By LANDON WOODROOF
Each year, Leadership Brentwood participants divide up into teams and perform service projects to benefit the Brentwood community.
On Thursday afternoon, one such team gathered at Brentwood’s FiftyForward Martin Center to unveil theirs: two brand-new, park-quality benches for center members to enjoy.
The Martin Center used to have outdoor benches for their members, but they were small and rickety, the center’s director, Joyce Keistler, said.
That was a shame because the front of the FiftyForward Martin Center building affords gorgeous views of the sunset and is a place where members often congregate while waiting for rides or to go on field trips.
“Our members enjoy being out here,” Keistler said at the ribbon-cutting for the project.
Leadership Brentwood Class of 2018 member Kathy Dooley-Smith said that her team came up with the idea for the benches as a result of one of the Leadership Brentwood program days.
On those days, class members visit various organizations around the city to get a feel for how they operate and the populations they serve.
Dooley-Smith said that the team visited the Martin Center one day and was impressed by what they saw.
“We were very taken by Joyce and the community that she serves here on a very limited budget,” Dooley-Smith said.
Team members asked Keistler what they could do to help. In addition to the new benches, they also pressure-washed the walkways in front of the building as well as the center’s back deck.
To make the benches a reality, the Leadership Brentwood team had to raise $3,200. Individual members gathered donations from friends and family to come up with that amount.
One goal of the project is to turn those donors into regular supporters of the Martin Center.
“Our goal here to is to provide Joyce here with a list of donors who will hopefully continue to be involved with the Martin Center,” Dooley-Smith said.
The FiftyForward Martin Center offers a wide range of activities for adults aged 50 or older. From painting classes, to knitting groups, to billiards clubs, to day trips and much more, the center tries to have something for everyone.
The Martin Center is a member-based organization, and fees are $120 a year. Around 15 to 18 percent of members receive scholarships for financial need, Keistler said.
Keistler herself is a 1993 graduate of Leadership Brentwood. In fact, the concept for the Martin Center was born out of Keistler’s team’s service project that year.
The center started having weekly programs in 1996 at the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes and then moved to Brentwood First Presbyterian Church for several years before settling into its current home in December 2002.
It has about 300 members at any given time.
Leadership Brentwood graduated its first class in 1991, Lynn Tucker, director of the Williamson County Chamber Foundation, said. That foundation sponsors the Leadership Brentwood program.
The declared purpose of Leadership Brentwood is to “identify and educate present and future leaders and integrate them into the Brentwood community.”
Tucker said that applications for the Leadership Brentwood Class of 2019 are currently available online. Potential applicants can also contact Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those interested in learning more about the program can attend an informational mixer as well on Tuesday, April 17 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Williamson Inc., located at 5005 Meridian Blvd, Suite 150 in Franklin.
The members of the Leadership Brentwood team responsible for the benches at the FiftyForward Martin Center are: Glenn Allison, Amanda Blanck, Kathy Dooley-Smith, Cindy Harrison, Brian Shore, David Windrow and Reid Zwickel.