The Board of Morgan County's Committee on Church Cooperation held a public meeting last night to reaffirm that the organization's purpose …
... “is to build cooperative efforts among the churches of Morgan County to provide emergency and short-term assistance to persons in need, in the name of Jesus Christ.” The sole basis on which assistance will be offered will continue to be (and always has been) CCC’s assessment of an individual’s physical needs.”
They also rolled out the welcome mat for people in need, even if they lack documents:
“If somebody has been denied service, bring them back,” said board member Sam Janis. “If there are undocumented individuals, bring them in. Bring a translator with you, and we’ll do the very best that we can. There is no intent to exclude people from service.”
This affirmation of purpose from the CCC Board is welcome and necessary in light of comments CCC Executive Director Gayle Monk made to the Decatur Daily indicating that the organization was turning away undocumented applicants, especially Hispanics. Unfortunately, it's very hard to square what Ms. Monk said last week …
“The majority of the Hispanics, No. 1, can't speak English when they come in here and, No. 2, have a Social Security card that is fake,” Monk said. “The majority of them that come in here don't have everything they need, and they don't come back.”
“It used to be about 10 percent (Hispanics) that we served,” Monk said. “Since cracking down, I haven't seen anybody, especially in the last month.
With what she said last night …
John Bush, a member of the audience, asked the board Tuesday why the number of Hispanics had dropped.
“We’ve been helping them all along,” replied Monk. “The only thing I can figure out is that somebody else has run them off. We’ve never turned them away.”
And when a reporter asked Ms. Monk to square those two statements, she didn't even try.
“I can’t talk right now,” Monk said. “I’m sorry, I just can’t.”
That's probably for the best.
The CCC shouldn't even be asking for Social Security cards at all. There are many ways to prove Morgan County residency — driver's license, utility bill, rental agreement, etc. — but a SS card (no address on it) isn't one of them. On the other hand, if they're looking for an excuse to turn people away “in the name of Jesus Christ,” then close scrutiny of SS cards is a great thing.
It's reassuring to know that the Board of Directors has their priorities straight — feeding the hungry is the CCC's purpose, checking citizenship papers is not — but they need to keep a close eye on the day to day operations of the CCC to make sure that's what's actually happening. So do the churches and other organizations that contribute to this relief organization.