May 12th, 2014
South Sudanese woman worked to end isolation
By Shelby Wade of Mosaic of Lincoln
From the moment she steps up to the podium in her traditional royal blue South Sudanese lawo, Christine Ross is all smiles. Then, for a moment, the smile disappears as Ross begins her introductory remarks for Omaha’s International Women’s Day event. “When refugees came here, they did not hear nor see any celebration for Women’s Day,” Ross said. “They requested to organize a celebration on Women’s Day, but they did not want to do it alone. And here we are.”
The smile reappears as Ross passes the microphone to Omaha’s first female mayor, Jean Stothert. Throughout the rest of the event, Ross never pauses to sit down. She is continuously on the move, weaving through the crowd, talking to everyone she meets. A smile never leaves her face as she continues to shake hands and give hugs to everyone she meets. Ross thought up the idea for an International Women’s Day event in Omaha, Neb. She is a passionate supporter of women’s rights and wanted to bring the idea of International Women’s Day to Nebraska. “There’s so many international women in Omaha,” Ross said. “We want to tell them to come out of their house to learn more.”Read More . . .
April 28th, 2014
Do you want to learn how to engage others in creating positive changes for your congregation, community, school or organization? Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) will hold a workshop to introduce the basic practices of organizing on Tuesday, May 13 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Pius X Catholic Church Parish Center (69th and Blondo). Find out how you can build a more relational culture so your members can work together for the common good of your organization and community.
The Overview of Broad Base Community Organizing will focus on how congregations and community organizations can work together to improve the quality of life for families in our communities. Learn more about: Building a relational culture within our organizations; Learning to listen for issues of common concern; Developing the ability to act together for the common good; Creating a culture of participation and problem solving vs. a culture of passivity and learned helplessness; Developing an agenda of issues for working together to improve our communities.
For more information about this workshop, call the OTOC office at 402-344-4401 or e-mail us at email@example.com. To learn more about our work, go to our OTOC website at OTOC.org.
April 19th, 2014
On February 22nd, over 150 congregation and community leaders attended eight different workshops organized by teams of OTOC leaders on topics affecting Omaha families. The topics for the workshops emerged out of hundreds of individual meetings OTOC leaders held in 2013. Each of the interactive workshops at the Issues Conference identified current concerns of the participants and generated a group of people who are now doing research actions to find solutions to the issues they discussed that day. To learn more about the current focus and a contact person for each of these action teams, go to the Issues tab on the OTOC homepage. To find out when the action teams meet next, to the Calendar tab on the home page. The eight OTOC Action Teams are:
– Improving Public Education
– Mental Health
– “Death & Taxes” or Medicaid Expansion and State Tax Policy
– Environmental Sustainability
– Immigration Reform
– Housing Revitalization
– Workforce Development
– Refugee Support
Photos from OTOC Issues Conference
April 18th, 2014
On Monday, April 14, over 40 OTOC and community leaders met with officials from OPPD, Nebraska Wildlife Foundation and Interfaith Power and Light to listen to different perspectives about Omaha’s energy future. OPPD staffers reviewed the various options which the utility faces in dealing with their coal burning North Omaha power plant. The North Omaha plant is very old and burns coal without the benefit of modern technology to reduce pollution. OPPD has to make major changes at the plant in order to meet federal Clean Air Act regulations by 2016.
According to OPPD, they have 4 options which include Retrofit to continue to burn coal; close and Replace the North Omaha plant with other sources of energy; keep the North Omaha plant and Refuel, using natural gas instead of coal to operate the plant; and Reduce the demand for energy by emphasizing conservation more aggressively.Read More . . .
April 16th, 2014
Over 700 attended a celebration of the Mass at Holy Name Catholic Church on Sunday, April 6. People were invited to write the names of their deported family and friends on posters at the back of Church or sheets of paper passed in through the pews. At times, the church was full of sadness and people wept as they wrote down the names of over 150 deported family and friends.
Fr. Tom Glennon of the Columban Fathers helped collect names and he said afterward “the deep sadness was palpable. The faces of sorrow and pain are etched in my heart. Tears welled in my eyes at the unspoken loss of loved ones to deportation.” Redemptorist Fr. Mike McAndrew preached about the need for us to support families of the deported and to work for reform of the U.S. immigration laws. At the end of the Mass, the whole community asked God’s blessing on the deported and their families. About 40 people stayed after Mass for a bilingual discussion about how the current law affects immigrants and what OTOC can do to work for reform of our nation’s immigration laws.
OTOC’s Immigration Action team has worked for three years to reduce the number of people who are detained in the county jail and eventually deported from Omaha. They have met repeatedly with the Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and his staff to discuss how local police can accept the Mexican “matricula consular” and other alternatives to driver’s licenses in order to appropriately identify immigrants who are stopped for traffic violations or other minor infractions. OTOC leaders have also met regularly with members of Congress and organized prayer vigils to educate officials and the public about the need for the U.S. Congress to adopt comprehensive immigration reform. They now plan to organize workshops in local congregations.
February 18th, 2014
On February 17, OTOC leaders organized meetings at College of St. Mary and First United Methodist Church with D.J. Yoon of “Fast4Families,” a national campaign to draw attention to the plight of people who are deported and their families who remain. Mr. Yoon was one of several people who fasted for over 20 days on the National Mall in November in order to protest the lack of action by our Congress. Over 100 people attended these interactive sessions and over 70 committed to fast in some way during Lent to show solidarity with the deported and to ask God to change the hearts of legislators who refuse to take action on Immigration reform.
The Omaha World Herald wrote an article about the evening meeting and quoted a College of St. Mary student who said “she is afraid to graduate from the College of St. Mary next year because she won’t be able to legally work in the country.” The article continued “[s]he has two majors and expects to receive a medical interpreter certificate. The only job I will be able to get involves picking corn or working at a fast food restaurant,” she said. “I pray that one day I will be allowed to work with the tools that I have been given, and I hope that one day I can help make this country a little bit better.”