Alabama pastor to the suicidal: ‘Banish the thought of destruction. It’s not the answer’, ‘Many’ of us want to help


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

CELEBRITY SUICIDES: WHY WOULD THEY DO IT?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I want to take you to an article out of World Magazine. Sad news as two well-known public figures, fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef and author Anthony Bourdain, who both had successful careers and who both recently committed suicide.

The article goes on to say, the same week those suicides took place, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention released a distressing report that, over the last two decades, U.S. suicide rate has risen by 25 percent and, among people ages 15 to 34, suicide is the second leading cause of death. In 2016, nearly 45,000 people in the United States ended their lives. That means there were more than twice as many suicides as homicides.

DR. REEDER: Here are these two celebrities — rich, famous, acclaimed yet empty in life. One of our issues today is we keep telling people that more money, more power, more applause, more fame will make your life fulfilled. Then why is it that celebrities have the highest rate of drug use? Why do they seek out therapists more than any other class in our society?

The answer is not found in more money, more possessions, more power and more fame; the answer’s found in your soul and the hope that transcends all of the challenges of life in a fallen world.

THE DOUBLE-EDGE SWORD OF SUICIDE IN TODAY’S CULTURE

At the same time that we cringe at the skyrocketing rate of suicide, we are attempting to normalize suicide as a therapeutic act through doctor-assisted suicide or medically-assisted suicide. If suicide is simply a therapeutic act that the medical profession now ought to engage in and embrace and make money off of, then why does the rise of suicide cause within us a revulsion? We know it’s not right.

There are not many things more difficult for me as a pastor than ministry in the lives of families in which suicide has taken place. As much as we would decry, rightly so, suicide as a usurpation of the divine prerogative — the Lord gives life and the Lord takes away life and blessed be the name of the Lord — and the landscape of suffering that suicide leaves behind in the lives of family and loved ones and friends, as we see all of that, the fact is the contributing factors to the act of suicide in our culture today are staggering.

TEMPORARY DESPAIR: WHAT IS IT AND WHAT CAN HELP?

I agree with the one pastor who said this is one of the most difficult things because people took an irreversible remedy to a temporary problem — the temporary problem of emotional distress or chemical imbalance. The fall and the sin not only affected us spiritually and emotionally, but it also affected us chemically and, therefore, it is appropriate to treat some things with chemical therapy.

Interestingly, the rise in chemical treatments of suicidal emotions has actually not reduced the number of suicides, but the number of suicides with the advancement of chemical and drug treatments has actually increased.

Now why? Any chemical treatment has to be repeated. Sometimes, we’re treating some suicidal tendencies as a chemical issue when, in reality, it’s a spiritual issue. That doesn’t mean we do away with those treatments because sometimes it is a physical issue. Sometimes, it’s a spiritual issue.

Now, in most of life, when I make wrong decisions, I can reverse that wrong decision but, in the case of suicide, once you’ve made that decision, you can’t turn it back around. Now, if I get depressed and think that a drunken spree will get me out of it as an answer to my depression, I’ll eventually sober up but if my answer to my depression is suicide, I can’t walk that one back

In ministry in families where there is suicide, it needs to be done very carefully because there are multiple factors at work, all the way from chemical issues, physical issues, wrong use of drugs, self-medicating with drugs and influences in the culture.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

Our culture is telling everybody that the whole goal of life is to be happy. I am grateful for happiness, but happiness is built upon happenstance, which is directly related to circumstances. What the Bible commends to us is joy, which transcends circumstances — circumstances of adversity and circumstances of prosperity and success.

What we have is joy in the Lord. You rejoice in the Lord in the midst of everything because you know He’s at work. The loss of the transcendent that comes through a relationship with Christ over the difficulties and challenges in a fallen world in relationships — in your physiology, in your body, your psychosomatic dynamics in your life — that sense of a joy that is there has now been replaced by a promise of happiness. And, if you don’t have happiness, then in despair, they sometimes are influenced just to end their life. Social media has also produced impact in the lives of people.

And now we’re in a society that belittles the hope that addresses the difficulties of life and that is the victory and triumph of Christ in all of the arena of life. Without the message of hope, all of that is contributing, I believe, to this rise in suicide.

CHRISTIAN HOPE — AND ACTION — CAN COMBAT DESPAIR AND SUICIDE

That world and life view is the answer to reversing this rise in suicide. We do not commit suicide — what we do is commit life. We don’t commit murder against others, nor against ourselves. There is hope through the power of the Gospel to address spiritual and emotional issues and we want to speak the truth in love to one another. By God’s redeeming grace, we can do it and, in God’s common grace, we would pray that that would pervade society.

CULTURE OF DEATH COMES FROM THE FATHER OF DEATH AND LIES

TOM LAMPRECHT:  John 8:44 — we ended yesterday’s program with this verse but let me take you back here again. Christ, speaking of the devil, he said, “He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth because there is no truth in him. He lies; it is consistent with his character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Harry, is there a lie from the lips of Satan into the ear of these people who are contemplating suicide?

DR. REEDER: Tom, I am not able to be there at the moment when the person makes this decision to end their life. I don’t know whether it’s a chemical misfire, or an emotional despair or spiritually deceived, but I do know this. The propagation of a death culture throughout our culture that impacts this statistic of suicide, that is what Satan has brought.

Whether it’s the destruction of life in the womb, destruction of life at the end of life in active euthanasia, or whether it is the normalizing of suicide, I do know the death culture is the product of the lie of Satan.

LET’S WORK ON PROMOTING LIFE — NOW AND ETERNAL

What we want to do is be about life: life that is in Christ, a life that promotes life in the lives of others. If you know someone whose loved one committed suicide or if you know a family where someone committed suicide, don’t step in with just pat answers. You need to step into the lives of survivors with thoughtfulness.

It may have been a medical issue, it may have been confusion that came from self-medication, it may have come off a period of time of abandonment — with all of those contributing factors, there may be a singular answer or they may be multiple answers. And what we need to do is to step in with hope that is found in Christ to those who are the survivors of loved ones who committed suicide and minister to them.

THOSE WHO ARE ON THE BRINK, WE CAN HELP

I also want to say to all who are considering suicide, there may be physical and medical reasons that you are contemplating this and there are doctors who will thoughtfully help you. It may be a spiritual issue in your life. There are many of us as pastors and friends and Christians who want to minister to you.

At this moment, right now, banish the thought of destruction. It’s not the answer. Pursue the reality that there is an answer and pursue that reality in the right direction. Is it a spiritual issue in your soul? Then we want to bring the hope of the Gospel. Is it a chemical issue or a medical issue that’s taking place in your body and brain? Then there are people who are wise who can help you there — medical doctors who are thoughtful and will minister to you.

There is hope and the hope is in life, not death, because there is One who died for you that you can have life everlasting. Ultimately, your best days can be ahead of you in Christ as Lord and Savior.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

11 hours ago

Alabama’s congressional leaders bash Biden’s proposed defense budget — ‘Talk is cheap, but defending our country is not’

President Joe Biden on Friday released his proposed fiscal year 2022 budget, and the leaders in Alabama’s congressional delegation are especially sounding alarm bells about Biden’s defense spending plans.

Fortunately, while the White House proposes a budget, it is up to Congress to annually fund the government, so there is still time for lawmakers to improve upon the Biden administration’s proposal. However, many legislative Democrats want a significantly smaller defense budget — potentially one that is cut by 10% year-over-year.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, will be perhaps the most powerful person in America this year when it comes to standing in the gap against gutting critical defense spending. Shelby is also the top Republican on Appropriations’ Defense subcommittee.

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Shelby, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Senate Select Committee on Intelligence vice chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senate Budget Committee ranking member Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a lengthy joint statement on Friday in reaction to the Biden budget proposal.

“President Biden recently said, ‘If we don’t get moving, [China] is going to eat our lunch.’ Today’s budget proposal signals to China that they should set the table,” the Republican Senate leaders stated. “While President Biden has prioritized spending trillions on liberal wish list priorities here at home, funding for America’s military is neglected.”

They decried, “China’s military investments match its desire to out-compete America and hold our military forces at risk. President Biden’s defense spending cut doesn’t even keep up with inflation. Meanwhile, the non-defense discretionary budget increases by almost 20 percent in this budget on top of the trillions of dollars in new non-national security programs the administration is intent on spending this year. If President Biden’s support for America’s military matched his zeal for spending at home, China would get nowhere close to overtaking us.”

“Talk is cheap, but defending our country is not,” Shelby and his colleagues concluded. “We can’t afford to fail in our constitutional responsibility to provide for the common defense. To keep America strong, we must balance domestic and defense spending priorities. President Biden has said much about reaching across the aisle. Both parties should be able to agree that we must maintain America’s edge over China. We urge President Biden to work with us in a bipartisan manner to ensure that.”

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) expressed similar concerns in a statement to Yellowhammer News. Aderholt is a senior member of the House Committee on Appropriations, a member of its Defense subcommittee and the dean of Alabama’s House delegation.

“China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran are all maturing their military capabilities as fast as possible,” Aderholt commented. “Asking our Dept. of Defense to do with less money than last year, and also to engage in expensive green-energy programs, raises serious issues about whether our warfighters will have what they need when a conflict breaks out.”

While Shelby and Aderholt provide Alabama strength on the appropriations side of the equation, the state is well represented when it comes to defense authorization and policy, as well.

This includes Congressman Mike Rogers’ (AL-03) newfound service as the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC).

The East Alabama congressman released a lengthy statement of his own on Friday bashing Biden’s proposed defense budget for FY22.

“The Biden administration has talked a big game towards China. Unfortunately, the release of their skinny budget today indicates it is just talk,” Rogers said.

“During his confirmation hearing, Secretary Austin acknowledged that the gap between the CCP and the United States military has ‘closed significantly’ and that ‘our goal will be to ensure that we expand that gap going forward.’ I’m not sure how that is possible when today’s budget fails to keep pace with inflation and cuts defense spending in terms of real dollars,” he lamented.

Rogers outlined, “The bipartisan, Congressionally mandated National Defense Strategy Commission recommended that ‘Congress increase the base defense budget at an average rate of three to five percent above inflation.’ That target has my full support. It also had Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks’s support when she was a commissioner and the recommendation was submitted to Congress. Unfortunately, the Biden administration is choosing to spend trillions on left wing priorities at the expense of our national defense.”

“This budget will impact our readiness, dampen our efforts to modernize our strategic weapons, limit our naval and projection forces, and prevent the latest innovations and enhancements from getting to our warfighters,” he concluded. “As I have said before, if we do not make the investments our military needs today, then we will not be able to defend our nation or our allies in the future. I hope to work with Congressional Democrats to undo the tremendous damage this budget will cause to our military.”

Another HASC member from Alabama, freshman Congressman Jerry Carl (AL-01), also made his displeasure clear with the Biden budget.

“President Biden has called for a drastic increase in domestic spending, but is putting our defense budget in danger,” stated the Coastal Alabama congressman. “The Biden Administration is all talk and no action when it comes to putting America first and strengthening our defenses. Now is the time to make critical investments in our military and ensure we have the best trained and best equipped fighting forces, rather than cutting defense spending and falling behind other global powers.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

12 hours ago

Draper’s Apollo heritage augmenting Dynetics’ modern, sustainable HLS that could land the next humans on the moon

NASA is expected in the coming weeks to select up to two prime contractors to continue competing to build the Human Landing System (HLS) that will eventually land the next man and the first woman on the moon through the Artemis program.

The agency last year selected three prime contractors to design a HLS: Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX.

Dynetics, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leidos, is headquartered in Huntsville, and Blue Origin’s work on the program is also being centered in the Rocket City. Of course, Marshall Space Flight Center manages the HLS program for NASA, so the program is about as Huntsville-centric as it gets.

One of the key points Blue Origin has made publicly is the legacy of its team, which the company calls the “National Team” and includes the likes of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper — three storied American defense and aerospace contractors that helped guide the famed Apollo program.

However, an underreported aspect of the competition is that Draper is also a major part of Dynetics’ HLS team.

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One of the major stated benefits of Dynetics’ HLS proposal is the sustainability of the system. The Dynetics HLS has been intentionally designed to contribute to the sustainability of the Artemis program in three main ways: reusability, extensibility and supporting the development of a lunar economy. The company believes these three building blocks are vital to the goal of a long-term, sustainable presence on the moon — as well as future human exploration to deeper space, including Mars.

However, Dynetics’ enhanced public focus on sustainability is not to say that its HLS team does not bring significant flight heritage to the table; Dynetics itself has quickly become a “‘go-to’ propulsion provider for partners in both government and industry,” and Draper’s inclusion on the team especially underscores the diverse experience and expertise of the entire Dynetics team — which is also buoyed by the likes of Sierra Nevada Corporation and Maxar.

Yellowhammer News recently spoke with Kelly Villarreal, Space Systems senior program manager and HLS lead for the Dynetics team at Draper; Pete Paceley, principal director of Civil and Commercial Space Systems at Draper and head of Draper’s Huntsville office; and Kristina Hendrix, director of communications at Dynetics.

The discussion included talks about how Draper’s expertise that first landed humans on the moon through the Apollo program is set to be used in an evolved form for Artemis.

“It’s a thrill to be a part of the Dynetics Human Lander team,” said Paceley, an alumnus of Auburn University. “Going back to the moon is a big deal for Draper.”

He explained that Draper, originally part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was named for the late Charles Stark “Doc” Draper who is known as the father of inertial navigation. He was the founder and director of MIT’s Instrumentation Laboratory, later renamed the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. That lab made the Apollo lunar landings possible through the Apollo Guidance Computer it designed for NASA as the agency’s first prime contractor for the program.

Draper — the company — was spun off a non-profit in the 1970s into the private sector.

“We like to say we’ve already landed on the moon six times — we have a rich heritage there,” advised Paceley in explaining that Draper provided the flight control computer, all of the software, and the guidance, navigation and control systems for Apollo. “And we’ve maintained that legacy… Draper brings a lot to the party.”

The company opened an office in Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park in 2006, essentially right down the street from Dynetics’ base of operations.

“We’ve had a great relationship with Dynetics over the years on various programs,” Paceley noted, adding the companies have “very complementary capabilities.”

Just like it did for Apollo, Draper is bringing world-class navigation, guidance and flight control software and hardware to the Dynetics HLS team.

Villarreal reiterated Draper’s enthusiasm for being on the Dynetics HLS team and functioning as a “major contributor to the overall effort to return to the lunar surface.”

Draper’s Huntsville office, which employs about 20 people, largely works on NASA programs; another contribution Draper is making in the Rocket City is also on the Artemis program through the Marshall-managed Space Launch System (SLS). The company additionally supports the Missile Defense Agency at Redstone Arsenal and other Pentagon-driven national security work in the area.

While Draper has been there before, a major difference between Artemis and Apollo is that NASA wants to land on the lunar South Pole this time around rather than near the equator. This presents a unique and difficult challenge, which Draper is helping to solve.

“The angle of light from the Sun is very low,” Paceley outlined. “So you have a lot of shadows and dark spots. Being able to land safely is a big challenge for this program. We have to provide the capabilities to enable the astronauts landing safely, whether that’s particular sensors that we use to navigate with or with some synthetic vision to allow them to see the boulders, the craters, so they they can avoid those as the vehicle lands. The nice thing about where we are today is we did that 50 years ago on Apollo, but technology has come so much farther now in terms of computers and sensors and electronics — the solutions you can apply to that problem.”

Villarreal added, “One of the exciting things we’ve been able to provide to help visualize the tough landing situation is a lunar lander simulator that’s based at Dynetics.”

“What that does is loop in our guidance, navigation, control algorithm tied to hand controllers for users to specifically stand in the simulator and act as though they are landing the descent/ascent lander element while visually seeing a representation of the lunar surface projected up over a dome,” she said. “So it really brings home the challenges of that lighting situation.”

“Astronaut-pilots (during Apollo) like Neil Armstrong could look out the window, control the vehicle and decide where they wanted to land in a safe area,” Paceley remarked. “Now, there’s a lot more emphasis on autonomy. While the astronauts can take over and pilot the vehicle, we are putting in a lot more autonomy so that the vehicle can do much of the landing on its own — and even, if need be, could land on its own if there were not a pilot on board — and do so safely.”

Hendrix told Yellowhammer News that Draper has been great to partner with. Overall, including Draper, Dynetics in assembling its HLS team sought out “the best companies available” of all sizes.

“We’re just glad they’re a part of it,” she concluded.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

17 hours ago

Blowout in Bessemer: Alabama Amazon team members resoundingly vote against unionizing

In a major blow to President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and others on the national left, thousands of employees at Amazon’s state-of-the-art fulfillment center in Bessemer have overwhelmingly voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

The balloting began in February and wrapped up on March 31. The National Labor Relations Board then conducted a ballot-by-ballot public vote count on Thursday and Friday, which showed a blowout result against unionizing.

The “no” votes crossed the threshold needed to clinch the win at approximately 9:55 a.m. on Friday. At that point and for most of the count, the “no” votes were garnering more than 70% of ballots recorded.

RWDSU, which is based in New York, did not even wait until the vote count was halfway through on Thursday to begin questioning the integrity of the election — and thus seemingly disrespecting the vast majority of the Amazon employees’ choice not to join them. One complaint RWDSU has made revolves around a USPS-installed ballot dropbox outside of the Bessemer Amazon facility; that dropbox made it easier for employees to return their ballots, however, the union opposed its existence. RWDSU had already signaled on Thursday that they would attempt to have the election results overturned and the employees’ votes thrown out.

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Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU, on Thursday, claimed, “But make no mistake about it: This still represents an important moment for working people, and their voices will be heard.” This, of course, came as the RWDSU could be set to silence the voices of Amazon workers in Bessemer by challenging the clear-cut election results.

On Friday, after the result was certain, RWDSU confirmed it is formally filing the paperwork with the NLRB to “set aside” the election results, forcing a union on the employees even though they voted against it. Without evidence, the union claimed it was not “a free and fair election,” despite the mail-in process giving Amazon team members months instead of the normal days to participate.

Amazon throughout the unionization push process has stressed that the company’s wages and benefits are already industry-leading; the company’s “Do It Without Dues” campaign spoke to this and the potential high cost of employees having to turn over hard-earned money to union bosses.

On top of Amazon’s $15 minimum wage, the company offers industry-leading benefits to full-time employees, which include comprehensive health care from day one, 401(k) with 50% match, up to 20 weeks paid parental leave and Amazon’s innovative Career Choice program, which pre-pays 95% of tuition for courses in high-demand fields. Since the program’s launch four years ago, more than 25,000 employees have pursued degrees in game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, just to name a few.

“Amazon is already about the best-paying job a non-skilled laborer can get in Alabama,” Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, told NBC News.

The quality of job offered by Amazon is especially important in Bessemer, which — per data from the Alabama Department of Labor — has consistently had the third-highest rate of unemployment among the state’s major cities.

One big winner emerging from the union vote results is U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who publicly defended the Amazon employees against mounting public pressure from out-of-state Democratic politicians and left-wing activists.

“Alabama is a right-to-work state, which is why we have a growing economy that attracts great companies to our state. But importantly, right-to-work laws protect workers and give them the choice to form a union or not,” Tuberville previously said. “These employees in Alabama don’t need Hollywood elites or the federal government telling Alabama workers what to do.”

This rout of Sanders is akin to his humiliating defeat in last year’s Democratic presidential primary; it is also yet another public instance of the senator’s rhetoric not reaping results. Likewise, this loss for Biden is even worse than the thumping he took in the state’s 2020 general election.

UPDATE 12:00 p.m.

Amazon has released a statement regarding the union election in Bessemer.

The full statement reads as follows:

Thank you to employees at our BHM1 fulfillment center in Alabama for participating in the election. There’s been a lot of noise over the past few months, and we’re glad that your collective voices were finally heard. In the end, less than 16% of the employees at BHM1 voted to join the RWDSU union.

It’s easy to predict the union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidated employees, but that’s not true. Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us. And Amazon didn’t win—our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union. Our employees are the heart and soul of Amazon, and we’ve always worked hard to listen to them, take their feedback, make continuous improvements, and invest heavily to offer great pay and benefits in a safe and inclusive workplace. We’re not perfect, but we’re proud of our team and what we offer, and will keep working to get better every day.

We hope that with this election now over, there’s an opportunity to move from talk to action across the country. While our team is more than a million people around the world and we’ve created 500,000 new jobs since Covid began, we’re still a tiny fraction of the workforce. There are 40 million Americans who make less than the starting wage at Amazon, and many more who don’t get health care through their employers, and we think that should be fixed. We welcome the opportunity to sit down and share ideas with any policymaker who wants to pass laws ensuring that all workers in the U.S. are guaranteed at least $15 an hour, health care from day one, and other strong benefits. Our employees have seen tremendous benefit from what we offer and we think every American family deserves the same. We believe that we can work better together instead of against each other to pass those important laws, and we hope that’s what will happen in the months and years ahead.

In the meantime, for anyone who’s interested in meeting some members of our team and seeing what it’s like to work inside one of our buildings, we encourage you to sign up for a tour at www.amazonfctours.com. It’s an incredible operation, supported by a world-class team, and we’d love for you to see for yourself.

UPDATE 12:50 p.m.

Senator Tuberville released a statement, saying, “The folks at Amazon’s Bessemer facility made the decision they felt is best for them, their families, and their community. But the important thing is that they had the choice.”

“Alabama’s Right to Work law gives workers a choice in whether they want to unionize or not,” he continued. “It’s unfortunate to see President Biden and Democrats in Washington trying to override state laws and make forced unionization the national norm. As workers across the country and now in Bessemer have demonstrated, they value their Right to Work protections, and I’ll continue to be a strong voice for their rights in the Senate.”

UPDATE 1:00 p.m.

Katie Britt, president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, released a statement.

“The workers at the Amazon facility in Bessemer have spoken,” she said. “Their vote is a testimony to the partnership between Alabama’s business community, and the working people of our state. It is the quality of our workforce that brings major international companies like Amazon to Alabama. Alabama is a Right to Work state and that status has helped attract companies that recognize that what is good for Alabama workers and their families, is also good for business.

UPDATE: 2:05 p.m.

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield released a statement on the vote.

Canfield’s statement as follows:

It’s not surprising Amazon employees in Alabama voted overwhelmingly against unionization, as the company provides world-class benefits and a safe, quality work environment. We’re proud that Amazon chose Alabama, and we are proud to be a Right-To-Work state. Alabama has an unwavering support for its workforce, just as it supports the growth of business and economic development so vital for our citizens and communities.

We respect the decision of each and every employee at Amazon’s Bessemer operation and look forward to working with Amazon to facilitate its future growth plans in Alabama. Alabama remains a very favorable destination for investment, offering high-performing companies from around the world a business-friendly, low-cost environment with a highly motived workforce, among other advantages.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

17 hours ago

Former Gov. Robert Bentley founds ‘Great State Alabama’ nonprofit to support rural, underserved areas

The board of directors of Great State 2019, Inc. on Friday announced the formation of Great State Alabama (GSA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

According to a release, GSA was founded in part by former Governor Robert Bentley (R-AL), a board-certified dermatologist who continues to practice medicine in West Alabama. The organization’s website lists Bentley as its “board chairman and medical director.”

The stated purpose of the organization is “to support, advocate and drive improvement in the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalized men, women and children” in the Yellowhammer State. GSA reportedly undertakes this mission through four key program areas: rural health care; foster child scholarships; criminal justice reform; and pre-k support.

“I have always had a heart to serve the people of Alabama. Through this nonprofit organization, I can continue my service in new ways by reaching out to the individuals who need it most,” stated Bentley.

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“With this organization, we are laying a foundation which will allow us to serve thousands of Alabamians each year, continue to grow and increase our capacity for years to come,” he continued.

The new nonprofit stems from Bentley’s Great State 2019 entity, which was named after the strategic plan he announced in 2016 while governor. The mission of GSA is similar to the core tenets laid out in the Great State 2019 plan, which was “aimed at fundamentally changing Alabama, opening doors of opportunity, clearing the path to prosperity and solving decades old problems by the time Alabama celebrates its bicentennial milestone.” The strategic plan likewise had “a special focus on Alabama’s most rural and underserved areas.”

There is additional synergy between GSA and its genesis in the governor’s administration; GSA is led by executive director Daniel Sparkman, who served as press secretary to Bentley and then Governor Kay Ivey when she assumed the helm of the state.

GSA’s board of directors is composed of an additional seven individuals from a variety of professional fields, including Rebekah Caldwell Mason — the former senior advisor and communications director to Bentley when he was governor.

“It’s an honor to be able to serve the people of Alabama in this new way. All of us involved are excited about the work we have done so far, as well as the road ahead and what it will mean to so many people in our state,” Sparkman said in a statement. “We have hit the ground running and look forward to expanding our capacity in the months to come. It’s clear that when we all put our minds together for good, the possibilities are endless.”

The GSA release outlined that the first area of focus for the nonprofit is to bring health care to Alabamians who have limited access, especially those in rural parts of the state.

To assist in alleviating the disparity in regional access to health care, GSA is holding a series of Great State Rural Clinics, providing a range of completely free examinations, diagnoses and treatments. The first series of clinical offerings is skin cancer screenings, with plans to hold dermatology clinics and family medical clinics in the future. These clinics are reportedly held twice a month in rural communities across our state. In fact, the next planned clinic is a skin cancer screening to be held on Saturday, April 10, at Carrollton Baptist Church in Pickens County.

GSA noted that its current fundraising priority is to acquire a standalone mobile unit so that clinics can be held in more rural parts of Alabama.

To find out more information on the nonprofit, click here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

18 hours ago

Republican Leigh Hulsey endorsed by Alabama Farmers Federation in HD 73

The Alabama Farmers Federation on Friday announced its endorsement of Republican Leigh Hulsey in House District 73.

Hulsey is currently in a special primary runoff election against Kenneth Paschal.

The seat was vacated by former Rep. Matt Fridy’s (R-Montevallo) election to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. HD 73 represents portions of Shelby County, including Alabaster, Helena, Pelham and Montevallo.

“Leigh Hulsey is a business leader who understands the needs of the people of this district,” stated John DeLoach, Shelby County Farmers Federation president. “She is a conservative who will work hard representing the needs of our district in the Legislature.”

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Hulsey graduated from Pelham High School and received her bachelor of science from Auburn University in Human Development and Family Studies. She currently serves as president pro tempore of the Helena City Council. Hulsey has also been a small business owner and operator of CrossFit Alabaster for nine years.

“I am humbled and honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Farmers Federation and look forward to serving them and all the people of House District 73 in the Alabama Legislature,” Hulsey commented.

Hulsey and her husband, Dennis, have three children and are members of Church of the Highlands.

The special primary runoff is slated for April 27.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn