Contributed by Ashley Calloway
Ashely Calloway (center) pictured with fellow volunteers Sally Reatzke (right) and Ranah McSween (left) of Chicktime Chapter at Dothan.
When Ashley Calloway founded Chicktime’s Dothan chapter five years ago, all she wanted to be was a bright spot in a child’s life. Calloway was a young mother working on her associate degree and was trying to start an organization that would eventually become her legacy, winning her Troy University’s first-ever Trojan Heart Award. Today, Calloway’s organization is a part of a movement empowering women to stop the cycle of child abuse by going into children’s homes and loving on the kids.
“I just needed to find a way to give back to my community and show others that there is always hope,” Calloway said. “When I founded Chicktime, I absolutely fell in love with our mission and was excited to get it going here in our community.”
Chicktime serves children from backgrounds of abuse and neglect by setting up monthly activities with children living in children’s homes and encouraging women in the local community to come in and teach classes based on their passions.
“We are very much family-oriented,” Calloway said. “Over the years I’ve tried very hard to create a family dynamic.
“A lot of the women that serve with our chapter have come to me and talked to me about how for them serving children of abuse and neglect is just something very near to their heart. I can specifically name one volunteer who told me she loves what we do because she can’t have her own children and serving gave her the opportunity to be in a child’s life.”
Volunteers are invited to come play with the children during various activities acting as a fun aunt or big sister in order to form valuable relationships with them. This is all with the hope that the volunteers, in connecting with the kids, are able to fill any voids that children’s homes sometimes can’t fulfill on their own.
Calloway believes that the Trojan Heart Award has helped to uplift and encourage young people to reach outside their comfort zone and be of service to others.
“It’s not always easy to be working especially in the type of environment that we are working in, with women and children of abuse, neglect and domestic violence,” Calloway said. “Always try to give back to others when you can, even if it stings and even if it’s uncomfortable you have to be of service to others.
“I think that Troy doing this will definitely help the students and those in our community to see the emphasis that Troy puts on being of service to our community.”
Calloway said that by winning the Trojan Heart Award and the cash prize of $1,000, her organization was able to continue providing special training required for the volunteers as they work with individuals dealing with sensitive issues.
“I just think that it’s very important that we dig into our communities, and college is a great place to meet other people that share the same mind as you,” Calloway said. “And with like-minded people there’s always an opportunity to be of service to others, no matter how busy you might think you are.”