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8 self-help projects funded

SDOP disburses over $97,000 to Projects across the United States

Presbyterian News Service
By Margaret Mwale

Charleston, S.C. — The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP) has approved grants totaling $97,650 to 8 self-help projects in the United States. The money is from the One Great Hour of Sharing offering (OGHS).

PastorCharlesHeyward featured image

Pastor Charles Heyward from St. James Presbyterian Church

Projects range from a farming cooperative in Louisiana to a women owned cooperati ve comprised of low-income Somali Bantu immigrants seeking social-economic and literacy empowerment in Maine to a youth-run screen print and graphic design collective in Michigan.

The National SDOP Committee, which met here January 21 to 23, 2016 enables members and non-members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to form partnerships with oppressed and disadvantaged people in order to help them achieve self-sufficiency.

The projects and grants:

  • Somali Bantu Community Mutual Assistance Association of Lewiston/Auburn, ME, $14,300 to assist this women’s group with its program. The program is led by the women who connected to the Mutual Assistance Association. They set the programming agenda which includes literacy programming, farming and basket-weaving. These activities will help empower the young women with skills for employment and better education.
  • Damayan Cleaning cooperative, New York, NY, $15,000 for this worker owned cooperative.The 10 women in the cooperative are members of the Damayan Immigrant Workers Association who need to find regular employment where they feel safe, respected and part of the community. The women will control and benefit from the cooperative. Four of the 10 women were trafficked in the past.
  • Wayside Outreach and Development Inc., Brooklyn, NY, $4,000 to replace equipment and supplies lost or damaged during renovation; to provide training in arts, crafts and sewing to seniors to improve their quality of life.
  • Equipping, Encouraging & Empowering Workers in Vredenburg, AL, $14,450 for this project that will assist underemployed and unemployed local residents prepare for the workforce through test preparation and GED classes. More than half of Vredenburg residents live in poverty. The project will help group members improve their quality of life by being better educated and learning how to seek and keep jobs.
  • VEGGI Farmer’s Cooperative, New Orleans, LA, $15,000 for this multi-ethnic farmer’s cooperative growing fresh vegetables to sell to the public as well as grocers in East New Orleans. The cooperative members share equally in the work, liability and distribution of profits. The grant will assist the cooperative by creating sustainable income for the members through sustainable agriculture.
  • Families & Criminal Justice, Los Angeles, CA, $14,900 for this peer to peer support group that works with women that are incarcerated or recently released to improve their health. These women received training in peer to peer relationship building and counseling techniques and began support groups for other women incarcerated in the Los Angeles county jail and those recently released.
  • Radio Indigena (Indigenous Radio Station), Oxnard, CA, $15,000 for this nonprofit community radio station which broadcasts in indigenous languages to serve the community in Ventura County. The group decides and works on topics for broadcasting, including indigenous music, cultural affairs, and social and political issues. Many members have been trained to operate the radio station and to be volunteer community DJ’s.
  • Stitching up Detroit, MI, $5,000 in technical assistance for this group. The project is a youth-run screen print and graphic design collective. It helps to provide a source of income to the students.

Invited guests included SDOP partner South Carolina Sea Island Small Farmer Cooperative which presented a token of appreciation to SDOP from the farmers. SDOP partnered with the group by awarding it a grant for over $48,000 to assist with water supply for irrigation in 2007. Additional guests included the host congregation pastor Charles Heyward from St. James Presbyterian Church, Charleston Atlantic Presbyter Reverend Donnie Woods and Compassion, Peace and Justice Director Sara Lisherness. Reverends Edward Ducree and Brenda Nelson from Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church led Bible study which focused on how Emanuel congregation members are trying to heal from the shooting tragedy in which nine people were killed.


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