Minister Changes Life, Neighborhood Park For Children

Washington, GA – A Wilkes County man with a troubled past found a way to bring together his community and uplift children at the same time.

When school lets out in Washington Georgia, granted there is no homework, students have something positive to do thanks to a local man revitalizing a neighborhood park.

It’s the park Vonta Cobb grew up shooting hoops in, School Street Park.

“A lot of athletes in Washington played ball here.  People came over from surrounding counties,” he said.

The park, which sits next to a cemetery, is the only place for kids in Maple Square apartments to play.

“I used to tune my game up here.  When no one was up here I would come up here and shoot free throws and try to make 10 before I go home,” Cobb recalled of his childhood.

Years passed and the court Cobb spent hours dribbling on turned into a dilapidated place.  Basketball hoops with no nets.

“Grass was up through the cracks.  This whole court was full of glass,” Cobb explained.

Seeing how he could breathe life into his childhood park, the former drug man turned minister saw a rebirth for his neighborhood by teaching new kids on the block who’s got game.

“I was watching the children and they didn’t have any skills. So, I started coming up here and bringing my cones, teach them dribbling moves,” according to Cobb.

Cobb’s nephew helped make his vision a slam dunk.

Tyrone McManus kicked off donations.

“I bought nets off Amazon.  He put them up,” he said.  He [Cobb] said let’s see how many basketballs we can get.  I bought four.  We put it on Facebook and people started bringing basketball after basketball after basketball after basketball.”

Pretty soon what seemed to be the entire city of Washington chipped in on improving School Street Park, even government.

Mayor Ames Barnett remembers when Cobb used to play ball in school.  He welcomed the push to improve city parks.

“The city to date spent I think over $11,000 and we’ve got stuff from other parks and built some things.  The county is going to pave the basketball courts for us,” Mayor Barnett said.

So, just how good are Cobb’s skills?  Well, I’ve never played basketball and he taught me everything he knows.

“People always say I love you.  But scripture let you know don’t just be hearers but be doers,” said Cobb.

A big event is planned for School Street Park on April 9, but donations are still needed.  To help Vonta Cobb put a basketball in each kids’ hand that attends, give him a call at (706) 962-2631.

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