Officials Talk Ebola With Faith Leaders

Gates speaks to faith leaders on Ebola updates. (Staff photo: Sarah Bennett)
Gates speaks to faith leaders on Ebola updates. (Staff photo: Sarah Bennett)

On Wednesday morning, local government officials met with faith leaders from all over town at Park Cities Baptist Church to give updates on Dallas’ Ebola situation and discuss best practices and issues going forward. Mayor Mike Rawlings, City Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates, and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins were among the panelists to speak.

“It has been a challenge for Clay and myself this past month, but we feel blessed,” Rawlings said. He emphasized that with only one fatality, the situation could have been much worse, and pointed to more numerous deaths in the city due to West Nile Virus and domestic violence.

With much of the crisis behind us, officials were able to express some humor in retrospect.

“[Rawlings and I] have spent more time with each other than with our wives in the past month,” Jenkins joked. “We’re looking forward to changing that soon.”

Though Dallas is essentially out of the woods regarding the threat of new cases, attitudes regarding survivors and families affected will be a continuing challenge.

“We have to not see our neighbors as ‘others’ — we have to see our neighbors as ourselves,” Jenkins said.

And much of that work has to do with the Vickery Meadow neighborhood specifically — which falls under Gates’ jurisdiction —where Duncan’s fiancee Louise Troh is struggling to find a new apartment.

“We have to find opportunities to show love,” Gates said. “We have to make sure Vickery Meadow is not known as just Ebola epicenter. We have to make sure the food pantries are still full … it’s been somewhat of a chaotic three weeks, but we’re getting back to normal.”

Attendees were encouraged to work with organizations that work in Vickery Meadow such as Catholic Charities’ Refugee Resettlement Services, Vickery Meadow Food Pantry and Garden, Healing Hands Ministries, and Northpark Volunteer Switchboard.

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