Democracy is not a
spectator sport


OTOC is growing relationships, awareness and solidarity with Salvadorans with Temoprary Protected Status

November 4th, 2017

OTOC leaders have been working with Omaha’s Salvadoran people who are recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), an immigration status given in 2001 because of the major earthquake in El Salvador. These families have been living and working in Omaha since then, renewing their TPS status every eighteen months. Now their immigration status is threatened as the White House Administration threatens to cut their protection along with many other countries that have TPS in the US. To learn more please click    HERE.

Media Coverage of Temporary Protected Status:

On November 9, Nebraska Lutheran Bishop Brian Maas, Catholic Archdiocese Chancellor Rev. Tim McNeill, and College of St. Mary President Maryanne Stevens, joined OTOC in an OWH Guest Column asking for an 18-month extension of Temporary Protective Status (TPS).

To see the article, click here: OWH Opinion Guest Column

OWH article pic

On November 4, OWH feature writer Erin Grace wrote a  front-page story about Wilfredo Rivera, a 20-year resident of Omaha who is a supervisor in a meat packing plant, homeowner, church member and father of U.S. citizen children. Erin met Wilfredo though OTOC and invited the public to hear Wilfredo and others at a November 6 OTOC/IPL Issue Café at Urban Abbey.

To see the article click here: OWH Grace Article



Wilfredo with his daughter- cover photo of newspaper article

Local Actions:

UA speaker

Mario, the head of the Salvadoran TPS Society in Omaha

On November 6, ninety-five concerned community members came to an OTOC/IPL Issue Café at Urban Abbey to hear from Creighton Law Professor Dave Weber and 4 long-time Omaha residents with TPS. OTOC leaders challenged those present to educate their congregations and members of Congress about extending TPS so that Salvadorans, Hondurans, Haitians and others who have lived productive lives in the US for many years will not be forced back to homelands where they would be in extreme danger. 

On October 14 OTOC, IPL, San Andres Lutheran and TPS Association of Nebraska shared a papusa and tamale dinner so where   TPS families shared their stories with 70 OTOC and community leaders. The benefit raised funds to help San Andres join OTOC and for 13 Omaha residents with TPS  to travel to Washington D.C to talk to their members of Congress about extending TPS



OTOC Leaders meeting TPS families over shared meal




Get Involved:

We need your help to protect these members of our community. 

Please call our Congressional representatives about our neighbors who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS).  We have been told that our senators and representatives actually count the number of calls they receive about specific issues and are more likely to respond to issues for which they have received many calls.

Senator Deb Fischer  202-224-6551

Senator Ben Sasse 202-224-4224

Representative Don Bacon  202-225-4155  (most of Omaha area)

Representative Jeff Fortenberry 202-225-4806  (some parts of Sarpy County)


Sample Script you can use:

“Hi my name is ________, and I live at ______________ in ___________.  I’m calling about our fellow Nebraskans who have Temporary Protected Status and are now at risk for deportation. 

There are over 440,000 persons with TPS in the US.  They were granted TPS as a result of armed conflict or natural disasters.  Many of them have lived in the US for years because they can’t safely return to their countries of origin.  They work and own homes in the US.  Their children and grandchildren are US citizens.  

Over 400,000 of them are from two of the most dangerous countries in the world – El Salvador and Honduras— or Haiti where almost 60,000 people remain in makeshift camps after the 2010 earthquake. 

I am asking that you

  • Become informed about Temporary Protected Status
  • Consider the risks to these families of returning to unstable and dangerous countries
  • Affirm the importance that we as US citizens place on family unity. Thank you”

You can also write a letter to the editor to create more positive press in Omaha

Please consider writing a letter to the editor for the Public Pulse section of the Omaha World Herald. This will help spread the word and show that people are concerned if many people are writing in.

The parts of a letter (should be under 200 words):

– Start with why it matters to you- personal connection that gives you credibility. Can be your own story of immigration, someone you know, or Wilfredo’s story

-Then use a shared belief or value that most people would agree with- family, American Dream, upward mobility, community, equality, etc.

– Share a fact or story that shows that the value is not being upheld.

            -Build off of another story or event that you read or attended:

– “Grace: In Omaha nearly 20 years, El Salvador native with protected status faces uncertain future.” Omaha World Herald. Nov. 4, 2017

-“Brian Maas, Maryanne Stevens and Timothy F. McNeil: Don’t end protected status” Omaha World Herald. Nov. 9, 2017

-OTOC Issues Café at Urban Abbey with Wilfredo Rivera on November 6 

-OTOC TPS Factsheet (HERE)

Submit letters to: OWH Public Pulse

You will need to give your name, phone number, and address (number and address are not posted with the letter).

You could also send this same letter to your Members of Congress. Just do a search for their website and look for their comment form under “Contact”

OTOC officially endorses the Carbon Fee and Dividend plan in response to climate change

September 14th, 2017


OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Action Team (ESAT) is committed to educating and promoting solutions to climate change. At the September 11, 2017 OTOC Steering Committee Meeting, ESAT presented the Citizens’ Climate Lobby plan for reducing CO2 emissions. It is a plan for federal legislation termed Carbon Fee and Dividend.  The Steering Committee came to a consensus to endorse the plan as a way to reduce CO2 emissions and their harmful effect on the climate.

As a method of transitioning consumers away from carbon fossil fuels and toward sustainable energy sources, the Carbon Fee and Dividend plan puts a fee on fossil fuels at their source, i.e., mine, well or port. The fees will then be passed on to the consumers of products that fossil fuels affect.  The collected fees will be divided equally and a monthly dividend will be sent to each household in the country. Thus, households that have spent less on fossil fuel products will receive the same dividend as those households that have spent more on these fossil fuels.  Household members may spend the dividend in any manner. This is a market based approach to move our economy away from a reliance on carbon based fossil fuels and towards renewable and cleaner energies.

ESAT wants to help educate our community and has training materials prepared, so if your church or institution would like to learn more about the Carbon Fee and Dividend Plan, contact Mary Ruth Stegman at

Also visit the Citizens Climate Lobby website to learn more about their campaign.

carbonfeeanddividend edit

OTOC Leaders stand in solidarity as DACA program is threatened

August 29th, 2017

sergio daca

OTOC Leaders attended the Stand with DREAMers press conference in Lincoln on Tuesday. President Trump has cancelled the DACA program which now puts an expiration date on DACA recipients’ documentation, unless congress passes something like the Dream Act into legislation soon.

OTOC stands with immigrant and refugee families. We offer our heartfelt support for so many young people and their families during this time of uncertainty. Dreamer youth and their families contribute much to our Omaha community and economy.  

Nebraska’s members of Congress can fix this by acting quickly to pass the Dream Act of 2017 and updated, common-sense immigration laws.We need your action today:

Please call your elected officials to ask to ask for their urgent support of the Dream Act of 2017 and updated, common-sense immigration laws.

U.S. Capitol Switchboard #: (202) 224-3121 

Call the switchboard and then work through the prompts to call Representative Don Bacon or Jeff Fortenberry, and both Senator Ben Sasse and Deb Fischer

DACA youth and allies are invited to learn more at an event Thursday September 7th at College of St. Mary Gross Auditorium at 6 pm. 


OTOC leaders attend seminar with Glenn Loury, race and economics expert

August 24th, 2017

On August 15 and 16th, OTOC leaders Mark Hoeger and Karen McElroy and IPL Executive Director Joe Higgs joined community leaders from across the United States in Houston, Texas to discuss how to work across race and class lines in these polarized times.  Karen, Mark and all of the eighty leaders and organizers present in Houston were part of organizations affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundations, the largest and oldest community organizing network in the United States.

cropped gllenn loury

Glenn Loury in Houston

The leaders met with Dr. Glenn Loury, Professor of Social Sciences and Economics at Brown University, and  author of Race, Incarceration and American ValuesDr Loury is a leading scholar in the fields of  economics, politics and social structures affecting African American communities in the US. Loury’s work documents the changing face of racism, from the end of Jim Crow laws, to the more recent impact of mass incarceration of people of color. 

The meetings took place in the days immediately following the troubling events in Charlottesville and Loury emphasized that relying on identity politics is not going to result in meaningful change. Rather, he encouraged the leaders and organizers present to keep doing the  patient work of organizing to build relationships across lines of race, class and culture in order to develop strong coalitions of people who will seek the common good of their community, not just narrow special interests.

Mark Hoeger notes that “it made me appreciate anew the importance of what we at OTOC/IPL in Omaha and all the IAF affiliate organizations across the country are doing” in regards to having structural organized efforts to equality through the democratic system.

karen in houston

To Karen McElroy, the experience was a way to explore what other organizations are doing and how OTOC can improve housing inequality, early voting, and post incarceration programs. On the days immediately after the racial violence in Charlottesville, we came away renewed in our commitment to the careful, patient work of building relationships. 

OTOC leaders learning to do Individual Relational meetings

August 10th, 2017

Fifty five OTOC and community leaders attended the final summer traininGreta and Paulg session about organizing where Paul Turner taught about the most fundamental tool of organizing–the individual meeting.

This  workshop focused on how engage others in individual meetings in order to develop effective public relationships. If you want to build strong working relationships with people, learn how to do good individual meetings.

To learn more about individual meetings, click on these links:

Individual Meeting Chapter from Roots for Radicals

Individual Meetings and Cycle of OrganizingCrowd with Paul at front

Ernesto Cortez teaching about individual meetings

Leaders watched Paul conduct an individual meeting with Greta Carlson, the new Lutheran Volunteer Corp intern with Institute for Public Leadership.

Kevin Graham at front


Kevin Graham of First United Methodist challenged all those present to do at least 3 individual meeting by November 13 when OTOC will hold a Delegates Assembly.

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