Do what you say, say what you mean. One thing leads to another.
— The Fixx
Here’s why I’ll take Baconton’s Annette Morman over your mayor and just about anyone else’s: When she says she’s going to do something, you can pretty much take it to the bank.
Of course, there’s also the fact that the retired DEFACS official has more energy than most people half her age, and she didn’t become a politician out of some sense of personal grandeur. She just wanted to help others.
When Morman ran and was elected mayor earlier this year, one of the first things she said she was going to do was start a program for senior citizens in and around the Baconton area. Of course, politicians and promises kind of go together like the stuff you find in livestock pens and flies, so the people in the community didn’t exactly hold their breath.
“There were a lot of people who talked about doing something for the senior citizens, but no one really had the initiative to get it done,” said Glennelle Marcus, a retired educator and, at 86, the “mother” of local Saint James Missionary Baptist Church. “But this mayor is not afraid to put her words into action; she’s not afraid to venture out and do things.”
Marcus, who taught the mayor when she was a fourth-grader, was one of the local seniors who came to City Hall Tuesday to see Phase I of Morman’s vision spring to life. There were dignitaries on hand — Geraldine West Hudley, who is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Strike Force” team, field representative Michael Bryant from U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop’s office, and City Council members Dorothy Morman, Elizabeth Williams, Jackie Graham and Betty Ritchie — but this day was all about the seniors.
“This is an opportunity for me to learn new things,” retired factory worker Dorothy Lyons said. “Just because a person is a senior citizen doesn’t mean they’re ready to quit learning. If I’m alive, I’ll be back.”
The senior program in Baconton will initially be held Tuesdays and Fridays at City Hall — the beautifully restored Jackson Davis House — but there are plans to increase the number of days and to move into a permanent location. Mayor Morman wanted to go ahead and pull the trigger on such plans, but she’s smart enough to understand limitations.
“When we weren’t able to get any funding for this program, we didn’t let that stop us,” the mayor said of hers and the City Commission’s efforts. “We decided we’d make do with what we have rather than waiting for some grant or funding source that might never come.
“We put the call out for help, and the people in the community responded. We’ve got volunteers who are coming in to teach arts and crafts, volunteers who will conduct exercise and Bible study classes, volunteers who are preparing food in their homes and bringing it to the meetings so that our seniors can enjoy a healthy meal.
“That’s what happens when people care, when friends, relatives and other volunteers want to do something to help make the lives of senior citizens in their community better. This (program) is not about me. It’s about those people who truly care.”
True enough, your honor, true enough. But the program initiated in Baconton Tuesday grew directly from your vision. And even when there were no government funding sources available — usually a dead end when it comes to political promises — you and a few more dedicated citizens of your community made that vision a reality.
In my book, that puts you in a very small and elite group of civil servants who haven’t forgotten the service part. And the people of Baconton live better because of you. That’s a pretty amazing beginning to a legacy for someone who’s just getting started.
Email Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.