Jesse Massey makes a difference

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A retired educator is giving back to the community that raised him. He's been working with youth in South Georgia for more than 30 years.

Jesse Massey is not only an educator and a coach, he's become a leader in the community. And he says helping youngsters is what gives him motivation to keep going.

Jesse Massey, known to these children and many others as Coach Massey, brings handshakes, high fives and smiles wherever he goes. But the retired educator and coach knows when to get serious.

Massey was born and raised in Albany and taught for 33 years throughout South Georgia. He's been involved in the Stop the Violence program and for 38 years, he's been a part of the National Youth Sports Program.

"This is my passion," said Massey. " Everybody has a passion and giving back. This is what I try to do."

This four and a half week summer program is one of only 17 left in the country. It provides physical and educational activities for 9 to 15 year olds to help keep them off the streets during the summer.

And when Massey retired five years ago, he turned his focus to saving the program, which has been struggling with budget cuts. "I was committed when I retired to save it. Because it saved me and kept me out of trouble."

And his work behind the scenes doesn't go unnoticed. "I like Coach Massey," said 17 year-old Shuntavious Ranson. "Coach Massey, he works the hardest out of everybody to keep this thing running. He work the hardest out of everybody. He work the hardest and I respect that."

In addition to the summer program, Massey volunteers at schools throughout Dougherty County. "I work with children when I don't necessarily have to. I just think that it's a community involvement. I'm giving back. I'm retired. I don't have to work, but I'm giving back."

And Massey is hoping his story will inspire others to step up and get involved. "No matter what nationality or what color your skin, just be committed to try to help children and you'll reap the rewards. They'll never forget you. These kids in this camp, I won't know everybody's name, but they'll always remember Coach Massey.

Coach Massey says they're already preparing and raising money for next year's summer program. He also referees youth games and is a member of the Albany State football radio team.

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