Gadsden County seniors may soon need transportation to Tallahassee or Marianna any time they have business at the Social Security office.
Within weeks, the federal government plans to close the Quincy office at 1105 E. Jefferson St.
Much Social Security business can be handled online. But according to a fact-flyer issued by Gadsden County, many seniors are either disinclined or unable to utilize this option. The same flyer reports the Quincy office deals with an average of 54 people each day.
More than 50 people gathered at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Gadsden County Senior Center to discuss the impending closure. The meeting was organized Gadsden County Commissioner Brenda Holt and Commission Chairman Eric Hinson.
As the meeting progressed, the conversation moved away from questions and answers and toward organization and mobilization.
“It’s good to see you here,” said State Rep. Alan Williams. “It’s good to see you concerned.”
But several people said this concern, with time, would falter and fail — leaving the federal government to quietly close the Quincy office.
“It can’t be just today,” said Holt,
possibility. “It has to be every day until the end of the month. You have to show some initiative. You have to make some noise.”
Holt said citizens cannot accept this change complacently.
“When I was teaching school, they called that professionalism,” she said. “I called it ignorance.”
Richard Davis, legal counsel for the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, remained busy, slipping in and out of the hall to make and take phone calls as the collective conversation progressed. His work paid off. Before the end of the discussion, he had scheduled a meeting with Brad Lindsey, regional director of Social Security.
Holt said the warning of the impending closure had not been forthcoming. Some residents objected to this news.
“If the people in high places had any respect for black people, they would have let us know,” said Robert Williams of Havana. “It doesn’t matter how you dress it up. It boils down to race. I’ve been here for 80 years, and I’ve seen the little chunk of change that comes our way while other neighborhoods of other races are leveled-up.”
Another person suggested scheduling different days for different Gadsden County municipalities to protest, ensuring a schedule of constant political pressure without overburdening any group of citizens.
A publicized letter addressed to Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson reads: “I am concerned that the agency’s response to less funding has focused first on closing offices, shortening office hours, and ending certain services.
U.S. Rep. Steve Sutherland shares Nelson’s concern.
According to the congressman’s deputy chief of staff Matthew McCullough, ”Representative Southerland was extremely disappointed to learn that the administration had chosen to close the doors on Quincy’s Social Security Administration office. We’ve been in contact with SSA, and urged them to explore other options that will keep these vital services in place in Gadsden County, readily accessible to the people who need it most.”
Before the assembly parted, Hinson and Holt collected a list of names and numbers so plans and developments could quickly spread. The commissioners and community are already organizing the next meeting.