Executive director hire is a step forward for PORCH

The Cape Girardeau revitalization organization known as PORCH (People Organized to Revitalize Community Healing) recently announced the hiring of its first executive director.

Julian Watkins, 33, has a law degree and practiced corporate and criminal law before making a career switch to the not-for-profit sector. Most recently, the Cairo, Illinois, native served as a motivational speaker and life coach.

If Watkins names sounds familiar, you probably have read about him in these pages. Most recently he was featured in the Southeast Missourian’s Thankful People series. If you have met Watkins, you know about his delightful personality. With his social skills, work experience and education background, he should be a good fit for this organization in its work ahead. We wish him well in this new endeavor, which will begin Wednesday.

A key component of the position is leading the organization toward Purpose Built Community membership. Purpose Built Communities (PBC) is a national program based in Atlanta, with a 20-year history in helping revitalize economically-depressed areas. The hiring of an executive director was one of the steps toward that goal.

PORCH is finalizing its board of directors, which includes Marvin Adams, Tamara Zellars Buck, the Rev. William Bird, Kevin Greaser, Marvin McBride, Shelly Moore, Aldwon Prince, Sommer Purdue, Mary Walker and Jimmy Wilferth. Others are expected to be added, including two “neighborhood representatives.” Those interested should reach out to the organization through its Facebook page or via email, which is theporchinitiative@gmail.com. A business office should also be announced soon.

For all the talk in recent years about revitalizing south Cape Girardeau and becoming part of Purpose Built Communities, it looks like progress has been made. With 2020 around the corner, here’s wishing the organization well as it seeks to make meaningful and lasting change in an important part of Cape Girardeau.