Friday, November 07, 2008

March for Hope and Peace Rally Budding in Newark

An Invitation to March for Peace and Hope in Newark was issued this week by Dave Kerr, Founder of Integrity House, member of our Newark Interfaith Coalition for Hope and Peace, and one of the organizers of this solidarity event with Newark residents who continue to experience waves of street violence in their city:

Michael and group,

Thanks to you and Deen Shareef for your able representation at our recent Bridge Breakfast. The following is information to discuss at or upcoming meeting on the 11th at 4:30pm. The Newark Interfaith Coalition needs to take a leadership role in this budding movement for peace, hope and realistic help to members of our community in need, many of them violent and involved in gangs. We would like to involve suburban churches in this march and rally and wondered if any of you have some ideas?

You might want to approach this in a different way but I have always felt that we need to "strike while the iron is hot." If we are going to pull off a march and rally in this short time frame we will need to identify our game plan quickly and then move. You can see by some of the thoughts and ideas below that if we want a rally that brings pledges by employers for jobs and mentors volunteering from churches and the return to school for chronic truants, we need to move rapidly. I believe it can be done and done well but maybe on a smaller scale at first. We can't be too ambitious but it will be a good start. Thanks for your comments.

Dave


Here's the email to our group that met after the breakfast meeting.

After our meeting today, I had a discussion with my staff and Rich Grossklaus will be following up on details related to planning a march and rally for unity on the afternoon of November 30, 2008 starting at the churches at 1pm and ending up in Lincoln Park, Newark at 2pm. We feel that the event should be held on Sunday since this is when most religious activities occur in Newark and it seems that our church people are a natural resource and talent.

We thought that Bethany Baptist, Metropolitan and St. James AME and the Bethel Outreach Ministries would be four good churches for focus and yet all would be invited. The march might start from each of these churches following down to Springfield Ave and then to Lincoln Park.

It might take as much as 45 to 60 minutes to get all of the people to Lincoln Park so the rally would run from 2pm to 4pm. We might also want to reach out to the suburban churches, Temples and Mosques, many of whom want to help as well. Our goal for the afternoon would be to mobilize 1,000 people.

Kevin Manor has agreed to sing and has a song with a music track prepared. Integrity's Choir could also sing and we might want to come up with one hymn that choir members from all churches could rehearse and sing together in the theme of unity.

The focus would be to encourage help for people who want to help themselves but need support and guidance and mentoring. It is risky to give jobs to addicts who are still getting high. Bad for our purpose and just plain stupid. Many street people are not even ready for treatment no less a job and we have to be realistic about this. Yet there are many who are ready and who will respond to our support and those not ready might be motivated by mentors.

Our recommendation would be to challenge the many employers in Newark and the County through the Chamber of Commerce to step up and pledge a job or 5 jobs for individuals who qualify in all other ways except for their past criminal history. One by one, they would step up to the mic in Lincoln Park and pledge their jobs. Likewise, we would identify mentoring needs of people leaving Integrity House, CURA the EC Youth House, Talbot Hall etc. Each institution or agency would have identified a mentoring coordinator would would meet with the church mentor volunteers for the purpose of training, guidance and support.

Another goal would be to identify programs that are actually working and helping people. Many of these programs are ongoing right now at the churches while others are happening in our neighborhoods. We know the programs that work but we also know some high profile programs that claim much and do little. (Some of these less efficient programs might need only a little help or technical support.)

Also there are entrepreneurial street efforts that are worth notice. Kenny Jones for example has begun mentoring work with groups of DYFS referred youth in Union County as well as Essex. He has generated dollars to support his work and is being tutored by Robert Parkinson, MBA from my staff developing a budget and a strategic management plan for his growing business. He could be a poster child for some of our street efforts and for people to generate new businesses. Bill, your suggestion about the Rutgers Entrepreneurial classes may be very timely since I know many 'street people' who are doing many creative things helping others but don't have traditional training or recognition or management skills.