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By NATHAN GREGORY
Now in its 27th year of service, the Council of Community Organizations of Oktibbeha County continues to grow.
The non-profit organization, whose mission is to provide services with a focus on economic development at all levels of community life, has seen many developments since its inception in 1984.
The group, also known as COCO, broke ground on what is now the Rogers-Johnson Center in 1994. The center is named after two of the organizationâ€™s founders, David Rogers and Viola Johnson.
The recreational center serves as a meeting place for family reunions, clubs and for grade school children to gather and receive tutoring to help them achieve success academically. COCO CEO Peggy Rogers said erecting the building was the first of several phases in the organizationâ€™s growth.
â€śWeâ€™re actually going into the third phase of this organization. The first phase was to build a building. The second phase was to get the parking lot paved,â€ť Rogers said. â€śThe next two phases are to erect another inside gym on the back part of the property and to do a softball field and picnic area. Right now weâ€™re working on a picnic area and trying to get the community to help us ... so that when families meet they would have some more facilities to utilize.â€ť
COCO assistant treasurer James Little said one of the organizationâ€™s primary objectives focuses on helping youth in their eventual transition into adulthood. This is realized through the organizationâ€™s ABC Tomorrow Youth Council.
â€śThat organizationâ€™s goal is to encourage and support the youth of the community. We have a very active youth organization. One of our goals is to get the youth involved and give them training in what it is to be a part of a community organization that will benefit them in the long run,â€ť Little said. â€śAs part of that, we have some very dedicated tutors who come and work with the young people.
Dr. Rogers has high expectations for all those who participate. She expects the best performance out of the young people and they give their best. She wants them to use the skills and talents theyâ€™ve acquired every day to better themselves and be a part of this community.â€ť
â€śThe purpose of the ABC Tomorrow Youth Council is to teach these children parliamentary procedures and how to conduct meetings,â€ť Rogers said.
The organization also holds an array of events throughout the year, including a day of service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., a David Rogers scholarship luncheon, a small child fashion show, an annual awards program for the organizationâ€™s youth, an exercise program and an annual health fair, which will be held April 20.
â€śWe have health education and three doctors who have worked with us and come to share information and answer questions,â€ť Little said. â€śThey also bring blood pressure (testing equipment) and (have) other (health education) programs. This is a very-well attended event. The doctors have been very instrumental in helping the community and helping those who come there who may not have the money to go to a doctor.â€ť
The group is also holding another service day April 21, Rogers said.
â€śWe will be celebrating Global Youth Service Day. Thatâ€™s the climax of our project that started with the Martin Luther King Day of Service,â€ť she said.
Rogers said any organization or individual concerned about the social, economic or political status of the community is eligible to join COCO.
She said she is thankful the organization has had so much success and is primed for more as it approaches 30 years of service.
â€śWe would like to thank the community for the support weâ€™ve been given these 27 years. It hasnâ€™t been easy, and without them we couldnâ€™t have made it this far,â€ť Rogers said.
For more information on COCO, visit http://www.cococenter.org.