Hawkinsville group receives $50k to begin community center renovations

HAWKINSVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – It took only a few months after the initial challenge for a Hawkinsville group, along with the help of others, to raise $50,000 to start renovating the old Lumpkin Street School. 

"We decided to save the school and use the school in a new capacity," James Joyner, a member of the Deacons and Stewards Association of Pulaski County, said.

A new vision is what Joyner and others have for the piece of history. The old Lumpkin Street School in Hawkinsville served as a center for education for African-Americans during segregation.

"These are schools that were built all over the South that were used to foster the separate but equal theory that was going on at the time," Joyner said.

In April, Carolina Panthers star Charles Johnson’s foundation issued a challenge. The Hawkinsville native put $25,000 and asked the community to match that, with efforts of revitalizing the building into a community center.

"It makes me feel so good to know that he’s doing this," Johnson’s mother, Jacqueline Kerney, said. 

In a few months, the Deacons and Stewards Association of Pulaski County, with help from various organizations including the University of Georgia’s Archway Partnership, and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, raised the required money to start the project. 

Officials say the $50,000 stabilization money will go toward repairing the roof and new windows. The next step is finding grant money to begin the renovation process.

Kerney says her family has ties to the old school and she’s proud her son is giving back to his community. 

"History…what they’re doing is history. It goes a long ways back. My grandmother used to work and drive the bus," Kerney said. 

Joyner adds there’s still fundraising that needs to be done, but now he’s happy a plan is in place. 

"It will be a place that’s still filled with the same expectations of success that it had when it was a school. It will be filled with historical items about the community and the school as well," he said. 

Joyner tells 41NBC the group plans to start the initial renovation as soon as possible.

He adds the Deacons and Stewards Association will apply for grant money at the start of next year to begin the community center project. 

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(478) 745-4141 ext. 311 Skyler joined the 41 NBC News Team in April 2013. He anchors the news at 6 p.m. and also covers stories going on throughout the day. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb right outside of Atlanta. Before heading to Middle Georgia, Skyler worked as a stage manager for WSB- TV in Atlanta. Skyler graduated from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Multimedia Communication. He went to school initially to be an architect, but one step inside of the student radio station changed everything. While at Georgia Southern, he was exposed to radio and television and became the Program Director of the student radio station and was a part of a team that received a Southeast Regional student Emmy for their work on the program "Inside Georgia Southern Football." Skyler anchored and reported for Georgia Southern University's "Eagle News." There he covered the 2010 midterm elections live as well as reported on stories in the community. In the Spring 2012, Skyler interned for Clear Channel in Los Angeles, California. Skyler is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. In his free time, you can find Skyler watching the latest movies and reading up on all things in Hollywood. He also loves spending time with his family and friends and finding inspirational quotes. He loves telling stories about politics, tax dollars at work in the community, and highlighting people and business who don’t normally get the spotlight. If you have any story ideas, email Skyler at shenry@41nbc.com.