By Joseph D. Bryant
Housing Authority of the Birmingham District
Birmingham Housing Authority residents knew exactly what to do when they wanted to reach their elected representatives. They made breakfast.
Residents led by the Citizens Participation Advisory Board, presented their first legislative breakfast where they outlined plans for a Women’s Empowerment Conference scheduled in April.
The breakfast at the Smithfield Court Community Center was an attempt to connect elected leaders to their constituents in public housing.
“We were trying to let the officials know that we are in the community, we are working and we are here,” said Bertha Davis, president of the Citizens Participation Advisory Board. “We wanted to bring them in so they could talk to us one on one and know that not only do we need their support, we also need their financial help.”
The upcoming women’s conference is an example of residents working to improve their own quality of life and helping their neighbors achieve the goal of self-sufficiency.
The conference will feature community educators and business leaders offering insight on setting and achieving goals. The summit will offer sessions that include financial literacy, money management, job readiness, community leadership and more.
“We love our kids and a lot of us go to work and go to school to try to improve ourselves and our families,” Davis said.
Councilwoman Sheila Tyson, who has participated in the early planning of the Women’s Conference, called the breakfast a good forum to present ways that office holders and constituents could collaborate.
“They’re trying to raise money to have different events, and they’re headed in the right direction,” Tyson said. “They want to have a Women’s Conference. I think it’s needed and I’m going to give.”
Councilman Steven Hoyt also participated in the recent breakfast.
“I am always delighted to help the CPAB in any of their efforts, and certainly those that would empower them to the maximum extent possible,” Hoyt said. “They are and should be considered in any and all of the housing authority’s trajectories to revitalize and improve their quality of life.”
HABD Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Rev. Morrell Todd urged residents to embrace the responsibilities of leadership and empowerment.
“There is a great challenge that is facing us in the spiritual and natural realm,” he said.
Empowerment involves overcoming social, political, economic and legal challenges, Todd said.
“You’ve got to have all these things and the right spirit to help people become holistic,” he said. “With empowerment comes responsibility. Empowerment is discernment, it’s listening, it’s understanding, it’s working together to bring the community to another level.”
HABD President/CEO Michael Lundy said the breakfast helped set the stage for ongoing conversation and future collaboration with elected leaders.
“It is a good day any time we are able to have residents and our leaders in the same room to get to know each other better and discuss issues that are important to their communities,” Lundy said. “This breakfast is just the beginning of that dialog.”