The two women had to raise funds to pay for the trip, and are grateful for all those who are supporting their journey. The Rev. Smith, Associate Pastor of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church in Hickory appreciates her church’s support saying, “This trip is in line with our desire at Exodus Church to reach out to all people, and we know that immigration reform is urgently needed for immigrants and all Americans.” Veronica Pearson, a member of Morning Star First Baptist in Hickory is new to the immigration reform issue. “I don’t know much about the problem, and I am looking forward to learning why people are rushing to our country to find work” she said. After the trip, both women will be available to present what they learn to schools, churches, and civic groups.
Saturday May 22, 2010, 12:00pm – 4:00pm
First Presbyterian Church of Hickory Fellowship Hall
237 2nd St. NW, Hickory 28601
A very unique event will occur on May 22, 2010 when a diverse group of 20 people from the Hickory community will convene for a race relations focus group discussion. The group of five Caucasians, five African-Americans, five Hmongs, and five Latinos will discuss their experience in race relations, with an emphasis on assessing equal access to the American Dream. Each group will include people from different backgrounds, men and women, and one youth.
The focus group discussion will be facilitated by Tong Yang, Chairman of the Hmong Community Development Corporation. Yang is a well known community leader, executive producer of Hmong Press Radio, and former executive director of the United Hmong Association. He is a skilled group facilitator, and is looking forward to leading the event, saying ” I’m excited about this opportunity about bringing people from diverse backgrounds together to share their deep feelings about the state of race relations in Hickory.”
The Rev. Susan Smith, Chair of the Hickory Branch NAACP Committee on Community Coordinaton, and Associate Pastor of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church has led planning for the event which will take place at First Presbyterian Church in Hickory. A 2009 grant submitted by the Hickory Branch NAACP to the City of Hickory Community Relations Council will fund simultaneous interpretation for non-English speaking Hmong and Latino participants. The use of simultaneous interpretation equipment is being donated by the Center for Paticipatory Change in Asheville, and will be used by skilled translators. Smith is pleased with the partnerships that are making the event possible, “We have non-profit social justice organizations, people of faith, business, government, and citizens working together to make this happen. It’s a great project!” she said.
Members of the NAACP, City of Hickory staff, Community Relations Council members, and other representatives working in race relations have been invited to observe the event which begins at noon with a light lunch donated by Biscuitville followed by the focus group discussion at 1:00pm. Discussion questions will ask participants about their experience and observations regarding race relations in social settings, on the job, in the neighborhood, at school, in the justice system, and in accessing government services. The goal of the event is to develop recommendations to address issues identified in the discussion. These recommendations will be shared with the City of Hickory Community Relations Council, and the Hickory Branch NAACP. Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright will attend, and help open the event.
Media representatives are encouraged to attend this event. Group participants will be available for interviews before and after the focus group discussion. Representatives from this event will also be available in the future to discuss the group’s recommendations in print, radio, or TV coverage.
For more information about the focus group discussion, contact the Rev. Susan Smith at 828-962-8196 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Hickory Branch NAACP, go to www.hickorybranchnaacp.org
Rev. Longcrier’s sermon at Corinth was “Let’s Go A Little Futher”, emphasizing that congregations need to move beyond the cultural barriers that keep people of faith divided. “It was a cultural ground-breaking experience, socially edifying for me and my congregation. For years, Bob has been a friend who has been open to go a little bit futher. Even when we see things differently, we’ve always managed to find common ground.That’s what friendship is all about”, said Longcrier.
For more information about the pulpit exchange, or the 6:00pm June 2, 2010 joint fellowship at Corinth Reformed United Church of Christ, please contact the Rev. Bob Thompson or the Rev. Reggie Longcrier.
Exodus Homes Wins Dream Keeper Award Presented by Maiden Rosenwald Community Development Corporation
On Sunday January 18, 2009, Exodus Homes won a Dream Keeper award presented by the Maiden Rosenwald Community Development Corporation during a banquet at the Crowne Plaza celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, and those who are helping realize his dream. Greetings were offered by Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright, Catawba County Board of Commissioners Vice Chair Lynn Lail, and Catawba Valley Community College President Dr. Garrett Hinshaw. A moving video montage of the life of Dr. King played during the event, while speakers inspired the participants to reach higher and do more to improve the community. Exodus Homes, a United Way agency, was honored for it’s excellence in providing faith based supportive housing for homeless recovering people in a way that saves lives, improves neighborhoods, and reduces crime. Susan Smith, Exodus Homes Assistant Executive Director, accepted the award on behalf of Rev. Reggie Longcrier who was in a worship service with the young men at Western Youth Correctional Center in Burke County that evening. Although he knew about the award, he felt he must honor the prior commitment to the young men there. In accepting the award, Ms. Smith who has worked with Exodus for 12 years said, “Rev. Longcrier wanted to be here, but he has taught us to always put meeting the needs of our people first, and then God will take care of the rest.”
The mission of the Maiden Rosenwald Community Development Corporation “Developing and providing support and resources to the community through education, advocacy, and empowerment.” For more information about Exodus Homes, go to www.exodushomes.org or call 828-324-4870.
Exodus Homes’ Young Men of Integrity Founder Chris Johnson Wins Ukama Award at African American Cultural Center Summer Gala
Seven of the Exodus Homes’ “Young Men of Integrity” were perfect gentlemen at the African Amercian Cultural Center Summer Gala on Saturday July 26, 2008 at the Hickory Art Museum. Led by the program founder and director, Chris Johnson, who was honored with the Ukama Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community, the young men served as ushers for the elegant affair that celebrated the evolution of the African American Cultural Center from the dream of a building, to a reality as a comprehensive online resource for the Greater Hickory Metro Region. The Young Men of Integrity is an at-risk youth mentoring program serving 25 young men from the ages of 10-19 who do not have fathers in their homes. Founded in 2006, the Exodus Homes’ United Way program pairs adult mentors with youth who need healthy male role models to learn about decision making, entrepreneurship, living drug free, treating women with respect, getting an education, preventing gang involvement, and avoiding teen pregnancy. One of the primary activities of the program is keeping the young men busy in community service projects such as Habitat for Humanity, the Christmas Bureau, Charity Chase, and neighborhood block parties with healthy youth-centered themes. They also participate in cultural or leadership development events such as the Western PIedmont Symphony, Promise Keepers, and the Man to Man Conference. Chris Johnson is the quintessential leader for this innovative program. An Exodus Homes graduate, and substance abuse counselor with The Cognitive Connection, he is a polished and dignified community activist who grew up without a father in his home, and he knows how to motivate young men. Chris helps them believe that life holds great potential for them if they will make good choices that will help them reach their goals. He says, “Inside every man there is a boy, and inside every boy there is a man. It’s up to mentors like us to reach inside a boy and find out how we can pull out the man inside.”
Six Young Men of Integrity have been designated Heroes of Hickory, African American leaders of tomorrow from Hickory High; John Smith, Michael Boyce, Jamil Johnson, Marlon Williamson, T.J. Middlebrooks and Troy Wright. Five are going to college this year: John Smith – Gardner Webb, Troy Wright – LIvingston College, T.J. MIddlebrooks – Glenville State, and Garfield Wilson – Alice Lloyd College, Desmond Johnson – Lincoln Memorial University. This first wave of college graduates plan to return to the program during summer breaks, and after graduation to become mentors themselves. The amazing success of The Young Men of Integrity has the same synergizing momentum that was seen in the phenomenal growth of Exodus Homes since 1998. Rev. Reggie Longcrier, Exodus Homes Executive Director says “This is how we want to impact the community. We are very proud of Chris and the brilliant job he is doing with his young men.”
Duane Muhammad, Chairman of the Board for the African-American Cultural Center says “The Ukama Award is given to recognize individuals in the Hickory Metro region who work with young people of color directly or indirectly. Mr. Johnson and Young Men of Integrity exemplify the mission of the African American Cultural Center to Preserve, Promote and Inspire the culture and development of the African American community.”
On April 9th, 2008, Exodus Homes won the Runner Up Award for Fair Share Giving in Division 6 with the Catawba County United Way during the Spirit Awards Luncheon at the Gateway Conference Center. Division 6 represents organizations with 2-49 employees, and Exodus Homes had 100% fair share giving participation for all of our employeess.
This was a very special day for us because one of our residents, Bernice Newman, sang at the beginning of the program prior to a special message from Susan Smith who thanked the audience of corporate leaders for all of their hard work in the 2007 United Way campaign.