She’s expanding her reach

Published 5:01 pm Friday, August 8, 2008

BOYKINS—Lillie Faison refers to herself as a minister of the Gospel and felt it was her calling to set up an outreach center in Boykins.

After 11 years of work, the ribbon-cutting dedication ceremony will be held Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m.

The Boykins Neighborhood Outreach Center, located at 18167 Cross Keys Road in Boykins, focuses on improving kids’ behavior and academic skills through programs on Mondays from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Programs include character building, social skills, reading, math, computer, SOL preparation, public speaking, SAT preparation, life skills and parenting. Counseling is also available, as are help and supplies for school projects. Volunteers teach the classes and make sandwiches.

Faison hopes to expand the program offerings to include music and computer training programs for seniors or others who are not familiar with computer technology.

Faison designed the center for kids ages 4 to 19, hoping to decrease teen pregnancy rates, dropout rates and problems with drugs. Everything at the center is free.

Faison started thinking about the project 11 years ago. Before this, she had spent 30 years with Paul D. Camp Community College. She then taught in Ahoskie. N.C., at Roanoke Chowan Community College.

The outreach began in Faison’s own home, which lasted for two years before it got too crowded to continue.

“I had too many children, and I didn’t want to turn anyone away,” she said.

Faison decided to build the outreach center with her retirement funds to be able to hold the children and to continue her calling. Franklin-Southampton Charities gave the computers and supplies to the outreach system, and volunteers, including both teachers and non-teachers, help with the work.

Now, Faison has 63 children on roll, with usually 40 to 50 in attendance each Monday from Boykins, Branchville, Capron, Emporia, Newsoms, Franklin, Windsor and North Carolina.

Faison said she raised five kids and now she is “helping the parents to raise 63 others.” Everyone is welcome at the center, she said.

Her philosophy transcends into the motto for the outreach center—“It takes a village to raise a child.”

To participate, a child just has to show up and fill out forms. For more information about attending the open house call the outreach center at (757) 654-9697.