BUCKHANNON – Early this month, the City of Buckhannon established an all-inclusive coalition in an effort to extend Mayor David McCauley’s often-repeated mantra, “We are all in this together.”
During its Nov. 1 meeting, Buckhannon City Council voted to form a Diversity Appreciation Coalition through which the city will work with multiple entities to devise ways and methods to educate folks about the importance of appreciating diversity.
“If our city council agrees to serve as the anchor for this endeavor, I’ve already received commitments from Dr. Sara Stankus, our schools’ superintendent; Dr. Robbie Quarles, the multi-cultural director at WVWC; attorney Daya Wright; Dannie Stiles with the Buckhannon Pride group; soon-to-be Dr. Theresa Poling, Wesleyan nursing faculty member; Cathy McCauley, a longtime B-U schools’ counselor, and some other folks who are deciding about their participation with this group,” said the mayor prior to a vote.
During a recent interview with My Buckhannon, McCauley said he has long subscribed to the C-I-T-E notion, an acronym for Competent, Inclusive, Transparent and Efficient.
“I sincerely believe that the more we come to break bread and enjoy the company of those who are different from us, the more we come to appreciate our variations,” he said.
McCauley said in a perfect world, the coalition would include “all of us” working, collaborating, playing and growing the community together.
He noted there are number of members who are setting the stage for a larger community presentation – possibly a town hall meeting – to advance specific programs and events. Members of the coalition include people of color, those of varied ethnicities, people with handicaps, those of different faiths and LGBTQ people.
In the meantime, McCauley said the planning group will strive to identify a monthly “inclusive” event, with the first taking place Monday, Dec. 3 , at 5 p.m. in Jawbone Park with the lighting of a menorah in honor of the second night of Hanukkah.
More events are slated for Friday, Dec. 7, following the 6:30 p.m. Christmas parade.
“I understand the BSU (black student union) group from WVWC will participate in their first parade,” he explained. “After the parade, I anticipate our groups gathering for the lighting of trees and the menorah in Jawbone Park.”
As for future events, McCauley said the coalition will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January, Black History Month in February, and so on.
“I’d like to continue our Diversity Appreciate Day every fall – as we’ve done the past several years – our city collaborating with WVWC to honor such people as Ace Mumford, Charles Warfield, the Carter sisters, the McGhee family, etc.,” he said.
From these events, McCauley hopes to rekindle kindness, compassion and support for all people.
“Our community has long recognized the value of our residents’ differences. We have a great college and a terrific medical complex on the opposite ends of our beautiful downtown, both of which contribute diversity to our B-U mix,” he said.
Council member Dave Thomas, who seconded CJ Rylands’ motion to establish the coalition, said it’s important that individuals have the opportunity to understand and learn about other cultures in society.
“We need to continue the conversation in a way that we can learn more about a person’s ideology and their religious beliefs and things of that nature,” he said. “So, I’m basically for any kind of program that would be encouraging for people to sit down and talk.”
Thomas said there needs to be a plan with the coalition in terms of what needs to be accomplished and how the goals will be met.
“It will be interesting,” he said of the coalition. “I’ll be observing it.”