Wednesday, December 9, 2009

We Are All Americans Says Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond to Sumter County Leaders.

Americus Times Recorder
Sumter County is on the right path to making America great again, Michael Thurmond, Georgia’s Labor commissioner, said to a group of Sumter County leaders Tuesday at the John M. Pope Industrial Technology Center at South Georgia Technical College.

The keynote speaker for the annual community celebration spoke to a room filled with Sumter County Schools superintendent, Dennis McMahon, state Sen. George Hooks and state Rep. Mike Cheokas, several Sumter County commissioners and school board members, Americus City council members, teachers, police officers, truancy officers, social workers and many other community leaders.

The event is hosted yearly by the Americus-Sumter County’s Chamber of Commerce, and this year, the event was entitled “Treading Water.” Each year, the Chamber gives a report of the county’s status of children and workforce development.

Thurmond opened his lecture by speaking directly to the state Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) workers present.

“Every day, people come to you who are unemployed; they have no clothing for their children and no food,” Thurmond said. “These are tough times, and the lines are getting longer. Every day, you try to help as many people as you can, and you go home satisfied. But, there’s another line the next day.”

It’s disheartening, Thurmond said. He sees it, too.

“You’re all trying to preserve life, and you haven’t — and you can’t — give out, give in or give up,” Thurmond said.

The unemployment rate is at the highest it’s been in more than 15 years, and DFCS lines, like many other governmental support lines, are getting longer.

“It’s not about if you have a high school or college education,” Thurmond said. “This recession has no respect for what kind of education you have. It doesn’t care whether you’re black, white, red, green or blue. So many people are in the same lines. You know what? They’re all Americans. Their end goal is to get to the end of the line.”

Thurmond said that media reports only the mishaps in the government. Perhaps one child, for some reason, did not receive as much help as the could have through DFCS.

“But, what aren’t reported are the 100 other children that did get adopted or did get the help they so desperately need,” Thurmond said.

Each and every person Thurmond spoke to Tuesday, he said, was trying to help in some way, whether it was to help children learn, to help the City or County spend money in the right places or to help the unemployed.

“This is Georgia. This is America. We’re beginning to turn to, not away from, each other,” Thurmond said. “Don’t get discouraged by the lines. In the end, we’re not asked to do it all; we’re asked if we tried our best. And it’s OK — just keep trying.”

America has seen many rough times, Thurmond said, but the country’s always pulled together and survived.

“America’s faced greater challenges. Some don’t know where to go. Some lose faith. We’ve always risen, though,” Thurmond said, and the citizens of Sumter County will pull through this economic crisis, as well.

Too bad Mr. Thurmond is not running for higher office next year, but count on it in 2014.

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