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Georgetown High School club wins $10,000 award for Birthright

Birthright team

Students in the FBLA are front, from left: Jamiyah Jackson, president; Destini Simon, secretary; and Rebecca Kaminski, vice president. In back are Pamela Vereen, director of the Georgetown Career Center and Angelia Jackson, teacher and club advisor. Tommy Howard/For the Georgetown Times and Post and Courier

GEORGETOWN — Blazin’ Bulldogs at Georgetown High School’s Career Center won a $10,000 award for their work. The grant money will go to Birthright of Georgetown to help moms.

That’s the name of the GHS Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club, which has only been in operation for a year.

“It was a shock. So wonderful,” Terry Triana said. She heads up the volunteers who keep the Birthright of Georgetown office open.

COVID-19 impacts

The worldwide impact of COVID-19 disrupted so much over the past 18 months or so — but the pandemic didn’t stop the kids of the Blazin’ Bulldogs and it didn’t stop Birthright from continuing to serve the community.

Virtual learning, social distancing and the threat of disease certainly changed the way so many people lived their lives.

The members of the FBLA club picked up their enthusiasm from their teacher and club advisor, Angelia Jackson. Even though obstacles got in the way of their routine way of helping out, the club members found new ways to conduct a successful project to help the community.

Virtual learning meant not as many students were physically on the Georgetown High School campus, still the club members made and decorated posters, signs and donation boxes. They placed the boxes in the commons area at the school, and people donated diapers, baby wipes, toys, clothes and other things. The FBLA members also sought donations for the moms in the way of personal care items. Students, teachers and staff brought in donations from November through March.

The efforts paid off, and when the donated goods were taken to the Birthright office at St. Cyprian’s Outreach Center, 1905 Front St. in Georgetown, they added up to more than 6,000 items.

Project need

“Georgetown has had a lot of poverty and dealt in the past with teen pregnancy,” Jamiyah Jackson said, “with young girls being neglected by family and friends, and no longer having a place to go, and unfortunately, be homeless on the street with their babies. And we picked Birthright simply because we are also girls and we know of girls who are also pregnant … who feel like they're being neglected, by their families, had nowhere to go, because they're young, and a mom. And we chose Birthright simply because we want those mothers to feel like the community didn't neglect them per se, that they still have someone to lean their head on or a shoulder, or someone to hold their hands during the tough time to protect them, their babies, and all of them who are around them. So that's why we chose Birthright too because we want to get back to them. Because you never know what someone's household is like. You never know. We may end up too, that's why we chose Birthright.”

Jamiyah Jackson is president of the Georgetown Career Center FBLA. Rebecca Kaminski is vice president, Destini Simon, secretary; Caitlyn Greggs, treasurer; Lydia Altman, historian; and Angelia Jackson is advisor.

“The reason we got the grant is because of our community service to Birthright,” Kaminski said. “We presented to our classmates, and they were able to donate throughout the year.”

Helping Moms, too

Along with the traditional layette-type donations like diapers and baby clothes, the project focused on things for the moms, as well.

The donations included personal care items such as body wash and lotions, sanitary items and more. That extra emphasis on the parents is designed to help them and to let them know that community members care about them.

Lead4Change Student Leadership Program

Members of the Georgetown Career Center club decided to compete in the Lead4Change competition.

The national organization has a leadership program with an established curriculum for middle school and high school students.

They developed their project to help Birthright in its service to the community. The girls had to put together a story video, website and social media and present it to the judges. Their entry went before district, state and preliminary national competitions, and there was to be an announcement on July 2.

Along with the club’s entries, the individual members also competed.

“Out of all five, four went to nationals to compete,” Angelia Jackson said.

Jamiyah Jackson, Simon and Gregg won first place at the state level and Kaminski won second place in their respective categories.

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“I am so proud of all of them, especially since this is the first time in over 20 years that Georgetown High School has had FBLA,” Angelia Jackson said.

The advisor previously worked at Rosemary Middle School in Andrews, where she helped students there establish a FBLA club. They received a $500 award last year.

Through the leadership curriculum and their project, the girls said they learned a lot about themselves and about Birthright. They’ve realized they’ve made a significant impact on the babies and their parents through the donations and spreading the word about the work that Birthright does.

Along with these activities, FBLA members have also helped with the March of Dimes and the Interact Club, which is a high school program of Rotary International.

“Hopefully, once we get past the pandemic we’ll be able to do other things,” Jamiyah Jackson said.

Looking to the next school year, Angelia Jackson expects the FBLA club will have 12 or 13 members.

Both Jamiyah Jackson and Destini Simon will be going to USC in Columbia in the fall. Jackson will major in elementary education and Simon in visual communications.

Through the project supporting Birthright, other club activities and facing the pandemic, the girls and their advisor all said they learned much about perseverance and finding ways to do something when they face obstacles.

Along with Georgetown High School’s Career Center FBLA, the Lead4Change program awarded five other grants for $10,000 around the country. There was a special award of $2,000. Another group of more than 30 middle and high schools received $500 grant awards for their projects.

Help to Birthright

Terry Triana, who was shocked in a good way with the grant that Birthright will get from the club’s efforts, is quite pleased.

The support shown by what the club did for Birthright “is very good for our community." Triana said.

Through those efforts and her own interests, Birthright’s Board of Directors invited Angelia Jackson to become a board member herself. Triana said that is a measure of how much they appreciate it.

“The depth that this club of young people did for us says a lot,” Triana said. They appreciate the donations from this project and from churches and other groups through the years.

The Blazin’ Bulldogs FBLA club went beyond that, though. “They wanted to help the mothers.”

“We were able to add additional items for the moms, personal care items, to show we care about you.”

When the club members learned on June 9 that they had won the $10,000 award and that it would go to Birthright, Triana and others were shocked.

“I told them all, if you ever need a reference, call me.”

“It’s been great during a pandemic to be able to reach out,” she said.

Because of the pandemic, some people thought the Birthright office should be closed for a time. That didn’t happen, though.

“We stayed open,” she said.

“Angelia (Jackson) is absolutely delightful,” Triana said. “We feel she has a lot of good input that we need. It was a wonderful experience for us, our moms, and the community. It was wonderful for all of us.”

“It says so much about Georgetown, South Carolina, and the people who live here.”

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