In November, local coffee shop Because Coffee hosted a “Birthaversary Shindig” event to celebrate their first year of being open. The event featured a free concert by Forsyth County-based band Okay Kenedi and Music Authority’s The Band Beyond, and ended up raising over $800 for the Dawson County Schools Community Based Instruction (CBI) program.
According to Ashley Elliott, CBI coordinator at Dawson County High School, the concert event raised just over $361 in donations for CBI, and Alexandria Williams from Modern Woodmen decided to partner with Because Coffee and donate another $500 to the program, bringing the total to a little over $861.
“That just means a lot with different devices and learning experiences for our students as far as growing our program,” Elliott said. “The money goes toward our community learning experiences and to enrich our program for middle, junior and high school in the entire county, so not just one school.”
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Also at the event, Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson presented the 2020 graduates from the CBI program with plaques to honor their accomplishment of graduating high school. Elliott said that this gesture meant a lot to the CBI students, especially since they weren’t able to have their own graduation in the spring.
“A lot of our kids with the COVID didn’t get to have their special graduation program, so Sheriff Johnson coming there and doing that as well was really awesome,” Elliott said.
The CBI program aims to provide the exceptional students in the school system with academic enrichment and life skill coaching, in order to ultimately prepare them for their transition into a job after graduation.
“At the lower level our exceptional students work on academics like their reading goals and math goals, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy,” Elliott said. “And when the kids get to the higher levels we still do academics but we try to get into more life skills, job skills, resumes, interviewing and then we actually do on-site coaching.”
According to Elliott, Because Coffee is one of many job sites in the county where the CBI students have been able to get real-life job experience and coaching.
"Before COVID the kids would go over there two to three days a week and Doug would work with them on how to greet customers and the essential skills on how to hold down a job,” Elliott said. “So that’s just a way Because Coffee supports us — Doug and his whole team over there are just great.”
Elliott said that the involvement of the businesses, bands and community to help raise money for their program at the event means more to her and the children than she could say.
“We’re just so grateful and humbled that Because Coffee, Okay Kenedi, Modern Woodmen, Dawson County Sheriff’s Department and the rest of the community came together to support our students and our programs,” Elliott said. “We are so blessed to have such an amazing outreach of love and support.”