Former mayor continues support for special needs programs

Published 11:06 am Tuesday, February 6, 2018

By Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

Former Selma Mayor George Evans is once again donating his fundraiser money to make a difference in the special needs community.

Evans served two terms as mayor of Selma before current Mayor Darrio Melton took over. During his first year in 2009, he decided to host an annual golf tournament where all proceeds from the event go towards Evans’ favorite group of people: children with special needs.

This year, he raised enough money from the golf tournament to donate $2,000 each to four different agencies around Dallas County to help make a difference.

The recipients of the checks are the Selma City Schools’ special needs program, the Dallas County Schools’ special needs program, the Cahaba Center for Mental Health and Easterseals of West Central Alabama.

Evans says he has a soft spot in his heart for special needs kids, and puts his money where his mouth is to try to better their everyday lives and the lives of those who aid them.

“I fell in love with these kids and want to give back to these kids, because so often they get left out,” Evans said.

Because of these donations, the four agencies will be able to tailor the funds to properly accommodate the needs of differently-abled children. The money they receive from Evans is less-restrictive than normal funding, allowing them to cover a variety of needs.

Selma City Schools is planning on using the money to help out with their annual Special Olympics. The funds would go towards services, awards and t-shirts to better the Olympic experience for the children.

Dallas County is planning on using the donation to better train their staff and provide up-to-date amenities for special needs children. These amenities would include assisted technology and multiple disability units.

“We will be able to help teachers get special development training,” Sharon Streeter, coordinator of special needs services for Dallas County, said.  “We are very fortunate Mayor Evans is still doing this for us.”

Evans’ charitable donations continue to impact the operations of the Cahaba Center for Mental Health. Because of the funds, the Cahaba Center will be bolstering their testing supplies, including booklets. The Cahaba Center will be able to improve their occupational, speech and physical therapy provided to clients as well as purchase new stints for young ones struggling with mobility.

Easterseals, an organization committed to the aid of individuals with disabilities, was grateful for the donation as well. According to special needs programmer Pam White, the money will provide support for their preschool program dedicated to children with autism. They will also be able to acquire toys specially-made for differently-abled kids.

After seeing cuts in funding, the money was needed more than ever.

“We are able to give these kids a good head start. The money really has made a difference” White said.

In addition to the financial aid from Evans, he and Selma City Schools superintendent Avis Williams have voiced their interest in getting the school systems more involved with programs benefiting special needs children.

The next event dedicated towards benefiting kids struggling with disabilities will start on Oct. 16 and continue through Oct. 17. The first day will be what is known as a “fun day” where the kids can dance, eat, play games and socialize. The next day is the golf tournament to raise money.

Although the events are successful year in and year out, Evans’ tournament actually made $2,000 less than in the previous year. However, Evans assures that this was due to having to compete with other golf tournaments the same day, a problem which has not existed in the past. For 2018, Evans has vowed to strive for “bigger and better things.”