Danville, Va.— More than 65 grassroots leaders and community members joined Virginia Organizing, Southwest CARES, and Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson on Wednesday evening to celebrate the Governor’s recent order regarding restoration of rights and provide information to returning citizens on qualifications for restoration.
“No one should have to serve their time and then struggle in society just to be accepted as a human being,” said Virginia Organizing leader and returning citizen Marty Jackson. “Having your rights back makes you feel certain there will be other opportunities ahead of you. It motivated me to look forward to the future. Now I don’t feel like a returning citizen, I feel like a true citizen. I’m grateful that Governor Terry McAuliffe did this so that men and women who are returning back into society can feel more capable of being a part of their communities.”
“Governor McAuliffe believes that if we are going to build a stronger and more equal Virginia, we must break down barriers to participation in civic life for people who return to society seeking a second chance,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “I am grateful for the work Virginia Organizing does in communities around the Commonwealth and look forward to joining the organization to discuss and celebrate the Governor’s restoration order.”
Barry Mayo, case manager for Southwest CARES at Pittsylvania County Community Action, works with returning citizens every day and sees the positive effects of these changes on people’s lives.
“We need to understand that these former offenders do matter. If they have paid their debts, we owe them an opportunity to show that they have changed and an opportunity to be reconnected with their community,” said Mayo.
“It is important to spread the good news about Governor McAuliffe’s historic executive order bringing Virginia up to date with basic human rights,” said Lily Hungarland, a Virginia Organizing leader in the Danville Chapter and member of the organization’s State Governing Board. “I was excited to hear from the Secretary of the Commonwealth about how this change is going to positively affect Virginians.”
Southwest CARES and Virginia Organizing would like to thank Calvary Baptist Church for hosting the event, Secretary Thomasson for sharing her insight, and everyone who made the celebration possible.
Virginia Organizing plans to hold celebration and information sessions across Virginia to help returning citizens understand the qualifications for restoration of rights under the Governor’s executive order and help those who need to register to vote. A previous session was held in Virginia Beach in May.
For more information or to interview a spokesperson of Virginia Organizing, please contact Amanda Pohl at 804-337-1912 or firstname.lastname@example.org.