Before the Adopt-a-School program even started, the BellSouth Pioneers in Blount County were reaching out to Townsend Elementary School. The Pioneers organization is the nation’s largest company-sponsored volunteer organization and is made up of AT&T and BellSouth employees and retirees who want to serve their communities.
When the Blount County Chamber of Commerce spearheaded getting the Adopt-a-School program going in the cities and county, the Pioneers were already there and helped get the ball rolling.
Edna Lindsey was a big part of their effort, say friends and family. She actually started working with the children at Townsend Elementary a year before the Adopt-a-School even started.
At the Pioneer meeting recently, dignitaries and friends came to honor and thank Edna for her years of service to the Adopt-a-School program. Linda Stapleton with the Blount County Chamber of Commerce said that BellSouth was one of the key groups in getting the Adopt-a-School program started in Blount County. “Our goal was to make sure that every public school in Blount County, Maryville and Alcoa had a viable business partner,” said Stapleton. “These folks (the Pioneers) were so dedicated that they set the bar for the program before it even began.”
Bob Large, Pioneer past president, said the group wasn’t going to be able to participate in the program this year because of dwindling membership in the organization. “We’re going to help the school this year, but not officially,” Large said. “We just don’t have the membership strength we used to have to be the kind of Adopt-a-School partner we want to be.”
Edna was shocked by all the attention. “I was just the reminder,” she said. “I just got on the phone and made sure we had enough people to keep up with what was needed at the school. When the reading program started, it took a lot of volunteers,” she remembered.
Principals and Adopt-a-School organizers said Edna was the spark plug that helped keep the group going and dedicated to Townsend Elementary.
“They worked in the classrooms with the kids, helped us with needs we had, bought things for the playground -- anywhere there was a need, the Pioneers tried tohelp,” said former principal Townsend Elementary principal Fred Goins. “Edna was a key person every year in the Adopt-a-School program for Townsend.”