SDOP disburses over $200,000 to 12 self-help projects in the U.S.
By Margaret Mwale
Raleigh Durham, NC — The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP) has approved grants totaling $215,852 to 14 self-help projects in the United States.
The money is from the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
Projects range from a small farming cooperative seeking to build hoop houses in which group members can grow crops almost year- round thus enabling them to compete in the market in Watha, NC to a project that will focus on advocacy against worker exploitation in the community and education of immigrants by providing tools to improve members language and job skills in Springdale, AR to a bicycle collective that will provide bicycles, bicycle repair knowledge and repair equipment to group members as an alternative low income transportation option.
SDOP enables members and non-members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to form partnerships with economically poor, oppressed and disadvantaged people in order to help them achieve self-sufficiency.
Grants were approved at SDOP’s national committee meeting in Raleigh Durham, NC September 20 to 23.
The projects and grants:
- Chainbraker Collective, Santa Fe, NM, $15,000-The membership of Chainbreakers Collective comes together to provide bicycles, bicycle repair knowledge and repair equipment to low-income Santa Fe residents as an alternative low-income transportation option.
- Western Service Workers Association, Oakland, CA, $12,852-The project is an advocacy project composed of low-income members of the Western Service Workers Self-help. It is a self-help program of persons banded together to fight the ravages of high utility rates by training themselves to effect change in policy.
- North Carolina Small Family Farm Cooperative, Watha, NC, $20,000 –This farming cooperative will enable a group of farmers to build hoop houses in which they can grow vegetables almost year-round. The farmers also want to encourage youth to get involved in farming.
- Another Chance 1, Inc, Charlotte, NC, $20,000–The grant will be used to aide in the prevention of group members returning to substance abuse and thus introduce new life style changes. The project will help to continue the connection of those who have “been there” and those now exposed to abuse to avoid the risks and consequences associated with abuse.
- Workers Committee of the Center for Workers Justice, Springdale, AR, $18,000 – This project will focus on advocacy and education of immigrants. The project will provide tools to improve member’s language, education, computer and job skills. Group members will also advocate against wage theft and worker exploitation in the community.
- A Village, Inc., Albany, NY, $20,000–is an initiative by a group of local residents to engage and empower their community. Group members are seeking to reclaim their neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for the residents of the South End of Albany.
- The Brooklyn Women’s Truth Commission Project, Brooklyn, NY, $10,000 – The grant will enable the group to organize and end police sexual harassment of African American women, provide training, media advocacy, and give testimony in front of New York City Council about police injustices that will result in anti-harassment policies.
- New Lens, Baltimore, MD, $20,000 – A youth-led peer to peer capacity building and public awareness project. The youth develop and practice marketable media skills while making the video by interviewing experts talking about the state of youth jobs and about people who have been successful in creating meaningful youth jobs. The young people will use the video to organize at least 10 groups into a youth jobs coalition and to generate understanding and investment in youth jobs.
- Safety is first in Families, West Union, WV, $20,000 – This project is designed to give group members who are mostly women the skills to recognize and deal with domestic violence. There is a high degree of domestic violence in West Union and surrounding area.
- Fair Chances, Lansing, MI $20,000, Lansing, MI, $20,000 – The project will include advocacy and activities to create multiple pathways for ex offenders to reenter the workforce including: creating a process to vet out and certify the skills and risk level of ex offenders for employers; advocacy and outreach to prospective employers to encourage opportunities for possible employment; providing job coaching and an opportunity to receive hands-on experience with possible work opportunities.
- Pratt Towers, Inc., Brooklyn, NY, $20,000 –. The goal of this project is to convert an unused playground into an intergenerational space for the residents of Pratt Towers who range in age from newborn to their late 90’s. (This is a challenge grant with the goal of the group raising another $15,000 by May 2013 prior to receiving the SDOP grant).
Committee members also visited with SDOP partners Fairview Community Garden and Conetoe Organic Garden during a dinner hosted at First Presbyterian Church.
Dorothy Johnson from Fairview Community Garden of Hillsborough Community Center shared how the SDOP grant allowed the group to plant and harvest their garden located in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Bertha Fuller shared with everyone how the community and the police department worked together to clean up their neighborhood. Now the community has a park with equipment and games with the teenagers and adults working as a team to keep the park continuously monitored.
Richard Joyner and Tobias Hopkins from Conetoe Organic Garden shared how the youth group used the 2005 grant received from New Hope Presbytery Self-Development of People Committee to transform a food desert into a 10 acre farm. The youth have a bee bus with five certified bee keepers. The group now has an irrigation system that will water their garden year round.
In addition, the Church-wide and Community Relations Committee conducted a listening session with young adults under 40 from the Raleigh Durham area to share better ways of engaging with them and them with SDOP. Participants included: Katherine Haddock, North Carolina State University, member of PC (USA); Annie Franklin, North Carolina State University, member of PC (USA); Michael Shultz, employed with a nonprofit organization; John Coggin, employed with a nonprofit organization and a member of First Presbyterian Church Durham. Additional guests included: Reverend Theodore E. Churn, Interim Executive Presbyter of New Hope Presbytery; Reverend Barbara Campbell Davis, Retired Executive Presbyter of New Hope Presbytery; Patrick Lachian, Barbara Campbell Davis’s Grandson; Kay-Robert (former committee member) and Desire Volkwijn.
The One Great Hour of Sharing ministries are: