Fisher Center has big summer
Alline Manuel may not be known as well as some others in town, but what she is doing is something special.
Manuel is the president of the board of the John L. Fisher Community Center, which is located in the old Brewton Middle School site on Liles Blvd.
She and the volunteers have just completed another year of “Summer Fun Mondays” giving children ages 4 to 12 a place to go, have fun, learn and be fed.
One often hears that the kids of this area have nothing to do for entertainment, but Manuel and her team are not just talking about it. They are doing something about it.
The program, in addition to offering summer fun, also fed the children.
Three years ago, the group traveled to a Mobile food bank for supplies. Now, a truck makes a delivery each Monday.
Each child is given a meal and a snack each day.
“There are so many children who are left to their own devices in the summer, and they need a good place to go,” Manuel said. “Since this year’s program began the second week in July, we have anywhere from 60 to 100 kids who came to the center each day.”
Right now the old school kitchen and dining room is going through a renovation so that it can be used to feed the children in future programs, she said.
Soon, new industrial sized appliances will be added so that the facility can be used for other community events.
Manuel said not only does the center offer the children a snack and a meal, they have classes for the children depending on the age of the child. Volunteers from local high schools and the college have signed up to teach the classes.
“Their volunteering not only helps us, but it also helps the student who volunteers,” Manuel said. “They need community service credits so they help us while we help them.”
The classes that are taught include science and math projects, arts and crafts, music, reading, indoor games and outdoor games.
“We have gotten help through several agencies and we are always needing grants and funds to keep us going,” Manuel said. “We were also able to put together 150 book bags with supplies, and we are excited about starting a new program next summer by having mentors. Children need someone who shows a lot of interest that they can rely on. It would be like a ‘big brother or big sister’ program.”
Manuel is a special education administrator assistant with the Escambia County schools. She is a native of Brewton, but she grew up in Michigan, Nebraska and California.
She returned to Brewton to help look after her mother, and although she has no children in the school system, she cares about the community children.
Her daughter, Aylia McKee, is a public defender in Montgomery. She also has two sons, Chris who lives in Buffalo, N.Y. and works in the aerospace industry, and Steve, who lives in Brewton and works at Pic-n-Sav.
Her husband, Marlin, is a musician and performs at local functions.
“A child’s attitude will change when you pay attention to them and their needs,” Manuel said. “We hope to get them while they are still young, and hopefully head them in the right direction.
“There are not a lot of activities in this area for children to keep them out of trouble,” she said. “We hope that what we are trying here at the center will have an impact on their lives and give them better futures.”
Summer volunteers included: Lillian Nettles, Sherry Ewing, Avis Milton, Octavia Russell, Stephanie Walker, Anthony Turk, Madeline Hildreth, Audrey Woods, Rayon Jones, Ashley Smith, Andrella Nettles, Carol Woods, Lillie Jones, Shirley Prescob, Lynette Avant, Dave Avant, Rev. Willie Blue, Michal Stallworth, Lyn Gill, Carrie Johnson, Carolyn Bivins, Kela Brazile, Taylor Burns, Trevor Burns, Riyale Ikner, Dashia Flowers, Laurel Billy, Amelia Peach, Lauren Bradley, Keke Smith, Jashira Dees, Markail Mitchell, A.J. Avant, Jakeven Green, Moriah Smith, Markesha Curry, Lena Nettles, Jason Prescod, Taylor Fountain, Brionna Dees, Comekia Campbell, Nyesha Moore, Areyona Anderson, Me’khia Williams and Mykayla Harrison.