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County Considers Needs Assessment Plan for Disenfranchised Communities

-Editorial

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors heard a presentation from the Imperial Valley Social Justice Committee and their plan of action that will address the needs of the African American and other vulnerable and disenfranchised communities.

The purpose of the Imperial Valley Social Justice Committee Needs Assessment is to provide data, identify current problems and recommend solutions for the development of an action plan with the County Board of Supervisors to address disparities in social-economic, geographic, political, and physical environmental conditions in order to create a fair and just society in Imperial County, said Marlene Thomas, representative of the Imperial Valley Social Justice Committee. The group asked for $50,000 from the county to help with this study.

“The majority of marginalized that includes women, blacks, and Mexican-Americans, and their needs are not being addressed. The opportunity is no longer there that most of us fought for,” Thomas said. Thomas gave a history of the African-American community in the Imperial Valley and how many of those congregations have disappeared.

Supervisor Ray Castillo spoke about the history of his family in Imperial Valley from being pioneers to staying in the valley. Castillo said that he grew up during the civil rights movement and seeing what was happening all over the United States.

“Change is coming little by little and I think working together in a program will this will benefit the county to identify our weaknesses and make this a better place,” Supervisor Castillo said.

Supervisor Michael Kelley agreed and pointed out that the Pledge of Allegiance says Liberty and Justice for All.

 “Let’s not just say it, let’s live, let’s do it and be balanced a nation and as human beings and do as we can to make this world a better and safer place and have equality to all,” Kelley said.

Community activist Raul Urena said he supports this project that will recognize the pains of the past but also the healing of the present that they must do.

“You heard a little bit of the anger and pain that still presently exist and the historical injustices that different groups in this county still face but we have to live in the present and every present-day and every waking moment we have an opportunity to make a difference, in small ways, big ways, and monumental ways. This is a monumental way to make a difference,” Urena said.

The area of focus will be specific areas to be addressed include community engagement and representation, housing, law enforcement, judicial services, economic opportunity, education, health care access, environmental, and environmental health leisure.

The project coordinator and researchers will work closely with partnering organizations and county departments to develop and implement the needs assessment in the area of focus. A representative of the Imperial County Health Equity Committee will work closely with the Imperial Valley Social Justice to ensure coordination of resources and information. Quantitative and qualitative research methods will be applied. Historical census data along with county records will be gathered. Surveys and interviews of community members will be conducted in all seventeen sub-committees. Attention will be paid to all disenfranchised communities with a focus on the African American Community in order to provide for in-depth analysis of one subgroup in order to inform future work.

The quantitative and qualitative data for each subcommittee will be complied and aggregated as appropriate for the community as a whole. This data will be presented to corresponding county department heads in focus areas. Concerns and community solutions will be identified and presented to county departments.

A report with recommendations and a blueprint for advancing social justice will be presented to the Board of Supervisors for adoption and approval. The board agreed to bring it back as an action item and approve the funding request at a future meeting.

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