Steady progress needed on social change

By Barbara Goodmon

A year ago I wrote an article for PJ about the Fletcher Foundation’s dreams for 2005. I recently revisited our list to see if any of our dreams had come true.

This is my opinion of progress:

* Drugs for people with HIV/AIDS already on treatment will continue.

This is a positive as there was concern as to whether the folks who had recently been removed from the North Carolina waiting list would be able to continue treatment.

A negative is that people who are now being put on the waiting list will not receive treatment.

* There has been no progress made by the legislature to legalize clean-needle exchange programs.

Even a trial study to demonstrate the impact would be a step in the right direction.

* The waiting list for day-care subsidies has increased from 30,000 to 35,000 children.

* The number of North Carolinians who either lack health insurance or are underinsured continues to rise.

* There has been an increase in school nurses in some parts of the state but ratios continue to be unacceptable per federal recommendation.

* The school dropout rate has not decreased but there are various private and public sectors determined to reduce the dropout rate to zero.

* The legislature allocated the North Carolina Affordable Housing Trust Fund a one-time increase of $5 million.

The fund normally gets $3 million a year, and the goal is to increase it to $50 million a year.

This will ease the demands on the two million people in North Carolina who cannot afford housing.

It appears that when it comes to the well-being of all our citizens, we have made incremental progress in some areas and lost ground in others.

In other words, North Carolina continues to choose mediocrity.

My hope for 2006 is that we strive to make incremental progress in all areas as related to the well-being of our communities.

Perhaps we can keep the following quote by Susan Jeffries uppermost in our mind as we go forward in 2006 to make North Carolina the best it can be.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Here is to a new year and a new way of doing business.

Barbara Goodmon is president of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation

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