March 5, 2014. Jacksonville.com
A simple message was repeated many times Tuesday night at Abyssinia Baptist Church by all in attendance.
“Because when we work together, great things happen,” about 540 people spoke in unison.
The Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation and Empowerment or ICARE rallied for change and improvement for Jacksonville’s homeless, unemployed, mentally ill and children.
Leaders of the organization reported the progress that has been made on the group’s goals in an hour-long presentation.
First up was Maple Jones of St. Paul American Methodist Episcopal. She talked about the Jacksonville Day Resource Center. The coalition successfully lobbied to have the center funded last year for the city’s homeless.
Located on West Union Street, the facility currently serves 150 people on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Jones said. She said it has Internet access, showers and a washer and dryer.
Funding will dry up at the end of September, but ICARE will work to secure additional resources, she said.
Next, ICARE co-president the Rev. Kent Dorsey of Riverside Avenue Christian spoke on the unemployment issues in Northwest Jacksonville.
According to ICARE, Northwest Jacksonville has an unemployment rate that is about 100 percent higher than the rest of the city.
Dorsey talked about a delegation he was a part of that went to Cleveland where they toured businesses that were started in areas with similar circumstances to the Northwest Jacksonville quadrant.
ICARE’s goal for the next year will be to launch at least one employee-owned business in that part of town.
Queen Williams of St. Paul American Episcopal spoke about a suicide last week after the person was unable to find help for mental-health issues.
“He fell into a dark world of hopelessness,” she said.
Williams said mental-health illnesses are life-and-death issues.
“Our research has led us to the conclusion that the greatest need for mental-health access is particularly among the uninsured and the indigent population in our city,” Williams said.
She said ICARE’s goal is to reduce the number of people on waiting lists for clinical mental-health care. ICARE’s mental-health committee will study what has worked in other areas of the state.
Katherine Robinson of Greater Payne American Methodist Episcopal discussed education. She said 58,000 Duval County students are reading below grade level. An information packet the coalition distributed cited a 2012 Florida Department of Education as the source for the number.
Natishia Stevens of Historic Mount Zion American Methodist Episcopal tackled youth crime. The issue the coalition focused on was civil citations. They said 69 percent of youth in Duval County who are eligible for a civil citation are instead arrested. The organization wants that number to be 38 percent by April 2015.
The next major ICARE event will be April 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Potter’s House, 5119 Normandy Blvd.