“Save Our Community Day” rouses enthusiasm

From The Jackson Sun

Tyrone Tony Reed Jr.

October 05, 2008

Felix Barnes, who recently moved to Jackson, said he was seriously thinking about joining a local nonprofit group after attending one of its events Saturday.

“They really don’t do things like this in Illinois (we’re we are from),” Barnes said.

Barnes and his family were among more than 700 people who attended SOCM’s first “Save Our Community Day” on Saturday. The event was held in Muse Park.

SOCM stands for Save Our Cumberland Mountains. It’s a nonprofit organization that was founded in East Tennessee in 1972 that works for social, environmental and economic justice.

Howard White, a board member and local chapter treasurer, said the group is in the process of changing its name.

“Once everything is finished, the name of the group will still be SOCM, but it will stand for State-wide Organizing for Community eMpowerment,” he said.

Saturday’s event, which the group plans to hold annually, stemmed from an important need, White said.

“We saw a need to bring the community together to hear their issues and their concerns in Jackson-Madison County,” he said.

The event featured activities including musical entertainment, karate demonstrations and free food.

Barnes and his wife, Deanna, said they were glad to see a group providing a safe and fun event for the community.

“We’ve always talked about (Illinois) not doing anything like this for the kids and the community,” Deanna Barnes said.

Felix Barnes added, “I think you need to have an event like this in order to find out what’s going on in the community and what can be done to fix it.”

Ruth Jackson, president of the local chapter, said she appreciated all of the sponsors and everyone who attended.

“It’s an awesome turnout,” she said. “We want people to go back and spread the word about the event and our group and to give us their feedback.”

Jackson added, “We wholeheartedly expect them to do it for us so we will know their issues and concerns.”

Cynthia Murry, a member of the group who also is director of the HBCU Wellness Project at Lane College, said she gathered local wellness organizations to attend the event and provide wellness information and screenings.

“We wanted people to come out and be informed about their health,” Murry said. “It doesn’t matter what color or age you are. Everyone has concerns about their health.”

The Jackson-Madison County Health Department, CoverKids, Children and Family Services Inc. and City of Jackson Stormwater were among the organizations that provided information.

Leslie Lewis said he was going to sign up with SOCM before the event ended Saturday.

“I think it’s great awareness, especially about the homeless of Jackson,” Lewis said. “It’s nice to have an event like this, but it’s great when it’s fruitful.

“I’m optimistic that this event will be fruitful,” he said.

Byanker Cole, a SOCM member, also hopes Saturday’s event will be fruitful.

“We are truly hoping this day signifies the beginning of a voice of unity in the community,” Cole said. “I strongly believe that if we are together as one voice, we can make a powerful impact in Jackson-Madison County.”

Craig Jacobs, outreach coordinator with Lighthouse United Pentecostal Church, said he was proud of the community response to Saturday’s event.

“I think it’s a good start in bringing our community together to deal with the issues that are plaguing our community,” said Jacobs, who is a SOCM member. “Considering the turnout today, I believe our community feels the same way.”

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