TALLADEGA -- Representatives of Talladega College and the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama came together with other community leaders Thursday to break ground and dedicate an “Open Spaces Sacred Places” area funded by a grant from the Foundation.

According to a press release from the college, the designated space outside DeForest Chapel will “create a public space for reflection and thought that is accessible to all and encourages community well-being and unity.

“Open Spaces Sacred Places are spaces intended for the encouragement of community well-being and resilience of mind, body and spirit of both individuals and communities.”

The $10,000 project has been dubbed “Sacred Places: Honoring Our Ancestors, Enacting Our Dreams,” according to the release. “A fountain will be placed in the center of the triangle, and benches will be placed along the sidewalks leading to the chapel. Community members will be able to sit and record their reflections in a book that will be placed on one of the benches.”

Said Talladega College Director of Public Relations Mary Sood during her remarks at Thursday’s ceremony, “Speed and efficiency are highly valued today. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the need to slow down, and the need for reflection.”

Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins thanked all of the dignitaries present, including Talladega Mayor Jerry Cooper; Talladega Council President and Talladega College alum Dr. Horace Patterson; Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind President and college trustee Dr. John Mascia; several students, including the one who wrote the grant; and all the representatives of the Community Foundation.

Sood, college Vice President of Institutional Advancement Seddrick Hill and Mililani St. Clair, who wrote the grant, were all honored as “Firesouls,” for bringing their individual passions and enthusiasms toward making the project a reality.

Jennifer Maddox, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, said the organization had its roots in the estate of Susie Parker Stringfellow, of Anniston. Stringfellow died in 1920, leaving an estate worth about half a million dollars, which was unusual for its time.

She had no children but specified in her will that the estate should be used to establish a hospital in Anniston.

Her husband was allowed to continue living in their home, but when he died about 12 years later, their house became the original home of Stringfellow Memorial Hospital.

The facility eventually outgrew the house and relocated in 1950. As the hospital became more difficult to manage, the trustees found they could not sell it, so they decided to lease it to Health Management Corporation. The proceeds from the lease go toward funding the Community Foundation.

Maddox, Community Foundation Grant Fund Director Fred Smith, Community Foundation board members Anthony Cook and Rod Nowlin Jr., Hawkins, Mascia, Cooper and Patterson then all donned hardhats and picked up shovels to break ground at the site.

Everyone else was encouraged to come forward and to the same.