A-OK! Weekend Syracuse: Proposal
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A-OK! Weekend Syracuse: Proposal

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Description of Women Transcending Boundaries' plans for A-OK (Acts of Kindness) Weekend in Syracuse, New York, September 11-12. Organization background, statement of need, contribution to community ...

Description of Women Transcending Boundaries' plans for A-OK (Acts of Kindness) Weekend in Syracuse, New York, September 11-12. Organization background, statement of need, contribution to community building, desired outcomes, action steps, outcome measures, relation to existing programs, timetable, and sustainability plan

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A-OK! Weekend Syracuse: Proposal A-OK! Weekend Syracuse: Proposal Presentation Transcript

  • A-OK! Weekend September 11-12 Description of the Acts of Kindness Weekend in application for a grant by the Central New York Community Foundation Women Transcending Boundaries www. wtb .org
  • Organization background
    • Women Transcending Boundaries (WTB) is a small, grassroots organization that was started in Syracuse by two women , o ne Christian, one Muslim , i n response to the events of 9/11/2001.
    • Since our inception, WTB has grown into an egalitarian community of hundreds of women from many religious and cultural traditions. In the eight years of our existence, we have grown and evolved consistent with our mission statement: t o nurture mutual respect and understanding by sharing information about our diverse beliefs, customs, and practices and by working together to address our common concerns in this post-9/11 world and t o share our personal and collective experiences with the wider community, to educate and to serve.
    • A founding premise of WTB is that by learning more about each other ’s cultures and faith traditions, and by working together toward common goals, we foster greater understanding and compassion and provide the means for women from diverse traditions, backgrounds, and experiences to form close and lasting friendships.
    • To this end, we hold educational/social programs one Sunday a month, from September through May, where women come together to learn about each other ’ s traditions and beliefs, hear about many topics affecting women and children, and have a chance to meet and mingle. Meeting topics, ranging from religious to cultural to social, increase our awareness of and compassion for each other while identifying our common concerns and goals as women and as citizens of the world. Programs feature women in our community who are experts on the monthly topic, as well as those with personal experiences and stories to share. In addition, smaller groups of women gather frequently for other activities, including a book club, committee meetings, and service projects.
    • WTB has a dynamic service component. WTB conceives of, plans, and hosts special events: We have held four International Dinners, attended by as many as 250 women. Last year we held our first Annual Interfaith Blood Drive, the theme of which was T ogether We Give So Others May Live ; our second drive will take place during the A-OK! Weekend. In 2007 we invited the entire community to our J ourney to the Tent of Abraham: The First Step, a 1.7-mile walk to 7 religious sites in Syracuse. Each monthly meeting is attended by about 25 to 60 women.
    • More than 400 women are actively involved or stay in touch as part of our listserv. Although our constituency group consists of women, it also, by extension, encompasses children and families, since as women become educated, empowered, and broadened in their perspectives, they in turn educate, empower, and broaden the perspectives of their loved ones and of others with whom they interact. Thus, the number of people actually affected by WTB ’ s programs is far greater than the number of actual members and attendees.
  • Relationships with organizations providing similar services
    • WTB has a long history of identifying community, national, and international needs and working toward addressing them, often in close cooperation with other like-minded organizations. Locally, we have reached out to many diverse populations:
      • women overcoming abusive or impoverished living situations (Chadwick Residence)
      • underprivileged school children (Carol Perry’ s Refrigerator Door Project)
      • children and adults with substandard literacy skills (Literacy Volunteers of Greater Syracuse)
      • grandparents and other relatives acting as surrogate parents (Relatives as Parents Program)
      • inner-city youths advancing to higher education (OnPoint for College)
      • recent refugees transitioning to new lives here (Center for New Americans)
      • neighborhoods rife with gun violence and high murder rates (Mothers Against Gun Violence) .
    • Likewise, we have supported the work of many national and international organizations, including
      • Ibtida (a secular school for underprivileged children in Pakistan)
      • Women for Women International (a women ’ s group that finances women ’ s business ventures in war-torn countries)
      • Stephen Lewis Foundation ’ s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign (an international campaign that provides assistance to African grandmothers caring for grandchildren whose parents have died from AIDS)
      • Starfish International (a girls ’ school in the Gambia)
    • Locally WTB has initiated several new programs, doing so in collaboration with other community organizations:
      • Our J ourney to the Tent of Abraham: The First Step, although conceived and overseen by WTB, was planned and carried out in collaboration with numerous groups, including Syracuse University and the sites we visited.
    • Our Tapestry Garden, on Syracuse ’ s North Side, began as a WTB initiative but quickly morphed into a collaboration with civic, educational, governmental, and business groups, including:
      • Northside Collaboratory and Franciscan Collaborative Ministries
      • Metropolitan Development Association
      • Prospect Hill Development
      • Center for New Americans
      • SUNY - E SF
    • Today it is a place where refugees as well as longtime residents can practice organic, sustainable, urban agriculture while building a sense of community within the many diverse cultures of their neighborhood.
  • Diversity
    • Diversity is the foundation of WTB. We are governed by a Constitution & Bylaws stipulating that our officers and the members of our governing Council “ s hall represent, to such an extent as is possible, the religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity of the membership. ” WTB includes women from the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Native American, and Wiccan faith traditions as well as women who are atheists and agnostics, and we are continually striving to extend our outreach to other faith and cultural communities.
    • Begun subsequent to the events of 9/11/2001, WTB has grown into a widely recognized model for interreligious and intercultural dialogue and action. We have received numerous honors, including Peace Action of Central New York’ s Peace Award (2005); Syracuse University ’ s Martin Luther King Jr. Unsung Heroes Award presented to our co-founders (2008); a DeFrancisco Heritage Grant to document WTB ’ s history (2009); a Syracuse Commission for Women Neighborhood Grant Award given by the Mayor ’ s Office for our Tapestry Garden (2009); and the J ewish Community Center of Syracuse ’ s annual C ommunity You Can Count On award (2010).
    • At the invitation of Harvard University, our co-founders participated in a seminar focusing on women ’ s interfaith initiatives after 9/11 (2007). This seminar gave them the opportunity to meet and network with women from other like-minded organizations, including:
      • SARAH (Spiritual and Religious Alliance for Hope) in Southern California
      • WISDOM (Women ’ s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach) in Detroit
    • In 2008, WTB joined Gather the Women (a global network of women and women ’ s organizations that encourages new models for collaboration and problem solving).
    • In addition, we were invited to become a member of the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN), and we collaborated with InterFaith Works of Central New York to bring the Houston-based A mazing Faiths Dinner Conversations to the Northeast.
  • Need statement
    • Syracuse has an exceedingly diverse population, culturally as well as economically. At times, this diversity has been a cause of conflict within neighborhoods and between groups. Violence, poverty, unemployment, and marginalization are ongoing problems in our area, as recounted on local news broadcasts and evidenced by statistics.
    • At the same time, people are deeply invested in the community, and when a need is identified, there is often an outpouring of support. (Please refer to the section on R elationships with other organizations providing similar services, for examples of past and current community support.)
    • Many people may recognize a need but not know what to do about it. A-OK! Weekend will not only encourage them to get involved, but will be a vehicle enabling them to do so.
  • How the need was identified
    • Over the years, WTB has become aware of the need for diverse groups in our community to focus on their common concerns, to bridge boundaries that they believe are separating them, and to work together toward their shared objective of creating a safer, more hospitable Greater Syracuse Area.
    • Why WTB is most suited to meet this need
    • WTB is most suited to addressing this need by virtue of
      • our already-extensive outreach efforts and service work in the community,
      • our long history of fostering understanding and compassion among women from diverse backgrounds and providing them with a framework in which they can work together toward their common goals, and
      • our conviction that what has been done by a group of diverse women can be accomplished by an entire community.
  • Contribution to community building
    • An overall goal of the A-OK! Acts of Kindness Weekend, to take place on September 11 and 12, 2010, is to build community across the Greater Syracuse Area.
    • Community building will occur naturally as a broad cross-section of individuals and organizations, e ducational, civic, business, health, and faith-based, link up to collaborate, for one weekend, on specific projects aimed at making our neighborhoods healthier, safer and more hospitable.
    • Encouraging acts of kindness on every level, and being facilitators for that to occur, will enable these organizations and individuals to create projects and contribute talents in whatever way suits them best.
    • The flexibility of this endeavor will afford all participants the opportunity to move out of their comfort zones and to interact with others who may be from cultural, ethnic, faith, or economic backgrounds different from their own.
  • Desired outcomes
    • At least 10 Greater Syracuse Area organizations will come together to meet community needs.
    • Citizens of the Greater Syracuse Area will become aware of A-OK!, local needs, and projects to meet those needs.
    • Citizens of the Greater Syracuse Area will match their time and skills with community needs.
    • At least 1000 hours of community engagement will be performed on A-OK! Weekend.
    • Many participants will work with organizations or needs they had not previously known about.
    • Many participants will demonstrate increased knowledge of Greater Syracuse Area resources
    • Some participants will continue their relationship with new organizations.
  • Action steps
    • Hold meetings with at least 10 Syracuse organizations in March to share information and invite involvement.
    • Lots of publicity: local media, banners, lawn signs, Facebook, etc.
    • Establish a database of committed organizations, their contact person, projects, and needs.
    • Sign up organizations.
    • Match volunteers with organizations in need.
    • Organizations will orient participants to their resources and connections and to the needs they address.
  • Outcome measures
    • Number of participants
    • Evidence of community awareness
    • Information publicly available on website, Facebook, etc.
    • Number of hours worked
    • Self-evaluation at each project’s end
    • Feedback from organizations
    • Evaluation of A-OK! Weekend by the expanded anchor committee
    • Evaluation of A-OK! Weekend by participants, with 80% hopefully rating their experience highly
  • Relationship to existing programs
    • The A-OK! Weekend relates to two existing WTB programs : o ur Tapestry Garden, a community envisioned and spearheaded by WTB, and the Center for New Americans, where we help recent refugees acclimate to life in the U.S. The A-OK! Weekend will include existing programs of many other community groups, as well as newly created programs linking several groups together. WTB already has a working relationship with some of these groups; others we are meeting for the first time. A-OK! Weekend will be a catalyst for all of these groups (as well as individuals) to publicize their work and enlist the cooperation and collaboration of others.
    • The idea for A-OK! came from an existing initiative in California, called Big Sunday, which has been successful for several years. Through our co- founders ’ attendance at the Harvard Pluralism Project in 2007, WTB became acquainted with a women ’ s organization that participates in Big Sunday and with whom we have formed a lasting relationship.
        • Last year, by presidential proclamation and legislative action, September 11 was declared a National Day of Service and Remembrance . The fact that A-OK! is being held on the weekend of September 11 and 12, 2010, honors and helps perpetuate that call to service.
  • Who designed and planned the project
    • Initially, the planning and design of the project involved an anchor committee of five women (Jennifer Crittenden, Daryl Files, Gay Montague, Danya Wellmon, and Betsy Wiggins), with guidance by and support from the CNY Community Foundation.
    • The project is loosely modeled on an existing initiative in California, called Big Sunday , which has been successful for several years.
    • As the date of the A-OK! Weekend draws closer, the responsibilities for organization and implementation will be expanded to a broader committee consisting of other members of the WTB Council, other people from the community, and contact persons for each project and from each hub.
  • Timetable
    • A-OK! Weekend will take place on two days: September 11 and 12, 2010. It is very probable that several acts of kindness, such as those related to community gardens, will continue beyond the weekend.
    • March: 4 organizational meetings, one in each of the 4 quadrants of the city.
    • April: Initial contacts with various individuals and organizations (to date, more than 30 have made a commitment to participate). Establishment of database on website.
    • May: Publicity blitz. Launch event to be held May 20. Follow-up on contacts.
    • June: Project deadline and coordination. Area hub locations finalized.
    • July: Additional publicity. Continued updating of website.
    • August: Wide publicity to all media.
    • Sept. 1: Final checking to assure all is in place with point persons, volunteers, materials. Plug-in individuals who would still like to participate.
    • October: Evaluation and recap of event. Initial planning for next year.
  • Funding sources
    • At present, the only funding source we have is the proposed grant from the CNY Community Foundation .
    • We hope to obtain additional funding from other sources, such as the Liverpool Credit Union , the Rotary Club of Dewitt , and others, all of whom we have contacted. If full funding required is not secured, we will have to adjust our expenses accordingly.
    • Sustainability plan
    • We anticipate that A-OK! Weekend will become an annual event in the Greater Syracuse Area. The widespread enthusiasm already expressed for this venture may make it easier for us to replicate the event next year.
    • We have a follow-up and evaluation plan in place to determine the success of the individual projects and the overall event.
    • Funding for replication in future years will be based on donations and grants.