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Group aiming to positively impact Georgiana

By Morgan Burkett
The Greenville Advocate

Richard Moe once said, “There may have been a time when preservation was about saving an old building here or there, but those days are gone. Preservation is in the business of saving communities and the values they embody.”

For William Lewis, community is everything.

Lewis is president of the Butler County Georgiana Family Life Center (BCGFLC) and has big plans to help save Georgiana’s community.

“We began our work in September of 2000 and received our 501c3 in December 2001,” said Lewis. “In that first year that we started we had 82 participants in our youth basketball league, but our program was short lived because of location issues and we had to shut down the program.”

But on May 21 of this year, the BCGFLC was ecstatic to hear from Linda Hamilton that they could lease the old Robert L. Austin Elementary School. Funds to lease the building came from donors, including the Georgiana Church of Christ.

“This building is in such a populated part of town that anyone will be able to stop by,” said Lewis.

Renovations are underway and nearing completion.

The plans for the BCGFLC are broken up into two phases.

The first phase is to bring in small businesses to the outside portion of the old school, open a soup kitchen, offer an emergency shelter to those in need and rent out the gym and cafeteria for family reunions and other gatherings.

“We want this center to serve a purpose as a support group to the Butler County area,” said Lewis.

“If we bring in small business owners, it will help build up the community and give these business people a chance.”

When phase two begins, the goal is to open a resource center, computer center and tech club. If these are successful then the final mission is to partner with OCAP and possibly open a Boys & Girls Club and to link with universities that will offer online classes.

“This building is such an asset to Georgiana, and with this, we want to bring more unity to the community,” said Lewis.

Along with the building, comes a cost for lights and power. The BCGFLC is teaming up with the National Guard, Alabama Power and Auburn University to bring electricity through solar panels.

“I would also like to personally thank Nina Bonner for her help with this project. Nina is the secretary and treasurer for the BCGFLC and our certified event planner,” said Lewis.

Lewis said the group is in need of donations to help fund its work.

“We still have security measures to execute, including setting up fire extinguishers and a security system,” he said. “All of these cost money that we don’t have yet.”

Donations can be made at Trustmark Bank in Georgiana.

“We have such big plans to bring to Georgiana and we are so close to achieving our goal,” said Lewis.