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August 8, 2013

Leadership Randolph finds ways to make things better

Thursday, August 8, 2013 — Start with community-minded leaders, give them a problem to solve, then stand back and watch them make things better.

That’s how the Business Community Coalition for Children — BC3 — came about. It’s an organization created by members of the 2013 class of Leadership Randolph to help provided needs of public school children. Michelle Harrell of Sentry Fire Protection and Linda Schumacher of Randolph Hospital are two of those in the class.

“As part of the Leadership Randolph program, you are required to do a community project and we wanted to do something that would last long after we’re gone,” said Harrell.

What they learned was that schools are limited in funding when it comes to providing for needs of students. But how could Leadership Randolph narrow their focus?

Enter Shelia Brumley, a special education teacher at School, where 95 percent of the children are on free or reduced lunches and there’s no Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) to raise money. One of Brumley’s students is highly susceptible to strokes and she was looking for help in purchasing an AED — automated external defibrillator — in the event of a cardiac emergency.

“One of my students runs the risk of stroke, with extremely high blood pressure,” she said. “I want to do everything I can for my students.”

But the school didn’t have the estimated $1,500 to $2,000 to buy an AED. “The AED is needed, not only for the student, but for anyone in the school who might have a cardiac emergency. A machine in the school could save a life,” Brumley said.

Schumacher, the grants coordinator for the hospital, said the Randolph Hospital Community Health Foundation offers grants to Randolph County nonprofits, but their guidelines didn’t specifically include funding an AED.

“Shelia found out about the grants,” said Schumacher. “The AED was outside the focus area of the Foundation, but I wondered if our Leadership Randolph class could help them. I called Michelle and asked, ‘Can we make it happen?’” The answer was a resounding “Yes!”

Harrell and Schumacher took the problem to their Leadership Randolph colleagues and the group “decided we would become a resource for school needs,” Harrell said. “We can pull all our resources together to raise funds.”

With Leadership Randolph members making calls, they now have contacts in each Asheboro city school and about half the county schools. Those contacts provide lists of needs in those schools.

Meanwhile, Harrell and Schumacher sent out letters and emails asking for help in raising the money for Ramseur’s AED.

Brumley, recently recertified in CPR, said the AED machine is so user-friendly that it talks the person through what to do. “It’s fool-proof, anyone can use it and keep someone alive until help arrives,” she said.

AEDs, she added, are in most high schools and middle schools, but not elementaries. The Leadership Randolph colleagues decided they wanted to change that.

“We’re trying to spearhead this,” said Harrell. “We may have to do (fund-raising) events. The goal is to have an AED machine in the school by the new school year. We wanted to move the burden from Shelia to more shoulders.”

“We would love to put (an AED) in each school,” said Schumacher, who estimated the total cost as high as $44,000 for all the elementary schools in Randolph County. She said they’re looking at grants that could help.

With so many needs in all the schools across the county, the Leadership Randolph class will be graduated long before all the needs are filled.

“We want to continue where, 30 or 40 years from now, schools with issues will still have someone to call on for help with issues like this,” said Harrell. “We’ll have an index card in every school with a contact name and letter of explanation of what BC3 can do.”

But it won’t be Leadership Randolph the schools will be working with. Instead, the group has come up with the Business Community Coalition for Children, or BC3, to be an ongoing source for school needs.

“There are a lot of needs out there,” Brumley said, “but when it comes to kids, we don’t want to see them hurt.”

That’s the mission of BC3.

For information or to become involved with BC3, call Harrell at 336-963-3341 or email her at michelle@sentryfp.com.

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