Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Local Groups Weigh In on the Biden Administration

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2021 at 3:21 PM

click to enlarge CHOICES' Comprehensive Care Center
  • CHOICES' Comprehensive Care Center

As the Biden Administration begins the long process of unifying the country, local nonprofits are gearing up for the work that needs to be done.

“We're cautiously hopeful, you know,” says Commute Options program manager Sylvia Crum.

“I don't know how long it'll take for it to really start becoming apparent of what impact we will get to see right here in Memphis, but I'm really pleased that the administration is putting climate change on the forefront and saying, ‘We've got to do something to address this.’”

Commute Options, a nonprofit that works to promote alternative commuting methods within the city of Memphis, launched a bike commuting training program late last year. The program, which teaches Memphians how to commute through the city using biking or public transportation, is the first of many planned moves by the organization in 2021.

“We've been gathering a very lovely group of volunteers who are so excited to think about how we could help — in a safe and socially distanced way — encourage people who might want to try bicycling for transportation and show off the ability to do that.”

The nonprofit health advocate CHOICES has also begun the year strong. Its new comprehensive care center, which opened last fall, has been accepting patients throughout the pandemic, increasing volume in the latter half of 2020. The new center has allowed the group to expand to prenatal care and birth, something that director of external affairs Katy Leopard calls the “last piece of the puzzle”.

“As CHOICES, we wanted to be able to help people no matter what their choices were around a pregnancy. And so, it really makes sense that people needed to have more autonomy and how they give birth and the birth process,” says Leopard. “Having an out-of-hospital birth center environment that's led by midwives, where people giving birth have more autonomy and choice, was really important to us. It wasn't available in Memphis or anywhere near us, so we really felt like our community needed that.”

Just City executive director Josh Spickler says that while not much has changed for the organization with the new administration, they are still feeling the effects of the Trump administration.

“For the most part, our issues are pretty local,” he says. “A couple of exceptions would be that at the end of the last administration, there was a rush to execute five or six people. Federal executions had been on hold for years and years, and the Trump administration brought them back knowing that the Biden administration was going to have to work to stop them again.”

“I would hope that the death penalty becomes an issue, at the congressional level,” he adds. “We just don't have the resources locally, but that's one thing that I would hope would change because the state of Tennessee has really shown no interest in doing anything.”

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