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  • Writer's pictureCameron Cochran

Wilson 20/20 Growing to Meet Community Needs

Posted September 23, 2016

By Brie Handgraaf, Wilson Daily Times Staff Writer

It has been nearly a decade since the inception of Wilson 20/20 Community Vision and thanks to ever-increasing support, the collaborative effort has a new face to foster growth of the initiative and the Wilson community.

Jessica Bailey jumped right into her role Wednesday as project manager for Wilson 20/20, adding that she is eager to help make a difference.

“I grew up here but it wasn’t until I worked for the school system that I realized how many organizations want to work together for the sake of Wilson,” Bailey said. “That cooperation was built through Wilson 20/20 when everyone came to the table with a common goal of bettering the community, so I’m excited to be more involved and strengthen those partnerships.”

Bailey, 33, worked for five years as the coordinator of web communication and special projects for Wilson County Schools, where she managed the websites of the district and the schools as well as established partnerships with community organizations and wrote grants.

Wilson 20/20 Executive Director Paula Benson said Bailey is a great fit for the position of project manager, which was created through a grant from the Healthcare Foundation of Wilson. For the past several years, Bailey has served as the school representative on the Health and Wellness team of the Youth Master Plan of Wilson 20/20 and in her new role, she’ll lead not only that team, but nine others working to improve opportunities for all Wilson residents.

“The initiatives of Beyond 21, the Youth Master Plan and the Impact Initiative are certainly the vehicles for establishing our collaborative approach to solving community problems, but the relationships we have built between all of our partners in the planning and implementation process have provided the biggest benefit,” Benson said. “We have agencies and organizations constantly looking for ways to work together, and we are fortunate to live in a community that has the ability and the desire to collaborate.”

Despite the nearly two decades difference between Bailey and the 50-year-old Benson, the two have more in common than mutual passion for helping build a better future for Wilson. Born and raised in Wilson, both Meredith College alumni married Wilsonians and raised their families here.

“We both have a very vested interest in this organization and the community as a whole,” Benson said.

She said future success depends on continued cooperation throughout Wilson, adding it will have a wide-reaching affect on the community.

“We’re going to be much more successful if we’re able to share ideas and share resources and recognize what is best for our whole community,” Benson said. “When people look at our leadership and see them working together without concern of territorial boundaries or competition, we’ll start to see people on all levels working together because it is contagious.”

She added that what makes the Wilson 20/20 effort unique is the underlying mission.

“We are providing solutions to the root causes, not the symptoms of our most significant challenges,” she concluded. “Our work is designed to break the cycle of poverty, strengthen our workforce, increase educational levels and graduation rates and focus on preventative factors for individual and community health.”

To learn more about Wilson 20/20, go to

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