Giving a voice to the voiceless: Carbondale HRC discusses purpose, mission

By Rana Schenke, Managing Editor

The Carbondale Human Relations Commission held a retreat along with their meeting Monday night to discuss topics related to the duties and functions of the organization. 

Newly appointed HRC chairperson, Stephanie Brown, led the retreat discussion, which was open to the public and started after the regular meeting.

“The biggest part of [the HRC’s] mission is that we give people a voice that don’t feel that they have a voice,” Brown said. 


Brown’s goals for the commission moving forward include hosting educational events, community outreach and advocacy.

“What I would like to see as chairperson of this commission is for us to get back to more of our education events,” Brown said. “That was one of the main reasons why I wanted to be a part of the Human Relations Commission.”

One of the educational events the commission discussed hosting was an informational event covering the upcoming U.S. Census and why participating in the census is important.

“I would like for us to […] have somebody from the census come in and talk about why it’s important to be registered, [and] that we are a safe place for [community members] to come in because I know that that’s a big concern,” Brown said.

The commissioners also discussed the community’s perception of the commission and its functions. 

Commissioner Dora Weaver said she thinks the community doesn’t see the commission as getting things accomplished. 

(See More: Mayoral candidates express concern over Carbondale Human Relations Commission)


“I think we do things, but I don’t think people realize that we’re actually active,” Weaver said.

The commissioners discussed community outreach as a way to spread awareness of the commission and its purpose. 

“If we start attending events and we start doing things, [residents] can say, ‘You know what? The HRC, they do care. They’re here at our events. They are supporting us. They do want us to know more,’” Brown said.

Commissioner Michelle Snyder said the commissioners need to remember when attending events that they are very involved in the community.

“A lot of times we portray that as ‘I know [Commissioner Anita Brown] as Anita from Midwest Medical Thermography,’” Snyder said, “but what we need people to know is that it is Anita from Midwest Medical Thermography, but it’s Anita from the HRC, too.”

Snyder said this is something the commission has not been doing.

“I think that’s where people are missing who we are and what we’re doing,” Snyder said. “We’re associated with maybe our career field or what we’re doing but we’re so involved in the community that we really should take advantage of the opportunities that each of us have to say I am part of the HRC and this is what we do.”

A solution to this issue would be for the commissioners to have badges with their names and “Human Relations Commission” on them to reflect who they are and what they’re doing, Snyder said.

The commission also discussed making updated brochures to pass out at events and creating a Facebook page to share meeting times.

The Human Relations Commission meets on the first Monday of every month at 5 p.m. at the Carbondale Civic Center.

Managing Editor Rana Schenke can be reached at [email protected]

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