The Racial Justice Coalition of Asheville

Empowering Community Through Support.

By LaVie Montgomery –

On the fourth Wednesday of each month from 12:30-2 p.m., the Racial Justice Coalition of Asheville Inc. (RJC) hosts a free “lunch and learn” at Amerihealth, located at 216 Asheland Avenue.

The events, which are free to attend, are open to all community members; childcare and lunch are provided. RJC highlights Black-led organizations and partners that share resources under one of the five RJC pillars: health and wellness, housing, education, economic development, and criminal justice.

The March lunch-and-learn featured SistasCaring4Sistas. Two doulas reflected on what reparations could look like for their community-based organization if the City of Asheville and Buncombe County remedied the high Black infant and maternal mortality rates by fully funding doulas to support Black mothers during, before, and after childbirth.

“What if we start with 100 Black mothers? Imagine the impact!” said veteran doulas Racine Hooper of Limitless Love Doula Care and Education, and Sylvia Long of The Fab5Collection. It was a powerful and inspirational session with City Council and Reparation Commissioners in attendance.

Operation Gateway Executive Director, Change Agent Philip Cooper (left), and Operations Director William Castro emphasize the power of connection. Photo: Renato Rotolo
Operation Gateway Executive Director, Change Agent Philip Cooper (left), and Operations Director William Castro emphasize the power of connection. Photo: Renato Rotolo

Most recently, RJC’s April lunch-and-learn featured Operation Gateway, a local nonprofit decreasing recidivism by addressing the social determinants of the health of returning citizens. The Executive Director, Change Agent Philip Cooper, and Operations Director William Castro emphasized the power of connection and how they support community members in rejoining the broader community from a holistic approach.

Operation Gateway developed a model to leverage the lived experience of certified Community Health Workers (CHW) who are formerly incarcerated and active in addiction recovery to assist in navigating the barriers faced when reentering society.

Operation Gateway’s Change Agents reflect rhetorical communities they serve and they continue to create innovative solutions in the reentry world in Buncombe County and beyond.

Who’s Next? Follow the Racial Coalition of Asheville at www.instagram.com/rjcavl for announcements about the May, June, and July lunch-and-learn sessions.

For more information, please visit www.rjcavl.org.

 

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