Creating a blessing: Golden Leaf Scholars bring community service to Mocksville

Published 9:55 am Thursday, May 26, 2022

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Davie residents have a new blessing, thanks to a group of college students taking part in the Golden Leaf Scholars Leadership Program.

Armissa Bowles, a Davie resident and student at Appalchian State University, is one of those Golden Leaf scholars. She was placed in a small group with students from other colleges – Jeanny Kim from N.C. State, Peyton Blue from Western Carolina, Alex Martinez from Pfeiffer University and Mikey Miller from UNC Charlotte. Their task? Come up with a project to help a rural community.

“As a group, we decided to do a project that helped with the issue of food insecurity, and we thought the best way to do this was through a blessing box,” Bowles said. “Working with this group has been an amazing opportunity and has helped me make an impact on my community, learn leadership and event organizaiton skills, and led me to some great friendships along the way.”

The box is simple. If you need something to eat, take it. If you have non-perishable food items, leave them. The box is in front of Juse HOPE on South Main Street in Mocksville.

“Growing up in a rural community, I was always aware of the vast disparities and lack of opportunities and resources available to many individuals, including myself,” Kim said. “After moving to Raleigh to attend N.C. State, these differences became even more apparent.

“This experience has allowed me to make an impact in the rural communities of North Carolina, closing the gap between rural and urban communities, providing equal and acessible opportunities to all individuals,” Kim said. “This programn has truly been a memorable and valuable experience I will cherish forever.”

Martinez said the program has given him opportunities he would not have received otherwise.

“From the conference meetings, to the internships, to this small project giving back to the community, there’s nothing I would change,” he said. “As a little kid, I was always a big believer of giving back to your commuity, because they believed in me and gave me an opportunity, so it is only right to give back.”

Miller agreed.

“The Golden Leaf Foundation has made such a big impact on me that putting it into words is complicated,” he said. “Not only has it helped me tremendously from a financial standpoint, but the leadership program has shaped me to become a better version of myself. The foundation takes pride in giving back to the communities that once gave to us. It has shown us the importance of giving back and has given us the opportunity to make an impact on others around us.”

“Due to the knowledge I have gained from GLSLP, I have a profound desire to give back to rural communities of North Carolina. I am so thankful for the chance to give back and improve the food insecurity in Davie County.”

As third year students in the Golden Leaf program, the community service project was required.

“We collectively dedided to put our efforts into a Blessing Box for Davie County, with the help and association with Just Hope,” Blue said. “It is truly an honor to be working alongside bright-minded individuals who want to improve North Carolina in any way possible.”

The box was dedicated in a special ceremony on Saturday.

Each of the scholars identified a food insecurity need in their home communities, said Gina Hayes, GLSLP coach.

“Each of the group’s members have a strong commitment to rural North Carolina and are passionate about helping strengthen those communities,” Hayes said. “I am so proud of these five scholars and can’t wait to see their impact on the Davie County community.”

Bowles called her experience with Golden Leaf wonderful. She hopes to become a teacher.

“I have the opportunity to complete an internship pertaining to my major that has given me some valuable inside the classroom experience that will help when I start teaching in my owne classroom one day,” she said. “Being a part of the Golden Leaf Scholars Leadership Program has been a wonderful experience.”