About Share America Foundation
Promoting the traditional music sounds of Appalachia in our youth is the major focus of the Share America Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501-C3, operating from Catoosa County, Ga.
"We are just now beginning to explore all the areas in which we might encourage young people's interest in the true music of our region," said Randall Franks, president, former "In the Heat of the Night" co-star who played "Officer Randy Goode." Franks' musical stylings have been heard in 150 countries and by more than 25 million Americans. The Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame member's career boasts 17 album releases, 17 singles, and over 200 recordings with various artists from various genres. In addition to his solo career, Franks is a former member of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys, Jim and Jesse's Virginia Boys and has performed with Jeff and Sheri Easter, The Lewis Family, the Marksmen, "Doc" Tommy Scott's Last Real Old Time Medicine Show and Doodle and the Golden River Grass.
The Board of Directors is appointed annually.
"My brother Jerry (Robinson, Sr.) and I are extremely grateful that these talented civic-minded individuals have offered their time to serve and help us not only build the scholarship fund honoring our late parents through fundraising efforts but to guide the program as we seek our first scholarship recipients," Franks said. The organization oversees the Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarship Fund, helping graduating seniors talented in the Appalachian musical arts to seek higher education. The fund is named for Franks' late parents, who helped manage his career. Candidates for the scholarship are accepted from Catoosa, Walker, and Whitfield counties in Georgia and Rhea and Cumberland counties in Tennessee and other areas from which the organization receives support.
Robinson is a retired fire department captain from Naval Air Station Pensacola. He currently serves as a team member with the Fraternity All Volunteer Retired Technical Servicemen, who take on service projects in the Molino, Fla. area. He served formerly as a board member for the Children's Fire Safety House serving throughout the panhandle of Florida. "Involving the community in the effort of helping youth with musical talents is a wonderful endeavor," he said. "While I never learned to play I know all the projects we will take on in the future will honor the legacy left by our folks."
Joining Franks and his brother on the Board of Directors are Joe Turner, chairman, Judge Gene Lowery, vice chairman, and James Pelt, secretary and Adam Cathey, member at large.
Turner, who serves on the Board of Governors of Lexington Shrine Hospital for Children in Kentucky, said he has spent much of his life helping children and one of his passions is encouraging young performers in their talents. He often features young performers at Alhambra Shrine Temple in Chattanooga where he serves as birthday entertainment director. "I grew up in the midst of the mountain music styles near the borders of Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia," he said. "My home region produced many talented performers such as Loretta Lynn, Patty Loveless, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Hylo Brown, and Dwight Yoakum who all share a love for this wonderful American music," Turner said. "I am honored to play a role in encouraging new talents from throughout the South through this new organization and its scholarship."
Catoosa County Probate Judge Lowery enjoys a 20-year history of singing Southern gospel music. He also serves on the Adult Protective Service Panel and the Jack Mattox Golf Tournament Invitational Board. "It is gratifying to know I'm in an organization working to help young people who are musically inclined further their education," he said. "The tradition of gospel and all of the music of Appalachia are something we need to keep going and promoting to new generations."
James Pelt is retired from Staples after 35 years of service, where he was an account manager. He moved here from his home town, Macon, GA in 2001 to manage accounts in the Northwest Georgia and Tennessee area. He currently serves as the new Lay Leader at Ringgold United Methodist Church and works as a volunteer in the Catoosa County COAD (Catoosa Organization Acting in Disaster, the long term disaster relief organization) since the tornado struck Catoosa in April of 2011. His civic interests have ranged from being a Boy Scout Executive Board member, assistant Scout Master and trainer of adult Scouts in Macon, to a former Lions Club member and a former Rotary Club member.
“I am a big fan of all types of music, having played in my high school band and being around many family members who are also musicians. My grandfather and one of my uncles were fiddlers. While I don’t play now, I really enjoy gospel and especially bluegrass music and I have a large collection of music recordings of all genres to keep me entertained in my retirement. I think it is a special service to help young folks through the Share America Foundation who appreciate this special southern American music and continue the tradition by performing, so many more can enjoy and carry on the music tradition that so identifies our life style.
Cathey, a Catoosa County attorney, is a great enthusiast of traditional bluegrass music and said he is attempting to learn several instruments. The Marietta, Ga. native said this organization is a great opportunity to honor the musical heritage of the entire Northwest Georgia community. "My long time interest in this music helps to fuel my interest in this organization's efforts to encourage young musicians," he said. The organization is also building its Task Force with members from the community and around the country that will serve on various committees and assist the organization as it moves forward on a number of future projects.
Among those locally who have joined the task force thus far are G. Larry Black, David Carlock, Jill Clark, Jane Everett, Charles Lancaster, Linda Petty, Shirley Smith, Paul Stone, Karol Radovich and Waymond Watts. "There is one thing I have learned about any philanthropic endeavor, it only becomes a success through the support of those wishing to donate their time, their hands and their hearts to make it one," Franks said. "I appreciate all those who are offering their support of our efforts."