Ms. Margaret Freeman Gordon
President, Farmers Union Civic Association
3024 Airport Road
Clarkton , NC 28433
Press and Community Release
FARMERS UNION TAKES ACTION IN SUPPORT OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
State Representatives’ Betrayal Triggers Citizen Backlash
The recent cuts by the North Carolina General Assembly to the state’s Medicaid program—resulting in an overall loss of $1 billion in health care support to the poorest citizens—have aroused the ire of Bladen and Columbus County voters. Now, the Farmers Union Civic Association (FUCA) has established a watchdog group to monitor and publicize the actions of elected officials, and to focus legislators’ attention on the crucial needs of the populace.
“It is a travesty that the two state representatives for Bladen and Columbus Counties voted against their counties best interests, against their party, and against the governor’s veto, to cut desperately needed medical funding,” noted guest speaker Vincent Spaulding, President/COO of the Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants Association, (BESDA) Inc., which is an organization consisting of descendants from Columbus and Bladen Counties who live all across the United States of America. “My outrage is due to the fact that Columbus County has the highest rate of prostate cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes in the nation—and that most county residents have no health insurance or access to health care.”
Spaulding told the 65 attendees at the FUCA community meeting, held August 15 at the Rehobeth AME Zion Church, that according to the University of Wisconsin/Robert Ford Johnson Foundation (www.countyhealthrankings.org) Columbus County ranked dead last in health care in the state, and Bladen County was fourth from the bottom. “Yet State Representative Dewey Hill for Columbus County, and State Representative William Brisson for Bladen County, voted to cut funding for health care, depriving their own constituents--who are already drastically under-served.” He pointed out that they also cut funds to the state's education budget; "Local schools need these funds to create an educational environment that will encourage community youth to stay in school and come out qualified for some type of work."
Spaulding’s address underlined concerns expressed by many community members and encouraged the community to start organizing for this cause. Improving the quality and delivery of public services throughout the extended community (including every population group and both counties) requires finding common ground and consensus, noted Spaulding. "No one group can do it; we need a way to resolve disagreements and keep our focus on the needs and interests of the community."
Association President, Margaret Freeman Gordon, who initiated the proceedings, was on hand to lead the ensuing discussion, which in turn led to the formation of a permanent Legislative Committee. The aim of the committee is four-fold:
to seek out all affected community partners and sister organizations,
to jointly identify the pressing community needs,
to investigate and rate the voting records of current officials, and
to provide a forum where those officials can respond to their constituents’ concerns.
“Our ancestors took control of their own destiny,” Spaulding noted. “They built their own schools, started their own businesses, and were self-reliant and self-sufficient.”
“We need to take back the control in our governance,” he said. “If elected officials aren’t representing our concerns, they can be un-elected. And we need to find ones who will work with us to find solutions.”
Appointed to the FUCA Legislative Committee were Rev. Valenteen Sutton, Mr. Clarence Spaulding, Ms. Paula Jacobs (a member of Waccamaw Siouan Tribe and of the St. James Community), Rev. Franklin Spaulding and Mr. Wilson Spaulding (Chairperson). The first order of business is to encourage other civic organizations to establish similar committees, and to invite all residents of both counties to communicate their concerns directly to the committee.
Residents of Columbus and Bladen counties are welcome to express their opinions directly to the committee members Chaired by Wilson Spaulding, (910) 647-4831 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Association, Inc., Board of Directors, have voted to offer assistance in terms of research, technical expertise, organizational support, raising awareness and national attention to the issues faced by these two counties,” Spaulding advised. “We know that the people of these counties are strong and independent, have a history of strong Christian values, and recognize the importance of education; and it’s time they get the community services and representation they deserve.”
Spaulding closed by saying the goal of community organizing is to not only have a seat at the table, but to actually influence the policies and decisions that directly make an impact on one's life. He challenged the meeting attendees to unite for the common good and to become proactive in the pursuit of what is needed for the community.