May 2017 Neighbor Spotlight- George A Long Sr.
What is the name of your neighborhood?
East Durham is the area my church, Good Shepherd Church of God in Christ, is located and where I am involved as a Community Liaison.
How long have you lived in your neighborhood?
I have been active in this neighborhood through my Church for 15 years. I first touched foot in Durham in 1986 when my brother was at NCCU and I knew back then that Durham was a blessed City. I permanently came here in 2002, after over 30 years in Boston, and began to become proactive.
Tell us about your neighborhood.
I do my community outreach in East Durham and try to provide a wealth of information to the community to get resources or get directed to what they need. I was a teacher and mechanic in Boston, before moving here, but since in Durham, I have mainly done community work. The area has a number of churches and community resources. This allows people to have a lot of choice in religious affiliation. There are also a lot of activities and facilities here for the community, such as Holton Resource Center that has Parks and Recreation and Lincoln Center for Health located inside. You can utilize Holton for social events, as well. There are always a lot of entities coming in to share resources. The transportation is great. There are a lot of routes through East Durham all the way down 70 and I can navigate the whole city from here. I use the buses a lot and people can use them for jobs, groceries, etc. Trainings such as computer classes are available and the library is nearby as well. It is also a plus that there are food banks nearby. Being close to downtown, the county, City Hall, the Register of Deeds, etc is great because we can walk there.
What successes have your neighborhood and community had?
We have had a lot of success sharing information. I have gained a lot of knowledge of the operation of the City and County Government through trainings such as Neighborhood College and Fair Housing Training. The Housing Task Force of the Mayor’s Transformation in 10 Initiative has been successful bringing many organizations together to refer people to resources, including lead outreach, repairs, and financial help. Habitat for Humanity has been building houses for people with need and vacant lots have been transformed. Through the church, we have had book bag, food and clothing giveaways and given referrals to other resources that serve the community. As an ambassador for GoTransit, I have helped drivers and riders navigate the transit system. Finally, as part of the Aging Well in Durham Task Force, we have helped older citizens navigate services that are hard to navigate on their own. We even helped with a conference on dementia.
What are some concerns that you still have in your neighborhood?
Connected to the newer houses, we are concerned that people who have been here for a while will be squeezed out with all of the new construction. GoDurham is doing some improvements, but there is more to be done. Many locations still don’t have shelters, but I know that is in the pipeline. I also have concerns for seniors with health issues. Nutritional food is hard with a limited budget. Finally, I walk a lot and the lack of sidewalks and terrain can make it hard to safely walk for exercise.
What advice would you give to other community members?
Take advantage of the opportunities to take classes like Neighborhood College. Go to PAC meetings to be educated on the City, such as how the budget works. This can help you know about workshops, and community activities. Learn about community resources. Learn the inner operations of City and County Government by going to City Council and County Commissioner meetings. Finally, get involved in faith based organizations in your area.
Do you have any upcoming opportunities for other people to get involved?
Keep an eye out for workshops. They are great opportunities and then share that information with others. There is even a course to help faith based organizations get grants.
On June 17th, 2017 there is the Driver Open Street Festival and Housing Resource Fair for people to attend. Durham Parks and Recreation will also be hosting many summer events such as Bimbei.
For kids, summer jobs are available through the City and there are youth summits hosted by the Police Department that have received a lot of interested people.