King Commission addressing concerns
Published: Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 2:13 p.m.
Happy New Year!
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc., I'm pleased to provide you with our annual report of activities over the last year and some of our events for King Week 2007.
As many of you may recall, we adopted for the next decade the theme, "Empowerment for the Next Decade." Last year, The MLK Commission committed to address the issue of homelessness by collaborating with homeless and hunger advocates, affordable housing partners, the educational system - including the Alachua County Public Schools system, the University of Florida and Sante Fe Community College - the criminal justice system, our city and county governments, community-based organizations and the private sector to improve the lives and empower those who are impoverished or otherwise left behind.
In my unique and dual role as president of the MLK Commission and as an Alachua County commissioner, it's easy to wear two hats when working toward mutual goals.
I'm pleased to report that last year the city of Gainesville and Alachua County government took the lead in working with homeless advocates, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations and the private sector in implementing the City/County 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.
Many thanks to my colleagues on the Gainesville City Commission, the Alachua County Commission and members of the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness Implementation Committee. A special thanks to my co-chair of the committee, Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, for her leadership on this issue.
A few of the successes are: The Office of Homelessness, or OOH, was created and funded by the city/county and private donations. These funds will cover the first two years of operating expenses, which includes the hiring of an executive director and a grant writer.
The mission of the OOH is to oversee and coordinate the implementation of the 10-year plan. The OOH is preparing to issue a request to solicit proposals for the operation of a One-Stop Homeless Assistance Center.
This was made possible by the city, county and private donations. Finally, as a part of the homeless coalition, the Alachua County Housing Authority was awarded $750,000 in homeless housing assistance grant dollars from the Department of Children and Families to expand affordable housing in the area by 40 beds. I would like to personally thank former Rep. Ed Jennings Jr. for making this possible.
In collaboration with the African American Accountability Alliance, or the 4As, a strategic plan to empower the African-American community was adopted.
The mission of the 4As is "to work collectively to identify and develop and implement a strategic plan, which encourages self-help, self-reliance, economic development, trust and support to empower our community."
The 4As were successful in electing seven candidates to office last year and increasing voter turnout in the general election. In collaboration with the 4As this year, one of our goals is to work collaboratively with the School Board for the full implementation of African-American history in the public school system.
I'm pleased to report again that the MLK Commission, in collaboration with the Office of the President of the University of Florida, Dr. Bernie Machen, with assistance from Florida Bridgewater-Alford, the UF Outreach coordinator, we successfully completed our "3rd annual Helping Our Neighbors'' Thanksgiving and Christmas basket giveaway program.
With the assistance of elected and appointed officials, as well as community leaders from our smaller cities, over 500 baskets were distributed to needy families.
Our goal this year is to give away at least 1,000 baskets during the holiday season. With your assistance, we can help feed Alachua County's families in need.
Rodney J. Long is the president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc. and an Alachua County commissioner.
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