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Girl builds cornhole games for homeless families

“Our family loves cornhole,” said an animated Mary Cain.

Mary was the recipient of a $1,000 check and Ambassador of Respect (AoR) award from the Davie Respect Initiative (DRI) for her idea of designing and building cornhole sets for the non-profit Family Promise.

“Doing recreation together as a family is very important; it helps bind the family. My project focused on the unmet recreation needs for families experiencing homelessness while living in housing provided by Family Promise of DC (FPDC). Recreation and family time are always important to maintain mental and physical health and are shown to reduce stress which is an underlying issue for families experiencing homelessnes,” said the 16-year-old Ambassador of Respect.

She met with Lisa Foster, executive director of FPDC, to determine the needs of Davie families experiencing homelessness and devised a plan to make and deliver the cornhole sets.

She had done research to find agencies that provide for those experiencing homelessness, to the planning meeting with Foster, to reviewing the cornhole plans with Mark Eaton, Davie County Schools technical advisor, and to recruiting volunteers/construction assistants from Girl Scout Troop 41172, of which she is a member.

Here is a part of her timeline:

• June 28, 2020, emailed Foster to begin planning and volunteer enlistment;

• July 6, planning interview with Foster;

• July 8, emailed Mark Eaton cornhole plans;

• Oct. 12, purchased lumber and hardware, cut lumber to size;

• Oct. 13, 14, drill and finish cuts, install hardware and sand rough edges;

• Oct. 24, cornhole set assembly;

• Nov. 7, final sand and prep for painting;

• Nov. 21, first coat of paint;

• December, January, February, more coats of paint, graphics, writing tips and tricks for cornhole; and

March 13, 2021, delivery of the cornhole boards to Foster.

“This is a joyous day,” said Davie County Manager David Bone after presenting Mary with her Ambassador of Respect certificate and $1,000 check at the headquarters of Family Promise.

Like Mary, Bone has a Scouting background including being a Scout leader and mentor, as well as having three sons who achieved Eagle Scout status.

“I applaud you for finding a project that will not only make a difference in our community, but is so meaningful to you personally.”

Bright blue and purple cornhole sets can be found at each of the FPDC locations.

“Mary was so great to work with,” Foster said. “She presented this wonderful idea to me and had all of the details sorted out herself. Having fun family activities for families in our program makes such a huge impact. It was clear to me how much Mary cares about her community and others throughout this project.”

Do you know a young person or Davie youth group between the ages of 12-21 “doing good, being kind, or showing respect” to people, animals or the environment? Empower youth by anonymously nominating them at www.davierespect.com.   

Up to three new Ambassadors of Respect may be selected by the volunteer selection panel each quarter.  The next quarter ends on Dec. 31 and individual youths and DC youth groups can apply on their own or after having been nominated.

Email comments or questions to initiaterespect1@gmail.com.