A community event held Saturday, June 20 in Trenton served several purposes.
Organizers Sam Doaks and Greg Barnes used the occasion to celebrate Juneteenth and Father’s Day Weekend, promote unity, and raise awareness of the lack of options young adults and elders have in Trenton.
“If you give everybody an opportunity to improve, they will,” Doaks said.
He, Barnes, and other concerned citizens believe a community center could help “catch” young people by helping them in school, teaching them a trade, and giving them a safe place to congregate.
“It’s not a black or white thing,” Barnes said. “It’s about people period.”
Last year, the men began meeting with others in the community to talk about putting together youth programs. They applauded the work that the Trenton Housing Authority LEMAC afterschool program does with young students but said something is needed for older teenagers and young adults.
Doaks said the group plans to start meeting the first Monday of every month in July to create a community council, with an open forum for all citizens to discuss needs they see in the Trenton community and possible solutions.
“It’s open to all,” Barnes reiterated. “There are no ethnic barriers.”
The June 20 event included a march and an afternoon of speakers, music, food, and fellowship. Doaks estimated 400 to 500 people attended the come-and-go activities at the Penn Street field across the Trenton laundromat.
The men said they were pleased to see city officials there, adding that Police Chief Bill Cusson walked with the marchers and later spoke at the field.
“I think the chief is genuine in his efforts,” Doaks said.
Doaks said that Trenton doesn’t have the issues that other cities in America have, but there is still a dividing line that isn’t openly discussed and leads to complacency. Doaks said the line goes beyond race and includes economic and political factors. He hopes community events like the one held June 20 will help ease what he sees as tension on both sides and calm people’s fears.
“We want to talk about what’s important,” Doaks said. “We want to talk about going forward in peace to discuss and find solutions.”
Event organizers thank Gregory Barnes, Diane and Brad Simmons, Charles “Preacher” Glenn, Haywood and Myra Elam, Ray and Twila Claybon, Pastor Clyde Vaughn, Pastor Fernando Bailey, Pastor David Horton, Doug Lockard and the Trenton Housing Authority staff, Winky, Trenton Public Works, Trenton City Council, Chief Terrance Elam and the Trenton Fire Department, Chief Bill Cusson and the Trenton Police Department, Mayor Ricky Jackson, Jim Overall and Bryan Newman of Food Rite, Congressional Candidate Hollis Skinner, Anthony Floyd, Creeper, Drew Ward, Andre’s Photography, Greg at Trenton Laundromat, Ms. Mary at McDonald’s, Vanessa Belmont, Shelia Ann Gentry, all volunteers, participants, and especially the peaceful citizens of Trenton.