Regional task force continues work on Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion

BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) - A group, informally known as the Mt. Calvary Regional Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Taskforce, that formed in the summer to address diversity, equality, and inclusion in the Pender region met Wednesday to develop a mission statement.

The committee, assembled by former Pender County commissioner Jimmy Tate, includes leaders in education, religious groups, and law enforcement.

[ New task force forms to address racial and social injustice ]

Melvin Herring, a college professor, led the way by helping the group brainstorm the overall purpose of the group to narrow down the mission.

“It needs to be something we can wrap our arms around, be proud of and stand out in front of...our centric message for additional outreach,” said Herring. “How are we operationalizing social justice? How are we making it tangible?”

The mission statement was not finalized but further discussion will continue at a future meeting.

The task force covered a variety of other topics including race relations, focusing on solutions to support underserved youth communities.

Participants discussed using virtual reality (VR) as a tool to support youth guidance in underserved communities and seeking funding from corporations for the purpose of expanding youth career exploration to narrow the academic success gap. The committee hopes to set up VR centers in different communities.

Workforce development in Pender County was also covered.

Members of the group emphasized the importance of industry as a part of the community to create economic opportunities for young talented workers, so they are not lost to urban locations with more job opportunities. The goal is to develop pipelines for industry in the Southeastern North Carolina region.

The task force, which was formed in August, now has 35 members. It typically meets the final Thursday of each month at the Mount Calvary Center for Leadership Development in Burgaw. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, most participants attend via Zoom.

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