On Wednesday, December 05, 2018, the City of Valdosta made the holiday season special for persons with disabilities and behavioral health needs who reside at the Parkwood Development Center.
“This is a special time of the year when we give to others and that’s important to the City of Valdosta. I encourage the citizens and businesses of our generous community to remember those who are less fortunate during the holiday season. Facilities like Parkwood are committed to providing quality-of-life care and life-skills training to people who cannot live independently — a service that is both needed and appreciated in our community,” said Valdosta Mayor John Gayle.
Mayor John Gayle, VFD Fire Chief Freddie Broome and members of the Valdosta Fire Department delivered gifts to more than 100 patients—ages 7 to 73—who reside at the facility as part of the annual Mayor’s Christmas Motorcade. This year, Mayor Gayle and VFD were able to deliver more than $800 worth of gifts to Parkwood’s clients.
“Our clients and staff all look forward to this every single year. The Mayor has been doing this along with Chief Broome for the past several years. They come in and bring toys and our clients get super excited when they see us setting up for it in the morning,” said Susan Boone, Executive Director of Parkwood Development Center. “It really touches my heart to see our clients smile and see them light up. It’s very heartwarming and touching. All of our clients are here and we become their family so it’s great to see them light up.”
Each year, Valdosta, along with other cities across Georgia, collects and delivers gifts to patients at state behavioral health hospitals through the annual Mayor’s Christmas Motorcade, sponsored by the Georgia Municipal Association. However, due to the closure of the Southwestern State Hospital in Thomasville several years ago, the nearest state hospital serving Valdosta patients is located in Columbus. Instead of collecting and transporting these gifts to a distant community, Mayor Gayle and the Valdosta Fire Department have been spreading cheer to the local residents at the Parkwood Development Center.
“We’re public servants, not just serving in a time of emergencies, but in time of need,” said Fire Chief Freddie Broome “and this is a time when our community comes together and we help our community, especially Parkwood that’s in need of donations to make a special Christmas for this community.”