COMMON GROUND: Free looks to bridge opportunity gap in Troy

Published 9:40 pm Friday, January 24, 2020

Clint Free is seeking to serve disadvantaged and families in Troy through the new Common Ground ministry.

Free said he is hoping to bridge the gap between families, the schools and community resources.

“Our mission is to work together as community to serve disadvantaged and vulnerable families here in the City of Troy,” Free said. “We want to develop diverse youth leaders, nurturing family units and community partners to help bring resources to under-resourced areas.”

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The nonprofit ministry is getting its start by providing an afterschool program three times a week for 10 fifth graders from Troy Elementary School with hopes to expand the program next year.

“We’re bringing in 10 fifth grade boys recommended by fifth grade teachers in the schools to the Academy Street High School gymnasium Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to focus on homework and tutoring, recreation, life and character skills and Biblical foundations,” Free said. “We don’t just want to be there for the child though, we want to be there for the family as well; the child is an avenue to the family to make those connections in the community.”

Common Ground has already formed a partnership with Make Art Troy to bring the children there for an hour on Wednesdays to participate in arts projects.

Free is originally from Luverne and he and his wife Alyssa are alumni of Troy University. He has spent the last four years living in Mobile and working with Trinity Family Ministries serving an under-privileged neighborhood outside of Pritchard.

Free’s focus is in community and youth development with a bachelor’s in sports management and minor in recreation.

Free was a missions partner with First Baptist Church of Troy for three years and visited several times for the church’s Global Impact Celebration. It was through these visits that Free said he was drawn back to the community.

“Being a part of those missions really allowed me to get a vision for what community ministry would look like in this city,” Free said. “The City of Troy is unique in that is has a lot of resources, whether that be financial or people that just want to volunteer. I think there’s a lack of opportunity for underprivileged families here. We want to bring those resources to people instead of them having to go out and find them.”

Free interned with Common Ground Montgomery in 2015, which was also founded by a Troy alumnus in Bryan Kelly.Common Ground Troy is the second expansion of the ministry, which focuses on connecting youth with developmental people, programs and experiences.

“What I want Common Ground Troy to be is something where everyone feels welcome to serve no matter their background or skin color,” Free said. “I want the organization to be a hub for all people.”

Free said funding for the organization relies on businesses, organizations and individuals who decide to financially support the ministry.

“What helps the most is to have monthly partnerships so that I can budget,” Free said. “Having financial partners that give on a consistent basis is huge for us because we’re not able to receive any grants at this point outside of people just willing to give. We’re looking for partnerships with churches, businesses and individuals.”

Volunteers are also being sought to help with mentoring and tutoring, and community leaders are invited to work alongside CGT to come in and speak to the kids.

For more information, residents can go to the CGT website at www.CGT.life, of find the organization on social media under the name Common Ground Troy. A volunteer portal is being set up on the website.