Schenectady County

Church sells stamps in honor of founder Georgetta Dix

Four years after Georgetta Dix’s death, her church is rebuilding the programs she loved the most.
A first-class stamp has been dedicated to the memory of Schenectady community activist Georgetta Dix, who died in 2004.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
A first-class stamp has been dedicated to the memory of Schenectady community activist Georgetta Dix, who died in 2004.

Four years after Georgetta Dix’s death, her church is rebuilding the programs she loved the most.

They are restarting her once-renowned affordable daycare, inviting non-church residents to a new youth group and setting up tutoring and literacy programs for youths and adults this fall.

“She always had a dream of being able to continue to take care of children,” said the Rev. Clarence Samuel Johnson, who now shepherds the church that Dix founded with her husband in 1955. “I’m going to continue her work.”

The expensive programs will be partly funded through the sale of a new postage stamp made in Dix’s honor. The commemorative stamp has been approved for use by the United States Postal Service but can be purchased only at the church, Refreshing Springs Church of God in Christ. Sheets of 20 stamps sell for $25.

“The profit will support those programs. That’s the purpose of it — to support the dream,” Johnson said.

The stamps show both Dix’s face and his own, with the motto “The Dream Continues.”

He’s hoping the programs will help address the need for male role models in impoverished neighborhoods, where many children are raised by single mothers. The issue was recently raised by presidential candidate Barack Obama, who said black children in particular need father figures to help them aspire to a better life.

Johnson said Dix would have agreed with Obama wholeheartedly.

“That is one of the things Mother Dix stressed. Make sure your children are taught correctly,” he said. “Children do need strong male role models, so they understand they can go farther than just around their house. She would feel there’s some things we desperately need to do — we’ve got to get the children off the street corners.”

The church has been selling the commemorative stamp for three weeks but will publicly unveil it at a special service at 4:30 p.m. on July 20. That service will also celebrate the church’s 53rd anniversary.

Dix started the Refreshing Spring Child Daycare Center in 1965. At the time, it was one of the first daycares in upstate New York.

With the help of volunteers from Schenectady Inner City Ministry, she was able to keep costs down so single parents could take training classes or start work without being overwhelmed by the cost of childcare.

Throughout her career she lobbied for government support of daycare for the poor as well as other social service programs. Before schools began offering free lunch to children who couldn’t afford to buy them, she would stand on the poorest street corners in Schenectady and hand out quarters every morning to children who needed lunch money. Later, she supervised the elementary school lunch program, worked to develop judicial options for juvenile delinquents and helped calm racial tensions at city schools.

After her death, the Schenectady City Council renamed Summit Avenue in her honor. The street her church is on is now called Georgetta Dix Place.

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