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franklin county times

Boys and Girls Club supporters
see program's influence first-hand

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
July 28, 2004
Anthony Brown couldn't say all the words he'd planned to speak, but everyone at the Frank Cochran Center understood his message Tuesday night.
Brown, also known as "A.J.," will begin his senior year at Meridian High School next week. He was named Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi at the organization's annual Celebration of Excellence dinner.
He fought back tears a couple of times as he spoke to the crowd. He talked about growing up in a rough area of town and how the Boys and Girls Club gave him a place to go and things to do that kept him out of trouble.
Brown plays football and basketball and is a member of Who's Who Among American High School Students.
Emotional moment
Brown said later that the most emotional part for him during his speech was when he recognized several people in the audience, "when I was thinking of the people who have been a part of my life."
Brown pointed out his mother and father, Patricia and Anthony Brown Sr., and his sisters, Sheena, Jatoya, and Stella Patton. He recognized Boys and Girls Club staff, his coaches and his minister, the Rev. Gerald Hudson, pastor of Newell Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, who wiped tears from his eyes as Brown did the same.
Gov. Haley Barbour was the keynote speaker at the dinner.
Barbour said the love volunteers have for children in the state's Boys and Girls Clubs is important to the fabric of society.
Nancy Dowling, vice president for support services on the board of directors of the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi, was also recognized Tuesday as the organization's Volunteer of the Year.
State budget
Talking to reporters before Tuesday's dinner, Barbour noted that state budget concerns have made volunteerism more essential than ever.
Barbour has come under attack publicly this summer from poor, elderly and disabled Medicaid beneficiaries and their advocates. People in the Poverty Level Aged and Disabled Medicaid program are scheduled to be dropped from the program Sept. 15 in an effort to save millions of dollars in the state budget.
Most of the people losing Medicaid coverage, about 47,000, are eligible for federally-funded Medicare coverage, and the state is encouraging them to seek assistance from pharmaceutical companies that offer free or discounted drugs.
But some beneficiaries are having a tough time with the process. They say it is confusing and difficult and that not as much assistance is available as state officials have claimed.
Barbour delayed the original July 1 deadline for taking the beneficiaries off Medicaid to give them more time to find alternative medical coverage.

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