Friendship Council receives PCCF grant

Published 12:47 pm Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Thermal Belt Friendship Council recently received a Free Community Events Grant from the Polk County Community Foundation to assist with its 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration.

The annual celebration is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m., at the Tryon Fine Arts Center.  The Polk County Community Foundation has historically been a friend of the Friendship Council. Dr. Joseph Fox, president of the Thermal Belt Friendship Council states, “Much of the work of the Friendship Council has been made possible through the financial assistance we have received over the years from the Polk County Community Foundation. We are truly blessed to have several generous individuals in our region that make the work of the Foundation possible.”

The mission of the Polk County Community Foundation is to:

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• Support charitable and beneficial activities in the community,

• Provide and administer a variety of planned giving programs,

• Serve as responsible stewards of all funds entrusted to it, and

• Provide initiatives in recognizing areas of community needs and supporting solutions.

The Polk County Community Foundation has streamlined its grant making process, which has been a benefit to small non-profit organizations such as the Thermal Belt Friendship Council.  The support was instrumental in the Friendship Council’s ability to bring a nationally and internationally known speaker, Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe, CEO-President of the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB), to Tryon for this year’s MLK Celebration event. SAAB’s national headquarters offers empowering national conferences to incorporate powerful messages of success to young men throughout the United States. SAAB was founded in 1990, and has grown to more than 200 chapters across college and university campuses; middle and high schools in more than 39 states in the United States.  SAAB operates through student chapters across the nation where young men of color enjoy the privilege of social, cultural and spiritual enrichment.

SAAB’s website ( said, “For a number of years, crime statistics have revealed that a disproportionate number of black men were using illicit drugs, committing other crimes and contributing to teenage pregnancy. Just as alarming, one out of every four black men aged 20 to 29 is either in prison, on probation or on parole. More black men of this age group are in prison than there are in college and the armed services combined. Many young men choose crime and irresponsibility because they feel that no one cares about them, and that they have nothing to lose. One can understand that with such feelings, stealing, using illicit drugs – or even murder – could be an ‘easy’ alternative (The Sentencing Project, 1995).”