www.thecommunitypressfla.org / JUNE 2022 / Volume 8 - No. 7

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My professional background and passion is EDUCATION.  I have spent my professional career teaching children and adults in Lee, Charlotte, and Collier County.  I was an elementary school teacher, junior high/middle school teacher, coach and counselor, assistant principal, and principal of Riverdale High School. After retiring from the Lee County school system, and three year were spent as the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lee County.  Then, I returned back to education as a mathematics professor at Edison College, former known as, Edison Community College and also Barry University.

I was owner of “Anything Engraveable by Middlebrooks”, and an active member of the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, a Deacon, Sunday school teacher, a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., teacher of the year at Edison College and Lee Junior /Middle School.  I consider myself a high energy person, who likes to see all student and parents develop confidence in their ability to succeed in life.

I bring all of this up not glorify myself but to let you know that I live and breathe for the betterment of my community.  I live here, raise a family here, attend church here and when I go to sleep at night I want to know that this community is a better place than when I woke up.    

I have been extremely blessed by GOD with a marvelous wife, Gwendolyn Middlebrooks, who has been a soul-mate, confessor, judge and jury and always the only person who can put me in my place when my head gets too big and I am full of my own self-importance.   The Bible says that the man who finds a wife has a good thing.  I am living proof of that statement. GOD has also blessed me with two wonderful children and many grandchildren.  I want my children and grandchildren to be able to live in a community free of drugs, violence and fear after I am gone.  

I know that we can’t to solve all of the problems of this area but we can help to mitigate the damage that already afflicts us. How do we do this?  The answer is KNOWLEDGE and this newspaper is but one small step in the process of educating our citizens.

Did you know that every year, college scholarships are not used because worthy students don’t know that they are available? Did you also know that the percentage of African-American students who receive the “Bright Futures "scholarships is dwindling? Did you know that there are math teachers who will help anyone deficient in math skills free of charge? And finally, did you know that there is a nationally recognized school right in our area that is considered one of the best schools in the country?  It’s called Dunbar High School and Carl Burnside is the principal!

Help us get the message out that this is a vital community that cares for its people and let everyone know that we can make things better for ourselves and our children.

James A. Middlebrooks, Jr., Chairman/Publisher

Oliver Wendell Holmes, an 1800 student of law from Harvard, accomplished physician, professor, dean of anatomy, author and poet, said “greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving.  We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but sail we must and not drift, nor lie anchor.”

Dr. Holmes, an obvious scholar, spoke from experience when he encouraged us to move forward with purpose and destiny, to not become stagnant or complacent, stuck, stopped!

What do you think happens when those responsible for setting the “sails of possibilities” in the lives of children, do so without proper navigation equipment, life jackets, emergency flares or skill?  Some obvious outcomes are low self-esteem, high teen pregnancies, juvenile delinquency and higher graduation from Alternative Learning Centers than High School.

When we send our children to school year after year with no participation or involvement in their school life or activities, we’re not just drifting, we’ve dropped anchor and a dropped anchor is far worse than drifting.  

Let’s say on the other hand, you are an involved parent.  You go to parent meetings, volunteer at school activities, and are the loudest parent at your child’s sporting events, but never helped with homework, never gave encouragement for a job well done, or took the time to find out why your child is failing. That’s a form of drifting Dr. Holmes is talking about. Drifters are those who say, “Whatever will be - will be, or let the chips fall where they may.”

When you’re drifting, there’s always a possibility of floating into an area of rescue by a passing ship.  But, when we completely fail to get involved or take responsibility for the educational success of our children, we’re not drifting, we’ve dropped anchor and a dropped anchor stops the ship from sailing.  Ships unable to sail into the paths of possibilities are seldom rescued.

Spend time with your children, talk to them, listen to them, share in their important activities and be positive. Make education and learning an important part of their lives and above all, lead by example.

I challenge every parent and adult of influence in a child’s life to help them discover their greatness. Empower them to make good life choices to set their own sails in life.  You don’t have to be a Dr. Holmes to make that happen.  

It is my hope The Community Press will become a valuable and informative resource in your endeavor to sail the seas of possibilities from childhood through adulthood.  Let’s become a village again. Don’t drop anchor in the lives of our children or in our community.

Veronica Barber, Managing Editor

Dropped Anchors Don’t Sail!

Every community, if it is to become and remain a viable and productive community must have a way to communicate and connect.  

We live in an age of rampant technology, allowing us to instantly contact and text anyone we wish, but ironically, communication is at an all-time low.  "We can listen as well as we hear."  as a line from one of my favorite song goes.  

Four of us, James A. Middlebrooks, Jr., Veronica Barber, Jacquie Matthews Williams and me, P.D. Williams have always believed that a vibrant newspaper is one way to facilitate that community connection.  

Mr. Middlebrooks and his wife, Gwendolyn started their own publication in the 70's called "The People's Press" and in the mid 80's, Veronica, Jacquie and I helped start "The Community Voice" for Mr. Charles Weaver and later "The Collaboration News" for the 21st Century Collaboration in 2011.

Everything the four of us have learned over the years has culminated in the creation of this new paper, "The Community Press", a non-profit newspaper whose goal is to disseminate information and positive stories about our community.  If you want to hear bad things about this area, you will have to read those other publications.  

All four of us are at a point in our lives when we have nothing to prove, no need for glory and no hidden agendas.  We are all volunteers who do this simply because we enjoy it and think that it is important work. Our newspaper will not glorify the people we like while ignoring the people we dislike.  If someone impacts this community, we will make sure that the person is recognized.  You would be surprised at the number of people doing good things right under our noses that uplift all of us but don't get the recognition, for various reasons.

You can assist us in our endeavors by letting us know about things that happen in the community, either by calling us or e-mailing us.  You can also help us by financially supporting us.  If you are a business, club, house of worship or Greek letter organization, we have ads that start at $25 for a business card ad up to a full page.  Even though we are non-profit and volunteer our time and energy, we have to be financially self-sustaining if we are to survive.  

The most important way of helping us is to let us know how we are doing, whether good or bad.  We especially want to know what we are doing wrong.  We can't fix a thing if we don't know that it's broken!

P.D. Williams, Art/Web Director

Why Start Another Community Newspaper? Why We Do  What We Do! James A. Middlebrooks, Jr.,  Chairman/Publisher Veronica Barber,  Managing Editor P.D. Williams,  Art/Web Director