“I love working with people, and seeing them make a positive change in their lives,” he said. “I find so many of us get discouraged, down, depressed, and we lose our ‘edge’ to handle life, much less take on challenges ahead. So when someone changes from ‘not moving forward’ to taking positive steps of growth, I get a charge from that.”
Name: Tom Bandy
City of residence: Cartersville
Family: Married 30 years to the amazing Lisa Rivers Bandy, children’s minister at Tabernacle Baptist Church. Oldest daughter Jessica, graduate of Union University and California Baptist, is married to C.A: Jones. They live in Memphis where she is assistant director of recreation at Bellevue Baptist. Youngest daughter, Rebecca, graduate of Lee University, works for Louie’s Café right now and is soon to be fall term technical director for Theatre Department at Lee University.
Occupation: Small business owner, life purpose coach, referred parenting director at Bartow Family Resources, small group facilitator, pre-marital and marital coach, speaker, encourager, writer …
Education: Graduate of Georgia Tech, Bachelor of Economic Engineering Systems. Baptist Bible Institute, many certifications and classes in the coaching and counseling area with American Association of Christian Counselors. Perhaps ? of a Masters at New Orleans Seminary.
Describe your job and what led you to this line of work?
A: People helper. I left the world of business, sensing a time for a change, and soon found the field of coaching, helping others get “unstuck” from their problems, situations, or thinking. Everybody needs a certain amount of encouragement, renewal, refreshing. It can take place by phone, email, text, writing, Facebook, or the most effective, in person.
What is the most rewarding part about providing parenting classes for Bartow Family Resources?
A: I often am working with parents in groups or singly who perhaps have gotten into something that has required court or DFCS intervention in their families. Often those entities will feel that a person needs more help in being a proper, healthy parent. Our motto is “Change the Story!” (which I took as a teenager from the “welfare department” in my home county of Catoosa). So I love getting to work with folks who feel they don’t have much hope, and being able to give them not only some encouragement, but actual tools they can use in personal and family life to get their lives back on a positive track. I love seeing people “change the story” from the negative to the positive.
What is your role as a CASA volunteer (how long have you been volunteering and why did you want to become a CASA volunteer)?
A: As a CASA, I [am] under court order from the Juvenile Court of Bartow Court, since May 14, 2009, 4:20 p.m. to report to the judge a summary of how a certain child is doing in DFCS custody. This is a frightening responsibility, for I am charged with being knowledgeable of services provided for the child, communicating with those who work with the child, making suggestions for services, and getting to know the child himself, and his heart and wishes. The twofold charge of having to present to the court the wishes of the child (being his voice so to speak) and of having to make my own recommendations of what would be best for him, require a good bit of energy to ever feel you’ve done him justice. Part of my heart is for the “least of these,” and certainly a child out of their family, often in a county an hour away, feels like “the least of these.” So part of my personal work/calling is to help encourage him.
How did growing up on a farm shape you as an adult?
A: I’ve often joked that “if you can’t [send] your children to college, raise them poor on a farm, they’ll learn everything they need to succeed in life (except the calculus, and when are they going to use that?).” I also had the privilege of working alongside my dad, who was an entrepreneur in many ways, and could fix anything. Every “repairing skill” I have, I learned at my father’s side. Also important was the team effort that’s required on a family farm/business. Each person can contribute, and must, for things to get done. As a 5-year-old, I could water and help feed the younger animals, and carry ice water to the men on the tractors. As a 10-year-old, I could drive the tractors, help move the cows or sheep around from pasture to pasture. And always there was: “Son, I need you to go to ____ and bring me back the ____ so I can finish repairing this.” You learn that if you stop working, fail to do repairs, neglect preventive maintenance or aren’t continuously planning ahead, the whole program can be lost.
What is your greatest professional and/or personal achievement?
A: Two please? Being able to write a poem that can encourage or inspire a person, that will later also be helpful to someone else. Having the privilege of being married to Lisa, and being the co-parent/dad of two amazing daughters. I say that “I live in Proverbs 31,” surrounded by three “warrior princesses” who keep going till the job is done.
If you were not in this line of work, what would you like to do?
A: I once thought I would like to develop some type business of a sort that could employ teens and college students, with their need for an ever flexing work schedule, that would … also have a positive impact, or make a positive product for world improvement. But actually, as long as I’m able to encourage people, and especially help my “younger brothers” individually and in small groups, I’m happy with what I’m doing.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
A: Growing Christ Follower.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
A: Well, several things have impacted me. As a 10-year-old, a family friend preparing supper (with me messing around in her way) said, “Tom, make yourself useful, as well as a nuisance!” In college I learned, “If you can’t take an opportunity, then make an opportunity.” As an adult, I learned from a very sharp businessman, “It’s important to try to always say ‘yes’ to a customer/client, and do your best to make them happy or satisfied; and always treat them with respect.” As a married man, hearing my wife say: “Don’t do that.” She’s saved me a lot of grief through loving counsel.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I am a reader. I enjoy reading Christian books that challenge me in my faith, and to mature as a person … (some parts of me are still 15). I like being part of events and services with our Tabernacle Baptist Church family. I enjoy especially working with young men in groups or spending time one-on-one. I love having fun with people, telling goofy jokes. … Bill Cosby used to advertise that “there’s always room for JELL-O.” I guess my motto is “there’s always room for a joke.”
Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?
A: I enjoy hiking Pine Mountain with family or younger guy friends. But I also enjoy our home, which is something of a “retreat” from the challenges of life.