A church documentary, which features student-volunteers cleaning a community in Belle Glade, Fla., has inspired County Commissioner Priscilla A. Taylor to tackle the problems faced by three struggling communities in Palm Beach County. One potential solution, she says, could be to dissolve the cities of Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay and unite them with the greater region.
Taylor, a Christian, says that she saw the video while visiting Christ Fellowship church. She says that the video opened her eyes to the poor conditions – buildings that are in disrepair, a lot of trash littered about – of some areas of Belle Glade.
"I am familiar with the glades area but I had not seen that particular area,” Taylor told The Christian Post on Friday.
"The conditions that were shown on the video I did not feel were conducive to us here in Palm Beach County. I mean, obviously there's poverty every place you go and there are certain areas...they don't have the resources of other areas. But I felt that this was worse."
In June 2011, Palm Beach County's unemployment rate was at 11.0 percent. As is the case with any county, Taylor says that some areas have fewer financial resources than others.
“There has to be a solution,” she said. “It just cannot continue to exist like it is.”
J.P. Sasser, mayor of Pahokee, told ABC affiliate WPBF that it isn't fair to lump the individual situations of all three cities together.
"It's making us look like we can't take care of ourselves and that's not the case,” he said.
Taylor responded to his statement, saying, "Mr. Sasser has my respect, and I certainly respect whatever he feels, but what I saw deserves action to try to make things better for people."
The Mayor of South Bay, Shirley Walker-Turner, told The Christian Post that Taylor had proposed a similar idea a few years back, when she served as the area's state representative. She says that South Bay has been, and will continue to be, opposed to such an idea.
"Our cities are probably better off than we've been in a long time,” she said in the city's defense. “Yes, we've got high unemployment in our communities, but our communities are fairly well-kept. We do not resemble any third-world countries."
Taylor says that the cities shouldn't think that the county has a one-track mind on this issue, either. She says that dissolving the cities would likely be the “last resort,” and that it must be done at the state level anyway. The first step toward change will be a workshop, which she proposed, that will be held in September to discuss possible solutions to problems in those communities.
Todd Mullens, pastor of Christ Fellowship church and the 450 student-volunteers who participated in the missions trip, spoke to WPBF about the opportunity they had to reach out to the community.
"Just being able to take the time and drive out there, and be a part of the community walking around in the community and seeing the need, something stirs in your heart that you got to be about making a difference,” he said. “You've got to be about helping, lifting and adding value wherever you can."
Taylor seems to agree.
“What I saw from the film...I think anything that can be done to help the situation we should, you know, feel good about,” she said.