Monday, January 14, 2013
After a decade or so hiatus, the Summerville branch of the NAACP has been reconstituted.
The group wants to be a resource to help the entire community improve and progress, said newly-elected president Dexcter Mack and first vice president Felisa Geddis.
It held an organizational meeting in November and planned to hold its first true meeting Thursday evening, where members could add to the list of ideas that have already been generated for the group’s 2013 agenda.
Already Mack and Geddis believe they want to focus on education, job training, business partnerships and health.
Mack and Geddis have long-standing ties in the community. Mack was born and raised here, graduated from Summerville High School and leads the District One Civic Association and the Chairman’s Ball Committee.
Geddis was born and raised in New York, but spent her childhood summers with family in the Ridgeville and Summerville area.
She moved here as an adult, opened a business and just graduated from nursing school. She said there’s more of a community feeling here than there was in the place she grew up.
Mack said when his friends ask what’s so great about Summerville, he tells them it’s an “upscale Mayberry.”
“It really is a beautiful place,” he said.
But even Mayberry has problems, and that’s where the local NAACP wants to step in as an identifiable resource that will connect members of the community with opportunities and role models.
The group isn’t reinventing the wheel, Geddis points out. The NAACP has been around for more than 100 years, and the national headquarters offers resources to local chapters as well as programs like a science fair for youth chapters.
The Summerville group can use these resources and tailor them to the area’s needs.
“We live in this community, so we see some of the deficiencies,” Geddis said.
To help address deficiencies, the group envisions sponsoring job fairs for the entire community, working with human resources departments at major employers to find out what skills are lacking, partnering with local businesses to encourage people to shop locally, working with the schools and hosting health fairs.
The group will also sponsor a youth chapter, which would probably include events like sponsoring job shadowing opportunities and organizing college tours.
“We just want to see some really great things happen in our community for all people,” Mack said.
And by “all people,” he said, they truly mean all people.
“We all have civil rights needs, regardless of color or creed,” he said.
The NAACP is open to membership from all races, and the developing Summerville branch already has membership from blacks and whites and has a white second vice president, Mack said.
That integration goes back to the organization’s inception. If you look at the old black and white photos, you’ll see both black and white faces, Geddis said.
The NAACP often has a negative image associated with it, but “we want to dispel those images completely and continue on with what the organization was built for,” Geddis said.
This will be “people helping people.”
“As a community, what affects me affects you,” she said.
The local group is still working on developing a website, but people interested in membership can visit the national site at www.naacp.org.
Meetings will be 7 p.m. every second Thursday at the County Council chambers in Summerville, 500 N. Main St.
The youth chapter will have its own meeting time.