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Amos Network grows statewide

By By Steve Gillespie / The Meridian Star
OCt. 12, 2003
I was at the first citywide congregational gathering for people interested in getting an Amos Network chapter off the ground in Meridian.
That was 18 months ago.
Before it ever got to that stage, there were discussions among local people for more than a year in an attempt to lay the groundwork for Amos here.
Although the numbers may have gone down over the past year-and-a-half, the enthusiasm of those who are dedicated to Amos has not diminished.
It was the fall of 1994 when religious leaders began discussing the need for a broad-based community organization in Jackson. Neighborhood audits there did not become a reality until 1997.
The Amos Network has made significant changes in Jackson and Madison County in the last few years.
Those close to Amos' work in Jackson say the network got a bond issue passed to improve infrastructure, worked to remedy a stray animal problem and helped the superintendent of schools get buildings repaired.
Amos is credited with reducing the waiting list for Meals-on-Wheels and getting prescription drug cards for elderly residents so they can get their medications less expensively. Amos signed up hundreds of children into the Children's Health Insurance Program, a national program for families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but cannot afford insurance on their own.
In Madison County, a lot of unkept property has been cleaned up due to the Amos Network.
Organizational efforts also have begun in Oxford and the Gulf Coast. Next spring, organizers hope to have an Amos Network in the Delta.
The ultimate goal of Amos is not to seal cracks in sidewalks, or fill holes in roads, or clean up and repair property.
But by doing those things together as a community, maybe we can erase some of the racial, financial, denominational, social and political lines that separate us.
It's not about anyone losing their identity, but everyone opening their hearts and their minds just a little bit more. That doesn't hurt anyone and it benefits everybody.