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‘Let’s talk’ forum brings issues to light during community event

by Katrina Smith

Every day is filled with challenges, but in the midst of these challenges, what can be done?  Last Saturday, people in the community assembled together last Saturday to talk about these challenges that affect the community

in which they live. Recently, tragedy struck the city. This made everyone think outside the box on what to do to prevent such tragedies. It has been said numerous times that the youth today are the future leaders of

tomorrow. But how do we tap into the minds of the 1,150 students in the Humboldt system and challenge them to be better? Alderman Leon McNeal and others sponsored a community-wide event to hear from the people.

The forum began with Alderman McNeal welcoming everyone.  He introduced the panelists who shared how they will help the community and were willing to answer any questions of concerns. Social worker Juanita

Williams of the Salvation Army, wanted to reach out to see how the Salvation Army could assist the community to promote growth, safety and success.

Williams said she was here to listen to what the people had to say about the community.  She briefly told everyone how the Salvation Army can promote growth. There are agencies set up to assist with the needs of the


“We assist families in their goal,” said Williams. “We sponsor food drives for seniors and even the Angel Tree for kids to help get toys for Christmas.

We are here to help families to get on the right track and be successful by meeting parents where they are.”

Parents and community members voiced their concerns on the growth of Humboldt students. One citizen voiced her concerns about the level of disrespect shown by some children and

how some parents help to contribute to such behaviors. “The misbehaviors of the students in the classroom prevents others from coming to the school,” said teacher and pastor, Anthony

Ballard. “We have to change the culture for our kids to grow and be successful. Parents are needed in the school system.

“Life for children is so different for kids today. Many are faced with adult issues and have a lack of sleep, lack of studying and stress. This causes them not to perform at their best

potential,” said Ballard.

“We need parent accountablility,” said parent, Marquita Patterson. “It is not the kid’s fault.”

Lt. Mark Cancla, Salvation Army, spoke about the mentoring programs offered through the Salvation Army that can assist with growth. They offer summer camps and summer

employment opportunities for those who may not have otherwise left rural Tennessee. These mentorship programs will allow the students to receive financial independence and social

skills needed in life. “Things will change when you are implementing mentorships,” Cancla said.

Exchange Club President Elna Blankenship offered her stance on helping the youth grow.  The Exchange Club of Humboldthelps students to see themselves excelling further academically. The club sponsors a scholarship to

high school seniors.  The recipients have been students of the month at their school and will make a presentation to be selected as student of the year. She also challenged other civic organizations to keep helping the youth

as well.

Roy Hudson, school resource officer encouraged everyone to “Stop making excuses and do what you need to do to help our children. Times may have changed but history repeats itself over and over. The only thing that is

new with the generation of today is the tools they have. Technology has changed the way things happen in the world. Nothing has changed about the game but the players of the game, ” Hudson continued.

Citizens all expressed their love for their community and how Humboldt is very loving and caring regardless of color.

“One apple can spoil the whole batch, but our batch is not ruined,” said Senior Citizens Center Director, Archie Cox

Counselor Dick Teal with the Salvation Army said, “I am amazed how the energy is in West Tennessee and is refreshing. There is a humanity here that is missing in other places.”

Mayor Marvin Sikes talked about the safety of the city and recounted the tragedy that took place at the school.

“Two young men thought they needed to settle a score and they did,” said Sikes. “One is dead, one is paralyzed and the other is probably going to be in prison.  After talking about the issues, everyone agreed that is time to

stop talking about the problem and time to start addressing the problem.

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