New group 'dream' come true for youth
by SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Mario McCrary, Kentrell Arnold and Quinton Arnold had been thinking about doing something to work with local youth for years.
Last year, they coached a youth football team. “It got us interacting with the kids,” Quinton Arnold said. “We decided we wanted to do something bigger, bigger than football.”
“We were sitting around talking and we were like — let’s start a non-profit organization,” said Kentrell Arnold.
They, along with several others, have started the Dream Starter Association in order to help out local youth.
“The end goal is, we want to help the whole community,” said McCrary. “Right now, we are focusing on youth, reaching out to the youth through sports programs and extracurricular activities,” he said.
This fall, they want to be able to sponsor 15 or 20 kids who want to play on sports teams but whose families can’t afford the expense.
They also want to help kids with other interests. “If they want to do football, baseball, piano lessons, ballet, we’ll find out a way to get them started on the right track,” McCrary said. “It’s not just kids playing sports,” said Quinton. “If they want to be doctors or lawyers, we want to get them on the right track, get them to sit down and talk with the right people so they can achieve their goals.”
That’s just the beginning. They have big dreams. They want to work with the police to put together a program for at-risk youth to keep them out of juvenile detention, and they’re working on putting together a tutoring program.
The Dream Starter Association is comprised of a core group of about 10. “We have a lot of people who want to be involved, we are just now learning how to run it,” said Kentrell.
Right now, they’re spending most every weekend sprucing up the Westgate ball field. There’s a field and concession stand with restrooms. The facilities, which are owned by the city of Newnan, are very run down and the restrooms aren’t operational. Dream Starter volunteers have been busy cleaning and painting and hope to get the restrooms working. “If they see us trying to start fixing it up, maybe they will start maintaining the field more often,” McCrary said.
Another project includes trying to get some open time on Saturdays at the Wesley Street gym for basketball and to include a motivational speaker.
The groups has really hit the ground running — maybe a little harder than they’d originally planned.
Dream Starter was inspired by the work of Newnan-based United We Stand for Positive Results and its leaders, Clarence “C-Bo” Bohannon and Willie Pritchett. The organization worked for many years with local youth, but Bohannon and Pritchett are now retired. Sort of.
Kentrell said when they were talking about Dream Starter, “I made a phone call to Willie. He was on the phone with Mr. C-Bo talking about the same thing, and they just put us in a position to meet people. And ever since then, we have been on a roll.”
Bohannon and Pritchett took them to LaGrange to meet with State Rep. Carl Von Epps.
“He talked to us for a while, getting us on the right tack, telling us do’s and don’ts, how to interact with people, what to do. That helped us out a lot,” McCrary said.
“They are putting us in a good position; they are really showing us how they were running” the United We Stand organization, Kentrell said. Without Pritchett and Bohannon “we would still be at ground zero,” Kentrell said.
“Before that, we were like — we want to do this but how to do it?” McCrary said.
“They are helping us, but they are letting us be free,” added Kentrell. “We’re out in the yard playing and they’re on the porch watching.”
They originally picked the name Dream Starters but had to tweak it when they discovered that name was already taken. They’re working on setting up a board and other organizational duties.
Dream Starter held a community picnic in April, with free haircuts and toys for the kids. The group will be at Juneteenth in Willie Lynch Park next weekend and at a Newnan Housing Authority event on June 22 — and they’re having their first fundraiser, a fish fry, on June 29.
They’re looking for more volunteers, as well as donations.
“We’re trying to do quite a lot. Whatever anyone can help with, we would be willing,” said Quinton.
“Nothing is too small,” added Kentrell.
Donations of food for the fish fry are welcome, as are books, puzzles, flash cards and the like for the tutoring program, and any sports equipment. And volunteers who have talents such as teaching guitar or piano are needed.
For more information, e-mail DreamStarterCoweta@gmail.com, or call Kentrell Arnold at 404-992-1361 or Quinton Arnold at 678-754-2079.S