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Community leaders meet to identify opportunities for youth and to assist aging seniors

Press Release Press release --- May 31, 2019 From: Vincent Spaulding, BESDF, Inc. GHW Committee, 202-441-3589

Chicago businessman and educator Stedman Graham visited Bladen and Columbus counties the last weekend in May, 2019 to serve as the facilitator at two community meetings, aimed at identifying and creating opportunities to support the youth in the community; and brainstorming possible initiatives to assist aging seniors.

A community-wide meeting was held on Saturday, May 25th at the St. James Community Center in Columbus County to present recommendations coming out of the community leaders meeting on Friday, May 24th, which was conducted at the George Henry White Memorial & Education Center (GHW M&E Center) in Bladen County, a facility undergoing development for community use.

Some of the recommendations coming out of that May 24th community leaders meeting were to focus initially on youth needs and the creation of a youth education plan. Recommendations discussed included the following: 1) Vocational Training, 2) Apprenticeship Opportunities, 3) College Preparatory Counseling, 4) Boy Scout and Girl Scout Troops and other similar organizations, 5) financial and investment education, 6) development of an over-all master plan of action to address the needs of the youth at-large. Other over-arching needs of the community that were identified to assist in moving forward included: 1) Supporting the Community Watch, 2) Emergency Health Care, 3) Internet Service, 4) Economic Development, 5) Jobs, 6) Foodbank and Meals-on-Wheels, etc.

The community leaders recommendations coming out of the May 24th meeting were presented at the May 25th community-wide meeting and specific questions and recommendations for moving forward were addressed. The Saturday meeting, led by Stedman Graham, attracted a crowd of more than 60 persons, who offered additional suggestions for consideration. The community meeting concluded with a decision to have a second meeting during the month of October, where a specific plan for systematically moving forward would be presented for approval and implementation. Mr. Vincent Spaulding, Project Leader for the GHW M&E Center, and Mrs. Paula Jacobs of the St. James Community of Columbus County, and others to be recruited, will be working with Mr. Graham to develop the community action plan.

Graham, a New York Times bestselling author and motivational speaker, has family ties to Columbus County, and is an active promoter of the life and legacy of George White. He was in North Carolina to formally present a ceremonial fraternal sword and scabbard, once used by White, to the North Carolina Museum of History during a separate Friday morning ceremony in Raleigh. The sword, already on loan to the museum’s current exhibit on the Reconstruction era, “Freedom: A Promise Disrupted, North Carolina, 1862-1901,” will now become part of a permanent exhibit on White’s life.

The house and property on which the GHW M&E Center is located were donated in 2014 to the Benjamin & Edith Spaulding Descendants Foundation, Inc. (BESDF, Inc.), a non-profit foundation based in Durham, as a memorial to honor White in his birth county and to serve as an inspirational focus for remembering his life and legacy. Extensive exterior renovations and much interior work have already been completed for the house, which is now undergoing additional interior work. When all of the renovations of this 100 year old house are completed, It will include a location for the commemoration, remembrance, and recognition of the rich history of Farmer’s Union and its surrounding communities where he was raised. It is currently serving as the headquarters for the Community Watch Program for parts of Bladen and Columbus counties. The facility is also intended as a civic space for meetings and events, intended to help improve the lives of the citizens of the community by serving as an educational community center where residents can come to hear lectures, attend classes on health care and a variety of other subjects and enjoy fellowship with one another. Operating a “Meals on Wheels” program is also an activity being investigated as a possible resource for the community.

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