The Newnan Times-Herald

Local

Accountability Courts seeking board members, donations


  • By Sarah Fay Campbell
  • |
  • Oct. 11, 2017 - 10:15 PM

The board of the nonprofit arm of the Coweta Accountability Courts is looking for a few good board members.

Coweta County Accountability Courts Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves as a fundraising arm for the accountability courts program, which includes drug court, DUI court, veterans treatment court and family treatment court.

The nonprofit helps fund needs for court participants that are not covered by the court’s state and local funding, as well as to purchase incentives for court participants when donated incentives are low.

Money has been used to buy work uniforms and steel-toed boots for court participants who need items for their jobs, and is often used to provide medical and dental care for participants in need, who often are without insurance or the money to afford to go to the doctor. Oftentimes, a group of participants will go to the St. Joseph’s Mercy Care dental clinic in Decatur for free dental work. The nonprofit can also pay for prescriptions for participants.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, the board voted to help purchase a set of dentures for one court participant and to purchase incentives, which are small treats that participants get as rewards for doing well in the program.

Incentives that can be donated include things such as gas cards and gift cards for restaurants and local stores, tickets for attractions such as Zoo Atlanta and sporting events, and small gifts.

When there aren’t enough donations, accountability court staff will instead reward participants with discounts on their fees or the ability to miss a community support meeting.

Participants “really appreciate the gas cards, and the food is the biggest thing,” said Accountability Courts Manager Jennifer Barnett.

For the family treatment court, which helps parents who have lost custody of their children to the Division of Family and Children’s Services, donations of small items for the children, as well as family games and items such as movies, would be great, Barnett said.

The incentives are an important part of the court programs.

“When people are doing what they are supposed to do, when they are meeting all their requirements – which is coming to counseling, passing all their drug screens, participating in their psycho-educational groups, meeting with their case manager, going to community support meetings, going to court, then we give them stars. And we give them incentives for earning their stars,” she said.

The nonprofit has been in existence for several years, but Barnett said she hopes to energize the board with new and active members.

“We’re looking for an active, engaged board in the community to help with fundraising,” Barnett said.

Fundraisers, of course, raise money for the organization, but are also a way to “get our participants out in the community and provide the with opportunities to give back to community,” she said.

She said she likes to give participants “healthy sober living experiences.” Last year, the organization rented a bus to take a group of participants to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Many of the participants had never been to a museum like that.

“They were seeing things that they had never seen,” Barnett said. “The excitement was so sweet it makes me cry to think about.”

In addition to hosting fundraisers and accepting donations, the nonprofit can also partner with other groups to do fundraisers.

“We have a lot of manpower – a lot of hands that can help. And we like to be involved in the community,” Barnett said. “We like to do giving back projects, the participants and the staff.

“If there is a business or organization that has a need that we can help with, we’d be happy to,” she added.

At Wednesday’s meeting, board members discussed having a board development retreat in the new year. The retreat would be local and only last a day or half-day, but it would be a chance for new and existing board members to work on goals and visions.

“Starting in January, I want a solid mission. I want our goals outlined. I want us to really become more active in getting out in the community,” Barnett said. “So I need a board that will advocate for the program, that will educate the community, help in some of these community events and get information about there about our programs.”

Board members are asked to commit to serving for one year. There are quarterly board meetings.

For more information, contact Barnett at 770-683-0205 or jbarnett@coweta.ga.us or visit the accountability court office at 51A Perry Street, Newnan.