Addie Bolton is passing on a legacy of service to the young people of Winnsboro, remembering how others came to her aid. Her mission is to instill a desire to excel in the at-risk youth of Franklin Parish. So began Project Excellence, her effort to give underprivileged children in Franklin Parish a safe and healthy place to grow and learn. From literally adopting two children, to mentoring thousands of children, Bolton has dedicated her life to children.
At the core of Project Excellence is responsibility – to oneself, to each other, to the community. Since its inception in 1985, Bolton has devoted 14 years of volunteer service to Project Excellence, an organization that helps youth help themselves by encouraging them to strive for excellence in all areas and teaching academic and job readiness skills. This special community-based program offers after-school and summer tutorial sessions to help youth overcome barriers to academic success.
The success of Project Excellence led Bolton to apply for a Head Start grant, and she now serves as Executive Director of Franklin Parish’s only Head Start program, United Ministerial Alliance Head Start Program, now in its ninth year and serving 115 three to five-year-old preschool children and their families. The comprehensive childcare program “promotes not only the children, but their parents and other family members as well,” according to Bolton.
A $500,000 grant from the State Department of Social Services, secured by Bolton, sponsors a three-year Summer Childcare Assistance Program for students aged 3-12 whose parents work, attend school, or are in training for a job. Certified teachers and other professionals teach the children academics in all subject areas. The Honor Rolls of parish schools reflect this intervention when every six-week grading period shows 100 or more children on the Honor Roll, many of whom have achieved this recognition only after attending the two-month program, which serves more than 400 children every summer.
Bolton’s lifetime of service to Louisiana children has had a meaningful impact throughout the state. She has provided more than 40 jobs to people whose children attend the United Ministerial Alliance Head Start Program. Bolton coordinated a Stay-in-School Challenge Grant that has prevented more than 25 of 50 students, at-risk for dropping out because of individual multiple failures, from dropping out of school. She also led the effort to rid the Head Start Center area of the negative influence of “Big Beck’s Watering Hole,” a local nightclub of ill repute that wreaked havoc among Head Start families. The old nightclub was subsequently transformed into the UMA Parenting Center, which provides space for Head Start and other UMA initiatives including the summer childcare program.
Retired from a 33-year career as a teacher, reading specialist and elementary principal, Bolton lives her belief that “there is power in one.” Her faith plays a large role in her work for others. For Addie Bolton, her rewards come from planting the seeds of giving in children.