Young leaders making change from ground up

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - "I think something that's come out of this week is that something historic and wonderful has occurred in our country, and now, the hard work begins," says Annette Hollowell with the Mississippi Center for Justice.

Young leaders in the non-profit sector met in Ocean Springs for a three-day retreat focused on promoting justice in their communities, but they say it's a movement that starts with them.

"It's more so energized us to keep doing the work that we've already been doing," says Beth Meyer with Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center.

Despite their commitment, these young leaders realize progress, whether at the local or national level, won't happen overnight.

"I've noticed everybody thinks change is going to happen right now, but we need to slow down and chill and think about the process it will take to actually make change," says Nelson Walker with the North Gulfport Community Landtrust Youth Council.

And they say positive change won't happen unless barriers are broken down.

"There are definitely taboos I've seen for different communities reaching out to other ones for help, whether they're intimidated or whether they just don't want to bother anyone.  But, it's very important we all get together because no one can take on the world alone," says Meyer.

"We're all asking for the same thing. We all need the same thing, affordable housing and more small businesses," says Trinh Le with the East Biloxi Hope Coordination Center.

"It's important for us as service providers to do this, to connect, but you know the same process is happening in communities all across the country and all across the coast," says Hollowell.

Through their commitment to improving the quality of life of those they serve, they hope the larger community will also take up the cause.

"Although it is a struggle to get everybody to the table, working together just adds so much more power to the work that we do," says Le.

"It's going to take a lot of commitment and sacrifice from all of us," says Hollowell.