It’s a community affair.
Citizens from all junctures of life have emerged to help Dothan City Schools with what administration has appropriately dubbed “the big move.”
Around 400 Wired ministries campers and organization leaders are taking on the massive task next week, but the planning has been taking place since January.
Sharla Godwin, project coordinator, reached out to WIRED leaders after deciding to work in a joint effort with the community. She considered that the scope of the task could be too large, demanding, and ever-changing to trust with an unfamiliar moving company.
Through personal affiliation, Godwin knew leaders of the non-profit organization and was familiar with its mission to serve the Wiregrass community.
When the board approved a change to the system’s school facility rental agreement that would affect WIRED’s ability to occupy space in Beverlye Intermediate School for the week, Godwin reached out to WIRED and Superintendent Phyllis Edwards to find a solution that would benefit both parties.
Mark Anderson, executive director for WIRED and owner of Eagle Eye Outfitters, said the ministry was happy to come aboard and the campers are excited to serve the community in a meaningful capacity.
“Our kids have expressed a lot of excitement about helping with the restructuring of the schools,” he said. “They’ve been really positive about it and are excited to play a part during this historic time in our city.”
Twenty-two ministry teams, each made up of 15-18 people including middle and high schoolers, college students, and older adults, will be serving across more than a dozen DCS sites. Their primary job is moving furniture, classroom and facility equipment including computers, textbooks, and records.
Anderson said WIRED team members are no stranger to manual labor.
“Our kids have always risen to the occasion,” Anderson said. “We do hard labor for WIRED every year. We do difficult projects every year. They see the need and beat the need.”
WIRED received help from retired logistics experts, who meticulously mapped and planned the details, even timing traffic lights, to ensure that everything is delivered to its destination by the end of next week. After all, they have only one week to pull it off.
“As we have met and gotten together, they have gotten it so planned out… I’m not really worried about it,” Sharla Godwin, project coordinator, said in an interview with the Eagle. “I think we have a good handle on it all.”
Prior to the end of the 2018-2019 school year, Master Sgt. Sedrick Hicks, who led Northview’s now-dismantled Marines JROTC program, spent weeks moving media center materials to the appropriate locations using borrowed school buses with the help of student volunteers from the JROTC program.
Since then, Dothan City School employees have been working to clearly label furniture with a color-coding system designating a color for each school and staging for pick-up.
“Ever since the schools have closed, that’s what we’ve been doing: labeling furniture night and day, getting everything ready to be moved,” Godwin said.
WIRED has worked with several businesses in the community that want to help in the effort and will also provide teachers with shirts that read “DCS: Extreme Makeover.”
Now, WIRED is gearing up for the opportunity to serve schools that many of them attend.
“For many, this is the first time they’re able to serve in a large capacity in our community,” Anderson said. “It inspires them to want to do more.”
The project, which could have been a financial burden and logistical nightmare on the cash-strapped system, has also received support in the form of donations to help WIRED’s associated costs.
The teams will have to work around heavy construction and reconfiguration already taking place at Dothan Early Education Center, Dothan Preparatory Academy, and Dothan High School.
Wiregrass Church has also reached out to Godwin to offer help after WIRED’s involvement, when the system reassesses its needs.
In order for the restructuring to be on schedule, a lot must be done in a short amount of time, and the system is grateful for any help they receive from the community in accomplishing that effort, Godwin said.
“I think it’s really neat to see the community come together and put a focus on the children,” Godwin said. “Honestly, whether you agree or don’t agree with the restructuring, it’s still the students we’re caring about and they’re the ones that are the most important in all of this, so we just want to make the start of the school year good for them and make sure they’ve got what they need in all the places. So it’s been nice to see everybody come together and work together for one goal.”