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PACE has a village to add to community

“It takes a village to raise a child,” is an old African proverb that emphasizes the importance of community in a child’s life. This is something the community members around PACE (for Positive Attitude and Commitment to Education) West School in Haymarket has taken to heart.

“The school doesn’t have a traditional PTA, but does have PACE’s Village, which is made up of people from numerous organizations and businesses in the community,” said Kecia Wolf, one of PACE West’s social workers.

She and Susan Hawkins, a teacher, started the program two years ago. Since then, the partners’ list has grown. “Linda Marlowe from All State Insurance and Amelia Stansell from BB&T, Heathcote Branch heard about the program and became interested in assisting. Then Ruth Stierna, from the Haymarket Woman’s Club, and the Gainesville/Haymarket Rotary Club became involved. By word of mouth, other groups, including Shepherd of the Hills [Lutheran] Church, Dominion Woman’s Club, Regency Women’s Club, St. Paul’s Church and The Marque at Heritage Hunt, started to help,” Hawkins shared.

Many businesses in the community are also involved with the school. The ways the groups and businesses assist differ, but they all have the goal of supporting the students and staff at PACE West. Some help with the school’s monthly family night dinners or donate food, books and gift cards for incentives for the students as well as volunteering to help in the classrooms.

Wolf goes out to community groups and speaks about the school and PACE’s Village. She explains the needs; groups can help out in the areas that work for them. If they cannot help they usually know someone else in the community who has the skills to meet a need.

“I want the community to know what PACE West is about. On the third Thursday of the month, the business community and other groups that assist us are invited to come to the school at noon, and we explain what is going on and what our current needs are,” Wolf said.

Read the full story in the print version of the Observer.

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