More than 250 people rallied in support of new building for East Columbia 50+ Center on April 30th. The elected officials who attended were : Councilmembers Opel Jones, Christiana Rigby, Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, and former County Executive and Delegate Liz Bobo.


From Rev. Paige Getty of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia:

“Good afternoon, PATH and 50+ Center Steering Committee and Delegate Atterbeary and County Council members Rigby and Jones!
It’s so good to be with all of you here in Owen Brown – to honor this amazing community and to re-commit to serving all its residents … especially the clients of the East Columbia 50+ Center, who deserve more than three cramped rooms inside the library.
I am Rev. Paige Getty, and I serve as Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia, which, for the past 37 years or so, has resided just across the field over there in the Owen Brown Interfaith Center. And, along with Pastor Tyrone Jones, I also serve as Co-Chair of PATH.
For fifteen years, PATH has been organizing in Howard County – we have been building relationships across faith communities, in schools, with businesses, with elected leaders; we have been learning what matters most to our neighbors; we have expanded our understanding of our shared interests, regardless of how we differ.
We have been building power among those who often have less influence over matters of great importance in their own lives and communities. And we build power because we believe in investing our resources – our time, our energy, our money – to transform the world as it is into the world as it should be. That’s why we have organized to win protections for mobile home owners, to secure dedicated swim time for women at local pools, to ensure that there will be more affordable housing in downtown Columbia, and to meet needs of students and educators in our public schools.
And right now we are exerting that power to insist that our elected officials – the members of the Howard County Council – make the equitable and just decision to fund the construction of a new 50+ Center here in East Columbia.
This center is a gathering place for members of this community who are often overlooked because of where they live, or because of their race, or because of limited resources, or because they are otherwise vulnerable. There is senior housing just on the other side of those trees, but there is no public, communal gathering place anywhere else nearby. This East Columbia center serves more seniors of color than any other senior center in the county. And yet, other centers have been renovated, expanded, and rebuilt … while this one is still just three rooms attached to a library.
It’s time to reinvest in this community and to fulfill the promise of a new, expanded 50+ center in East Columbia.
Today we are going to learn more about this community and the constituents of this center, and we are going to ask our elected officials to state publicly and clearly their commitment to meeting this overdue need.”

From Rev. Tyrone P Jones, IV of First Baptist Church of Guilford:

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“This Senior Center has been part of the general plan for Howard County for many years now. The plan started under our last County Executive. Our current County Executive and now our lawmakers in Annapolis have all done their part to move forward on this long-overdue project. Plain and simple this project is about Equity! More Seniors of Color use this community center than any other in the County–and all of the other Senior Centers have been updated or rebuilt. Building the East Columbia Senior Center is about more than providing adequate space, this Project is about honoring those who have helped to build the fabric of our community!  This is about providing support and needed care to our Elders and Sages who have lived in Howard County for many generations.

Our Seniors, Elders and Sages deserve:

An Adequate space for Recreation!

More than 3 rooms in a library for Revitalization and Rejuvenation!

A place, not just small space for forging Relationships and taking advantage of Resources!

The well-deserved Justice of a New Senior Center in our community–that really serves the entire county–is now up to the County Council. Last year the Council put up the roadblocks that kept the center from being rebuilt. Right now, they are in a position to continue to stop progress or to create more Equitable Justice.

Today, after hearing these stories, we are now obligated, and we must be dedicated (in a good way) to do everything in our power to achieve Justice! When we hear these stories, their stories become a part of our community story! The African Philosophy of Ubuntu says, “I Am Because We Are”. That simply means that we are in this together! We know that our seniors and our community deserve better. We know that this fits into a long-standing pattern of racial inequity in our county.

When we know there is injustice, we must act!

So now, it is up to us. PATH, seniors, everyone here, WE have to make some noise through action! We have to make it so that our elected officials who have NOT committed to a New Senior Center can’t even turn around without hearing about it.

We have to be dogged in our determination and relentless in reach. We have to send emails. We have to make phone calls. We have to testify on May 10 at the County Council Meeting. We are obligated because we now know the needs of our seniors and we have heard their stories, we cannot turn our backs on our Community now, we need to obligate our elected officials to do the right thing. We do not have a 3rd reliable vote on the County Council.

So, this is what I need you to do. I need you to fill out the back of your flier. Provide us with your name and contact information. Share with us what your commitment is to work on this campaign.

People watching via Zoom, you too are obligated to do your part!! Contact inform will be in the chat!!

This is a COVID Friendly gathering, so we can’t yell out loud, but HONK after me!

“We will not rest, until we get a Yes!” HONK!!

“We want Justice for our Seniors!” HONK

“Our Elders deserve Better” HONK “Our Community Deserves Better” HONK!

Please fill out the forms and hand it in…

“We will not rest ’til we get a, yes!”

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Here are additional photos from the event:

Scott E

2 COMMENTS

  1. Delegate Jen Terrasa sent a heartfelt statement in support of building this Center. She was responsible as a Councilperson, to secure the Planning Funds to get the Center “shovel ready”. She also worked for the State to give a $1 million bond to help pay for it. Jen worked closely for many years with Pearl Atkinson-Stewart, 50+ Steering Committee.

  2. “Rev Jones”, PATH and Rev Getty need to stick to the pulpit for religious dogma. Leave politics to the politicians. Trying to bully, honk and blare your way to a brand new center just because you think you deserve it is a no-no. Asking taxpayers to foot the bill – many of them residents of color is a bit too much.
    They can open their churches to centers, but requiring the public to foot the bill for a senior center in every village is too much in this COVID environment.

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