Our vision is to create and build wealth opportunities for minority families in the communities we serve. Possessing knowledge to acquire and own financial assets are both critical elements in creating economic stability, which leads to better education, career, home and business ownership, and employment opportunities. Economic stability also provides for improved health, stronger marriages and promotes economic growth in our communities.
Our definition of wealth is acquiring income producing assets that lead to generational prosperity and create a legacy for the next generation.
Our children need direction and community involvement to help mentor their impressionable young minds, leading them to prosperity. We cannot continue to lose our children to the consequences of poor choices and the lack of good guidance.
Our communities are rich with talented diverse people both young and old. Let’s take on the responsibility and work collectively to ensure the economic growth for future generations.
LET US NOT STAND BY AND WITNESS A LEGACY,
LET’S HELP CREATE A LEGACY.
Doris Witherspoon, Major, United State Army Reserve (Retired), is a resident of Clarksville, TN and a native of Angie, LA. She received a ROTC Commission as a Second Lieutenant from Austin Peay State University on May 30, 1980. She attained her Bachelor of Science Degree, with a Major in Social Welfare and a Minor in Criminal Justice.
Doris served as a logistician (Medical Supply Officer), Personnel Management Officer, and Battalion Rear Detachment Commander during Operation Desert Storm while stationed at Fort Campbell, KY. Doris retired from United State Army Reserve in March 1998.
Doris has served as a Real Estate Associate, the President of St. Bethlehem Kiwanis Club, and a member of Toast Masters-Speaking Club. She is the Founder and Owner of Family Properties which invest in commercial and residential properties. She is dedicated to assisting families in the obtainment of employment, home, and business ownership. In addition, she is the Founder of Better Choice of Living, Inc., (BCOL) a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. BCOL's purpose is to enrich the lives of minorities, youth, seniors, disabled and the disadvantaged.
Doris has aided countless of veterans with disability claims and administrative services. She has aided others in need of social security benefits, social welfare issues and more. She is a volunteer and mentor in Clarksville, other counties and states as requested. She is committed to helping others by using and sharing her talents and knowledge.
Doris is a member of Clarksville Civitan Club, a member of Tennessee State University Clarksville Alumni Chapter and serves as a Community Representative on the Austin Peay State University Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center Advisory Committee.
My claim to fame is to continue to let my light shine for all to see the blessings of God in my life.
While down on the farm (near Columbia) in Maury County, Tennessee, James Paul Witherspoon never envisioned in his wildest dreams that he would venture into Germany, Vietnam, Hawaii, or record a significant blues cd, writing all of the lyrics on the project, and belting out the songs.
When Mr. Witherspoon did leave the farm for the factory, he possessed no special skill or talent (“I had been the class clown,” he remembers). He left and headed north as his brothers had, drawn by the allurements of a big city—bright lights, brick-house beauties, and booze. The teenager landed in Saginaw, Mich. And then in Detroit, the place Witherspoon called home.
“There were five boys and three girls in my family I was the baby. I stayed with one of my brothers for about a year before I was drafted into the Army in 1955.”
Between the layoff and the draft, Witherspoon met and married Iola Washington in Detroit. She, like Witherspoon, was a southern migrant to Detroit, from West Memphis, Arkansas. Since their first child had been born when he was drafted, Witherspoon thought he would make a professional career in the Army.
“When soldiers came back home they always had money to spend,” Witherspoon says, “and they looked so good in their uniforms.”
He did his basic training at Ft. Chaffe, Ark., then on to Ft. Hood, Texas, where he served in the Second Army Division ----“Hell on Wheels.” Eventually, his wife joined him and another child was born in Texas, and later one in Hawaii where he was stationed. James and Iola Witherspoon had four children. The Army, indeed, is where he would nest.
Throughout his youth Witherspoon liked music. First, it was church music with its syncopated style. His Uncle Andrew was the church’s pastor and there were “all kind of musical instruments in this small COGIC building. I loved the sound of the saxophone,” Witherspoon acknowledges.
He especially liked the alto saxophone when Louis Jordan played it. Jordan had been a stalwart in Chick Webb’s band and was sensational with his own small combo.
“I knew all of Jordan’s tunes, “Witherspoon says. “I’m Going to Move to the Outskirts of Town,” ‘Ain’t nobody Here but Us Chickens,’ ‘Saturday Night fish Fry’ -all of them.”
Witherspoon’s interest in music remained just that until one day he went to the service club and expressed a desire to play the saxophone. He had never tooted a horn of any kind and knew nothing about reading music. He was then 32.
“First of all, you got to get a horn if you want to learn to play one,’ the fellow there told me, “Witherspoon remembers. “So, I bought one at a pawn shop. I bought a tenor because it was simpler. I was self taught and didn’t read music.”
He eventually played well enough to join an Army band.
“I like horn arrangements,” Witherspoon says, “I didn’t start out singing the blues.”
He did listen to them and loved Bobby Blue Bland and the horn arrangements accompanying him. Bland was his favorite.
“When I began to write blues lyrics, I could hear him (Bland) singing them,” Witherspoon says,
Having improved his skills on the tenor saxophone, Witherspoon played gigs after hours while in the Army. He “paid these dues”: for more than 15 years. In 1982, Witherspoon decided it was time to bust out of the Army. He had been a proud soldier for 28 years, serving in Germany and Vietnam. It was time to rest, He retired.
“I sat around and watched television,” Witherspoon said. “That didn’t call cut it, so I decided to get a part-tine job. I worked in security at the reserve for 13 years.”
During that time, Witherspoon played in the evenings at House of Blues Raven Lounge, and at the Downriver Lounge. He “sat in” at club. While playing at these various venues, he coalesced with a group of musicians that eventually called themselves the Variety Pack Band.
“There were people in there who could do all kind of things. At one time we had a violinist,” Witherspoon remembers.
Retired. Playing gigs at blues clubs. Working with talented musicians. It was time for a husband, father, city-boy from the country, retired soldier to record his experiences and share them with others. Witherspoon would play his horn, write lyrics—make a CD.
“I worked on this project for quite some time,” he says. “I wrote all of the songs.”
James Chaney wrote the music.
“I told him what I wanted and how I wanted it done, Then went into the studio and did it. I intended to push it, Witherspoon says.
Before that happened, Witherspoon’s wife died. A malaise in.
In one of those unexpected, unplanned moments, Witherspoon met Doris Jenkins. They were married. Doris suggested that they revive the blues project and dedicate it to Witherspoon’s first wife. So, The Blues Healer, a ten-track CD was born and a retired soldier proved it’s never too late to catch up with your dreams.
As Executive Director my goal is to fulfill our Founders’ (Doris and James Witherspoon Sr.) Vision: Owning our personal and professional assets.
Our young men and women need incentives to finish high school and continue their education in traditional or technical colleges or universities. Realizing a better living through better choices is the key to success.
BCOL will work diligently to identify the needs in our communities and fulfill the shortfalls by offering lectures, conferences, educational workshops, performing art programs and mentorship. We will collaborate with other professionals within the community and assess the specific needs in each community that we serve, then plan and coordinate assistance accordingly. In order to make a more profound impact in our communities, effective community collaboration with other professionals must increase. We are only as strong as our weakest link. With the goal of helping others to live out our creed of making a “Better Choice of Living”, let us do our part by paving the way and inspiring others to make better choices for better life for generations to come. While each individual is responsible for the choice they make in life, we can help to “expand their mental and aspirational horizons” by showing them alternatives to bad choices, opening up a whole new world of educational and vocational opportunities. The possibilities are indeed endless. By lending us your time, talent, knowledge and/or financial contributions we will accomplish our purpose.
Better Choice of Living, Inc. (BCOL) isa non-profit 501(c)(3) community economic development organization, founded in 2004 and incorporated in 2008. BCOL is dedicated to helping minorities improve their lives through personal and professional development. Our goals are to enhance opportunities for employment, home and business ownership and social enhancement where they would otherwise be limited. In addition, emphasis on education, health and wellness are critically important.
To enrich the lives of minorities, youth, seniors, disabled, and the disadvantaged.
BCOL is an equal opportunity organization and will not refuse service or positions to eligible applicants based on age, ethnic background, religion, or gender.