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Category Archives: Intentional Communities

AmCap Gives Back Day: Good for the Soul, Good for Our Communities, and Good for Business – PRNewswire

Posted: November 19, 2021 at 5:27 pm

In 2020, with the company now boasting 1,100 employees in offices spanning the country, AmCap recognized an unprecedented opportunity to positively impact communities across the nation and organized its first annual Gives Back Day. To be held the second Thursday of July each year, Gives Back Day is an intentional day of giving designed to empower the entire company, its employees, and its partners to get involved and, well, give back.

This year, AmCap showed up and showed out for their annual Gives Back Day on July 8th! Impacting dozens of communities nationwide, team members got active with over 60 non-profit organizations. Together, they provided more than 29,000 pounds of food for the hungry and filled 400 backpacks with school supplies for children in need. They saved 153 lives through blood donations, built three homes and an animal shelter, collected thousands of pounds of essential goods for charities across the country, and so much more.

CEO Garrett Clayton remarked on the tremendous impact the company was able to make on this single day of service. "I can't thank our team enough for being the 'helpers' out in the world on July 8th. Giving back brings me so much joy, and I feel so proud that our organization makes it a high priority all throughout the year."

With its year-round culture of giving and its newly founded Gives Back Day, AmCap Home Loans has tapped into something that is becoming more and more vital to employee satisfaction and retention for all businesses in all industriesproviding a sense of purpose.

According to a study from Deloitte, millennial employees especially want to work for companies who make a difference, with 80% of millennials surveyed stating they "would be more motivated and committed at work if they felt their employer made a positive impact on society."In another survey by Fidelity Investments, 66% of the 1,200 individuals surveyed, and 75% of the millennials surveyed, reported that it's important to them that companies be philanthropically involved and support an array of causes.

In addition to attracting employees whose values align with charitable giving, organizing philanthropic outreach helps create a positive work culture by providing opportunities for teambuilding and increasing management-employee interactions.

Another aspect of employee satisfaction that AmCap has tapped into with its Gives Back Day is empowering individual branches and team members to decide how they will participate. For instance, members of the Phoenix, Arizona team volunteered to pass out bottled water during spells of 100-degree heat, while the Cookeville, Tennessee branch opted to host a donation drive benefiting foster children to honor a teammate who has their own foster children at home.

The benefits of allowing team members a say in how they give back are numerous. For companies like AmCap with branches across the nation, the type of charity that will have the greatest impact will vary. For AmCap, in Phoenix it was handing out water, while in Miami it was providing goods to the homeless, and in Alexandria, LA it was donating supplies to a women's shelter.

People will feel more motivated to get involved when it is for a cause they believe in and that they feel will make the greatest positive impact. And again, these benefits extend to aspects of business as well. In fact, one study reported a 13% increase in productivity among workers who were consulted on the company's philanthropy programs.

The data is clear: dedicating time and resources to community involvement is good for business. It inspires faith in leadership, builds relationships within the company, and increases employee motivation, engagement, and productivity. When it comes to building a company culture of giving back, it's a win all the way aroundjust ask AmCap Home Loans. The company is already looking ahead to next year's Gives Back Day, which will be held on July 14, 2022.

"AmCap whole heartedly values the importance of giving back," says Director of Corporate Giving, Cassie Croft, "which is why they hired me, a licensed social worker, to solely focus on their philanthropic footprint. They are ahead of the corporate curve with developing a deep-rooted culture of giving and I couldn't be prouder of being a part of their mission."

To learn more about Gives Back Day 2021, visit

AmCap Gives Back Day 2021

Who We ServedKid's MealsRonald McDonald House Habitat for Humanity Gulf Coast Regional Blood CenterFood Bank of the RockiesFish Food BankTacoma Mission HouseSharing is CaringBe A Resource for CPS KidsJustice College Hope HouseThe Children's ShelterSan Antonio Food BankOne Man's Treasure Dress for Success Safe Haven of Tarrant County Love Your Neighbor Smiling SeniorsAustin Police DepartmentOutYouthThe Ballard HouseArkadelphia Humane Society Arkansas Food BankThe Foster ClosetNorth Carolina Habitat for Humanity Colorado Habitat for Humanity Foster Angels of Central Texas Copeland Police StationCyFair Helping HandsChristian Community ActionThe Promise PlaceThe Commemorative Airforce Palm Valley Animal Society The Hope CenterRichardson Fire Station Austin Farm Sanctuary Dallas Children's Advocacy CenterLoaves & Fishes St. Pj's Children's Home Camp RescueGrandbury Food BankGarden of HopeHearts for HomesGood Shepherd Lutheran ChurchThe Bair Foundation Children's Advocacy Center Camp HopeMontgomery County Food BankInterchurch Ministries John's Texas Youth Rescue American Cancer Society Blessed Hope

How We Made A Difference

SOURCE AmCap Home Loans

AmCap Home Loans

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Innovative research investigates the health benefits of reclaiming nature | SF State News – SF State News

Posted: at 5:27 pm

In times of duress, many individuals turn to nature for solace. It is a classic form of self-care that has become increasingly important during the pandemic. However, this seemingly simple intervention is not always accessible to Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities communities that are already challenged by well-documented health inequities.

Now a team of San Francisco State University scientists will be studying the impact of nature on the health of those communities thanks to $2.7 million in grant support from a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative.

Were really interested in the psychosocial aspects of chronic disease and stress and peoples habits, and all of this relative to this intervention of walking in nature, explained San Francisco State Professor of Psychology Charlotte Tate.

Although nature is an ancestral healing place for many communities, these spaces can be unwelcoming, unsafe or triggering for people of color. By collaborating with community members, Tate and her colleagues hope to help reclaim natural spaces and mitigate growing health disparities. This study builds upon an earlier project that was co-led by SF State Professor of Biology Leticia Mrquez-Magaa that reported the health benefits of walking for Latinx communities.

Using a transdisciplinary approach, researchers will collaborate with transitional-age Black, Latinx, Pilipinx and Pacific Islander youth to document their experiences and biologic metrics. The data will then be assessed at psychological, biological and epidemiological levels, looking at a range of measures from how the intervention affects mental health to changes in molecular biomarkers.

I think part of our intentional approach is not just to study people as experimental subjects, but really to [use an approach that is] very consistent with an anti-racist and critical race theory approach to raise their critical consciousness while participating in the research, said SF State Assistant Professor of Public Health David Rebanal. He and Tate also underscore that the project is led by diverse BIPOC researchers who are focusing on their own communities.

The five-year project (grant #OD033243-01) is one of 11 supported by the NIHs Common Funds Transformative Research to Address Health Disparities and Advance Health Equity initiative, a new program supporting highly innovative, translational research projects, which if successful will prevent, reduce or eliminate health disparities and advance health equity.

Its not lost on the researchers how innovative and messy this research will be. More often than not, public health, biology and psychology research are kept on their own tracks, so there is no template for this sort of collaborative interdisciplinary project, Tate says. Rebanal agrees, adding that working directly with individuals in the community means their experiments will also be less controlled than a traditional biomedical study.

Although it is going to be a learning experience, the researchers hope their study will lay the foundation for future projects and an acceptance of transdisciplinary work as critical to the future of biomedical research. For BIPOC populations to have effective health interventions, Rebanal says, they need solutions that come from within their own communities.

You know, [this proposal] was risky in some ways because its one thing to strive for equitable health opportunities, but its another thing to be anti-racist, said Rebanal. I think that the next level for this kind of work is to figure out what can we do thats anti-racist, not just inclusionary.

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Tufts as an Anti-Racist Institution, Part 1: Students, administrators and university staff discuss what ‘anti-racism’ means at Tufts – Tufts Daily

Posted: at 5:27 pm

Editors Note: This is the first of a two-part series on the anti-racist initiative at Tufts. The next part of the series will be published on Monday, Nov. 22.

Tufts as an Anti-Racist Institution, a university-wide initiative, was first announced by University President Anthony Monaco on July 8, 2020, with a goal to find and eradicate any structural racism at Tufts, according to the initiatives executive summary. Organized into five separate workstreams, the initiative represents an institutional effort to make Tufts an anti-racist institution, bringing together more than 100 students, faculty and staff. All in all, the initiative culminated in over 180 salient recommendations to make Tufts a more diverse, equitable and inclusive learning environment for all.

In the process, the initiative has invited the Tufts community to engage and grapple with what anti-racism would mean at Tufts from a wide range of perspectives and identities. Alfredo Ramirez, a second-year MALD student at The Fletcher School, is one of the student leaders who participated in the initiatives Compositional Diversity Workstream last school year, continuing the important conversation on campus.

Born in Venezuela and raised in Miami, Florida, Ramirez came to appreciate and understand diversity as a strength of American society.

For me, diversity is many differences among people be they cognitive, experiential or racial that might seem like a gap on paper, but can actually be a bridge to bring people together, Ramirez said. Diversity can help people offer distinct perspectives, backgrounds and thoughts which can ultimately help build better solutions [to a problem] together.

Within this context, Ramirez added that the universitys anti-racist efforts can help foster a sense of tolerance and extend the institutions commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Anti-racism, for me, is a step beyond building diversity and inclusion and equitable solutions, Ramirez said. It is taking a very active and intentional stance against racism, opposing racist policies and building toward racial tolerance, embedding tolerance in the universitys culture.

On top of that, Aaron Parayno, director of the Asian American Center, added that anti-racism at its core is about bringing about necessary systemic changes and leveling the playing field for all Americans.

Anti-racism really centers on dismantling systems and barriers that have impacted people of color historically and listening, really listening, to these communities experiences, challenges and needs, Parayno said. Anti-racism at an educational institution such as Tufts would mean to relinquish its power and some of its privilege to provide access and opportunities for communities that had been historically disenfranchised.

The Rev. Elyse Nelson Winger, university chaplain, wrote in an email to the Daily detailing how anti-racism as a philosophy and social justice can also be understood from religious and spiritual perspectives.

Anti-racism is an active commitment to understanding, in all its complexity, the history and continuing impact of systemic racism endemic in our society, Winger wrote. Religious communities bear a tremendous responsibility in and for this work. On the one hand, our religious and spiritual traditions are living reservoirs of wisdom, liberation, story and practice that have inspired (and do inspire!) people to challenge injustice at every turn.

Winger added that many different faith communities continue to wrestle with their historic complicity with systemic racism in the United States.

On the other hand, too many religious communities and institutions have been complicit and actively invested in racist systems, theologies, and beliefs, especially white Christian churches and institutions, Winger wrote.

Echoing Parayno and Wingers understanding of anti-racism, the Universitys Chief Diversity Officer for the Somerville/Medford and SMFA campuses and Associate Provost Robert Mack elaborated on the salience of the initiative, especially in the context of last years social and political climates.

The senior leadership was undoubtedly moved after bearing witness to the string of anti-Trans, anti-Black, anti-Asian violence in 2020 and by the ways in which COVID-19 shone a light on the race-based inequities within so many of our nations infrastructure, Mack wrote in an email to the Daily.

Joyce Sackey, the Tufts health sciences schools associate provost and chief diversity officer, similarly reflected on how last years events laid bare systemic racial injustices to be addressed in the United States.

The racial inequities that were exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled by the racial reckoning that swept our nation in 2020 in the wake of George Floyds murder, compelled the Tufts community to address head-on systemic racism, Sackey elaborated.

Mack and Sackey added another way of understanding and defining the term anti-racism both philosophically and linguistically.

We define anti-racism as the intentional practice of disrupting the many angles and degrees in which racism presents itself within thoughts, actions, policies, systems, organizations, and structures, Mack and Sackey wrote in a joint email statement to the Daily.

In a similar vein, Tufts Community Union President Amma Agyei, the first Black woman to hold the position, highlighted anti-racism as a broad philosophy and an integral part of todays social justice movement.

I think that [anti-racism] envelops everything it begins from understanding what microaggressions are to understanding what anti-Black rhetoric and anti-Asian rhetoric are and look like, Agyei said. Anti-racism is about understanding the importance of respecting peoples boundaries and respecting peoples identities, and respecting peoples backgrounds.

Despite the initiatives salience to the university community, Ramirez noted how the very term anti-racism can be polarizing and divisive for some, especially in todays nationwide political landscape.

I think the reason that theres been a backlash against it is because it is a part of this broader conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion, and within that conversation is the issue of privilege. And I think it isnt comfortable for a lot of people to admit that they have privileges, Ramirez said. I [also] think theres a lot of confusion and misinformation about what anti-racism is really about And I think one of the ways to work toward that end is educating people about what privilege really is.

Parayno similarly understands the resistance to anti-racism as being connected with both psychology and politics.

At its core, the resistance is about people and institutions not wanting to reckon with the fact that they may have biases, both explicit and implicit, and that they might themselves participate in racism, whether explicitly or passively To be anti-racist, though, we have to look at the ways that we were racist. Many people do not want to do that, Parayno said. In some of the more conservative states, they also associate anti-racism with not being able to be proud of American history and identity anymore.

It is critical, however, to understand American history as it is in its fullness and totality, as Parayno explained. He thinks that people can be both a proud American and committed to antiracism, provided that there are nuances.

You have to accept American history and politics as imperfect There is no perfect ideal, there is no perfect story. I think that when you are able to really reckon with these imperfections, you can have pride in being an American in a more balanced way, Parayno said.

Within national political and social climates around anti-racist efforts, Mack and Sackey underscored how Tufts initiative to become an anti-racist institution could set an example for others to follow.

Given the national political and social context we find ourselves in, it is profound that Tufts steps into its university-wide anti-racist initiative, Mack and Sackey wrote. Depending on how deep we go in our internal work, we have the potential to become uniquely positioned to be a model, standard, and firm invitation for post-secondary institutions to step into their anti-racist practice. Our initiative has the potential to impact the landscape and trajectory of higher education in America for generations to come.

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Sending a Strong Message: Louisiana activists help voters cast ballots after drastic polling place reductions in Black neighborhoods – Southern…

Posted: at 5:27 pm

Donald Eaglin was in a quandary and didnt even know it.

The 25-year-old Jeanerette, Louisiana, native was planning to vote on Nov. 13. But when he arrived at the Jeanerette City Hall just blocks from his home to cast a ballot as he had in every election since he was first able to vote in 2016 the polling place was no longer there.

I went to town to go vote, Eaglin said. Then they told me I had to go to Belle Place.

Belle Place Middle School, where Eaglins precinct had been relocated without his knowledge, is nearly 10 miles away.

But fortunately, volunteers with A New Chapter PUSH a ministerial organization in Iberia Parish that helps residents exercise their right to vote not only found out where his new polling place was but took him there, too.

When we went to pick him up to vote, he said he voted at City Hall, said the Rev. Wilfred Johnson, founder of the organization also known as ANC/PUSH. We used the QR code on his registration to make sure where he was going to vote and got him there.

The group which also went door to door encouraging residents to vote and helped them get to the polls for early voting had been preparing for these sorts of issues to crop up for months, ever since the Iberia Parish Council approved a consolidation of voting precincts.

The parishs cleaning up process cut the number of precincts nearly in half from 64 to 37. Under the new plan, five of the eight polling places that were closed served a higher-than-average number of Black voters, raising concerns that the move disproportionately affected people of color.

Officials say the move was intended to save taxpayers money and not to disenfranchise anyone.

But the reduction in polling places in predominantly Black areas prompted a grassroots effort by ANC/PUSH, Black Voters Matter and other groups that worked tirelessly to ensure that every voter in the parish knew where they were supposed to vote and if necessary provided them with transportation.

Organizers shouldnt have to compensate for unfair election administration and discriminatory obstacles to voting but time and again, they shoulder that burden, said Liza Weisberg, a staff attorney with the Voting Rights Practice Group at the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC works in partnership with communities across the South and beyond to dismantle white supremacy and advance human rights.

Across the South, new voting laws have popped up like weeds, effectively choking the rights of Black and Brown voting populations.

Iberia Parish officials say that even though their move had a disproportionate effect on people of color, it was not intentional.

In 2019, the Iberia Parish Council voted in favor of a plan to consolidate precincts and polling places as a cost-saving measure ahead of the full redistricting process based on the 2020 U.S. census.

Redistricting is the process of redrawing the lines of electoral districts so that they are reflective and representative of the communities they contain. States and local governing bodies redraw these district lines every 10 years following completion of the census, which counts every person living in the United States. Every district at the same level of government must have the same total population (this rule is strict for congressional districts and slightly looser for other districts).

The principle of one person, one vote is embedded in the U.S. Constitution. Redistricting must also comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). The VRA prohibits minority vote dilution, which means that redistricting plans cannot be drawn in a way that results in Black voters (or other racial or language minority groups) having less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.

Ideally, the reapportionment process occurs every 10 years with little or no disruption. But in Iberia Parish, the delays in receiving census data due to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed back the decennial reapportionment and redistricting. That created a situation where more than 20,000 voters in the semirural Louisiana parish had their precincts changed. A large subset of that group has to vote at an entirely new polling place.

Iberia Parish residents gathered on Nov. 11, two days before the latest municipal election, for a Get Out the Vote rally in New Iberias West End Park. The rally was just one part of a grassroots effort to make sure voters knew where they were to be voting after the parish shuttered a dozen polling places and changed precincts for more than half of its voters. (Photo credit/Robby Carrier-Bethel)

Maybe its normal, maybe not, said M. Christian Green, vice president of the League of Women Voters of Louisiana. But then when they said they were closing polls, and when we saw where the polls were located right in the inner city, in the West End neighborhood it raised red flags for us.

The move also alarmed local voting rights activists who have been working for years to boost registration and participation in elections across the board, but particularly in communities of color. When residents began receiving cards notifying them of changes in polling places, an effort began to reduce the effects of the changes on the voting community.

Iberia Parishs 2019 move to consolidate districts is allowed under Louisiana law to prepare for the upcoming redistricting. It is supposed to make the redistricting process easier.

But three things happened during this cycle that threw the system out of whack.

First and foremost, the data from the U.S. census that is used to create new district maps was delayed almost six months, partially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to a lesser extent because of the bumpy transfer of power from the Trump administration. Usually available in February, the data was not released this year until Aug. 12.

Second, several statewide ballot measures came out of the 2021 legislative session, requiring a fall election. The resignation of the New Iberia city marshal earlier this year also put a local item on the ballot to select his replacement, further complicating matters.

In normal years, these issues would not have mattered: The reapportionment would have been completed in time for the district and polling place map to be submitted prior to a fall election.

The third and less tangible force at play is the focus on redistricting nationwide. The growth of legislation particularly in Southern states that restricts voter access has brought a heightened interest to any steps that could be seen as a restriction on voters rights.

Under the plan that demographer Mike Hefner proposed, the Iberia Parish Council approved a consolidated precinct map in 2019 that dropped the number of precincts from 64 to 37 and the number of polling places by more than a third, from 35 to 23. Once the demographic data from the U.S. census is factored into the map in coming months, the number of precincts will climb to between 50 and 54. But the number of polling places will remain at 23.

Because the data was delayed, the interim 37-precinct map was still in place when preparations were being made for the fall 2021 election.

In August, several local officials, along with ANC/PUSH and Black Voters Matter, organized a town hall at the Sliman Theater in New Iberia to find out how the changes had come about and what, if anything, they could do to remedy the situation.

Iberia Parish Clerk of Court David Ditch said he was not in favor of closing any of the polling sites.

Im very adamant about the fact that I dont think we should be reducing, thats a personal belief of mine, Ditch said. I think we should be increasing access. I think everyone should have the same equal opportunity to vote as close to their home as possible.

Ditch and Registrar of Voters Kristie Blanchard both said the changes came about because of the parish council decision in 2019.

When Blanchard submitted a map to the Louisiana Secretary of States Office this year, the one adopted in 2019 was on the books.

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Acts preclearance provision, which previously required states like Louisiana with histories of racial discrimination to submit voting law changes to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for approval before implementation.

Without that preclearance, Iberia Parish was able to put any changes it wanted into effect, and the state accepted them.

A sign of a healthy democracy is one where every citizen can participate in the political process. The fact that we are still fighting to remove barriers to voting means critical work remains, said LaShawn Warren, the SPLCs chief policy officer. In this year alone, 19 states have passed 33 laws making it increasingly more difficult to vote. Inaction is not an option if we are to live up to our highest ideals as a democratic nation. Congress must pass both the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act which will restore the federal oversight needed to guard against laws intended to make it harder for people to engage in the political process and the Freedom to Vote Act, which will ensure fair and equal access for voters in federal elections.

In Iberia Parish, several civil rights and social justice groups submitted a letter to the Iberia Parish Council objecting to the closure of eight polling places, citing the disproportionate effect on Black voters.

Johnson of ANC/PUSH signed the letter, along with representatives of Campaign Legal Center, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the League of Women Voters of Louisiana, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, and Black Voters Matter Fund.

Former 16th Judicial District Judge Lori Landry, above, told members of the Iberia Parish Council that their closure of eight polling places five of which were in districts with a higher than average number of Black voters amounted to a disenfranchisement of the Black community. (Photo credit/Dwayne Fatherree)

Former 16th Judicial District Judge Lori Landry echoed concerns raised in the letter when she spoke at a parish council meeting.

The main issue is not just precincts, Landry said. This move closes eight polling places, five of them in predominantly African American communities. The council is now saying its not wanting to close polling places, but when you voted for this in 2019, it started down this path.

In the weeks leading up to the election, ANC/PUSH and other groups were canvassing precincts, providing support for voters throughout the early voting period.

Volunteers were canvassing for two weeks solid prior to the election, with Black Voters Matter providing logistical support in the form of the miniVAN voter canvassing app and software.

We went out door to door throughout our precincts, said Beanie Bonin, former head of the parishs public defender office and an active election rights volunteer. It was wonderful the reception we received. People were happy to see us come out to help them make sure they could cast their vote in the right place.

Johnson said that during the early voting period, they provided transportation for 149 voters to the Registrar of Voters office, where they made up about 6.4% of the total early votes cast. Another 63 people were taken to polls on Election Day.

Overall, almost 11% of the more than 15,000 registered Black voters in the parish turned out, compared with 16% of the 29,000 white voters. These numbers are in line with turnout in previous non-presidential elections despite the poll closures.

African American voters did turn out and made it to the polls even with the obstacles, said Robby Carrier-Bethel, a local voting rights activist. There is work to do to get more to the polls, but the outcome sends a strong message.

Photo at top: The Rev. Wilfred Johnson (right), one of the founders of A New Chapter PUSH, worked tirelessly for weeks attempting to contact every voter in every neighborhood of Iberia Parish to make sure they knew where their polling place was for the Nov. 13 election. Pictured next to Johnson is his wife, Susan Johnson. (Credit: Wilfred Johnson)

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93-year-old Dickson veteran served amid wars, military integration: ‘Never really thought about color’ – The Tennessean

Posted: at 5:27 pm

Mack Adams walked into the Dickson Senior Center and greeted the staff Wednesday. Adams, age 93, had meals to pick up for some of his eight grown children and tenants of his rental properties.

Its a near daily ritual. Adams drives to the center, says hello and picks up the lunches.

If they want whats on the menu, yes, I get lunch for them, said Adams, smiling. Sometimes I get up to eight or 10 meals down there.

Adams, who was the grand marshal in the 2021 Dickson Veterans Day Parade, had moments earlier explained why in 1942 he wanted to serve his country at age 14. Americas involvement in World War II had just begun.

Listening to all the publicity going on, the encouragement for people to support the military, at that time, Adams said. I was enthused by it.

Adams has been thefamily patriarch and leader inDickson for decades, a man people admire, particularly amid thisholiday seasonthat celebratesmilitary service and family. How he achieved thisdespite being a "shy person," and especially his experiences in both theNavy and Army, isa story Adams eagerly and easily recallseven as he nears 100 years old.

Adams mom initially didnt sign the military paperwork.

Later, he read in the newspaper that the Merchant Marines took recruits at age 15. Without his mothers knowledge, he traveled from their Dickson home to=

took a bus to Atlanta, without his mothers knowledge. While sitting in the back of the segregated vehicle, he overheard other African-American passengers pointing to the cotton fields and talking about where they picked cotton.

When he arrived at the courthouse to sign up for duty, Adams was denied.

The man told me they dont take colored people in the Merchant Marines, Adams. I said, OK. I caught the bus and came on back home.

It didnt bother me one bit, Adams added. At that time, what you were told, thats what it was. We werent familiar with integration, segregation, discrimination. I didnt know enough to have any qualms about it.

He told his mom what happened. She said when he turned 17, she would sign the papers.

Most of the newsreels I saw were ships. So I wanted to join the Navy, Adams said.

Thats what she did in 1945. He was transported to Maryland for Navy basic training.

He said there was segregation at the military facilities.

Also, while there, he saw the large Black communities and businesses in Baltimore.

Once on a PCE ship at sea, Adams job was a stewards mate. War World II had ended at this point.

My job was taking care of the 3-4 officers on the ship, Adams said. I was the only Black person on the ship.

Adams wanted to be a Boatsman Mate, who train, direct, and supervise personnel for the ship's maintenance.

I didnt know at the time I couldnt be one, Adams said.

After taking care of the officers, Adams would do maintenance work. He was told he wasnt supposed to be doing the work. He only realized later it was because of skin color.

Around 1947, he was moved to an APA transport ship. During these 60-day trips carrying various passengers, Adams was able to explore some areas of Guam, Japan, Hawaii, China, and more.

He actually earned his driver license while stationed in Hawaii. He would drive around the island when he had time.

I am driving out here and I see this green field for miles and miles, Adams said. I thought, They sure grow a whole lot of peas or something over here. I saw a big sign that said pineapple manufacturer.

In 1948, he recalled being in China to pick up civilian passengers.

You would look up in the mountains and here, Boom and flashes, Adams said.

The locals would say Thats just the communists up there. A year later, the communist would take over in The Chinese Revolution.

In 1949, Adams, now age 21, returned to Dickson as part of the inactive reserves. A year later, Adams received a notice when the Korean War started. A short time later he was at base in Charleston, S.C.

That was my first experience of feeling the effects of discrimination. I dont know why it affected me like it did. That hit me, Adams said. We had the same thing here (in Dickson). But it didnt have any effect on me. But for some reason that (Charleston base) rubbed me.

Before returning to Dickson in 1952, Adams recalled being on an icebreaker ship in Greenland and seeing the Northern Lights.

In 1953, now back in Dickson, Adams had graduated from Dicksons all-Black Hampton High School. A year later, after working as a cab driver, he and a friend, who served in the Army, decided it was time to enlist in the Air Force.

The recruiter said if they wanted to be in an airplane, they could join the Army and be in the Airborne division and stationed in nearby FortCampbell, Ky. and get $55 a month extra for jumping out of airplanes.

I said, Thats just like being in Dickson. We going in the Army, said Adams, laughing.

In 1954, Adams had to go Armys basic training in FortJackson, S.C. while his friend went directly to Airborne training.

Adams said he was in a mixed race company now in the Army. He recalls the drill sergeant telling the white soldiers that if you dont feel like you can have a Black person sleeping over you or below you, or eat at the same table as you, you need to step forward now.

He said none of the other soldiers stepped forward.

Adams noted that it was one of the first integrated companies in basic training at the base.

Later, he said three busloads of soldiers loaded a bus to travel to FortCampbell and stopped in Nashville on the way. They stopped at a large restaurant where food had been cooked for all the men. The restaurant owner told the sergeant the Black soldiers would have to eat at another restaurant.

The sergeant said to the owner, You have dinner fixed for these 300 people here, dont you? You want to eat it all?

All the men ate there that day.

Adams was stationed in Korea from 1958 to 1959 before returning to Fort Campbell.

From 1967 to 1968, Adams served as a platoon sergeant during his first tour in the Vietnam War. After that tour, he returned to Fort Campbell was the drill sergeant for basic training.

A lot of the guys around Dickson now went through basic training there. I see them around here now. They still jump on me about it, said Adams about his stern ways in that role. They all respected it.

Once promoted to the rank of first sergeant, Adams was sent back to Vietnam as part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade stationed.

Adams said they were a search and destroy operation and their enemies were the Viet Cong communist revolutionaries.

We had some good firefights over there, Adams said. We looked for trails and things leading to (Viet Cong) base camps.

You knew (an ambush) was also a possibility, Adams added.

Adams vividly remembers a conversation that summarized his feelings on teamwork in the military. Adams, as squad leader, corrected a soldier during an inspection.

He said, Sgt. Adams, do you know you are the only Black person in this platoon? Adams said.

Adams pointed to the U.S. Army badge on his uniform and said, You see that right there? Thats all I need.

I never really thought about color anyway, Adams added.

Adams retired from the Army in 1971 and began the next stage of his life.

He opened a TV repair business with two other partners in 1972, and opened a used car business in 1980. In 1980, he also opened a real estate business.

Adams was also a Dickson magistrate for decades. A magistrate is a person who works with the law enforcement and remains on call through odd hours and issues arrest warrants, sign misdemeanor citations, and more.

Adams has been married to wife Irene for 64 years.

It was our anniversary yesterday. We didnt know it, said Adams, laughing again.

Their children have been involved in politics and community service of all types in Dickson County for decades. Adams said it was not an intentional way they raised their children. But they might have set an example.

Ever since Ive retired, Ive been part of the community, Adams said. (Their children) may have observed it or it was a natural thing thats come up with them. We have always been public people and do what we could.

Adams and Irene have also been involved in Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity. Their reason for volunteer work is simple.

For the needs of helping out and being involved and helping the people in the community, Adams said.

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Adoption Awareness Month In OC: Every Conversation Matters –

Posted: at 5:27 pm

ORANGE COUNTY, CA What makes a family? Is it nature, nurture or something in between?

The Orange County Board of Supervisors this week proclaimed November as Adoption Awareness Month and presented a resolution to the County of Orange Social Services Agency to recognize the agency's significant contributions in support of and mentoring foster youth and adoptive families in Orange County.

National Adoption Awareness Month has been celebrated every November for more than 25 years, since President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed National Adoption Week in 1984.

President Bill Clinton expanded the week to an entire month in 1995. This year's National Adoption Month theme is "Every Conversation Matters" and encourages everyone to talk about adoption and adoption-related matters.

There are many ways that families come together through adoption, and all of them are as heart-wrenching as they are beautiful. As an adoptive mother, I can tell you that adoption is not one-size-fits-all.

If every conversation matters, here is a glimpse at how my family came to be through open adoption.

After years of infertility, my husband and I decided to pursue parenthood through adoption. We filled out forms, created a portfolio of our lives, shared the desires of our hearts and joined thousands of hopeful parents-in-waiting.

I will never forget the call when we learned we had been chosen to be Rachel's parents. Just 17 months later, we got the call we were chosen, again, for Elizabeth.

In the foster system, there are more children in need of parents to call their own.

On Thursday, the Orange County Social Services Agency recognized adoptive parents Laura and Martin on behalf of Orange County families who provide "forever" homes to children in need of permanency. The agency didn't provide last names to protect the parents' privacy.

Chairman Andrew Do, a supervisor for the 1st District, spoke on the proclamation.

"Every child deserves a loving family environment that provides a sense of belonging and security," Do said. "Parents like Laura and Martin who grow their families through adoption provide the love and support critical to the healthy development and success of our children."

In the fiscal year July 2020 to June 2021, Orange County courts finalized 336 adoptions, an increase of 24 percent over the number in the previous fiscal year.

"This month, we recognize all foster and adoptive families for their selfless efforts on behalf of Orange County's children," said Vice Chairman Doug Chaffee, 4th District supervisor. "The impressive increase in the number of adoptions at a time when many are struggling demonstrates how dedicated our community is to providing loving homes."

Overall, the primary goal of the Social Services Agency is to reunify children with their parents, but there are times when that is not possible, the agency said.

"Every single child matters and adoption is an intentional process that brings the joy, safety, and commitment of a family to so many," 2nd District Supervisor Katrina Foley said. "Adoption is all around us, and I am grateful to recognize Adoption Awareness Month and the many incredible families in our communities."

The agency prioritizes conversations with youth in foster care to engage them in the process of finding the right adoptive family.

"November is a month for gratitude, and I would like to extend my gratitude to those people who open their hearts and homes to our children in foster care," said Supervisor Donald P. Wagner of the 3rd District. "Their compassion provides the path toward a stable adult life. Again, I thank you for your selfless work."

Each year, the Children's Bureau, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, focuses on outreach and raising awareness of the need for adoptive families for teens in the United States.

Currently, more than 122,000 children and youth across the nation awaiting adoption are at risk of aging out of foster care without permanent family connections.

"National Adoption Month is a fantastic opportunity to shine a spotlight on adoption and reaffirm our commitment to give every child, especially teenagers waiting to be adopted, the chance to become part of a family," said 5th District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett. "It is a time to pay tribute to those in our community who have opened their hearts and homes to adopted children, thereby establishing permanent family connections in a loving and supportive environment."

The story of their adoption has never been a mystery to my children. Photos of their formal adoption days grace our family portrait wall, and it is a regular part of our conversation.

My daughters came to us as infants; both teenagers now. They are making the grade in high school and soon will head to college. Their adoptions were considered open, but their birth families have moved on to the next chapters of their lives. The four of us are forever grateful to the birth families who made a love decision that changed the course of our family forever.

Forming a permanent family is the main goal for prospective adoptive parents, whether they seek adoption after the pain and process of unsuccessful infertility as was our story or adopt through the lengthy foster system process.

And in every adoptive home, there is a unique story, but one with a common thread.

Love is all that matters.

For more information on becoming a resource family, call 888-871-KIDS (888-871-5437) or visit

Keep the conversation going. Tell us about your adoption story by emailing your Patch Editor.

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Wisconsin governor urges peace regardless of Rittenhouse outcome as demonstrators gather at courthouse – KLBK | KAMC |

Posted: at 5:27 pm

by: Michael Bartiromo, Nexstar Media Wire

Demonstrators gather outside of the Kenosha County Courthouse on Nov. 16, 2021, amid jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers urged peace in Kenosha and across our state ahead of a verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

Kenoshans are strong, resilient, and have worked hard to heal and rebuild together over the past year, wrote Evers on Facebook and Twitter. Any efforts to sow division and hinder that healing are unwelcome in Kenosha and Wisconsin. Regardless of the outcome in this case, I urge peace in Kenosha and across our state.

Evers went on to request that demonstrators do so safely and peacefully.

Kenoshans are strong, resilient, and have worked hard to heal and rebuild together over the past year. Any efforts to sow division and hinder that healing are unwelcome in Kenosha and Wisconsin. Regardless of the outcome in this case, I urge peace in Kenosha and across our state.

The governors remarks, shared just before noon on Tuesday, came shortly after the jury began deliberations in the Rittenhouse case.

Evers had earlier authorized the deployment of approximately 500 National Guard troops to Kenosha ahead of a verdict, where they would remain on standby until requested by local law enforcement agencies. If needed, the National Guard will be available to provide support to both law enforcement and first responders, and protect critical infrastructure and cultural institutions necessary for the well-being of the community, according to a Nov. 12 press release from the governors office.

Kenoshas police and sheriffs departments, too, said on Tuesday they were preparing to ensure the safety of the community.

The Kenosha Police Department and the Kenosha County Sheriffs Department have been and will continue to monitor the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, reads the statement, which was shared to Kenoshas city website on Tuesday morning.

We recognize that there are varying opinions and feelings that revolve around the trial that may cause concerns. Both of our departments have dedicated staff working in conjunction with local, State and Federal law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of our communities.

In an update posted to Facebook on Tuesday afternoon, police said they understand and recognize the anxiety generated by the trial, but did not feel it was necessary to issue any further guidance for residents.

To date, we have no reason to facilitate road closures, enact curfews or ask our communities to modify their daily routines, police said.

A representative for the city further told Nexstar there were no plans to close city offices or shorten working hours for government employees as of 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

The citys police, together with the Kenosha County Sheriffs Department, had said on Facebook that their departments have worked to improve response capabilities over the last year, and since the unrest in Kenosha following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white police officer on Aug. 23, 2020.

During one of the police brutality demonstrations in Kenosha days later, Kyle Rittenhouse, then 17, killed two people and wounded another with an AR-style semiautomatic rifle. He has since claimed self-defense.

Rittenhouse, now 18, is facing multiple charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree attempted intentional homicide, among others. The charge offirst-degree intentional homicidecarries a mandatory life sentence. The judge dismissed one charge, a count of possession of a dangerous weaponby a person younger than 18, on Monday.

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Beto ORourke in South Texas: The border is very important to me – KLBK | KAMC |

Posted: at 5:27 pm

MISSION, Texas (Border Report) Former Congressman Beto ORourke, who is running for Texas governor, said he wanted his first big campaign swing to be through the South Texas border to bring attention to the region and to highlight the regions importance to him.

ORourke, a former Democratic congressman from the West Texas border town of El Paso, said the border is in his blood and he wants the rest of the state, and world, to realize its unique cultures, community bonds, and rich trade opportunities.

The border is very important to me and its no accident that I started the campaign on the border in my hometown of El Paso, that I was in Laredo, Texas, last night and Im here with you today, ORourke said in response to a question from Border Report.

ORourke launched his campaign Monday, and on Tuesday visited the South Texas border town of Laredo before heading to the Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday.

I love coming back to McAllen, the Rio Grande Valley, Mission and this will not be the last time that you see me, and the fact that the first time you see me within this campaign is within two and a half days of having launched this, that is very intentional, he told media on Wednesday afternoon after his second stop in the region to meet Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez at his Mission home.

We have so much to offer the rest of the world and I want to make sure, as a border resident, and someone who is running to serve the border, along with the rest of Texas, that we share that pride in these really positive stories that we see here. This is a place that has shown: We can do it. We have a challenge were going to come together and overcome it, ORourke said.

ORourke requested the meeting with Melendez, whose first responders were among the most challenged in the nation in the summer of 2020 as coronavirus rates soared and hospital beds were full. Patients were put in hallways and hospital breakrooms were turned into emergency care clinics.

Hidalgo County has had 118,644 coronavirus cases and 3,484 deaths including one death on Wednesday,but that is down from the dozens of fatalities that occurred daily in June and July of 2020.

Melendez told Border Report that ORourke requested to meet to discuss the countys COVID-19 response and how emergency officials handled the surge of cases and deaths north of the border as Mexico was struggling to contain cases south of the border.

Our COVID-19 team is recognized among the state as being an example of how to respond to COVID in a positive way, Melendez said. They want input on how we did it and how it worked. What didnt work and recommendations for the future.

Earlier Wednesday, ORourke met with educators from Edinburg Independent School District.

He praised public educators on the border and said the annual salary of teachers in Texas is $10,000 less than elsewhere in the nation, and he wants to raise that amount.

He capped the day with a meet and greet with local residents in downtown McAllen that drew about 1,000 people to a tiny outdoor restaurant facility. It is located just blocks from the Humanitarian Respite Center where thousands of migrants who crossed this summer were helped by volunteers.

There, for the first time in his budding gubernatorial campaign, he said he believes marijuana should be legalized in Texas. This drew cheers from many in the crowd.

These are some of the things that we can do to bring us together that are popular in the state of Texas that allow us not only to make one another proud but to make this country proud. ORourke said.

But during his failed Democratic presidential bid, he was repeatedly criticized for taking this position one he has long championed since his days on the El Paso City Council.

Integrating positive information on immigration and border communities and what they contribute is key to this race, said Danny Diaz, a local community activist, who attended Wednesday nights event.

Hes got a good economic and a good message around health care, Diaz told Border Report after ORourkes 20-minute speech. Abbott is making immigration a center point of this race. Hes going to try to make that a wedge issue and were excited that Beto is really going to talk about the aspirational part of being from the border. The border still having some of the safest cities in the country. The border being key to international commerce with Latin America and the rest of the world.

After ORourke spoke, the crowd started cheering Si se puede (Yes you can). And several people said they associated with his flawless Spanish and approachable personality.

I love Beto. I wouldnt miss it for the world. And my husband also loves him, too said Josie Mitchell, of Edinburg, who although she had a hurt knee was packed in the evening McAllen crowd to get a glimpse of ORourke.

Were for Beto all the way, said Alma Garcia of Mission said. We have to get Abbott out.

Hes centrist, liberal-leaning, far better than Abbott, said Isidro Leal, 33, of McAllen, who brought his 12-year-old child Xan.

One place he did not visit was on Wednesday was the border wall, which he has repeatedly criticized Abbott for supporting.

During his failed bid for U.S. Senate against Ted Cruz, he visited the area several times in the summer of 2017 and brought attention to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, an area that Congress eventually exempted from border wall funding.

On Wednesday, ORourke claimed that Abbott only visits for photo ops at the border wall and la frontera (the border), he said in Spanish.

Abbott this week has hit back with campaign ads comparing ORourke to President Joe Biden in billboard advertisements he has placed throughout the state.

As Beto ORourke begins his campaign to reinvent himself, he wont be able to run from his extreme liberal policies that are wrong for Texas, Mark Miner, communications director for Texans for Greg Abbott, said in a statement Wednesday. The Beto-Biden agenda of open borders, defunding the police, and killing oil and gas jobs is divisive and will move Texas in the wrong direction.

Sandra Sanchezcan be reached at

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HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Catskill Valley Wind Ensemble returns to live performances 11-14-21 – AllOTSEGO

Posted: November 15, 2021 at 11:32 pm

HAPPENIN OTSEGO for SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 14Catskill Valley Wind Ensemblereturns to live performances

LIVE CONCERT 3 p.m. Join the Catskill Valley Wind Ensemble for fun performance of favorites, old and new, in the first live performance since the Pandemic began. Free, open to the public. Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. 607-432-7085 or

DEDICATION 9 a.m. Celebrate the contributions and memory of Thomas Tighe. One of the 5-stand stations will be dedicated to him in memory of his long history at the club. Oneonta Sportmens Club, 251 Rod & Gun Club Rd., Oneonta. 607-433-0515 or

SECOND SUNDAY SOUP! 11 a.m. 2 p.m. Serving homemade soups every 2nd Sunday of month. Takeout only. All are welcome. Donations to Schuyler Lake United Methodist Church appreciated. At The Pantry, 1472 County Hwy 22, Schuyler Lake.

PAINTING 101 Noon 4 p.m. Learn the basics of oil painting a still life at fun workshop. 4 spots available. Ages 16+. Registration required. The Art Dept. NY, 8 Main St., Cherry Valley.theartdeptny@outlook.comor

CCS THESPIANS 1 & 6 p.m. The CCS Thespians return to the stage for 2021 with a performance presentation of The Wind in the Willows. Cost, $12/adult. Masks required, assigned seating. Auditorium, Cooperstown Central School. 607-547-8181 or

SUNDAY SPEAKER 3 4 p.m. Learn about the history of Experimenting with Intentional Living in New York State. Covering 400 years, this lecture takes the listener inside some of the most interesting communities in NYS and how they challenged capitalist economic arrangements in order to attain ideals of harmony, equality, and social justice. Registration required. Presented by The Friends of the Village Library of Cooperstown.

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Whatever happened to the Palms, dubbed Americas first LGBTQ retirement community? – Tampa Bay Times

Posted: at 11:32 pm

PALMETTO Fred Hodges can still remember the names and faces of neighbors who are long gone.

There was Irving, who adopted his lifelong partner, Ron, so they could have some sort of legal recognition while same-sex marriage was still banned in Florida.

There was Emery, a doctor who advocated for the health of coal miners and AIDS patients and eventually was murdered in what was rumored to be a hate crime.

And there was Jan, who died of lung cancer last year without any known relative. Hodges paid a private investigator in Indiana to find the beneficiary named in his 20-year-old will.

Its bad when you live by yourself, and you dont have anybody, said Hodges, whose partner of nearly a half-century died in 2019. Which is why, here in the Palms, were a family.

The Palms of Manasota, nestled inside a sun-kissed side street in Palmetto, was touted 20-some years ago as Americas first retirement community for LGBTQ people.

Were still here, said Hodges, who is 71. But the number of LGBTQ residents is dwindling.

Thats straight, he said, gesturing toward a nearby home. Then he pointed to the next one: Thats straight.

He stopped by a For Sale sign in Carols yard, which could lead to another straight person moving in.

Walking into the Palms of Manasota is like entering a postcard for Florida living.

Spanish moss adorns every oak tree, and manicured palms line the streets. A pool with a fountain, complete with a single turtle, tops it off.

Theres no hint of the parties that once brought the neighbors out into the street. Theres not a rainbow flag in sight but it was always that way.

In the mid-1990s, a retired psychology professor named Bill Laing bought roughly 22 acres of land south of Tampa.

Inspired by a friend who had faced discrimination at his nursing home after disclosing his sexuality, Laing envisioned a place where members of the LGBTQ community could live out their later years in safety among their peers.

It was radical. Newspapers around the globe from The Wall Street Journal to The Economist reported on construction of the nations first alternative lifestyle retirement village.

Straight people werent barred from the community, but the Palms founder was clear: The community would be built for and marketed to LGBTQ seniors.

Its going to have to be gays and lesbians or people who understand the lifestyle, Laing told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in 1994. Were not going to turn anyone away. Laing, who was gay, lived in the community until his death in 2000.

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When Hodges and his partner, John, moved into the Palms in 2002, there were 21 single-family homes and six condominiums, The Economist reported, with plans to bring in another 250 people.

Subtlety was the word from the start. Early homeowner bylaws forbid residents from putting up flags of any kind, according to Hodges.

The original owners here came to escape the prejudices of being gay and lesbian, he said. Its not a gated community, so they did not want to advertise, Homosexuals live here. Beat us up!

Originally, Laing planned to build an assisted-living facility inside the Palms, so residents could age in place.

But the developers who took over after Laings death filed for bankruptcy in 2010, halting construction on the property for years. The undeveloped land was sold to the bank, where it remained dormant until it was bought by Meridian General Contracting in 2020.

Many of the original residents have died. Others moved into long-term care homes. Hodges estimates that most of the remaining LGBTQ residents are over 70.

Many retirement communities designed for LGBTQ seniors that sprung up in the wake of the Palms have struggled financially.

But theres growing interest in and need for LGBTQ-specific housing, according to Sydney Kopp-Richardson, director of the National LGBTQ Elder Housing Initiative at SAGE.

An estimated 7 million LGBTQ people will be over the age of 50 by 2030.

These seniors particularly transgender elders and older adults of color are at heightened risk of experiencing violence, lack of familial support and economic instability, Kopp-Richardson said. Many LGBTQ elders report fearing theyll face discrimination and have to re-closet themselves upon entering a retirement community.

All of these factors magnify the isolation that is already huge for seniors, Kopp-Richardson said. So an affinity-based space with your peers, in your community, can really help with your social, mental and physical health.

Retirement communities designed for LGBTQ seniors face a delicate balance, however. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, a community cannot keep someone from moving in because of their sexual orientation.

You cant enforce that only LGBTQ people live there or give LGBTQ elders priority, said Kopp-Richardson. So if there isnt intentional marketing, outreach and sustained programming, theres no assurance that that space will stay LGBTQ-friendly or affirming.

Exactly when Palms properties stopped being advertised as part of an LGBTQ retirement hub is up for debate. Gay and lesbian residents say things changed gradually once the bank took over with a slow drip of new residents moving into empty units.

Whoever bought after that was straight, pretty much, said Mary Cumisky, 80, a homeowner since 2002 who identifies as lesbian. One after the other.

When I saw a Realtor showing it to people, Id go out and introduce myself and say, Did you know this is a gay and lesbian retirement community? Hodges added with a laugh. Yup, gay and lesbian! Its a beautiful place, you should move here!

One thing is clear: The land that used to comprise The Palms of Manasota wont be advertised as an LGBTQ retirement community in the future.

That question never entered our minds, said Kelly Frye, president of Meridian General Contracting. We understand that the LGBTQ community is as equal as any other human on the face of the planet. We just market to human beings. If you want to live there, youre free and welcome to.

Today, LGBTQ retirees own 14 of the 21 single-family homes in the Palms, Hodges said. Two of those are rented to straight people. The villa area is even more mixed, and new homes will be open to anyone.

Back then, there was a need for that camaraderie and being together and that security, said Hodges. Its now 2021. We have come a long way. Theres still obviously hatred, but not near like it used to be. So theres not really a need for it. I do miss it, though.

It was a dream, said Cumisky. Thats all it was.

But a remnant of the old days remains.

Its Friday at 5 p.m., and six neighbors are meeting for weekly happy hour at Cumiskys house she has the lanai that overlooks the pond, after all.

Most of them are members of the LGBTQ community, but a straight neighbor who recently lost her husband also joins.

Sometimes it does turn into group therapy, Cumisky said.

Old people talking about their problems! Hodges said with a chuckle. Real exciting group.

No, no, I thought it was important because we all live by ourselves, and we dont get a chance to talk deeply about things, Cumisky said.

Its big, because Im by myself, she said. Youre by yourself. Sandy has a family, but theyre not around.

Hank is by himself, Ron is by himself, Paulines by herself, Hodges added.

An all-LGBTQ retirement community might have been a dream, but the concept of chosen family lives on in the Palms.

When I had to have my hip replaced last February, I didnt have anybody at all to help take care of me, Hodges said. And Mary was my nurse. She actually used to be a psychiatric nurse.

It was very appropriate, Cumisky said, laughing. We have a good life. We really do have a good life.

We care for each other, Hodges agreed.

Its whats left of the Palms, the original idea, added Cumisky. We still have the feeling for it. And for each other.


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