It is my hope that you would enjoy this speech that I shared with the participants of the Mercy Groundbreaking.
Today’s ceremony is more than a groundbreaking for a building; it represents a groundbreaking opportunity for collaboration, for partnership, for cooperation that will benefit the residents of Ferguson for decades and generations to come.
I want to especially thank Donn Sorenson and everyone at Mercy and Health & Homes STL for their vision and perseverance to make this project a reality.
The health and wellbeing of our community starts with the health of our people. Not just their physical health but their mental health as well.
We also know that there are other determinants that impact our health and the health of our community. Do you feel safe in your community? Do you have access to transportation? Do you have green spaces and safe walkways for pedestrians? Do you have mental health services in the neighborhood? What programs are available for our young people and our seniors? Do you have access to a good paying job so that you can put food on your table and take care of your family?
All of these issues help determine the health and well-being of a person and of our community. They are all interconnected. And just as we are preparing and laying a foundation to build a new facility in this space, each of these health determinants I just mentioned is a building block that creates a strong foundation for community health and wellness.
The transformation of the West Florissant Corridor will revitalize our community. I want to thank Michael McMillan and the Urban League for all they are continuing to do to develop the western end of the corridor. The Urban League made history with the Ferguson Empowerment Center built on the grounds of the former Quick Trip that was burned during the Michael Brown unrest. Dr. Flint Fowler is helping so many of our youth with the fabulous new Boys and Girls Club and their beautiful facility--this is what it takes, all of us working together in these difficult times to create and sustain a stronger, healthier community. Not one of us can do this work alone. We must join together and continue uplifting our people and our community.
So, as I take my seat, I will leave you with this Chinese parable about the elephant and the hummingbird:
One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying on its back with its tiny feet up in the air.
“What are you doing?” asked the elephant.
The hummingbird replied, “I heard that the sky might fall today, and so I am ready to help hold it up, should it fall.”
The elephant laughed cruelly. “Do you really think,” he said, “that those tiny feet could help hold up the sky?”
The hummingbird kept his feet up in the air, intent on his purpose as he replied, “Not alone. But each must do what he can. And this is what I can do.”
We must all do what we can. On behalf of the Elected Officials, Staff, and the Citizens of Ferguson, I thank you for doing what you can.