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240 diverse leaders come together for powerful Interfaith Solidarity Service

August 1st, 2016

Over 240 packed Augustana Lutheran Church on Thursday August 4th for an Interfaith Solidarity Service. OTOC leaders worked with Institute for Public Leaders, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and other faith leaders to organize this powerful evening of prayer, song and statements of solidarity that we can overcome violence to have more peace-filled communities.Large crowd from front

The evening featured song, reflection and prayer from Christian, Jewish and Muslim  faith communities in Omaha.

The Interfaith Solidarity Service was led by Rabbi Steven Abraham of Beth El Synagogue, Rev. Jan Peterson of Augustana Lutheran Church, Rev. Tony Sanders of Koinonia House of Worship, Rev. Marshall Johnson of St. Luke United Methodist, Imam Samyr El-Refaie of the Millard Islamic Center.women praying

The evening opened with powerful Gospel songs lead by the Koinonia Praise Team and a Call to Prayer by Dr. Sakeer Hussain of the Omaha Islamic Center. Leaders from each of the faith traditions also led Prayers of Petition for our community

One of the emotional high points was the singing of the “El Rabbi and HussanMalei Rachamim” while photos of dozens of Omaha murder victims since 2015 were flashed across a large screen. Hazzan Michael Krausman of Beth El Synagogue sang the powerful song which is usually sung a  Jewish funerals.

Another was when 20 clergy gathered to lay hands on two officers representing Omaha Police Department as those present prayed for the safety of officers and a healing of the relationships between OPD and our community.

police prayer close upRev. Tony Sanders ended the evening with a call for all present to become involved in working across lines that divide us to create stronger communities.

 

 

All present were invited to sign up to continue working together and over 120 turned in cards indicating they wanted to continue

Sweating Together, Talking Together and Acting Together

Click on this link to learn more about these activities:

Link to Interfaith receive information about Interfaith Solidarity Activities

Forty OTOC leaders attend August 8 Training Preparing for a Candidate Accountability Session

August 1st, 2016

Click on the link below for a pdf of the Oct 17 Draft Agenda and questions

draft-agenda-for-candidates

Forty leaders of Omaha Together One Community met on Monday, August 8 at 7:00 p.m. at Augustana Lutheran (3647 Lafayette Ave) to learn how to prepare for a large Candidate Accountability Session. The LeCloser upad organizer from AMOS, our sister organization from Des Moines, lead an information and interactive workshop which taught leaders how to prepare for and hold a non-partisan Candidate Accountability Session with hundreds of people present to seek the firm public commitment of candidates for office around issues of common concern.

OTOC will hold Accountability Sessions this Fall with:

  • Candidates for Unicameral–Thursday, Sept 29 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Candidates for OPPD Dt. 5–October 17 @ 7 pm at St. Leo the Great
  • Candidates for US Congress--October 17 @ 7 pMike M & Sarita question Gwen Aspenm at St. Leo the Great

Liz Hall close upLiz emphasized again the importance of TURNOUT  to make these actions successful. She reminded the OTOC leaders that they want to ask all candidates to say YES to their questions which have come out of months of individual meetings, house meetings, research actions and preparation by OTOC and community leaders.

Nonprofit Advocacy Training

August 1st, 2016

NonProfit Advoacy Training Picture

On Wednesday, July 27th eight OTOC and IPL affiliated leaders attended a training workshop on nonprofit advocacy and lobbying. The full day training workshop was organized by the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands and was hosted on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Included in the workshop were three informative and interactive sessions:

Nonprofit Lobbying 101: This session emphasized the importance of lobbying in order to advance missions and achieve policy goals as a nonprofit organization. The session was extremely educational and outlined the parameters in which nonprofits may operate when engaging in non-partisan lobbying.

Nonprofit Lobbying 201: The second session provided insight into how the Unicameral operates, including processes like bill introductions, committee hearings, priority bills, and floor debates. It later described how the state budget operates and impacts our missions and concluded with ideas about how to confront the issues posed by monetary policy.

Nonpartisan Voter Engagement for Nonprofits: The final session highlighted the role nonprofits can play in boosting civic participation and voter turnout among people who care about and are affected by various issues and ideals. Attendees were given information and ideas for how to effectively provide resources to make voting as easy as possible for the greater community.

OTOC and IPL participants found the workshop extremely beneficial and they look forward to sharing what they learned with you!

Hundreds at 5 OTOC member congregations heard the moving stories of Journey of Hope speakers

July 12th, 2016

Journey of Hope St. Ben2

Journey Speakers opened the week at St. Benedict the Moor

Hundreds of people attended Journey of Hope sessions at five  OTOC member congregations between July 17 and July 24. Congregation members and guests were able to hear directly from those affected by the death penalty why they believe Nebraskans  must vote to RETAIN the Unicameral’s Rejection of the Death Penalty. JOH Logo

The speakers came from murder victim’s families, death row survivors, and family members of those executed. The will share their compelling stories.

OTOC member congregations hosting the presentations were:

 

Sunday, July 17 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Benedict the Moor

Wednesday, July 20 a 7:00pt St. Vincent de Paul–

Journey of Hope St. Pius

Journey shared stories and strategy at an OTOC Clergy and Faith leaders lunch at St Pius X

Thursday, July 21, at 7 pm First United Methodist Church–7020 Cass St

Saturday, July 23 at 6 pm, St. Leo Catholic, 1920 N. 102nd

Sunday, July 24 at 11:3o a.m. at St. John’s Catholic--2500 California Plaza

Journey of Hope St. John

Journey closed their week with powerful stories at St. John at Creighton

 

Bios of for Journey of Hope Speakers in Omaha July 15 to 24

Schedule a Presentation about the Death Penalty at your congregation

OTOC leaders have also prepared an informative and interactive presentation of the facts about the death penalty in Nebraska and the US.  To schedule a presentation, contact OTOC  Vicki Pratt at (402) 334-0678 or vlpratt@cox.net  or Terri Vincent at (843) 364-6403  or

OTOC Housing and Community Revitalization Action Team Report – May 24, 2016

June 9th, 2016

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A diverse group of North Omaha residents came to Claire Memorial to raise concerns about their dramatically reduced tax valuations for 2016

Members of the OTOC Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Team joined with Pastor Portia Cavitt and Pastor Michael Williams to hold a meeting on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at Clair Memorial United Methodist Church addressing the concerns of northeast Omaha property owners in response to dramatically lowered tax assessments for 2016.

Approximately fifty people attended, including County Commissioners Rodgers and Boyle, Councilman Ben Gray, Assessor Diane Battiato, County Clerk Dan Esch, and Attorney Gary Fisher of Family Housing Advisory Services.   Channel 7 interviewed Rev. Cavitt and Rev. Williams in a report that aired at 6:00 pm that day. 

Gloria Austerberry of OTOC provided an overview of  the process the County followed in establishing the 2016 valuations and the current state of the dispute between Douglas County and the State Tax Equalization Review Committee which ordered Douglas County to reduce valuations in Northeast Omaha by 8th and increase them in Central West Omaha by 7%.

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County Commissioner Chris Rodgers explained the appeals process and said that is the only option now

Many people from the floor had tough questions for the elected officials present including one woman who said she bought her home 10 years ago for $60,000 and it was  reduced in tax  value a few years ago to $47,000 and was now has a 2016 proposed tax value of  $27,000 by Douglas County. She asked how this could happen? Douglas County Tax Assessor Battiato said that tax values are simply a reflection of the sales in that come from that  area of the City and that the collapse of the housing market in 2008 was still being felt in the Northeast part of the City.

Commissioner Rodgers and County Clerk Esch told people that they can appeal their tax valuations during the month of June if they want to ask for a lower or higher valuationa. Attorney Gary Fischer reminded the audience that tax valuation is not necessarily the  actual market value of their and that people should not panic because the County has set their values are less than they had believed. Tax Values are set by a process of mass valuation while the market value of each home is established by what a willing buyer will agree to pay the seller.  Many people expressed concern about how the tax values of their main asset, their home, could be so much less than they have been in recent years.

Council Ben Gray noted that the Omaha Vacant and Abandoned Property Registration Ordinance and the Omaha Land Bank which OTOC has fought for are new developments to help restore our neighborhoods.  OTOC believes there is much we can do to protect the equity in our individual homes, but we have only begun to explore collective action we can take to improve our neighborhoods.

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