March 2017


This month we look at transformation. Last month we highlighted the ways COT models community. If you missed it, our February newsletter is available here.


Transforming a Community: A Story of Hope


Pictured are, front row, l-r: Carol Gordy, Katy Wrona, Liz Huntley, Elaine Robinson, Irene Johnson, Pam Jones, Mary Charles Akridge; back row, l-r: Gwen Walton, Anita Watson, Suzann Tibbs, Marsha Raulerson, Gary Robinson

Making Brewton and Escambia County a place where everyone can thrive is a goal of Brewton Communities of Transformation, Dr. Marsha Raulerson told the audience at T. R. Miller High School in Brewton on March 8. Students and members of the community filled the school's auditorium for a special event organized by the COT leadership team and heard an inspiring story of a life transformed.

One of the books the Brewton COT volunteers read as part of their training is "More Than a Bird" by Liz Huntley. In the book, Liz shares the story of how she survived the poverty and abuse of her childhood, thanks to the intervention of teachers, a pastor, and others. Today she is a successful attorney for a Birmingham law firm, a child advocate, a motivational speaker, a wife and a mother of three children.

Ms. Huntley talked about some of the people who nurtured her and helped her become the person she is today, including her first-grade teacher, Pam (Hill) Jones. She said Ms. Jones, a graduate of T.R. Miller High School, recognized her resilience, bravery and potential, motivating her to learn all she could.

Speaking directly to the high school students, she challenged them to define who they want to be and how they want to live. She said many of them have teachers and other people who want to help them be the best they can be, and they need to be willing to accept the challenge. A video of her presentation is available on You Tube here.


From Selma to Montgomery, Transformation


Tony Johnson speaks at Perry Hill United Methodist Church in Montgomery on March 14

Tony Johnson spoke to a room filled with around 100 people, telling them, "I don't do public speaking." However, what followed proved him wrong.

The occasion was the first "Taste & See" for Montgomery Communities of Transformation, held March 14 at Perry Hill United Methodist Church. Montgomery COT coordinator Jennifer Lancaster asked her counterpart in Selma, Dorothy Fitts, to bring volunteers and participants to help explain how participation in COT transforms lives. Tony outlined five areas of a person's life that, when strong, form a foundation for success: intellectual, spiritual, physical, relational, and financial.

"But we all have some cracks, or weaknesses, in our foundations--maybe in 1,2,or 3 areas, or maybe in all. I can tell you what mine were--relational and financial." He explained that one of his goals had been to open a bank account, and now he has two. He said that before, he hadn't given much thought to how he spent his money, but thanks to the support he's gotten at COT he has changed.

"Now, I've learned to be frugal," Tony said. "I'm working on relational; I'm getting better at it. I'm excited to see my (COT) family every Monday. I hope it grows out into the community. Everyone could learn from what we experience at COT."

Members of the Selma COT family traveled to Montgomery to support the launch of COT there



Working Together for a Brighter Future


Stephanie and the volunteers in her matched group, l-r: Linda, Robin, Stephanie and Brenda

Each Monday when her workday ends, Stephanie makes a 40 minute drive to meet with the volunteers in her matched group at Eufaula Communities of Transformation. She began making the journey in January 2015 as a member of the site's first class of participants.

Stephanie says, "I appreciate COT so much because this group has assisted me to make better decisions in life for me and my daughter. Without COT, I wouldn't know how or where to start a new chapter in my life. It has helped me accomplish goals and make plans for my future. God has put me here for a reason and getting more people involved can make a big difference in people's lives. Thank you so much, COT!"



COT: A Gift to All


Ruth Ann Powers spoke at my church, First Presbyterian of Phenix City, at one of our Fellowship Luncheons following morning worship in the summer of 2015.  She told of a new initiative of the United Methodist Church beginning in Phenix City, which would work to help people living without resources and who wanted to set goals for themselves to improve their lives. Nearly all my life I have felt sadness and anger because of the injustice that those without enough resources experience every day. What Ruth Ann said that Sunday really spoke to me, and I wanted to be a part of it.

"I have seen her transformation, and I can feel mine." Joan Gatewood, Phenix City volunteer

Since then, I have made many new friends, many of whom I would never have had the opportunity of meeting without Communities of Transformation. I have been blessed to be matched with a participant who I truly admire and am thankful to call my friend. She has been through more struggle and sadness in her life than most people I know, and she still has the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. It can light up a room! She is a wonderful, loving, and dedicated mother, and it is obvious to me that her children love and respect her. She is determined to keep working toward her goals despite numerous setbacks in just the time I have known her, and she has met some of them already! 

I have seen her transformation, and I can feel mine. As a volunteer, I feel like I need Communities of Transformation just as much as any of the participants who have come to our meetings. What a gift COT is to all of us!

Contributed by Joan Gatewood, Phenix City COT Volunteer



April Events

All meetings 5:30-8:00 p.m. Central time unless otherwise noted. Please check the website Events page for locations.


April  4 Meeting
April 11 Meeting: Celebration @ John Fisher Activity Center
April 18 Meeting
April 25 Meeting


April  4 Taste & See
April 11 Meeting
April 18 Meeting
April 25 Meeting


April  3 Meeting
April 10 Meeting
April 17 No Meeting (Easter Monday)
April 24 Meeting


April   3 Community Garden class @ David L. Burt Agricultural Building  
April 13 No Meeting (Maundy Thursday) 
April 20 Meeting @ Crestview Manor Housing Authority Conference Center
April 27 Meeting @ Evergreen First UMC
April   6 Easter Party  
April 13 No Meeting (Maundy Thursday) 
April 20 Meeting
April 27 Meeting


April  4 Meeting 
April 11 Meeting
April 18 Meeting
April 25 Meeting

Phenix City (all times Eastern)

April   4 Meeting
April 11 Meeting
April 18 Meeting
April 25 Meeting


April   3 Meeting
April 10 Meeting
April 17 Meeting
April 24 Meeting




Want more?

Contact us

Laurel Akin
Communications Coordinator
Phone: 334.300.2098
Email Us

Laurel and Fred Blackwell
COT Coordinators
Phone: 334.524.3652
Email Us

Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.