Days before a planned House effort which could impact the latest executive action program initiated by the President, Houston judicatory leaders and TMO held a joint press conference urging Congress to do the opposite - to expand on the action and pass comprehensive immigration reform. Bishops and religious leadership from Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim faiths banded together to deliver the joint statement.
Dinardo Agradece la Accion Ejecutiva Pero Dice Que No Es Suficiente, La Voz de Houston
Talleres Informativos Sobre la Accion Deferida, Univision Houston 45
200 TMO leaders assembled at St. Peter Catholic Church with an agenda: to clearly lay out their public safety concerns to the police and obtain responses to those concerns. They walked away with much more.
Assistant Police Chief Josh Bruegger related, "It is important..., obviously to us, that we have this relationship." Father Pedro Lopez of St. Peter Episcopal told leaders,"We have a moral obligation to do everything within our power to stop crime in our community. We do not want more people robbed at gunpoint, we do not want our children to be victims of drug use, of gun violence or our homes to be vandalized. Be good Samaritans, take action and keep our eyes open, and call and report any crime. Will you commit to that today?"
[Photo Credit: Y. C. Orozco, Pasadena Citizen]
Church Leaders, Police Officials Meet for Discussion on Crime in North Pasadena, Pasadena Citizen [pdf]
The Houston Chronicle's editorial board credited TMO not only with changing lives, but for working "with the voiceless to help transmute their anger into leadership." The board notes that there are two Houstons, concerned about dramatically different things:
"In one, inhabitants fret over whether to eat sushi for dinner or to grill outdoors. In the other, citizens worry about their lack of access to health care. One set of Houstonians may struggle with traffic on Loop 610, but the other set lives below the freeways as well as below the poverty line. Our city may be technically solving "the homeless problem," but low-wage workers chase affordable month-to-month housing in the other Houston." Read the rest below:
TMO at 30: The Metropolitan Organization's Successes Have Changed the Lives of People, Houston Chronicle [pdf]
When TMO leaders were asked to stand if they had been personally impacted by crime, half the room stood on its feet at Assumption Catholic Church in in North Houston. Leaders had gathered at Assumption Catholic Church to confront Houston Police Department officers with stories of relentless auto-theft, campus drug sales and physical assaults in North Houston. Councilmember Gonzalez was on hand to respond as well.
Cansados del Crimen Que Azota Al Norte De Houston, Univision 45 [Spanish]
The Metropolitan Organization celebrated its 30th anniversary of its charter with a gala event highlighting how it has worked with the voiceless to help transform their anger into leadership. Hosted at St. Theresa Catholic Church, leaders honored Catholic Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza, Rev. William A. Lawson and Rabbi Emeritus Samuel E. Karff.
The Metropolitan Organization Celebrates 30th Anniversary, Honors Three Community Heroes, Texas Catholic Herald [pdf]
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.