By Keisha M Williams, NCCU School of Business
Wilson, North Carolina native, and U.S. Congressman, G.K. Butterfield organized a special convening of community service leaders, organizations, judicial agencies, schools and community college representatives to support ongoing efforts throughout the county to encourage healthy marriages and strengthen families and communities.
With organizational support from the Global Peace Foundation USA, Congressman Butterfield led the charge to explore collaborative ways to encourage financial and educational literacy, economic opportunity, and support services for young people.
With Diann Dawson as panel moderator, Carlis Williams, Regional Administrator of the US Department of Health and Human Services, spoke about the various federal and local agencies that provide resources to the community and how those could be accessed to make a real impact in Wilson.
Alan Inman, President of the Global Peace Foundation USA, led the discussion with some startling statistics regarding family and community trends. He also offered suggestions to combat these trends, including the development of programs that encourage innovative thinking at an early age through initiatives in which “child-preneurs” would be inspired to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors as early as pre-school.
A second session examined best practices for programs that address the immediate needs of the community. Keisha Williams, Director of the Summer Business and Entrepreneurship Academy of North Carolina Central University School of Business, shared information about the program, designed for high-performing sophomores, juniors, and seniors, with an emphasis on students from rural and urban areas.
Through workshops, lecturers, corporate visits, and applications of business practices, Williams explained, students conclude the academy experience by participating in a business plan competition.
Gail Hambleton, Vice-President of the Global Peace Foundation, said that contemporary society is in a profound crisis of decency, civility, and character. Families are under intense strain because our culture has become toxic, she said. Cultural trends accentuate negative aspects of pop culture that encourage problematic behavior, which then can lead to criminal behavior.
“No matter what we do through government, if we lose the family we’ve lost everything” –U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield
One aspect of this is what the FBI is referring to as the “epidemic” of human trafficking, Hambleton explained. Prostitution has practically become accepted behavior, she said, and we have a culture that glorifies pimping. There is a great need to create and promote a counter narrative to this, Hambleton concluded, to create a new narrative of non-exploitive relationships between men and women, one of human dignity.
Lastly Dr. Michael Bell, Executive Director of St. John Community Development Corporation and Wilson City Councilman, spoke about his Save a Youth program that offers before and after care to youth in the Wilson community by providing suppor t in academics, homework, technology, health, nutrition, and character development. It is no longer enough to just be successful, Bell said; we must all be significant.
With Congressman Butterfield’s commitment to these ongoing initiatives, with inclusive and collective approaches to strengthening Wilson County, the citizens of Wilson are poised to reap the reward of a secure and prosperous future.