Selmian makes difference with kids, community

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 5, 2003

Like a good many folks, Velma Crawford-Brewer lives in Selma and commutes each day to her job in nearby Bibb County.

Brewer works with the Alabama Department of Corrections. She admits she was nervous about working in a prison setting when she started, 17 years ago. But as a young single mother of two she couldn’t afford to be afraid. She needed the job.

Now, after nearly 20 years of working in close contact with convicted criminals, Brewer has discovered that most aren’t all that different from those on the outside. They’re simply people who’ve made mistakes &045; and are paying for them. &uot;Some,&uot; she shrugs, &uot;are good and some are bad. Nobody’s in there for singing in the church choir.&uot;

She wonders, too, if maybe some of those who find themselves in prison didn’t get shortchanged along the way.

Brewer isn’t just pointing a finger. She’s also working to make things better.

She volunteers to work with students at the Phoenix School, the Selma City Schools system alternative school, because she believes a lot of those kids just need someone to care about them.

She also volunteers at Payne Elementary School, her alma mater. Awhile back, she helped to renovate the playground and make it presentable. &uot;It was all beat up,&uot; she recalls. &uot;We painted it, fixed it up, made it look inviting to the kids. Kids need to play.&uot;

It’s also why she ran for Ward 4 on the Selma City Council last go ’round. It was her first time to run for office and she wasn’t sure what to expect.

She lost, but only by about 200 votes.

She plans to run again in 2004, and this time, she says, she’ll be better prepared.

And what does Velma Crawford-Brewer stand for?