Hometown Hero: Don Mayer

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - After more than a decade of planning and proving guidance to area parents, the Savannah Early Childhood Foundation can now see the first tangible proof of the change it hopes to have an effect in the community.

"We submitted the first list of children that were infants and toddlers when their parents started attending Early Learning College four and five years ago,'' said SECF President, Paul Fisher. "That list was presented to the schools.''

That was part of a big April for the SECF Director Michael O'Neal retired from International Paper to go full-time with Parent University and the organization received its largest gift yet - $450,000 over the next three years from the Mayer Family Foundation.

"I think so many things have converged that the time is right now,'' said O'Neal. "Because everyone has said 'I've seen enough and I'm going to take my personal risk, not the least of which are the parents. I think this qualifies us for success because it wasn't given to us. We earned it and we can go forward with our heads up knowing what happens is what we made happen.''

For Mayer, who oversees his family's trust, getting behind the organization that teaches parents to have their children better prepared to start school was not a risk.

The WTOC Hometown Hero says it was a gift he received rather than provided.

"I get a chance to see the parents and the commitment they have made to themselves and to each other and to their kids,'' said Mayer, who is the SECF's treasurer. "It all came together and I get a chance to make a real impact, positive impact on the community. You don't get those opportunities very much, and when opportunity knocked, I could not do anything but open the door.

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