SCA: Celebrating What You Love to Do

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

The Sewanee Civic Association closed out the year celebrating multiple blessings at the May 6 meeting. The Community Chest fund drive came in significantly over the goal. The membership unanimously approved a long overdue and much needed increase in dues. And the highlight of the evening came with honoring Community Service awardees Leslie and Dale Richardson and Lifetime Achievement awardee Dr. Tom Phelps.

Said Leslie Richardson in receiving the award for creating a garden at the entrance to Abbo’s Alley, “This is what we want to do. We’re being thanked for what we want to do anyway.” For Abbo’s Alley visitors and passersby on the way to the football field, the Ticket Booth garden created and maintained by the Richardsons offers a splendor of blooms from February to late fall. The SCA honored retired physician Dr. Tom Phelps for his commitment to caring for the local uninsured and establishing a free clinic for the underserved in Tracy City. Phelps praised his staff, especially Maggie Parmley “who knows everyone in Tracy City” and has helped with overcoming suspicion of outsiders. “The Tracy City community has been wonderful in giving of their time, money, and support. I echo Leslie. I’m doing what I enjoy doing. Thank you.”

The SCA has been doing what it loves to do for 115 years. The Community Chest funds projects and initiatives that make Sewanee and the Plateau a better place to live. This years’16 grant recipients include Sewanee Elementary School, the Senior Citizens Center, the Sewanee Children’s Center, and Marion Animal Rescue League. The $120,000 goal, the largest goal ever, was bumped up to $123,335 to meet an emergency need. Cochairs April and Stephen Alvarez and Emily Puckette and John Benson raised $127,714, leaving a surplus of $2,599 after expenses to go toward next years’ grants or emergency requests. “People want to support this,” said Puckette. “We just need to get the word out about what the Community Chest and Civic Association does.”

The SCA also sponsors School Supply Drives to collect school supplies for children in need and Nonfood Supply Drives in conjunction with the Community Action Committee to collect household necessities the financially challenged cannot purchase with SNAP benefits. In other projects, the SCA partners with Folks at Home, this past year hosting a vaccine clinic.

President Kiki Beavers updated the membership on the most recent project, the Mountain Goat Trail Welcome and Heritage Center located at the former Hair Depot site, the last remaining Mountain Goat Railroad depot. Benches and bike racks are already in place. When refurbishing the building is complete, the Center will feature historic displays, have an exterior water-bottle filling station and an ADA compliant public restroom. For work to commence, the MOU with the University stipulates the SCA must demonstrate having the funds both to complete the project, estimated cost $127,000, and for operation and maintenance expenses once the Center opens. The SCA has received $97,000 in donations for the refurbishing work, mostly from the Class of ’73, and has applied for several grants. Community partners have pledged $5,000 annually toward operating costs, leaving the SCA with a $5,000 annual commitment.

Presenting the budget, Beavers said the $10 dues had not increased in longer than anyone could remember. This past year, the revenue would have been insufficient to meet expenses without being boosted by carryover revenue from prior years. Inflation has resulted in insurance, software, and website costs increasing. Following the recommendation of treasurer Husnain Ahmad, the membership voted to increase the dues to $20 annually, an amount sufficient to cover inflation and the SCA’s $5,000 commitment to the Welcome and Heritage Center’s operating costs. As a bonus, members receive a free subscription to Sewanee Classifieds, the community email bulletin board. Dues come due Sept. 1–30.

The membership also approved the slate of officers for 2024-2025: President, Kiki Beavers; Vice President, Ken Taylor; Members at Large Carl Hill, Chris McDonough, and David Michaels; Director of Classifieds, Bentley Cook.

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