By Helen Chestnut
Building communities through civic engagement was a common theme at the recent “United We Stand: Diverse Voices of Reason” event, held at the Salem Centre.
Sponsored by First Coast Community Outreach, the event featured remarks by Palatka Mayor Terrill Hill, who recounted how his passion for improving his community led him to seek elective office. “Somewhere along the way, I think we became focused on investing in projects, not people,” Hill said, recounting his administration’s efforts to strengthen his community by working with at-risk youth. Hill’s remarks were followed by a presentation on green energy by Wespac Vice President Kevin Worley and City Rescue Mission Executive Director Penny Kievat, who described her organization’s successful Life Builders addiction recovery program.
In addition to the speaking program, the United We Stand event included a community dinner and entertainment that included a scene from a local community theater production of “Steel Magnolias” and a performance by the patriotic chorus “Let Freedom Sing.”
Introduced by Florida author and veteran C.S. Bennett, the chorus performed a musical version of Jacksonville native James Weldon Johnson’s poem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and the anthem, “Heal Our Land.”
First Coast Community Outreach is a program of the First Coast Tea Party that seeks to build unity through partnerships with diverse organizations for the betterment of the community as a whole.