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Families of Freedom Foundation members to be in town

SELMA — Representatives from two families who claim they are estranged from relatives who are volunteers for the Freedom Foundation will speak here Sunday evening in a public forum.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 until 8 p.m. at the Carl C. Morgan Jr. Convention Center, 211 Washington St.

“This is an opportunity for the families to talk about how their lives are affected by this group,” said Nancy Smith, a Selma resident who signed for use of the convention center, which is owned by the city of Selma.

Neither of the families want to be identified before arriving at the meeting, Smith said.

However, members of the Morin and Farnsworth families made an appearance on a local radio program Friday morning and talked about Sunday’s meeting.

The Freedom Foundation is a non-profit organization, which its founders said, was created to reignite the idea of a beloved community where people from various walks of life work together for the greater good of the community.

According to its website, the organization was founded in Parker, Colo., then in August 2007, 50 volunteers moved to Selma to become a part of the community and work as volunteers in a variety of settings, including Selma public schools.

The daughter of Patricia Morin, Ginger Skelton, said her mother is one of the individuals who will speak Sunday.

“I had hope when my mom, Patricia Morin, told me she was coming to Selma we could make progress toward reconciliation, so it deeply saddens me to discover her true reason for visiting Selma seems to be to continue her hurtful crusade to harm the Freedom Foundation which she mistakenly blames for our personal family issues,” Skelton wrote in an e-mail.

Skelton said she has made several attempts recently toward reconciliation, but her family “made it clear to me that they love their crusade more than they love me and more than they desire reconciliation.”

Skelton said she is saddened by and pained by the way her family continues to place personal issues in the public.

“At this point, my family still seems more interested in talking about our personal issues on the Internet, radio, television, and in town hall meetings, than spending time talking through them with me,” she said.

Steve Farnsworth, father of Amanda Farnsworth, will also attend the meeting.

In an e-mail to The Selma Times-Journal, Amanda Farnswoth said, “I love my dad, and I believe that we can still be in each other’s lives in spite of some differences in religion and opinion. But my dad has continued to talk behind my back and say things that aren’t true about me, which makes me feel that he doesn’t want to be part of my life.”

Amanda Farnsworth said only she and her father have anything to do with their personal differences.

“He has never visited me here in Selma, called to ask me about how I’m doing, or addressed in any way the issues between us, so when I heard he was coming to meet with the people who are trying to tear down the volunteer work I do here with the Freedom Foundation, I was surprised and hurt,” she said. “I hoped that if he had come all this way, it would be to see me instead of the people who hate and speak out against everything I believe in.”

Shawn Samuelson is operations director and chair of the foundation’s board. In e-mail correspondence, she said she is out of town and was unaware of the planned meeting.

“Since the meeting isn’t regarding the foundation’s community work in Selma, I am not going to make a comment on behalf of the foundation,” Samuelson said in the e-mail. “Our organization has hundreds of volunteers in Selma and across the country and they come from all different types of family backgrounds, walks of faith and situations.”

Sunday’s meeting is free and open to the public.