black, 75, lives on a farm situated between Sylvania, Ga., and Statesboro, Ga. She is a former sociology professor and retired as associate vice president for academic affairs at Georgia Southern University.
Open Door is affiliated with the United Methodist Women, an organization in which Black and her family have played a key role.
Open Door is a ministry and community center focusing on long-term solutions to poverty in a variety of ways including community ministries, homeless ministries and Circles in Columbus.
There are computers in other parts of the building on Second Avenue that are used for various adult ministries including GED preparation and culinary arts training.
About 60 students, ages 5-17, are in the Open Door after-school program and will use the computers to enhance what is taught in school. Each student is provided a meal by Feeding the Valley.
Jenkins said the big focus in the program is on reading development, with many students getting one-on-one tutoring.
Open House does three reading assessments. Jenkins said last school year only 33 percent of the students were reading at grade level in the beginning and by the end of the school year that was 90 percent.
“Our program is for children from very low-income families and any living in a shelter,” Jenkins said.
She said once the new computers are brought on board, the room will be renamed the Elizabeth Learning Lab.
Jenkins explained the reason is that Black has several women in her family named Elizabeth who have been involved with United Methodist Women.
“There is my great-great grandmother, great grandmother, grandmother, mother and me,” Black said. “That is really something.”
Elizabeth is also a Biblical figure, a spiritual woman who was the mother of John the Baptist.
Black said she was “privileged” to be the first woman to serve as conference lay leader for the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Jenkins called Black, “a very giving person.”
“She is always looking for ways to do something better. You can tell she is always thinking about the next step,” Jenkins said
Jenkins said Black is someone who “desires the best in people.”
Jenkins said while Open Door had other priorities on a list of needs given to Black, former instructor chose the computer room for which to donate her money.
“Education is very important to her,” Jenkins said. “Donating money to the computer room was a logical choice.”