By Post Staff
West Oakland community members stood in line Tuesday for Thanksgiving turkeys and groceries, while registering to vote, at an event organized by West Oakland Network (WON), held at the Scotlan Youth and Family Center at 18th and Adeline streets in DeFremery Park.
“We are trying to provide for the community as much as we can, and we are going to keep doing what we’ve been doing for 40 years even though we’ve lost our city funding,” said Matthew Graves, Scotlan’s Executive Director.
“We’re trying to keep things going – this country has to have hope, and I hope our federal government can come together and provide solutions in these economic times,” said William “Bill” Patterson, member of the Executive Committee of the Oakland NAACP and the Oakland Workforce Investment Board.
The WON collaboration, which has organized food giveaways for the past four years, includes the McClymonds High School Alumni Association, Attitudinal Healing Connection, Acorn Residents Council, City Team, and the Oakland chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Ron Muhammad, a representative of WON, said voting awareness and meeting the direct needs of the community with events like this is imperative.
“We have to get involved at this level because you may be the server now, but you never know when you need to be served with assistance,” he said. “If we want to have an impact on those that impact us, we have to have a seat at the table in voting, so that our voices are heard and our concerns are met.”
Many organizations will be involved in a citywide block-by-block voter registration drive to make sure that the voices and needs of youth are heard at city hall, Muhammad said.
More than 400 people registered to vote at this week’s turkey giveaway, Patterson said. The McClymonds Alumni Association views the day’s events as part of its efforts to engage the West Oakland Community in exercising its right to vote, he said.
“West Oakland is becoming energized as a result of the efforts of McClymonds Alumni Association,” Patterson said.
Members of the Berkeley bay area chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., helped in the kitchen. “At our chapter alumnae meeting we decided to come in and help out, and many of our sorors showed up today,” said sorority member Letitia Henderson.
“I’m blessed and feel good to be here today and help those who may be less fortunate,” said Renee Edwards, who helped direct the registration line.
Spoken word artist Jazz Hudson collected registration sheets and monitored the line, and Rolanda McGhee helped registrants with questions. “I love to give back, especially in times like these,” said Hudson.
“Helping others is the best reason for the holiday season,” said McGhee.
Brian McGhee, President of the McClymonds High School Alumni Association, assisted an elderly woman with a large turkey. “This needs to be done in my community, and this is just one aspect of what needs to be done,” he said.
“This is a great day to give back and show people we care about family in the community,” said Scotlan’s fiscal officer Morris Larry.