Memorial donation made to The Children’s Center in Courtland

Published 9:00 am Friday, April 26, 2024

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The late Maxine Darden Nowlin, a longtime public servant in Courtland, loved children, and Courtland Town Councilman Perry Goodwyn saw to it that this love was honored as he orchestrated a project to give back to the community in her memory.

Goodwyn organized a collection of donated items for The Children’s Center in Courtland earlier this year that included Pampers, baby wipes, crayons, pencils, paper and snacks.

Goodwyn and his wife, Helene Bynum Goodwyn, officially presented these items to a small group of The Children’s Center leaders and students at the center on Friday morning, April 19.

“We appreciate you all for allowing us to do this for the children,” said Helene, who led the presentation for her husband. “He came up with this idea that he wanted to do something for the community. We are very fond of Maxine Darden Nowlin.”

In a previous interview, Perry noted that he and Nowlin had a shared history from their childhood.

“We went to high school together, grew up together, and she just knew me,” he said. 

Perry left the area for a while but eventually returned in 2022.

“So when I came back, (Maxine and I) would run into each other around town, just talk,” he said. “And then she talked me into running for Town Council.” 

During the April 19 presentation, Helene noted that Nowlin was a veteran of the Town Council but was ready to retire from that form of public service.

“She wanted to come off, and she wanted a replacement, so she was soliciting people to come on the Town Council,” Helene said. “I never thought my husband would do that. I had my hands up, but he said, ‘I want to do it.’ So he was elected, Town Council, Courtland, and he’s been working.”

Nowlin passed away March 9, 2023, and Helene said that as the one-year anniversary of her passing approached, Perry had an idea.

Helene recalled, “He said, ‘I want to do something. I want to give back to the community. She loved children, and we love her, so I’ll do something for the children in memory of Mrs. Nowlin.’ So that’s what he did.”

Helene said in late February and early March of this year, he started making creative collection boxes for donations.

“He went around to the community and asked could he put a box in their facility,” Helene said. “First he went to the town clerk, Mrs. Debra Lambert, and she allowed him to put a box there. He went to Dollar General; Mrs. Barbara, she allowed him to put a box there. And then the barbershop, Kurtz (Kutz) Barbershop, he allowed him to put one there.

“And so then we just told family, told the people in the community, and these are the donations that we got,” Helene said, gesturing to the collection assembled on a stage at The Children’s Center facility.

She indicated that there were different ideas on when to present the items, but Perry decided that now was the time.

“So here we are today to present the donations to the children,” Helene said. “Yes, children, you have a few snacks. Only get them when the teachers say so. There are things that we thought you might need for here. And the Dollar General manager gave us a lot of things that she thought your classrooms could use, so here we are, presenting this in memory of the late Mrs. Maxine Darden Nowlin for the children and your center.”

Also on hand for the presentation was Southampton County Sheriff Josh A. Wyche Sr. and some of his deputies.

Perry said, “I want to thank Josh and his people for showing up, supporting us for this.”

Helene also mentioned that Courtland Mayor Danny Roy Williams was behind the project.

“He sends his support for us to do this, so we’re grateful,” she said.

Patricia Ellsworth, site supervisor of The Children’s Center in Courtland, expressed her gratitude to Perry and the community.

“We appreciate you, Mr. Perry,” she said. “We appreciate all of the things that the community has donated to us — we thank you, we thank you, we thank you. … We will always use these things in the classroom, we always can use diapers and wipes and different kinds of art activities, so thank you again.”

She also thanked the sheriff and The Tidewater News for being present for the presentation.

Near the conclusion of the event, Helene asked Perry, “Did I leave anything out?”

“No, you said it all,” he replied.