South Fulton High School students take time to help others at CDS

South Fulton High School students take time to help others at CDS

By: By HEATHER SCARANO

The Messenger 06.19.08

By HEATHER SCARANO
Special to The Messenger
Down the homestretch of their high school careers, a few South Fulton High School seniors still found time to help others.
Amid the chaos that often defines the final days of school, seniors Kaitlin Turner and Alexandra Burrow, members of South Fulton’s Beta Club, were putting in precious hours making a difference in the lives of people they didn’t even know.
Community Developmental Services — a community-based, non-profit, Martin-based organization that serves the needs of developmentally-disabled adults in northwest Tennessee — was the recent recipient of donated art, paper and cleaning supplies collected over the past several weeks by Miss Turner, Miss Burrow and other members of the Beta Club.
“I think it’s a very good organization that helps a lot of families,” said Miss Turner, whose mother, Kim, has worked for the agency for 20 years.
CDS serves 132 clients across five counties in northwest Tennessee, including 41 adults in Obion County. The 37-year-old organization has come under recent financial pressure after receiving cuts in state funding in January, combined with rising food and gas prices, so the items collected by the Beta Club couldn’t have come at a better time, said CDS Executive Director Cathy Cate.
“We are so grateful for the generosity of the South Fulton High School Beta Club and all the students who donated supplies,” Ms. Cate said. “Every donation, no matter how large or small, helps us to continue to meet the needs of the people and families we serve.”
The Beta Club also pitched in on behalf of CDS during the fall semester, putting up over 30 posters at South Fulton restaurants, stores and industries to advertise the organization’s annual fundraiser, the Telethon of Stars.
Brandi Cantrell of Greenfield is the faculty sponsor of the Beta Club. She said her 52-member club has been very active in the community this year, helping to meet the needs not only of CDS but also the Ken-Tenn Humane Society, Obion County Reading Railroad, LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center in Memphis and the South Fulton High School PTO, among others.
“Involvement of the club members has grown by leaps and bounds within the community and within the school,” said Ms. Cantrell, who also teaches journalism and is a librarian at the school.
To be a member of the Beta Club, students must maintain at least a B average in all their classes and log a minimum of 20 service hours every school year. The Beta Club motto is “Let us Lead by Helping Others” — a message which Ms. Cantrell said her students have really taken to heart.
“They have done an excellent job this year. They had to have gotten tired. They spent so many hours on these projects,” she said.
Miss Turner, who plans to attend the University of Tennessee at Martin to study accounting, said she enjoys participating in Beta Club because “It shows that we appreciate other people in the community besides ourselves.”
Miss Burrow agreed. “The best part about it is being able to help somebody,” she said.
Miss Burrow, who was also South Fulton High School’s 2008 valedictorian and who plans to attend Lipscomb University, added that being a part of Beta Club has helped her learn the importance of community service at a young age.
“To learn the value of helping others, as a high school student, I think is really beneficial,” Miss Burrow said.
As Miss Turner, Miss Burrow and the South Fulton Beta Club’s 12 other recent graduates head off to college and into the wider world over the next few months, Ms. Cate hopes they take their message of community service with them.
“With everything else these students had going on, at such a busy time in their lives, they were still looking for ways to make a difference in their local community. I think we can all learn something from their example of selflessness,” she said.
Editor’s note: Heather Scarano is communications and development coordinator for Community Developmental Services, based in Martin.

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