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Martha Williams, Wanda Buck and Pastor Charlotte Williams, from left, sort food items for community members at Eastdale Village Community United Methodist Church on Thursday, June 9, 2016.

Greg Galluzzo, who assisted former President Barack Obama in community organizing, will be at Eastdale Village Community United Methodist Church on July 13.

He will be the guest speaker at a community meeting of concerned clergy, parents, community residents and businesses. The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at 1403 Tunnel Boulevard, according to a press release from the church.

The meeting will discuss the several issues in Chattanooga's struggling communities, such as the failing schools the state is going to take over, gentrification, mass incarcerations and a lack of permanent employment, said Charlotte Williams, pastor of the church.

"There has to be a collective unity between different grassroots organizations to gain access to power and overcome these problems in Chattanooga," Williams said, "instead of other people coming in with their own plans and agendas, telling us what we need instead of listening to the community."

She noted there have been different organizations addressing specific problems, but there needs to be a coming together. She said Galluzo has a history of community organizing in Chicago through his founding of the Gamaliel Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to empowering people to participate in "political, environmental, social and economic decisions affecting their lives," according to its website.

"It's already been stated that schools that are predominantly African American are struggling, and the state is saying it's going to take over," Williams said, adding that school officials should have been speaking out and letting the community know what was going on. 

"Even though they had 'community gatherings,' they still have not put forth an effort in addressing the issues," she said.

Another talking point Williams mentioned was employment and wages.

"Most employment is temporary," she said. " We are seeing that people cannot build a family on this. Yes, they have jobs, but for how long?"

Additionally, she said a lot of people have to work two to three jobs to make enough money to support their family. They're looking for livable wages that will allow people to spend the proper time with their family as well as work.

"The leadership is not listening to the voices of the people, so this coming together is saying there's strength in numbers," Williams said.

This story was updated July 11 at 9 p.m. with more information.

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