SEABROOK SAYS: Future leadership is an absolute essential if Gaston County is to move ahead. Gaston Together is right now creating a plan that begins community-wide action on November 15th. Please encourage the younger generation (ages25-40) to engage now. Connect with Donna Lockett. NOW THAT YOU KNOW, WHAT WILL YOU DO?
In 1997, a group of community leaders with foresight decided to launch a unique concept in Gaston County. A non-profit organization was developed with a mission that would tackle big Community Challenges by engaging the citizenry and working to avoid duplication of efforts in our community. Gaston Together: Communities of Excellence grew out of this effort.
Over the last nineteen years, Gaston Together has addressed many such challenges in our community. Some “solutions” have remained under its administration such as the “Pride in Gaston Traveling Tour” for third graders and the Gaston County MLK Unity Awards (honoring citizens in our county who build bridges of unity across lines of race, religion, gender, culture and geography in Gaston County.) Others, such as “Keeping Families Intact”, now the Resource Connection at the YMCA , were transferred to other entities for sustainability.
One initiative developed by Gaston Together in its very beginning and still going strong today is the Gaston Clergy & Citizens Coalition (GC3.) The GC3 is a non-denominational ministerial association that provides faith-based leadership to address community issues. Recently, they have created and signed a covenant with Law Enforcement in Gaston County including the Sheriff, the Chiefs of the County and all municipal police departments. The idea behind the covenant is to be proactive in Gaston County instead of reactive to community unrest; to develop a closer working relationship among clergy and law enforcement in Gaston County in an effort to prevent local protest events such as those experienced nationally. Significant pro-active events since then have included a clergy/law enforcement breakfast to encourage relationship building, a gathering at the MLK Plaza to thank and pray for police following recent violence against police across our country, and a clergy specific police academy developed by the Gastonia Police Department. Twenty-five Clergy members will take part in the training this fall.
The newest major initiative of Gaston Together is our Civic Engagement process. In an effort to attract and retain the 25 – 40 age group in our county and after several months of community review and cross-sector focus group sessions, in late fall Gaston Together will launch a community process to engage our next generation of leaders for Gaston County. The underlying objective of this initiative, as the name implies, is to provide a vehicle for citizens- especially the next generation of leaders – to become engaged in endeavors that will improve our community’s vitality and quality of life.
These are just two specific examples of on-going Gaston Together initiatives, but there are numerous opportunities for people in this community to participate. So how can you help and what is the first step?
Find out what interests you. Whether it is just simply working with your neighbors to improve your street/neighborhood or getting involved by providing your opinions and desires to the elected leaders. Think of your county and its future; think of how it will drift if we all do nothing. We are the last county in the Charlotte Metro to experience tremendous growth. Be a part of deciding how, when and where that growth will happen. BE ENGAGED!
For more information about Gaston Together, please visit our facebook page, website: gastontogether.org, or call 704-867-9869.
2016 Gaston Together Board Chair
Gaston Together Executive Director