By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Funds raised to honor local leader
88 scholarships have been awarded since establishment
The Wesleyan Gospel Choir of Savannah State University sing along and praise Friday evening in the church sanctuary at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Flowery Branch during the Gospel Music Extravaganza of the eighth annual Grady Young Foundation, Inc. Memorial Weekend.

Grady Young is long gone, but his spirit lives on as his family and supporters continue his good works through the Grady Young Foundation. The nonprofit held its major fundraising events over the weekend.

"It's a really neat thing," Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said. "It's like they made their family reunion a fundraiser."

Grady Young's son, Charles Young, is chairman of the foundation.

"We want to help build up the community, and this is just one way of doing that," he said.

The foundation, whose members include several of Grady Young's relatives, supports the community through financial and spiritual resources.

"(It's) one of the best things to happen to Gainesville," Gainesville City Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras said. "His children are remembering him for his service. It's one of the greatest things we've ever done."

During the gala Saturday night, Figueras read a proclamation decreeing March 18-20 Eighth Annual Grady Young Foundation Memorial Weekend. The weekend features several events that gather family, friends and supporters of the foundation to raise money for its activities and scholarships.

Friday evening, the Gospel Music Extravaganza at Mount Zion Baptist Church brought the community together for musical worship.

The Praise and Worship team from the singing group, Voices of Faith, opened the night and invoked the audience to place their trust in Jesus. The congregation stood and echoed their song.

One of the group's performers, Clarence Johnson, is a foundation director who is also Grady Young's eldest grandson. Johnson said religion and
placing one's trust in Jesus, as in the song he sang, was important to his grandfather.

"That's (the) essence of the foundation," he said, "because it's based on the values and things he stood for. Faith was a big part of his life."

Along with the gospel event, the weekend included a golf tournament, father-son brunch and Saturday's gala.

Most of the money raised will be used to fund the foundation's 15 scholarships, which award between $250 and $1,000 to area high school students.

"Many students are deserving of college but their parents do not have the financial resources," Young said.

The foundation has awarded 88 scholarships since the foundation's establishment in 2004. This year's gala, titled "Reaping the Harvest," honored past recipients, including J.J. Evans, 25, one of the first to receive a foundation scholarship.

"It's an excellent resource for our community," Evans said, "especially for the African-American race, because a lot of kids might not have the resources to get an education."

Evans, who now lives in Duluth, graduated from East Hall High School and went on to get his degree in business administration from Georgia State University in 2009. He recognizes the positive impact receiving a scholarship can have on a student who wants to go to college but isn't sure about how to get there.

"It makes you believe in yourself, that you can do something with your life," Evans said.

The gala, the major event of the weekend, was attended by about 75 foundation supporters. Mark Pettitt of state Sen. Butch Miller's office read a resolution prepared by the senator honoring Young's legacy and the foundation.

The program acknowledged the work of the foundation and the progress of the past scholarship recipients.

Candidates for the 2011 scholarships were interviewed Saturday morning, and recipients will be determined at later date. Awarding of the scholarships is based on a student's academic performance, school and community involvement, recommendations and an essay.

Evans, who also emceed the gala, was grateful for the assistance the foundation gave them with the scholarship.

"I want to tell them thank you for what they did," he said. "And I also want to encourage young people to reach for their dreams."