DAY Program alumna is highlight of fundraiser

&uot;It completely, absolutely changed my life,&uot; said a triumphant Autumn Trott. &uot;I’m doing good because of the DAY Program. I thank you so much. It’s a personal blessing for me to thank all of you and to share my story with you.&uot;

The appearance of the 24-year-old was the highlight of the Developing Alabama Youth Program Backyard Barbecue fundraiser held at the home of Larry and Cathy Clayton in Helena.

The reason for that was that Trott is one of the program’s success stories.

Now in its 20th year, the DAY Program provides at-risk students academic remediation and counseling. At-risk students are those in danger of dropping out of school and ending their educational opportunites.

The DAY Program is a nonprofit program which operates in a facility located in Alabaster and is funded by Shelby County Schools, the United Way, grants from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and donations.

Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Patti Smith said the reason the program works is that it identifies the academic deficiencies of at-risk students. She said the students are tested and go on to enjoy &uot;phenomenal excellence in academics.&uot;

Judge Smith also pointed out that once a student begins seeing success in academics, they also start to &uot;bloom&uot; in other areas.

Trott said she now works for Estee Lauder and is attending Ayers State Technical College in Anniston on a scholarship. She recently purchased a home in Helena.

In introducing Trott to the crowd, Judge Smith said, &uot;I remember this case in particular. I’m grateful to get to know her as an adult.&uot;

Trott said she fell behind in school and just dropped out.

&uot;Somehow I ended up in the DAY Program. And the counselor said, ‘Autumn, I believe you can do this.’ She counseled me and gave me motivation … (The DAY Program) just loved me,&uot; she said.

She was so successful with her schoolwork as a result of the DAY Program, she said, that her high school was convinced that her grades were a fraud.

She said the main reason she dropped out of school was that she was overwhelmed and discouraged.

She said that in the DAY Program, a student is allowed to progress at their own pace. Once she had that opportunity, Trott said she began receiving academic honors.

Trott was also recently featured in a United Way ad campaign for the DAY Program.

Neil Bailey

serves on the board of directors of the program and spearheaded the Alabaster/Pelham Rotary Club scholarship program which is helping Trott attend Ayers State.

&uot;You never know when someone who has benefited from the DAY Program is going to pop up in your life,&uot; he said.

Cam Ward, the outgoing chairman of the Day Program Board of Directors, said the barbecue helped to raise more than $20,000 for the program.

In addition to Ward, members of the DAY Program board of directors include Sandra Kelly, Betty Smith, Bailey, Shelby County Chief Deputy Chris Curry, Julie Kimbrough and Karen Ream.

In addition to good food, the $100 per plate event featured entertainment by the Back Pew Boys.

Chefs for the event included Jess Rawls, Bob Voshall, Bob Carr and Bailey