Letter To The Editor:

Will The Real Savannah Please Stand Up And Be Counted?


As residents of Savannah, Georgia we are being asked to spare just minutes for the good of the country by filling out the 2015 Census Test online – a small action that can lead to improvements in communities across our nation and save up to $5 billion in taxpayer dollars through research and testing for the next census.

Why Savannah and why now? The Savannah area -20 Georgia and Georgia counties- was chosen because of its population density, demographic diversity and mixed rates of residents who have internet access. It is a rich racial, cultural and economic tapestry that is a microcosm of the United States. The once-a-decade count of America’s residents is coming in 2020, and the Census Bureau Wants to improve how the census is taken. Our participation in the test census from March 23 through May 31 will provide, we hope, plenty of answers.

Why does it matter? The census count is huge, but it starts with each person and the ripple effects of his or her being counted. The numbers help leaders in your community and across the nation make decisions about where to build roads, hospitals and schools. Changes in population point to where businesses might want to open new stores and how voting districts are drawn. For the first time in 2020, the internet will be the suggested way to respond to the census.

That’s where we come in. We, in Savannah are asked to be among the first to complete a census questionnaire online, to help the Census Bureau understand the best ways to reach the public through the internet- and to figure out how those factors and others would affect America’s participation in the census. The test census can be filled out using a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. The online survey is confidential, secure, and easy to use.

The once-a-decade census is only as accurate as we and our neighbors make it. We need everyone to participate, whether you live in a rural or urban area, are young and on the go, or established in your community. Census participation ensures that communities receive their appropriate congressional representation and fair share of federal funds. It is exciting to realize that the findings of this test census will help shape operations for the 2020 Census, with the potential to save taxpayers up to $5 billion from the projected cost of conducting the census using established methods from previous censuses.

I am Executive Director of Greenbriar Children’s Center, a non-profit established to support Savannah children and families. I care deeply about our community’s participation in the 2015 Census Test. In fact, I have volunteered my time to encourage my neighbors to participate. Ultimately, an accurate accounting through your participation in the next census will help our foster, abused, neglected, runaway and homeless children and families in crisis gain access to resources and programs that support and advance them individually and enrich our society as a result. By participating in the test census today, we are not just saving taxpayer dollars right here in Savannah, but we are also investing in the future of our community. Your participation allows for a more accurate accounting of the vulnerable members of our community. Proper accounting means Greenbriar can apply more successfully for grants to develop safe and nurturing childcare centers, which allow parents to pursue higher quality jobs to sustain their families and our community. It also helps us provide transitional housing for teenagers emerging from foster care and homelessness, so that we might help them prepare them to be self-sufficient, contributing members of our society. It is critical that every member of our community stand up to be counted so our children, families and Savannah community prosper.

In the coming weeks, you will be hearing a lot more about the 2015 Census Test. I hope you’ll pay attention, participate promptly and encourage your neighbors to do the same. If each of us stands up to be counted in the census test this spring, we can show the nation the real Savannah.

To participate in the 2015 Census Test today, visit census. gov/2015

Gena Taylor,
Executive Director, Greenbriar Children’s Center

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