TMO leaders from Resurrection Catholic church packed a Denver Harbor neighborhood meeting on Chapter 42 and predatory development. Leaders eventually targeted 800 properties for protection from over aggressive development of multiple, multi-story town homes on single lots. Local property owners overwhelmingly sided with TMO and Resurrection leaders, exceeding the "yes" votes needed on the mail-in ballots.
Upon seeing the extent of neighborhood support, the Planning Commission unanimously approved the matter. Leaders are now waiting on final approval by the city council.
"There's a story that sounds almost apocryphal, except it isn't, about how the Network of Texas IAF Organizations, which focuses on community-leadership development, came to anchor itself in the consciousness of elected officials across the state.
Locally, the network affiliate is known as The Metropolitan Organization, or TMO. Primarily church-based, as the IAF organizations are in other cities, TMO is made up of 27 congregations largely located in east and southeast-side neighborhoods.
As the network of organizations marks its 40-year anniversary, we turned to TMO leaders for insights about the group's work here in Houston, its impact and vision for the future. Outlook editor Veronica Flores-Paniagua talked with the Rev. Robert McGee and Ana Cummings, who were among TMO's founders."
Below are excerpts from the conversation.
...."It's about the Texas IAF Network, to which The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) of Houston belongs. Through its interdenominational base of congregations, TMO identifies the needs of the communities, develops leaders and establishes strategies so that the ears of authorities are reached and elected officials compelled to respond to their demands.
'We have seen time and time again that politicians - Democrats, Republicans, from the left, from the right, independents - respond to power (that of organized communities). So we build power. It doesn't matter what party an official comes from, if they see that a community is organized and has the power to pressure them, they will change things quickly,' affirms priest Eric Holloway of Santa Mar√≠a Virgen Episcopal Church, which is situated in southeast Houston and whose parishioners are predominantly Latino."
On the eve of the Texas IAF's 40+ anniversary celebration, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston offered his congratulations for TMO and the Texas IAF's dedication over the previous four decades. He writes, "I know that in offering my gratitude for your presence and leadership in the Houston area, I speak for so many individuals who are grateful for the transformative effects that The Metropolitan Organization (TMO).....[has] brought about for so many."
Recalling the early days of IAF-inspired organizing of faith communities in Houston, Bishop Fiorenza sent his congratulations to the Texas IAF on the eve of its 40+ year anniversary. He writes, " It is a happy moment for me to congratulate all who have...participated in making human life more just and equitable in Houston due to outstanding efforts of TMO / GCLC." After listing local achievements, he adds, "It is evident that the work of TMO / GCLC and the Texas IAF are supporting the Church's mission to be a witness of compassion by putting faith into action."
At a pre-election accountability assembly attended by 600 TMO leaders
at New Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, top mayoral candidates mostly agreed to support TMO's inequality agenda, which included police staffing, road improvements and wages. All except one candidate pledged $1 Million out of the City budget for expansion workforce development program Capital IDEA-Houston.
Costello Highlights City's Budget Woes at TMO Forum, Houston Chronicle [pdf]
Exigen Respuestas de Candidatos a Alcadia, Univision
Please join us as we celebrate Jan Wilbur's legacy on Saturday, November 14th at 2 pm at First Congregational Church, 10840 Beinhorn Rd., Houston 77024 (Katy freeway going toward San Antonio and exit on Voss Rd. )
Jan Wilbur was essential to the creation of The Metropolitan Organization (TMO). In the words of Sr. Christine Stephens, Wilbur "worked side by side with me to build the Houston sponsoring committee. I went on to organize and she became the first and only president of TMO... [She was] a great lady."
Wilbur was a founding member of The Metropolitan Organization of Houston (TMO) in 1980. While there, she worked to pair low-income people with those who had means in order to make a difference in their lives.
Says Wilbur's daughter Rita, "She wanted people to have the power to determine their own lives." In line with that, voter registration cards will be distributed at her memorial service.
[Photo: Courtesy of Wilbur family]
Activist Wilbur Dedicated Her Life to Helping Others, Houston Chronicle [pdf]
Following up on its $5 million win from the last legislative session in 2013, Texas IAF leaders - including several from TMO - succeeded in ensuring that the Adult Career Education (ACE) Grant program (and its $5 million in funding) stayed on the Texas budget. This means that Texas IAF workforce development programs like Capital IDEA-Houston, Project ARRIBA, VIDA, Project QUEST, SkillsQuest and Capital IDEA of Austin can apply for these funds to expand the job training they currently offer.
Capital IDEA-Houston, founded by TMO, is an integral strategy to train people out of low-wage employment and into living wage careers.
Leaders from Texas IAF organizations across the state, including TMO leader Rev. John Ogletree of First Metropolitan Church of Houston, drove into Austin for the bi-annual legislative session to fight Senate Bill 185. This bill would have outlawed sanctuary cities in Texas and threatened local efforts to build better relations between police and communities. The intervention of Texas IAF leaders, including testimony by Rev. Ogletree and Fr. Carlos Zuniga (Valley Interfaith), and allies, succeeded in killing the bill.
In photo, Fr. Carlos Zuniga of Valley Interfaith and Rev. John Ogletree of TMO testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security.