Meet Patsy Thomas! Patsy is the executive director at the Ninth District Opportunity Center in Gainesville. She has been with the organization for 50 years! Patsy also loves eating at Luna’s in Gainesville and is a cat lover. She said that her favorite part of Hall County is the people.
“I think we care about each other and have a lot of respect for each other even though our beliefs may be completely different. I think we have a good support system. We have wonderful health care and education,” she said.
We want to thank Patsy for recently sitting down with us and telling us more about her life and love of Hall County.
Question: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Answer: “I was teaching school here in Hall County and I saw an advertisement in the paper a company was hiring people to work as community organizers during the summer. I applied and got the job. At the same time the agent was operating what was called summer Head Start at that time and all of those were operated through the school systems.”
Q: What is the biggest difference in Hall County over the last 50 years?
A: “The explosion in the population and difference in cultures. How we are learning to appreciate and accept the cultures. As well as, the attitude towards education. People began viewing early education as more of an importance. A lot of 5 year olds were in day care but at that time daycare was not an educational program that it is now. Now parents want to get there kids into a preschool program because they know when they go to public school they are going to be expected to know all of the things. I think we have learned through the years that staff working with children need to have the qualifications and training to work with those children. Children at that time needed more nurturing than they do now. Children today are exposed to more. In low-income families very few of the children had books and parents did not read to them because they didn’t understand the importance. We have come a long way with early childhood education.”
Q: What is your favorite thing about Hall County?
A: “The people. I think we care about each other and have a lot of respect for each other even though our beliefs may be completely different. We still have that respect. I think we have a good support system. We have wonderful health care and education.”
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Hall County?
A: “I would have to say Luna’s.”
Q: What is your favorite movie OR what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
A: “It was probably a cowboy movie with Roy Rogers at the Royal Theatre.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “I would say retirement. I did retire from being Head Start director and was going to not do anything. Our executive director at that time asked me if I would stay on for a year to help with the transition and that was about 15 years ago and I am still here. It’s important to stay active and be around a lot of people with lots of different ideas.”
Q: What is your favorite music/ 3 bands you would like to see (dead or alive)?
A: “The Eagles.”
Q: What do you want the community to know about Ninth District Opportunity right now?
A: “We are just starting a new school year and we really and truly need volunteers. We need people or groups who will come in and read to our children. When are children at the playground take two or three and go do something special with them. A lot of our children need a male influence. I see it a lot when we do have men who come in and volunteer that the little boys crave that attention because a lot of our families are single parent families. People that will do training for our parents. We do have some rules and regulations for volunteers such as confidentiality.”
Q: What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: “Gardening, Family and Cats.”
The Faces of Hall County is a project to showcase the amazing people that live or work in our community. If you would like to nominate an interesting person to be featured please email firstname.lastname@example.org.