Three hundred TMO leaders piled into Immaculate Conception Catholic Church to Make known to officials that students of De Zavala Elementary deserve to be protected from the dangers posed by packs of stray dogs roaming the campus. They explained that the issue emerged in 'house meetings' in which people gathered to share their concerns.
Leaders told stories about family members getting bitten by dogs on the streets, as well as stories about neighborhood crime. TMO convened the assembly to engage City Councilmember Robert Gallegos and State Senator Sylvia Garcia on these issues.
Stray Dog Complaints on the Rise On East End, ABC 13 News
Residents in the East End Come Together, FOX 26 News
TMO clergy and bishops from major religious denominations in Houston held a press conference calling on the President and Congress to "welcome" unaccompanied children from Central America and guarantee protections afforded to them in the Trafficking Victims Act of 2008. Religious leaders from Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, COGIC and Baptist denominations were vocal about the need to stop speedy deportations, given the violent conditions children are fleeing. Nineteen local clergy signed a letter to the President, including former Catholic Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, Episcopal Bishops C. Andrew Doyle and Jeff Fisher, Lutheran Bishop Michael Rinehart, General Presbyter Mike Cole of the Presbytery of the New Covenant and Bishop Rufus Kyles Jr. of the Church of God in Christ.
Rev. John Ogletree, pastor of First Metropolitan Church, argued that "Houston is a hospitable ‚Ä¶compassionate city. We demonstrated that when we opened our hearts and homes to those suffering from Hurricane Katrina. We should do that again."
[Photo Credit: Billy Smith II, Houston Chronicle]
Less than four weeks after Capital IDEA-Houston was awarded a $500K Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) grant to train more community college students for living wage careers, leaders of The Metropolitan Organization of Houston leveraged an additional $500 thousand in local money after testifying at City Hall.
The money will come from two sources of funding: $250 thousand from Community Development Block Grants and another $250 thousand from a City of Houston budget line-item, marking the first time Capital IDEA-Houston has been included in the City budget.
City Budget Increases After-School Spending, Gives Each District $1 Million for Projects, Houston Chronicle
A Capital Idea, Houston Chronicle
TMO leaders celebrated word that Capital IDEA-Houston won a Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) grant, giving it half a million dollars to train hundreds more community college students for living wage careers in Houston. TMO, with its sister organizations in the Texas IAF, helped establish the Texas Innovative Adult Career Education (ACE) grant to support projects that prepare low-income workers to attain degrees and certificates in high demand occupations including nursing and information technology.
Texas State Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond) praised Capital IDEA-Houston, declaring he "could not find a better use of $500K than to invest in Capital IDEA-Houston."
Texas State Representative Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) chimed in adding "we should continue to invest $5 Million in these [workforce development] projects."
The award will support about 250 students attending Houston Community College and Lone Star College. In an interview with NPR, Fr. Kevin Collins said the money will be used to prepare low-income students to enter careers in health care, information technology and manufacturing. "The graduates are thrilled to be part of our program, and their families are really benefiting and they are really excited to move into great careers!"
Many leaders have now been trained to do the pressures workshop and are scheduling sessions in their congregations. So far sessions are set at Chapelwood UMC, Memorial Drive UMC, Evangelist Temple COGIC, First Metropolitan, Grace UCC, Our Mother of Mercy Catholic, St. Francis Catholic and Trinity UMC. On May 4, leaders from all member congregations are asked to report who they have identified as new leaders and the top three pressures on families from that congregation. Leaders should invite new people identified in house meetings to this training and strategy meeting.
"Regarding "Board president spares 3 schools from closure" (Page B1, March 6), the decision of the Houston Independent School Board to keep Port Houston Elementary open was critically important to the surrounding community.
The closure of the school would not only force its children to attend a far distant school, but it also would have eliminated an institution which gives vitality, stability, a sense of confidence and well-being to the community.
I want to thank the HISD board for this decision and congratulate parishioners of Divina Providencia Church, its pastor, Father Chris Plant, the parents of the children, and Neighbors in Action for working with The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) to keep Port Houston open.
They have demonstrated Pope Francis' exhortation for parishes to get involved in the community.
As Pope Francis stated: "I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.""
‚Äì By Joseph A. Fiorenza, Archbishop Emeritus of Galveston-Houston
TMO leaders from Memorial Drive United Methodist Church joined teachers from Alief Middle School to talk with parents of 5th graders who will attend Alief Middle School. Pictured are the walkers and also the many parents who attended the orientation.
Varios l√≠deres de Memorial Drive UMC junto con maestros de Alief Middle School visitaron con padres de hijos en el 5to grado que van a ir a Alief Middle School. Retratado son los caminantes y tambi√©n los padres que fueron a la orientaci√≥n.
When the Houston Independent School District Superintendent proposed the closure of five schools to cut costs, concerned parents noted that in at least one case students from a higher performing school would be re-directed to a struggling one. Port Houston Elementary School parents, who happened to worship at Resurrection Catholic Church, quickly organized a challenge to the closures in partnership with TMO, which their church had just joined.
Concerned TMO leaders met with HISD board members, in addition to meeting with parents and educators, to figure out how to preserve these schools. On Thursday, March 13th, over 100 leaders and parents descended upon the HISD board meeting and recognized board president Juliet Stipeche for removing Port Houston Elementary, Nathaniel Henderson Elementary and Fleming Middle School from the closure list.
In photo: Father Christopher Plant, pastor at Resurrection Catholic Church, congratulates Port Houston parents and leaders for their turnout and presentation at the HISD school board meeting.
TMO has hosted trainings throughout Houston on "Pressures on Families." So far, over 40 leaders are trained to give the workshop. Leaders are learning that one of the economic pressures on families is stagnating wages. A training session to learn how to host house meetings will be held on March 9, 2014 at All Saints Catholic Church at 3pm.
TMO is partnering with the American Jewish Committee and others to hold an immigration summit Tues. March 18 at Rice University. The summit will focus on immigration and human trafficking, and will feature Cardinal Daniel DiNardo.
"Today, in this country, women and children continue to suffer from unspeakable violence because they are afraid to seek help without legal status. Globally, 78 percent of those trafficked suffer from forced labor, including domestic servitude, farm and factory work in the U.S. Immigrant survivors of abuse without legal status are, according to one study, half as likely to call the police to seek the help they need. We must act by passing immigration reform legislation."