Unity in our community

Sometimes the most complex-looking situation, once examined, turns out to be relatively simple.

Older, long-established community members in Franklin County often ask me questions like these:

– How do all these Latinos find, of all places, Russellville/Franklin County?

– Why do they then come here?

– Why do most of them stay here?

To get answers, I went to the obvious, asking some Latinos who had moved here and stayed.

The simple answer: “Because I have a close friend or cherished family member who came here and found it a very good place to settle.” 

So I asked, “Why did she say it was good, and did it turn out to be true?”

Here is what the answer was:

 – The people in Russellville are friendly and accepting of Latinos.

– The schools are good and accommodating of all children. They have good programs for teaching English.

– The city is a safe place. There is little crime.

– Churches are well attended, and new ones welcome.

– The community is very family-focused and loves children.

– There are jobs available, and better paying work flows naturally for those who work and study hard.

– Living costs are low.

As for why they stayed, they found, in experience, the above to be true. 

Putting it all together gives us a picture of a Latino community that has a special sense of responsibility to each other, along with an urge to keep their community safe and secure by making troublemakers and unsavory elements feel unwelcome.

Because I am the senior coordinator for the Franklin County 2020 Complete Census Count Committee, I am more than pleased to relate the above story to you. 

Our greatest opportunity for our county is to get all Latino residents counted. 

We know many will be reluctant given their previous experiences, disturbing national news and rumors flying around.

But the census is simply not interested in any resident’s legal or illegal status. Interest is solely about who is where and adding up the numbers. They do not reveal names or other personal information. 

However, those numbers result in large or small amounts of money flowing to Alabama and its counties/cities. That amount per person was $1,600 to Alabama in 2013. 

Every year these allocations flow until the next census. That money helps fund schools, medical facilities, roads and more for the whole 10 years between censuses, over and over.

Described another way, if you and your family are not counted, your fellow residents have to take up the slack or the work goes undone or poorly performed.

That is NOT watching your neighbor’s back or assuring a good education for all children – including yours.

Instead, we all yearn for more unity in our community.

The census helps us bring about just that. Plan to do it promptly by internet, phone or paper this coming March or April. You will get notices when the time comes.

Dick Rowland is the senior coordinator for the Complete Census Count Committee 2020, Franklin County.

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