Black History Month: Woman of the Year Ucher Dent
Feb. 21—Recognized as the 2022 Thomas County Woman of the Year, this Thomasville native has made an indelible mark on the community with her spearheading the local Juneteenth celebration.
Ucher Dent, a forensic community coordinator for the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, said that at the heart of her motivations, she simply helps when she sees those in need.
"When I see a need, I just want to help out," she said.
Having grown up in Thomasville, Dent said that she has experience with nearly ever city school in the system, apart from Jerger, having grown up in a diverse selection of academic atmospheres.
"I was born and raised in Thomasvlle," she said. "I attended all Thomasville City Schools, with the exception of Jerger, that was the only school I didn't attend."
While a student at Thomasville High School, Dent said that she was member of the state runner-up 1992-93 basketball team, later receiving an athletic scholarship for college in Cleveland, GA after she graduated.
"I attended there for one year, but I got pregnant so I came home," she said. "I was not one of those children who made very good choices. Some of my choices were good, but other choices were very poor."
Pregnancy, however, didn't keep Dent from continuing her education, finally graduating from Thomas University in 2003, and later pursuing her Masters, becoming one of the first in her family to receive a college education.
"I graduated in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in rehabilitation counseling from Thomas University and then I came back again and earned my master's in 2007 from Thomas University," she said.
Pursuing her career as a counselor, Dent decided that the local community needed a program that would help break barriers and shatter shackles, founding No More Shackles Mentoring Program, Inc., which she said was all about helping others reach their full potential.
"Our mentoring program is about breaking the shackles on peoples', childrens' lives," she said. "Shackles can be physical, mental, emotional, social, career, anything that keeps you stagnant. Any barrier that keeps you from your full, maximum potential."
Dent works hard to coordinate events in the community through her program. One of which is the Unity in the Community flag football game, which invited local law enforcement and the community to enjoy an evening together.
"We brought law enforcement officers and civilians together to kinda, like, bridge the gap between them, with everything going on with social media and racial profiling, police brutality," she said. "So, we kinda brought the local officers here together with civilians, we had a community flag football game."
when I was doing my research for the need of a youth mentoring program, and once had God had given me a name through another child, No More Shackles, I was looking up, you know, what does that really mean? Not just physical shackles, I was looking up stuff like Freedom Day and Emancipation Day and that's when I learned about Juneteenth."
Speaking with other members of the Douglass Alumni Association, she realized that Juneteenth would be a great way to embody the ideals of her mentoring program, raise funds for nonprofit organizations, and speak to the community in one concentrated event. Dent believes the Juneteenth event was one of her greatest achievements.
"It is one of my greatest babies," she said. "if I could put it that way, because it encompasses so much. We can speak to the youth, we can speak to the parents, we can speak to the schools, we can speak to the churches, we can speak to the communities, so, we can speak to the person, that is like one event that can take care of most anything, most any barriers."
Recognized by the City of Thomasville for her efforts with a proclamation from Mayor Jay Flowers, and later recognized as Thomas County's 2022 Woman of the Year, Dent said that she was somewhat surprised that she had even been nominated.
"When I was informed that I would be the nominated for Woman of the Year, the first thing I questioned was 'why?'" she said. "I'm just doing what we're commissioned by God to do. I'm not doing anything spectacular, I'm just doing what God wants all of us to do, and that is to feed our brothers and sisters when they're hungry, clothe them when they are naked, love them when they feel unloved, make them feel like they belong when they feel alone, and to unify the body of Christ."
A proud mother and member of the local Thomas County NAACP branch, Dent said that she is naturally a fixer and a nurturer, and that doing what she has done in the community to help people, is something that simply came natural to her.
"When I see a need, it moves me," she said. "In the natural, I'm a fixer. Well, of course, I'm a mother, so, you know, mothers are naturally fixers. I'm a nurturer and a fixer and if I can do anything, it doesn't have to be big, to help someone, I will do it."
At the end of the day, Dent said that the only person she wanted recognized for her efforts was God, who she said moved through everyone in the community and made achievements like Juneteenth possible.
"I just want to make God proud and I want God to receive the glory for anything and everything that I do," she said.
Dent said that the future holds growth for Juneteenth as a movement and will consist of monthly events, including workshops and family nights, adding that she is setting her sights on the growing issue of literacy rates in the local community.