By: Lisa Little, Key Club Sponsor
My first eyewitness experience of community service was at my great-grandmother Rosa Anderson’s home in Tennessee Ridge. Tennessee Ridge is a small community found on the outskirts of the town of Erin. As a child, I looked forward to riding the ferry across the Cumberland River that created the county line between Stewart and Houston counties. She was a tall, slender built woman with red hair that was always in a long braid down the middle of her back. She loved to cook, garden, quilt, crochet, and raise chickens. Often times during our summertime visits, she would take me to the garden to help her collect the bounty provided by the rich, red clay soil. She also liked for me to help her collect eggs from her brooding hens. I wasn’t always fond of this task as I had been pecked several times while attempting to retrieve the eggs. After our outside adventures, Granny Anderson, as we fondly called her, would lay the vegetables and fruits out in cardboard box lids that lined the floor of the enclosed back porch of her home. This room also had boxes stacked in every nook and cranny containing mason jars filled with canned vegetables, jellies, and jams. Locals would stop by to purchase fresh and preserved items or eggs. Though she lived on a fixed income, she charged very little for the items she sold. More than once, I walked with her to nearby homes to deliver boxes fresh fruit and veggies, as a gesture of neighborly love. She would give her handmade baby sweater sets or quilts to friends or church members. She would take some of her earnings to the local hardware store to purchase supplies for her crocheting and quilting. She collected used clothing to make quilts. She was resourceful, talented, and a beloved member of her community.
My great-grandmother passed away over 30 years ago. She is one of many members of my family that have what I call a heart of service. I began my own journey of service by joining Key Club as a freshmen student at Northwest High School. Through my family’s examples and my 4 year involvement in Key Club, I learned how to serve others in various ways and found it brought a great feeling of joy to my soul. In 2001, I was a founding faculty member of Rossview High School. During the assigning teaching and sponsor responsibilities by administration, I was granted the opportunity to establish a chapter of Key Club. It was truly a moment that came full circle. It was now my turn to give students the joyful experience of helping your fellow man.
Four years ago, I became a member of the Clarksville Academy faculty and again was blessed by becoming the Key Club Advisor. In the past four years, club member have earned over 10,000 hours of service. Through the leadership of club officers, these students have served many local organizations and charities. They have collected Jeans for Teens, food items for Manna Cafe, winter clothing for The Well, and children’s toys for Vanderbilt’s Ronald McDonald House. Additionally, they have painted Halloween pumpkins and created non-skid socks for local nursing home residents. Some students spent time tutoring classmates or middle school students during study hall. Others have volunteered to work at school events. A most recent service project involved creating PLARN from plastic grocery bags to make sleeping mats for the homeless.
Their reach has even extended to the needs of our four-legged friends. Two years ago the club collected pet food. This year, they decided to recycle their own t-shirts into dog toys. These students are full of enthusiasm and creative ideas of how to grow CA Key Club’s service to others. They never cease to amaze me; I learn from them at each meeting and event. Most of their ideas don’t involve spending money, but looking for ways to invest their personal time or how to recycle items as a useful product to others. I could go on for days about all that this wonderful group of students has done. Each one inspires me to be a better person, to help make their visions a reality, and to guide them in developing their own hearts of service. Two things that I hope I will continue through my lifetime are to never stop learning and to never stop giving of the talents afforded me.