No. 574



If you are interested, I can tell you where you might be able to get a free glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. I say might be, because this offer is only good if the temperature gets above 90 degrees. This is a tradition that goes back to 1939 in Bluefield, W.Va., and her sister city of Bluefield, Va., as these two communities straddle the state line. As a result of this long-standing tradition, Bluefield came to be known as "Nature's Air-Conditioned City." They have served free lemonade a total of 179 times in 65 years. There were 33 summers during this time when the temperature did not reach 90 degrees.
This is a great community and I was privileged to return there for the second time on Sept. 19, 2006, to speak to the annual banquet for the Community Foundation of the Virginias held at the Fincastle Country Club. Incidentally, my first visit back in 2001 was a speech at Bluefield College. In this column, I would like to focus on two very important points that I hope you will consider for your community, in the event you are not already involved.
First is the good work of the Community Foundation of the Virginias. The foundation concept is very unique and beneficial, as local people and others with ties to the community give monetary gifts, both small and large, in a variety of ways. This money is placed in an investment fund to grow over time. As more gifts are received and the fund grows, a portion of it is then plowed back in the community in the form of grants and scholarships.
Executive Director "Bev" Blalock, along with his administrative assistant Lynn Forlines, oversees the operation, in concert with the foundation board. Grant applications are reviewed and recommended from the grants committee, Betty Bailey, chairperson, and then final approval is given by the board, headed by Nick Ameli Jr.
Here is a personal example that will give you a good feel for how a foundation works. In 2005, local citizen Tom Raub presented to the foundation a commitment of $500,000 to establish the Roy R. Raub, M.D., Education Fund to assist the children and grandchildren of the parents that his father had served since coming to Bluefield in 1952. In short, what the Raub family is doing is "giving back" to the community. The people who receive the grants and scholarships are those who need help. The community is meeting these needs through the combined efforts of local people who understand their community will not be any better than they make it. One of the founders of this organization is Richard Ammar, and it was a privilege for him to be seated at the head table during my speech.
Secondly, the "Bookcase For Every Child" literacy project that I presented to leaders of the Bluefield community. The managing editor of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Tom Colley, picked me up at the airport in Charleston, West Virginia's capital city, and drove me to Bluefield. This man has been around for a long time and personally knows all the state and national political leaders, and has made a great contribution to his community and state. I am proud to say we share the same passion for literacy. In reality, Tom may be more passionate than I, but we are both committed, along with publisher Randy Deason, to building bookcases and giving books to children in low-income families in the area. News editor Andy Patton is leading the bookcase project for their community.
One of the reasons I am so committed to our bookcase project is that we are putting the focus on reading back in the home, where we have lost it over the past several decades. The need is the greatest for children in low-income families, because most do not own any books or take the time to read to or with their children.
One of the things that really motivates me is that these children had no choice in who their parents were or the kind of environment they grow up in. They need our help and we are going to help them.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Ark. 72034. To support literacy, buy his book, "Learning, Earning & Giving Back.")