Niles resident Georgia Boggs honored by Andrew University

Published 3:45 pm Thursday, January 19, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Her job title before retirement nearly two years ago reads as mentor and counselor at Ring Lardner Middle School. But that is not enough to describe her efforts in the community over the years. In reality, Georgia Boggs is an example and a guide for much more than sixth, seventh and eighth graders. Her helping hand extends to support and educate anyone, no matter race, size, shape or age.
A life-long resident of Niles, Boggs plays a role in nearly every aspect of the community. She serves as vice president of the Niles-Buchanan NAACP and serves on the city's housing commission to promote the availability of adequate housing to low and moderate income citizens.
Boggs' accomplishments are not limited to single houses. Many years ago when a section of Niles homes were being hit with break-ins and residents were fighting off drug dealers, Boggs was there to help form Northside Neighborhood Association. The group began working to identify the root of the problems and then built up a force of citizens, and a new sense of pride, to take the community back.
The neighborhood association wanted to turn the project into a contest, Boggs said, which meant making each block into a team. Citizens from across town would act as judges, which Boggs says, helped make the process exciting. And, a pair of valuable lessons would also come out of the experience. The first became advice on motivation.
Teamwork, Boggs said, is also a valuable tool in achieving her goals.
When it comes to working with younger people though, Boggs emphasizes education as the answer to healing many physical and emotional problems. Her experiences with teenagers at the middle school would lead to a number of workshops, which Boggs would host, and that provided young women with the opportunity to learn about pregnancy as well as how to maintain a healthy body and attitude.
Students would hear stories from young mothers explaining how they found out too late the responsibilities of raising a family. Boggs also invited a gynecologist, who explained the importance of health and avoiding sexually transmitted diseases.
The workshops were a success, Boggs said, but admits the influence has got to start at home.
Boggs' rewards for her hard work have come through in a few forms. The most memorable is personally escorting Rosa Parks to the Franklin African Methodist Episcopal Church in Niles, where Boggs is a senior member of the congregation.
The other reward is the honor recently presented to Boggs by Andrews University at the school's first annual Freedom Banquet held on Sunday, Jan. 15 at All Nations Church in Berrien Springs. At the ceremony, Boggs would become one of five people to receive the honor of the 2006 Martin Luther King Freedom Award for her efforts in the Niles community.
She was escorted by Niles' Mayor Pro Tem Bob Chute, who also read her biography to the audience.
Much of Boggs' thanks extends to the man that the university celebrated that Sunday evening.
Boggs added one more comment of King's influence on her life.
Georgia Boggs is doing her part to make the whole world better. In fact, that is probably the best way to describe what she does.