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Passion for community inspires Elba camp director

Beverly Daniels Hamilton, camp director of the E.X.C.E.L summer youth camp hosted by Elba Parks and Recreation, says she has been passionate about her community since her son was born.

That’s when she noticed some of the kids in their neighborhood faced economic and social challenges. Because of this, the children were being deprived of opportunities despite their potential.

Hamilton says she realized she needed to step up to recognize and build on that potential. Since then, community service has been her passion.

She explained her vision. "I'd like for everybody to have equal access, whether that’s education, sports, the arts, everyone should have the opportunity to go to that next level so whatever we can do to get all people, to bring all people, lift all people, I think that's my goal."

Hamilton became the 2016 camp director of E.X.C.E.L summer youth program after helping plan the program by developing forms, procedures, and policies. This year, Elba’s mayor and Greg Hanchey, director of Parks and Recreation, asked Hamilton to come on board. Because it fits with her own personal mission and purpose, she took the position.

Hamilton points out that people have different degrees of needs and issues from family to financial problems. But she says she believes “if you can give of yourself that’s how you develop a good community where everybody is working together for a common goal."

Hamilton says she is excited about the camp for ages 6 to 13, adding that it could be the start of other things the city can do to help people grow and develop.

"Our children are our today and our future. We need to get them to a place where they can be economically and socially successful," Hamilton says.

Hamilton received her master’s degree from Troy University in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management. She is actively involved in her church where she heads a group for young women and works with the Sunday School and children’s church.

In the past, she worked at an afterschool program for seven years at Windom Elementary school in Daleville where she was the science, technology, engineering, and math (S.T.E.M) teacher.

Before that she worked for a telecommunications company in Atlanta as a classroom coordinator. She was a partnership contact for about 58 different school districts in Atlanta for the company.

Hamilton says, “Pretty much most of my career I've had some kind of relationship with education and children and improving their lives, whether that be on the nonprofit side or in my corporate career."

But youth education was not always her passion. In her early career, she said she was more concerned with moving up the corporate ladder. But the birth of her son, Trenton, triggered her passion for serving others. She explained that she wanted the best for him and saw the need to change her priorities to build on her heart for service.

Another experience drives her as well. While Hamilton's parents didn't complete high school, they were supportive of her going to college. Today, she gives credit to her brother and cousins who she watched go to college. They influenced her decision to attend.

Today, Hamilton encourages youth to expose themselves to other people “who have more than you and have gone further than you.”  She adds, "That comes back to the community. If you made it, then reach back and pull somebody else.”

She says it is important that the youth know that the community cares about them. This caring will instill good character and morals and let them experience new things.

For others who want to reach out to youth, Hamilton suggests, “Just get to know them.

You be transparent first of all. If you can be very transparent with them and make them feel comfortable, then they can come to you and you can share what you have, whether that be your time, your talent, or your finances."

Her overall hope for Elba is for there to be greater unity in the community.

"We have several organizations that are doing great things.  But everyone has his or her own agenda. We need what I call a community connection: connect the religious community, the educational community, and the businesses,” Hamilton says.

She says the goal for all should be uplifting all people. “I think if we can come together and everyone plays their part in making that goal a reality then that will make things better. Everyone should embrace and buy into the uplifting the community and know that we are all significant in that."