Rescuing ancient languages

first_imgIn fluent English with a soft accent, Pedro Mateo, a Harvard postdoctoral fellow in linguistics, recalled the restrictive signs plastered on the walls of Guatemalan schools in the past.They read “no native languages,” said Mateo, whose mother tongue is the increasingly rare Mayan language Q’anjob’al.Then, as now, Mayan languages were often sadly associated with impoverished communities. School officials wanted students to speak the dominant Spanish instead, because it was considered the language of progress and prosperity.“You didn’t want to be discriminated against,” said Mateo, adding that even for its native speakers, the Mayan language can carry a “negative connotation.”Now with Harvard Linguistics Professor Maria Polinsky and several colleagues in her lab, Mateo is helping to preserve, promote, and better understand the ancient Mayan languages.In May and again in June, Mateo and other members of the linguistics lab will visit Mexico and Guatemala to gather data on the grammar and the architecture of the languages Ch’ol, Chuj, and Q’anjob’al.Expert linguists like Polinsky and her team explore language design and structure in an effort in part to understand how and why certain languages vary greatly but also resemble each other. Such work, they say, helps provide understanding about how the human brain works.“What’s really unique to humans as a species is our language abilities,” said Jessica Coon, also a post-doctoral fellow in Polinsky’s lab, who will travel to Mexico in May. “By studying a wide range of diverse languages we can get a glimpse at the common threads that tie all language together and explore further what that tells us about cognition.”In Central America, the Harvard crew will work with local communities to observe and record both child language and the ways that parents speak to children, which can differ significantly from how they speak with other adults.“People often think that little kids just talk funny. But the mistakes they make are consistent and can tell us about the structure of the language they are acquiring, as well as about human language more generally,” said Coon.A second component of their work involves “ergativity.” It’s a universal feature in Mayan languages, one that sets the standard English sentence on its head.“Ergativity is a way of encoding who is doing what to whom in a sentence that is different than English,” said Polinsky. She offered the example of a Mayan language that might use the sentence “Me went, I bought coffee.”“They have different ways of saying ‘I,’ ” said Polinsky, “depending on whether you use the verb ‘to go’ or ‘to buy.’ ”In addition, most Mayan languages put the verb first in a sentence, a feature found in about a tenth of the world’s languages.To study Mayan ergativity, Polinsky and her team developed a series of pictures created with the help of a Mayan artist that show various scenes.In one double image, a snake bites a chicken. Next to it, a chicken bites a snake. Researchers show the images to a test subject, then play a single ambiguous recorded sentence. Next they note the subject’s preference and how long it took her to chose one image over another.“You are asking them to identify which thing the sentence represents,” said Polinsky. “Their preferences tell us a great deal about the structure of the language.”The Harvard team realizes there is urgency in their work.There are 30 Mayan languages currently spoken, but experts fear those numbers are on the decline. In 1976 there were an estimated 50,000 speakers of Chuj. Now there are about 40,000.Aside from gaining knowledge about Mayan languages and linguistics in general, the researchers also hope to give something back to their Mexican and Guatemalan host communities.By training native Mayan language speakers who will then help them both to acquire and translate the data they collect, the Harvard team aims to inspire in the locals a sense of pride and empowerment.“You don’t want to treat your native language consultant as a vending machine, where you put your quarter in, the sentence comes out, and you are done,” said Polinsky. “The idea is that you want to get people involved in the work you do.”“In our experience, you can never force people’s pride in their language from the outside,” she said. “What we can do is provide this perception that their language is valuable, and if the impression is strong enough, hopefully that will help people keep it alive.”last_img read more

Conboy releases statement following deadly Capitol Hill attack

first_imgCollege President Katie Conboy released a statement in response to Wednesday’s violent congregation of rioters on Capitol Hill objecting to election results — due to allegations of election fraud by President Donald Trump and other Republicans. Those assembled eventually broke into the Capitol Building, temporarily interrupting congressional certification of Joe Biden as president-elect.Four protestors and one Capitol Hill police officer were killed in the insurrection.Conboy expressed her shock in the actions of those who breached the Capitol Building.“I am sure that many of you were — as I was — glued to your television screens late into last night as we struggled to understand how our Capitol could be violently invaded,” Conboy said. “Whatever political views you hold, I expect you experienced shock and dismay as you watched actions that were an assault on both our democratic ideals and our Saint Mary’s values.”However, Conboy shared her hopefulness at the bipartisanship shown by congressional representatives as they finished certifying election results in favor of Joe Biden.“Last night, I began to feel a little miracle as one congressional leader after another recommitted to the US Constitution and expressed incredulity, outrage and sadness,” Conboy said. “They reached across the aisle in a way we haven’t seen in recent times. They revisited — with remarkable unity — the job they had in front of them and reminded each other of what was not in their job as well.”In addition, Conboy urged the community to use education as a tool to actively safeguard democracy.“[Wednesday] was also a reminder of the importance of education — the sacred work we undertake each day,” she said. “And at Saint Mary’s, where we dedicate ourselves to the core values of learning, community, faith/spirituality and justice, we have a special opportunity to become the kinds of citizens who will serve and protect our democracy and who will not be bystanders.”Conboy said she and the Sisters of the Holy Cross implore all people to practice non-violence.“We join with the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who today called for a commitment to non-violence, urging all people ‘to work and pray for a peaceful solution to the divisions within that democracy, which culminated in such chaos, hateful rhetoric, exploitation and violence,’” she said. Reflecting on the College’s Dialogue and Civil Discourse Project, Conboy emphasized the importance of the project’s goals to improve dialogue.“[Wednesday’s] events were a reminder that our communities, our nation and the world can be better because of what we do right here,” she said.Conboy also asked community members to seek out the truth and remain optimistic about the democratic system.“As President of Saint Mary’s, I encourage everyone connected to the College to embrace a unifying and hopeful outlook for our future,” she said. “Our democracy is not perfect, and yesterday’s events remind us that it is fragile. Seek truth. Demand facts. Accept that our system, even with imperfections, works. Build hope for a new generation who desperately need our perspective and our optimism. You can lead from wherever you are, and I hope you will.”Conboy reminded students that the College is available to help students following the events on Capitol Hill.“Students, please know that you can reach out to trusted people at the College, including me,” she said. “We are here to help you to process what you experienced yesterday. Importantly, you should know that the telehealth services associated with SMC Care are available to you, even during the break and from wherever you are.”Tags: Capitol Hill, civil discourse, Dialogue and Civil Discourse Program, president katie conboylast_img read more

Peach-firming dip

first_imgTest peaches stayed firmer longer”Peaches normally don’t stay in storage for more than two weeks.But we kept our test peaches in storage longer,” Prussia said.”After 21 days of storage, we saw a definite difference as thetreated peaches remained firmer.”Adding the salt solution wouldn’t be hard for growers. Theynormally have hydrocoolers in their packing houses to cool thepeaches with water, Prussia said.”However, we would need to make sure the salt solution does notharm the hydrocooling equipment over time,” he said.Another glitch the researchers are working out is the slightaftertaste the solution leaves behind. Using a taste panel, thescientists found that it “slightly changes” the taste of thepeaches. Surviving shipping”They have to be sure their product can survive shipping,” hesaid, “because when a shipment reaches its destination, a sampleis pulled and if the peaches are too soft, the whole load can berejected.”Working with visiting scientist Grzegorz Lysiak of theAgricultural University in Poznan, Poland, Prussia and UGAagricultural economist Wojciech Florkowski applied a methodcurrently used on apples.”We dipped half a batch of peaches in a 1-percent calciumchloride solution for half an hour. The other half we leftuntouched,” Prussia said.He says the solution is similar to what is used for addingchlorine to swimming pools. “Table salt is sodium chloride, andthis is calcium chloride,” he said.The test peaches were then put through storage and shippingconditions. Working to remove aftertaste”It was a slight change,” Prussia said. “But it was enough of achange that our taste panel detected it.” The research team isnow working to modify the salt solution.”We have to do more research to see if we can lower theconcentration of the solution so the taste isn’t affected and(growers) still get the benefits,” he said.The scientists are also looking into an alternative to dippingthe peaches in the packing houses.”We’d like to try spraying the peach trees while they’re growing,either once a week or once every two weeks,” Prussia said. “Thisway the calcium would get into the peaches as they grow.”He says this method is used now on other crops with no aftertasteeffects.A postharvest specialist, Prussia says peaches could be allowedto ripen longer on the trees if they weren’t too soft to ship.Staying longer on the trees would make peaches sweeter.Prussia hopes spraying the salt solution onto the peach treeswill be the answer to this dilemma.”It would be great if the peaches could be left on the treeslonger to develop full flavor, still ship well and arrive tastingbetter for consumers,” he said.The researchers are now sharing their findings with the GeorgiaAgricultural Commission for Peaches, which partially funded thefirst stage of the project.center_img By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaUniversity of Georgia researchers have developed a solution thatcould help prolong the shelf life of fresh peaches.Peach growers have to pick peaches earlier than ideal so theydon’t perish en route from the orchards to retail stores.”Growers pick peaches when they reach what’s called the ‘marketmature’ stage,” said Stan Prussia, an engineer in the biologicaland agricultural engineering department with the UGA College ofAgricultural and Environmental Sciences.last_img read more

Swine flu precautions urged for travelers

first_imgIn light of the current threat of swine influenza in Mexico and certain US states, the Vermont Chamber Hospitality Council is urging Vermont s tourism industry to remain alert to the symptoms of the flu, while realizing that health officials are taking all necessary steps to help treat those individuals and contain the disease before it spreads.  Of the 64 cases identified nationwide, there have been no deaths reported from this influenza strain in Vermont or the US.Of course, Vermont s businesses should ensure a high level of sanitation at all times, and implement strategies and precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of employees and guests.These precautionary measures include the use of common sense to help cease the spread of swine flu, complying with food and health regulations, and seeking up-to-date facts to help make informed decisions.  The Centers for Disease Control has set up a web page with current information and resources at: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/(link is external).As of April 27, there have been no reported cases of swine influenza found in any public lodging facility in the US. The National Restaurant Association has set up a webpage with important swine flu information for restaurateurs at: http://www.restaurant.org/swineflu/(link is external).  It is important to note that one can not contract swine flu from eating pork.Travelers will be looking to the tourism industry to help them make these decisions, and all businesses can work together to help people continue to travel. If you do receive cancellations due to the threat of swine flu, please let us know.The Vermont Chamber continues to monitor the impact of tourism to Vermont through our partners on a federal level, including our congressional delegation, and the National Restaurant Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, National Tour Association, and US Travel Association.last_img read more

Rutland County Parent Child Center wins $25,000 SymQuest office makeover

first_imgSource: SymQuest Larry Sudbay, President and Chief Executive Officer of SymQuest Group, Inc. announced today that Rutland County Parent Child Center, Inc. (RCPCC) was chosen as the winning applicant for the Third SymPowered Office Makeover from SymQuest — worth $25,000. Rutland County Parent Child Center, a locally based non-profit, demonstrated the most need, budget constraints, outdated equipment and dedication to serving their clients. Since 1985, RCPCC has nurtured strengths, growth and independence of children and families in the Rutland area. The RCPCC believes that families and their children have the right to family-centered, comprehensive high quality services. They deliver these services through home-based programs, playgroups, parent education and support, information and referral early childhood programs, community development and on-site services.RCPCC is currently utilizing very outdated equipment donated to the agency, including computers and a networked server. Their two donated copiers are also severely out of date and require a great deal of ongoing maintenance. Funded by state and federal grants that are continually being cut, the Center has been unable to divert any funding to address their technological handicaps and obstacles for several years and sees no immediate change in that.“We are grateful to SymQuest for this much needed support! A SymPowered Office Makeover will dramatically improve how we serve our clients, enabling us to better fulfill our mission of helping families be successful in our community. With this Makeover, RCPCC staff will have more time to spend with families and children and have to spend less time trying to deal with technology issues. RCPCC is proud to be the recipient of this donation,” commented Caprice Hover, Executive Director of RCPCC.“Communications, confidentiality, accountability and efficiency are critical to RCPCC meeting their clients’ needs. Their current computer infrastructure, a key element to the organization’s success, is in a fragile state. The staff is struggling with old, failing computers and outdated software. RCPCC is seriously in need of a more efficient means for their 43 employees to complete and file client reports, process time-sheets and payroll, submit data required by state and federal agencies, report financial data for accountability and to communicate via email,” said Joe Noonan, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, SymQuest. “As a result of the SymPowered Office Makeover, RCPCC’s office infrastructure, communications systems and processing of reports will be drastically improved and streamlined. RCPCC will better be able to provide information to state and federal agencies, as required by law. The training and support aspect of the Office Makeover will get RCPCC’s systems up-to-date,” continued Noonan.The SymPowered Office Makeover includes: a server, multi-functional device (all-in-one copier, scanner, fax and printer), laptop(s), labor costs for technicians/engineers, monitored network service for one year, as well as some fun extras.“We are pleased to offer this unique, exciting opportunity from SymQuest. We have just completed the SymPowered Office Makeover in Keene, NH at CHESCO. This is our third Makeover to date, totaling $75,000. We plan to continue this tradition of giving back to the communities in which we work, live and play,” said Sudbay.last_img read more

Latin American journalists brave deadly threats to report the news

first_imgBy Dialogo October 28, 2013 Many journalists are threatened, beaten, and killed for covering the activities of drug cartels and street gangs which collaborate with transnational criminal organizations. Organized crime groups pose the biggest threat to journalists in the Americas, said journalist Alvao Sierra, author of the book “Coverage of Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Drug traffickers are “methodical, pervasive, and lethal,” Sierra said. The Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas, two major Mexican transnational criminal organizations, are collaborating with local gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Brazil to engage in drug trafficking, gun smuggling, and other illegal enterprises. The presence of these drug cartels has increased the danger reporters face in Central America, according to Reporters Without Borders. DeCesare, who earned the award for her documentation of El Salvador’s criminal gangs, said the fear of violence has “eroded the very fabric of society” throughout Central America. “When you go as a reporter into the community, no one wants to talk to you because they’re terrified,” she said. “One of the things photojournalism does is connect us emotionally, in ways which humanize the actors in the narratives that we tell. It plays a role in getting people to think about what needs to be done next.” “It’s important to see them as human beings and not just as criminals,” she said. “I’ve always tried to highlight the work of NGOs and government programs that focus on treating violence as a public health issue, as opposed to just a criminal justice issue.” Military assistance Military officials in many parts of the Americas are trying to help journalists by providing training on how they can do their jobs safely in dangerous areas, said Raul Benitez Manaut, director of the Collective of the Analysis of Security with Democracy (CASEDE). “It is important for journalists to know what to do or who to avoid when working in hazardous areas where organized crime or guerillas operate,” Benitez Manaut said. Lauria made his remarks Oct. 23 in New York, following presentation of the 2013 Maria Moore Cabot Prizes, the world’s oldest international annual journalism award. “It’s very tough to be a journalist in Latin America,” said John Friedman, director of the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes. “We’re trying to use the prize as a way to encourage more solidarity among journalists on the entire continent — both to protect themselves but also to raise the quality of journalism in Latin America.” This year’s recipients include Mauri König, special reporter for Gazeta do Povo newspaper in Curitiba, Brazil; Alejandro Santos Rubino, director and editor-in-chief of Colombia’s Revista Semana; Jon Lee Anderson, staff writer at The New Yorker, and Donna DeCesare, a documentary photographer and freelance writer who has worked extensively in Central America. In addition, Cuban journalist Yoani Sánchez — considered one of the hemisphere’s most prominent bloggers — accepted the citation originally awarded to her in 2009, due to Cuban government restrictions preventing her from traveling to the United States at that time. “I don’t think we could have picked a better group of winners this year,” said Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia Journalism School. “They make us proud, especially as we mark the 75th anniversary [of the Cabot prizes].” A deadly threat Crime reporters are vulnerable to drug traffickers, particularly in big cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, König wrote in an article published in Americas Quarterly. “In the border regions, where trafficking in sex and drugs is rife, journalists covering those topics are at risk, while in the Amazon region and central Brazil, the coverage of agrarian conflicts and illegal occupation of public lands can trigger reprisals,” he wrote. Since 1991, 25 journalists have been killed in Brazil, König wrote. “These were journalists who were doing their work, informing society — not journalists on vacation,” he wrote. Clarinha Glock, author of a study about violence against journalists that was first published by the Inter-American Press Association in 2006, said that while violence was once committed mainly against radio broadcasters and media professionals in the interior, “recently, we have seen these types of crimes in Rio de Janeiro and against the employees of large media companies.” Mexico, meanwhile, remains the deadliest country for journalists in the Americas, said Lauria. “In the last six and a half years, more than 50 journalists have been killed or disappeared. Media outlets have been bombed, websites have been hacked, and journalists have been forced to flee. But the most devastating consequence is this climate of fear and intimidation. Reporters work in a climate of terror, and this produces widespread censorship in newsrooms,” he said. Journalists recognized for outstanding work Reporting the news has never been an easy job in Latin America, but these days, the journalism profession is more dangerous than ever. In Brazil, four reporters have been killed this year — three of them in reprisals for their work, said Carlos Lauria, senior Americas program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists. Organized crime operatives have killed at least 19 journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean from January through August 2013, according to a recent report by the Investigative Commission for attacks against Journalists (CIAP), which is part of the Latin American Journalists Federation (FELAP). “This has made Brazil one of the most dangerous countries in the region. While reporters are more vulnerable in rural areas where law enforcement is weak, those who work in larger urban centers are not immune either,” Lauria said. The problem of violence and threats against journalists is not limited to Brazil. “Criminal organizations have also silenced the press in Central America — perhaps nowhere as much as in Honduras,” Lauria explained. “Rampant gang violence, the presence of powerful drug cartels from Mexico and the deep societal polarization that followed the 2009 ouster of former President Manuel Zelaya all have contributed to make the work of reporters there even more dangerous.” Humanizing the story Reporters at risk in Brazil In Peru these past days they have threatened journalist Monica Veco for investigating coruption and drug trafficking where the main political leaders of the APR party are involved, among them Alan Garcia and Jorge del Castillo It’s about time someone worried about the safety of journalists. I don’t have the exact number of news professionals that have been murdered recently, so far during this century. I am thankful on behalf of humanity for the right to live and the freedom to inform and be informed. Thank you to the forces that work for our safety.last_img read more

The Florida Bar Foundation articles

first_img January 1, 2002 Managing Editor Regular News Public service grants awarded Foundation awards $10 million in legal aid grants Mark D. Killian Managing EditorThe Florida Bar Foundation awarded close to $10 million in IOTA grants December 7 to Florida legal aid providers and devoted another $1 million to “special purpose” programs to help meet the legal needs of the poor.William H. Davis, chair of the Foundation’s Legal Assistance for the Poor Grant Committee, said this year’s general support grants are equal to what was awarded last year, halting a trend which had seen Foundation funding for legal aid to the poor decline by 8.3 percent last year and 7 percent the previous year.“This year, thankfully, we are not going to be required to make any cuts over the funding from last year,” Davis said. “We certainly were not able to award what was requested but many of the programs — because the committee had previously announced we wanted to have level funding — asked for the same grant amount they got last year.”Davis said cuts in bank interest rates over the past few years have taken a toll on the IOTA program. In the past, the program has raised as much as $19 million a year to fund legal aid, administration of justice, and law student assistance projects. From 1993 until 1998, annual grant allocations were kept relatively stable through the use of the IOTA contingency reserve — which was established before bank interest rates began to drop — and by allocating more and more of the Foundation’s income to legal assistance to the poor programs and less to the administration of justice and law student assistance projects.The Foundation also was able to offset declines in IOTA contributions by the favorable returns it received on its investments. The reserve funds, however, are now depleted, and investment income is down.The applications for general support grants for local programs are based upon a per capita formula, depending upon the number of poor people in a county.Services are provided through staff and pro bono attorneys. The cases handled are determined through local community priorities set by local boards of directors. Predominantly, the cases handled are family, housing, income maintenance, and consumer matters.The Foundation’s board of directors approved the general support grants on the recommendation of its Legal Assistance to the Poor Grant Committee.Of the funds distributed, $5 million went to general legal services programs that also receive Legal Services Corporation funds; $1.2 million went to legal aid organizations that do not receive any LSC money; slightly more than $1 million was awarded to immigration service projects; $423,000 was provided for legal assistance to the institutionalized; $30,000 went to law school clinical projects; and almost $1 million was awarded to statewide legal aid programs. LSC Programs Foundation grants for general support to programs which also receive LSC funding include: Bay Area Legal Services, $607,126; Central Florida Legal Services, $458,845; Florida Rural Legal Services, $673,859; Greater Orlando Area Legal Services, $212,098; Gulf Coast Legal Services, $457,487; Jacksonville Area Legal Services, $360,527; Legal Aid Services of Broward County, $449,653; Legal Services of Greater Miami, $582,119; Legal Services of North Florida, $419,087; Northwest Florida Legal Services, $228,804; Three Rivers Legal Services, $324,466; and Withlacoochee Area Legal Services, $259,098.IOTA general funding grants awarded to organizations which do not also receive LSC funding include: Brevard County Legal Aid, $72,387; Clearwater Bar Foundation, $32,740; Community Law Program, $42,817; Cuban American Bar Association, $28,479; Dade County Bar Association, $256,062; Heart of Florida Legal Aid Society, $96,190; Lee County Legal Aid Society, $48,176; Legal Aid Foundation of the Tallahassee Bar Association, $32,151; Legal Aid Society of Collier County, $32,095; Legal Aid Society of Manasota, $16,506; Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, $238,581; Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, $292,064; Okaloosa County Legal Aid, $22,652; and the Seminole County Bar Association Legal Aid Society, $54,331. Immigration Services Foundation grants to organizations which provide immigration services include: American Friends Service Committee, $111,030; Dade County Bar Association, $67,412; Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, $572,845; Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center Homeless Project, $65,190; Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, $124,208; and Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, $77,725.Grants for legal assistance programs for the institutionalized or incapacitated went to Florida Institutional Legal Services, $217,126; the Florida Justice Institute, $149,432; and the Guardianship Program of Dade County, $56,958.IOTA grants for law school clinical projects in the amount of $5,000 each went to Florida State University, Nova Southeastern University, St. Thomas University, Stetson University, the University of Florida, and the University of Miami.General support grants for statewide projects went to Florida Legal Services, $873,773, and Southern Legal Counsel, $75,342. Special Purpose Grants The Florida Bar Foundation also gave slightly more than $1 million in special purpose grants to four legal aid programs providing representation that federally funded programs can no longer offer.The money will be used to fund class actions, migrant farm worker representation, policy advocacy, and cases that might generate attorneys’ fees. Federal legislation enacted a number of years ago prohibits programs that accept Legal Services Corporation funding from working in those areas.To file class actions and cases that might generate fees, the Foundation awarded Florida Legal Services for policy advocacy, $311,251; FLS Migrant Farmworker Justice Project, $376,713; the Florida Justice Institute, $162,911; Southern Legal Counsel, $134,389; and the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, $118,454.The 2002 grant year will mark the 20th time IOTA funds have been awarded in the legal assistance for the poor category. Florida’s IOTA program, the first in the nation, has awarded more than $133 million in IOTA LAP grants over the program’s 19-year history. Foundation seeks directors The Florida Bar Foundation articles Eight positions on The Florida Bar Foundation’s board of directors will be filled this year under the Florida Supreme Court approved governance plan which provides for 18 of the 29-member Bar Foundation board to be selected equally by the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar Board of Governors, and the board of directors of the Bar Foundation.The six at-large seats to be filled for three-year terms beginning July 1 are currently held by: William S. Graessle, Jacksonville; and Judge Florence Snyder Rivas, Tallahassee (Florida Supreme Court appointees); Daryl D. Parks, Tallahassee; Lawrence J. Phalin, Orlando (Florida Bar Board of Governors appointees); Patrice Pilate, Viera; and Kathleen McLeroy, Tampa (Foundation appointees). Graessle and Rivas are not eligible for additional terms. One at-large position will be filled for a one-year term beginning July 1 to fill the unexpired term of William H. Davis, Tallahassee, who was elected secretary-treasurer of the Foundation effective July 1. Applicants for the at-large positions who are members of The Florida Bar also must be members of the Bar Foundation. Bar Foundation members include annual contributors, Foundation Fellows, and participants in IOTA.The eighth board seat to be filled is for a public member currently held by Georgina A. Angones of Miami, who is eligible to serve a second two-year term. The public member position will be filled by a joint Bar/Foundation Nominating Committee.Since 1981, the Foundation’s principal activity has been setting policy and overseeing operation of the Florida Supreme Court’s IOTA program. The court established the IOTA program to fund legal aid for the poor, improvements in the administration of justice, and loans and scholarships for law students. The Foundation board also oversees the Foundation’s formal fundraising program, sets investment policies, Foundation policies generally, and adopts the annual operating budget.Persons interested in applying for any of the eight Foundation board positions should obtain the appropriate application form. Applications for positions to be filled by the Supreme Court, Foundation (at-large seats), or the joint Bar/Foundation nominating committee (public member seat) may be obtained from the executive director of The Florida Bar Foundation, Suite 405, 109 East Church Street, Orlando 32801-3440.Completed applications for these seats must be received by the Foundation by February 15. (The Florida Bar will give separate notice for the two positions to be filled by The Florida Bar Board of Governors. See the Notice on page 2.)The Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors embraces the concept of diversity. According to the Foundation, “a diverse membership makes the board stronger, and its work for the Foundation more relevant to the society in which we live.” The Foundation strongly encourages minorities, women, and persons with disabilities to apply for service on the board. To help achieve the broadest participation, The Florida Bar Foundation “Expense Reimbursement Policy” provides modest reimbursement for most out-of-pocket expenses incurred during board service.Applicants will be advised in writing of action taken by the selecting authorities. O’Malley to lead the Foundation Tampa’s Andrew M. O’Malley has been elected president-elect designate of The Florida Bar Foundation by its board of directors.Meeting December 7, the Foundation board also elected William H. Davis of Tallahassee secretary/treasurer.O’Malley will assume the Foundation presidency in 2002-2003, following William L. Thompson, Jr., of Orange Park, who will take office when the term of Darryl Bloodworth, Jacksonville, expires in June.The names of O’Malley and Davis were placed in nomination by the Foundation Nominating Committee, which consists of Bloodworth, and past Florida Bar Foundation presidents A. Hamilton Cooke, James A. Baxter, Rene V. Murai, and Neal R. Sonnett. The Florida Bar Foundation is seeking nominations for its 2002 Medal of Honor Awards.The Foundation has two categories for the medal of honor award. A nominee for the first category must be a member of The Florida Bar who has demonstrated dedication to the objectives of the Bar: “…to inculcate in its members the principles of duty and service to the public, to improve the administration of justice, and to advance the science of jurisprudence.”Nominees in this first category also must be Florida residents who are actively engaged in a profession relative to the practice of law including, but not limited to, practicing lawyers, judges or teachers in the legal field. Recent recipients in this category are: Steven M. Goldstein, William O.E. Henry, Justice Richard W. Ervin, Burton Young, Samuel S. Smith, Joseph W. Hatchett. Last year’s award was presented to Patrick G. Emmanuel.Nominees are also being solicited for a second medal of honor award category. This category recognizes the achievement of nonlawyers, or lawyers not actively engaged in the practice of law. Nominees must have made an outstanding contribution to the improvement of the administration of justice in Florida through research, writing, or other deeds of such character and quality that, in the judgment of the Foundation, warrant the highest award that can be bestowed by the Foundation.Nominees in the second category also must be Florida residents and may be members of The Florida Bar. Recent recipients in this category are: The Rev. Fred L. Maxwell for his leadership and perseverance in seeking permanent housing for the homeless in Orlando, Gene Miller for his integrity and passion as an investigative reporter for The Miami Herald in the coverage of the murder trials of two wrongfully convicted death row inmates, and John B. Orr, Jr., for his courageous stand against a package of bills filed in the 1956 Florida Legislature’s special session whose purpose was to perpetuate school segregation.The Medal of Honor awards will be presented at the annual dinner of the Foundation during The Florida Bar Annual Meeting June 20, at the Boca Raton Resort and Club.Nominations should list the specific achievements which would qualify an individual to receive a medal of honor and should include a brief biographical sketch of the nominee.Nominations should be sent to: The Florida Bar Foundation, Medal of Honor Awards Program, Post Office Box 1553, Orlando 32802-1553, (800) 541-2195, (407) 843-0045. Nominations also may be faxed to (407) 839-0287 or sent via e-mail to cwherry@flabarfndn.org.The deadline for submission of nominees is January 30. The Florida Bar Foundation recently awarded $152,500 to public service programs at seven Florida law schools.IOTA Public Service Fellows programs range from traditional civil legal clinics to developing public policy proposals focusing on the legal needs of women and children to advocacy for the disabled. In addition to direct public service work, law students also undertake projects to involve other students in public service activities.The funds are awarded directly to the law schools, which select students based on demonstrated commitment to pro bono and public interest work.“Not only do the fellows help provide legal services, but they get exposed to that kind of work and, hopefully, will be more prone to enter into it either as a legal service attorney or a pro bono attorney later in their careers,” said William H. Davis, chair of the Foundation’s Legal Assistance for the Poor Grant Committee.The presence of the program on the campus for each law school also provides an awareness in the student body of the importance of public interest law practice, as a career and as a pro bono activity.Florida Coastal will receive $14,000; Florida State University will receive $23,000; Nova Southeastern University will receive $23,000; St. Thomas University, $20,000; Stetson University, $23,000; the University of Florida, $22,100; and the University of Miami, $27,400. Foundation seeks Medal of Honor nominees last_img read more

Borne Out Of Racism, Defiant AME Church Preaches Social Justice Through Gospel

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York [dropcap]D[/dropcap]iane Gaines took her usual position along the pews inside Bethel African Methodist Episcopal church in Babylon.The last few days had been a whirlwind, with Gaines taking calls from members of the community lobbying her to continue the job she had been doing for more than 15 years. Meanwhile, her own thoughts had become clouded as she nervously contemplated her future.Gaines was in need of a sign, a gentle nudge that would help put her mind to rest. She wanted to follow her heart, but she knew the road would be turbulent and laden with pitfalls.She wheeled herself into church that Sunday in October 2010 with her eyes wide open.Gaines had already been through a gauntlet of obstacles. A popped blood vessel in her spine at 24 years old has relegated her for the rest of her life to a wheelchair. Then came a breast cancer diagnosis at age 40.Gaines, a single mother of three, pushed on. Her faith never wavered. If this was His plan, then so be it. She’d accept the mission He had set forth for her.But Gaines’ journey hit a roadblock in 2010 when the Nassau County-based Women’s Opportunity Resource Center (WORC), which she served as executive director, was shut down by its parent organization, Education and Assistance Corporation (EAC) due to a lack of funding.For 25 years, the program helped downtrodden women who had been in and out of trouble with the criminal justice system receive vital services in order for them to effectively re-enter society, possibly earn a GED, perhaps enroll in college, and hopefully land a job, support a family. Some had been sexually and physically abused in the past. The emotional scars ran the gamut. They were drug dealers and drug abusers. Many others made a career out of petty crimes.WORC’s mission was simple: reduce recidivism and help women climb out of a dark and lonely abyss through vocational training, educational courses, workshops, counseling, health services and emotional support.Gaines lamented what would happen to destitute Long Island women if WORC ceased to exist. Convincing people to fund the program would be a tireless endeavor, yet something was pushing her toward reviving it.About one month after WORC shut down, Gaines decided to stop worrying and instead put all her faith in God.Peering at the pulpit that Sunday, Gaines recognized the youth pastor preaching that morning as the son of a WORC graduate. What some would consider a coincidence, Gaines interpreted as divine intervention.“I can’t run from this,” she recalled.The next day Gaines got to work. After registering WORC with the Nassau County Clerk’s office, she headed over to Fulton Avenue in Hempstead to inspect an unoccupied office space. The landlord inquired about her budget. She didn’t have one, Gaines admitted.“I have God,” she told him.ResistanceDiane Gaines, executive director of WORC, helps women who have been incarcerated get back on their feet. Gaines visited the African American Museum of Nassau County on Aug. 27 to accept a $55,000 grant from the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. (Rashed Mian/Long Island Press)Gaines, who had been raised Catholic, discovered the African Methodist Episcopal church two decades ago. She made the switch after a professional mentor suggested she attend a service at Mt. Olive AME church in Port Washington—and she’s been hooked ever since.The AME church has been in existence for more than two centuries, quietly going about its business spreading the Gospel worldwide and helping improve the communities its members call home. The first AME church was founded by a free slave in Philadelphia shortly after the official end of the American Revolution. The church’s congregation now numbers three million people—spanning 39 countries on five continents.Suddenly the church’s bucolic lifestyle was interrupted on June 17 when bullets violently began flying inside Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., the oldest AME church in the South, during Bible study. When the alleged gunman finally ended the carnage, nine lives had been lost, with the church’s venerable pastor among the dead.Dylann Storm Roof’s motives were made clear by his venomous justification for the rampage.“You are raping our women and taking over the country,” Roof reportedly told one of his victims inside the historic church during the slayings. On Sept. 3, prosecutors in Charleston announced they’d be seeking the death penalty.A supposed manifesto reportedly posted on a website registered by Roof last February paints a disturbing portrait of a man painfully uncomfortable living in an America where the KKK has largely become irrelevant and hate-fueled attacks by other disciples are, in his view, too infrequent.“I have no choice,” it reads, according to The New York Times. “I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites (sic) in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”Fueled by racism, Roof allegedly slaughtered nine God-loving people after an hour of Bible study—a common event held every Wednesday at each AME church in the country.AME members of Long Island were just leaving Bible studies of their own when news of the bloodshed began to surface.“I felt violated,” 64-year-old Anita Scott says inside Bethel AME Church in Freeport. Scott was raised in the AME and has family in South Carolina.“This is my home,” she says on a quiet summer day inside Bethel. “I felt like someone had come in there and raped us…I just wonder: How can someone raise their child to hate?”The mass murder sent a shockwave across LI, which is home to 14 AME churches—seven each in Nassau and Suffolk counties, including Bethel Copiague, where congregants will celebrate its 200th anniversary this month. LI is also home to St. David AME Zion church in Sag Harbor, a defunct AME church built in 1840 that is rumored to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad and housed a trapdoor that once hide slaves. Its pastor at the time was also a noted abolitionist, according to historians.The AME church has always been a symbol of black resistance, says Rev. Craig Robinson, pastor of AME Bethel Church in Bay Shore. Therefore, it’s not out of the question that one of its churches would be used to hide blacks from their slave masters. (The existence of the Underground Railroad on LI has been the subject of much debate.)The murderous rampage on a summer evening in Charleston evoked visceral reactions and brought back memories of the church’s birth in the late 1780s (the exact date is unknown), when white Methodists insisted that blacks move to the back of St. George’s Methodist Church in Philadelphia. But it was Richard Allen’s act of defiance at the end of the 18th century that laid the groundwork for the eventual formation of the AME church. Allen, a revered black preacher and member of St. George’s, decided to lead a walkout, a pivotal moment in the history of black resistance.Richard Allen founded the first AME Church in Philadelphia after he was told he could no longer worship at St. George’s Methodist Church. He is also considered one of America’s first black activists.Ever since Richard Allen preached his religious views to a new congregation, the AME has been at the forefront in the fight for equality. Allen, a former Pennsylvania slave, had already earned his freedom. He had become a roving Methodist preacher, touring southern states, creating a burgeoning following, and inspiring destitute slaves and free blacks alike.Regarded as one of the country’s first black activists, Allen refused to live a compliant life. He saw the church—an independent black church, more accurately—as a place of refuge and a spiritual haven, where blacks could pray freely and speak openly, without resentful stares from white Methodists.“The existence of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is a glaring example of black resistance to racism, to oppression,” says Robinson.The mass murder of the “Emanuel 9” at the hands of a man allegedly motivated by his hatred toward blacks spawned yet another national conversation about America’s deep-seated racism. During his eulogy of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the Mother Emanuel pastor and South Carolina state senator killed in the rampage, President Obama referenced the Confederate flag, revered by many in the South as a symbol of their heritage.“Removing the flag from this state’s capitol would not be an act of political correctness; it would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers,” Obama told a packed audience in Charleston on June 26, six days after the shooting. “It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought—the cause of slavery—was wrong, the imposition of Jim Crow after the Civil War, the resistance to civil rights for all people, was wrong. It would be one step in an honest accounting of America’s history; a modest but meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds.”The shooting did more than just cause blood to spill, tears to cascade for days, and stir emotional debates on race, guns, and, most passionately, the Confederate flag. The tragedy also served as a reminder of the AME church’s vital role as a champion of black rights and as a leader in the community.AME congregations nationwide form a tight-knit community made up of deeply devout parishioners who make it their mission to use the church to improve the lives of people in their respective neighborhoods. For decades, generations of AME members have seen racism firsthand. Mother Emanuel itself had to be rebuilt after it was burned to the ground in the 1830s amid controversy over a foiled slave revolt instigated by Denmark Vesey, one of the church’s co-founders.“At the heart of Allen’s moral vision was an evangelical religion—Methodism—that promised equality to all believers in Christ,” writes Richard M. Newman in Freedom’s Prophet, recognized by some as the definitive biography on Allen’s life. “Indeed, one of Allen’s best claims to equal founding status was his attempt to merge faith and racial politics in the young republic.”Visit an AME church on any Sunday and you’ll typically find a motivated congregation that utilizes Scripture and sermons as tools to better their neighborhoods. Many AME churches operate food pantries, youth groups, a women’s missionary society, health programs, Alcoholics Anonymous, and a bevy of other vital social programs. Those with larger congregations may offer more expansive services; sometimes they collaborate.“We’re not insulated; we’re not boxed in,” says Rev. Stephen Lewis, pastor of Bethel AME Church in Freeport. “We’re bold enough to go outside and invite people.”The AME church is constantly looking outward, says Margaret Davis, first lady of Bethel AME church in Babylon.The AME church is “like the fueling station where you get the gasoline that you need,” says Davis. “Get pumped and go on out there and make the cycles and change lives.”Voice of the VoicelessRev. Lisa Williamson, the pastor of Mt. Olive AME Church in Port Washington, with parishioner Edith Hall holding a framed photo of the nine people killed at Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina in June. (Rashed Mian/Long Island Press)The pastors who lead congregations on Long Island have traveled very different paths to get where they are now, but they all share common goals.Rev. Lewis, the pastor at Bethel AME Church in Freeport, arrived from northern Pennsylvania. Rev. Keith Hayward, originally from Bermuda, has been the pastor of Bethel AME in Copiague for the last three years. Prior to his arrival, he also pastored a church in Pennsylvania. Rev. Dr. Lisa Williamson of Mt. Olive AME in Port Washington previously served at Trinity AME in Smithtown. Born in Venezuela, she’s grown fond of her small church on a quiet, idyllic tree-lined street in Port Washington.Rev. Craig Robinson, 29, arrived in Bay Shore last year. The sprawling South Shore hamlet feels very much like his hometown of Ferguson, Mo., Robinson says, adjusting his tall, burly frame as he relaxes in the front pew inside Bethel AME Church in Bay Shore.The unassuming church sits adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road tracks and is less than a block from bustling 2nd Avenue. With its vaulted ceilings and ubiquitous stained glass windows, the unpretentious 150-year-old AME house of worship evokes its humble beginnings. The ground beneath it trembles as trains shriek east and west, an omnipresent rat-a-tat often adds to the soundtrack of Robinson’s Sunday sermons.After entering the church and getting a sense of his surrounding, Robinson called his mom back home in Ferguson and reported the eerie similarities between Bay Shore and his hometown: large groups of people struggling to get by, dilapidated cookie-cutter houses dotting the neighborhood, families scrounging for food. But like Ferguson, Bay Shore has its wealthy parts, mostly waterfront properties boasting dazzling views of the Great South Bay.Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, was the site of intense protests following the police shooting death of Michael Brown in August 2014. Robinson eventually moved to St. Louis, where he attended St. James AME Church. He was only 17 when he first began preaching.In June 2014, an AME bishop appointed Robinson as the pastor of Bethel AME Church in Bay Shore. In order to be ordained, a prospective AME pastor is required to earn a master’s degree in divinity. Pastors are then appointed by bishops for one-year terms and are either reinstated or reassigned to a different AME church, perhaps in another state. Pastors never know if they’ll lead a church for more than a year.As with anyone coming into a new neighborhood, the pastors try to ascertain the makeup of the community and the issues people face. Robinson realized quickly that the church’s food pantry helped shine a light on families stricken by poverty.A black ribbon hangs outside Mt. Olive AME Church in Port Washington in remembrance of the nine people slain during Bible study in South Carolina.The issues facing other communities are not much different.When Williamson arrived in Port Washington she realized there was an affordable housing problem. The pulpit provides Williamson with a powerful megaphone that allows her voice to be heard, but it’s her ability to go outside the church and speak with community leaders and public officials that helps bring issues out of the darkness and into the sunlight.“Every good preacher should have a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other hand,” Williamson says.When a member of the Port Washington Police Department unfurled a Confederate flag outside his house on the Fourth of July holiday, Williamson invited members of the community and the police commissioner to the church for a frank discussion on the flag’s presence in their neighborhood, which attracted a small but passionate group.“A lot of the people went to school with him,” Mt. Olive AME member Edith Hall tells the Press. “They felt really hurt because they knew this officer.”“I don’t think they fully understand what that flag represents and that’s something we did at that meeting,” adds Williamson. “One young woman gave the history [of the Confederate flag], and through the history she explained why when we see it, all these emotions come up. If I see a Confederate flag my impression is you do not care for me as an African American.”Among her duties, Williamson says, is establishing a working relationship with the Port Washington Police Department, which is headquartered less than a mile south of Mt. Olive.“As a pastor, we know you have to establish a relationship with law enforcement, unfortunately because of the history,” Williamson tells the Press.“Social justice, community activism,” she adds, “that’s what we were borne out of. And with the climate in the country now, we’re even getting ready to do it on a much larger scale.”Long Island has a long history of racial tension. One of the largest KKK rallies outside the South took place in Nassau in 1922, according to The New York Times. Two years later, some 30,000 spectators watched 2,000 robed Klansmen parade through Freeport. Those unresolved issues linger on today.A report published by the Syosset-based nonprofit ERASE Racism in January found that LI remains one of the most segregated regions in the country, with “segregation between blacks and whites remaining extremely high and segregation between Latinos, Asians and whites increasing.” The same report also noted that only 3 percent of black students and 5 percent of Latino students have access to the highest performing schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties, compared to 28 percent of whites and 30 percent of Asian students.There’s also the ongoing issue of affordable housing. Last year, the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the Town of Oyster Bay, alleging that it violated the Fair Housing Act by giving preference to residents of the town, which is majority white. That same summer a Mineola landlord agreed to a $165,000 settlement in a case in which he was accused of discriminating against blacks. Two nonprofits, including ERASE Racism, sent both black and white “testers” to the complex and had them inquire about vacancies. The black tester was told there were no rooms available, yet four hours later the white tester was shown an available one-bedroom apartment.AME pastors relish the opportunity to be more than just religious leaders confined within the walls of their church.“I came with this mindset: I was not sent to just pastor Bethel church, I was sent to pastor this community,” says Hayward, who was assigned to Bethel AME in Copiague in January 2012.Pastors like Hayward say they’re following the path forged by Allen more than two centuries ago.“If there’s legislation in this community that is not for the holistic healing and development of people, you will hear my voice,” Hayward says recently from across a large brown desk inside his spacious office at Bethel AME in Copiague. “If the school district is not providing our children the holistic education and the procedures and protocols are not correct, they will hear my voice.”‘To Strengthen Those Things That Remain’Rev. Keith Hayward outside historic Bethel AME Church in Copiague. The church will be celebrating its 200th anniversary this month. (Rashed Mian/Long Island Press)Celebrating its 200th anniversary this month, Hayward’s church does everything from holding toy giveaways and fundraisers to hosting Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings on Wednesdays, running a weekly GED program in partnership with SUNY Farmingdale, and a two-hour seminar about diabetes every Tuesday for six weeks in the fall. And that’s not all.Hayward is especially proud of the “Fatherhood Initiative,” which he instituted upon his arrival in Copiague. The six-week program reconnects troubled fathers with their children following a protracted separation, perhaps due to incarceration or a frayed relationship, whatever the reason. The results have been “phenomenal,” so far, Hayward says with pride.“Some of the men have been back here on a Sunday morning and have had their children with them,” he says. “Even the mothers of the children are more appreciative of the fact that the fathers are more engaged in their children’s lives.”Hayward always keeps his ear to the ground. The pastor recently learned of an illiterate 9-year-old boy.“That was grievous to me,” he says, struggling to hide his displeasure. Hayward immediately set a goal to have the child reading before classes resumed this fall.The child had slipped through the cracks because of troubles at home, but the church stepped in to fill the void that the school district had been unable to.“He’s not at the point where we can’t reach him,” Hayward says.Hayward could very well be the unofficial mayor of Copiague, and Bethel AME its city hall. His influence is everywhere: the county legislature, judicial system, police, school districts, neighboring businesses (Toys ‘R’ US donates to the church). Bethel AME now has 325 congregants, up from about 100 before Hayward was appointed pastor. Bible study attracts on average 110 people each week.Hayward’s church was initially founded in Amityville in the 19th century but has since moved to neighboring Copiague. The church still owns its original property on Albany Avenue as well as an adjacent cemetery, where the last burial took place in 1897, he says. These days the parcel where the original church once sat is vacant but the community takes advantage of the open space for recreational activities.There’s a piece of Scripture in the Book of Revelations that Hayward lives by: “To strengthen those things that remain.” In Hayward’s case, it’d be the community that he’s hoping to uplift.“I base my ministry on that one Scripture,” he says.It’s social outreach projects like these that are happening all the time at AME churches across the Island.At Bethel AME in Freeport, Lewis speaks proudly of “Joshua Generation,” a program designed to reach young people in the community. More than 50 youngsters visit the church on Friday nights, he says, “because, really, they have nowhere else to go.”Instead of roaming the neighborhood, they take part in physical and educational activities, participate in Bible study, and, if someone in the community has been generous with donations, travel to sporting events in the area.“We keep them involved,” Lewis says.AME’s faithful take pride in the work they do outside the church.Diane Gaines was able to re-establish WORC in 2010, using her savings to pay for rent in Hempstead and reaching out to members of the church and public officials for support. She was able to secure thousands of dollars in funding from the AME church through a Women’s Missionary Society program dubbed “Project Possible.”Several years ago, then-Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice provided WORC, which was renamed The Woman’s Opportunity Rehabilitation Center, with a $20,000 grant from the office’s asset forfeiture fund—money seized during investigations. That number jumped to $50,000 last year, Gaines says in her fourth floor office along Franklin Avenue in Hempstead.Gaines is sitting in her wheelchair, her phone constantly ringing and the sound of students and volunteers scurrying in and out. It’s a busy Thursday morning in late August at WORC. The small group of volunteers is hastily preparing for an event at the African American Museum of Nassau County, the only such museum in the Northeast, where acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas will be on hand to award WORC a $55,000 grant.Gaines wheels her way through the museum across the street and gazes at the crowd. The room is lined with enlarged U.S. Postal Service stamps of prominent blacks. There’s one of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Ella Fitzgerald and Rosa Parks. Judging by the celebrity-like reaction she inspires from friends and admirers, Gaines could one day bless that very same wall.“Anyone who meets Diane can’t help but be impressed by just her enthusiasm and her advocacy and her passion and commitment to women,” Singas tells the crowd of about 30 people. “It’s contagious.”The DA’s office is in the unique position of trying to help the very people it’s supposed to prosecute—that is, coordinating with the criminal justice system to provide alternatives to incarceration to women charged with low-level offenses.“We think of our office as a place where we can be sort of proactive,” Singas tells the Press. “We put a lot of our money into crime prevention, so a lot of these programs with women and younger offenders and young children—they have to pay their debt to society but at the same time they don’t have to wear this as a stigma for the rest of their lives.”Aside from helping women who previously have been incarcerated, WORC often takes in women—with the help of the DA’s office and Nassau County judges—as an alternative to incarceration.“I’ve seen lives changed,” Joyce Lewis, an AME member and WORC volunteer, tells the Press.Students who previously looked lost now “have a shimmer of hope,” she says, adding: “Selfishly I would like to see fast growth, but I’ve seen seeds planted, I’ve seen hope, and I’ve seen the chance for a change.”“I know this is the work that God called me to do,” Lewis beams.Much of the credit goes to Gaines, WORC volunteers and former students say.“My life has changed dramatically because of the WORC program,” says Victoria Roberts, who graduated WORC after a 13-year battle with drugs and now works as Nassau County’s Reentry Coordinator, which helps individuals get back on their feet after state incarceration.At one point, Roberts was homeless, out of work, and lost her two kids to foster care. She’s fought tirelessly since. She turned her life around, got her children back, has a home.“I owe it all to Ms. Gaines,” she says of her success. “She [has] three daughters but she has a multitude of daughters. There are many women who can stand up here and tell stories similar to mine and we owe it all to Ms. Gaines.”When Wendy Priester first met Gaines she was a mess, battling anger issues. After one day at WORC she told Gaines not to expect her back. She ended up returning the next day.Gaines helped her find a part-time job, she tells the audience, tears streaming down her cheeks. Finally, everything started falling into place.“I’m about to buy my first house,” she says, the room erupting in applause.With tears surging and her voice cracking, Priester turns toward Gaines and leans in for a hug.About a dozen AME members are in attendance, many of whom are WORC volunteers.Gaines asks them to stand up to be recognized for their work.She then asks a man named Johnny to sing one of her favorite songs. He doesn’t hesitate.“I won’t complain,” he sings, as his voice begins to soar. “Sometimes the clouds hang low. I’ve asked the Lord why so much pain. He knows what’s best for me. These weary eyes, they can’t see, so I’ll say, Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord! I won’t complain.”It’s easy to understand why Gaines chose that song.“She’s such an inspiration,” says Jacqueline Watkins, 72, of Amityville, another AME member. “I’ve never heard her complain. Always positive. I lost my husband just about three years ago; she was always encouraging to me.”Gaines, who is affectionately known as “Ms. Gaines,” credits her faith and the AME church.“I just believed that this was a mission from God,” she says, back inside WORC’s Hempstead office. “That God wanted me to do this.”“I would not have re-established the WORC program without my faith,” Gaines says, reflecting on that life-changing Sunday at Bethel AME in Babylon.“It’s my faith that keeps me going now.”It’s that faith AME members turned to on the night of June 20.Faith and PoliticsRev. Craig Robinson considers slavery America’s original “birth defect.” Robinson, the pastor of Bethel AME Church in Bay Shore, grew up in Ferguson, Missouri, the cite of often intense protests following the police shooting death of Michael Brown. (Rashed Mian/Long Island Press)The Sunday following the Charleston slayings, Rev. Robinson stood at the pulpit with a heavy heart and raised a litany of questions swirling through the minds of millions of members worldwide:“Why did it happen?”“Why that church?”“Why such violence?”“Why such hate?”“Why?”To find the answers, Robinson says that all one has to do is peer into America’s past.“For what we have witnessed in the massacre at Mother Emanuel is in my estimation history’s chickens coming home to roost,” he told his congregants.“We have seen this before in the treatment of slaves on Southern plantations,” he added. “We have seen this before in the bodies that were lynched and mutilated and burned from America’s inception up into the early parts of the 20th century. We have seen this before in the removal of Africans from their motherland, in the removal of Native Americans from their ancestral land, by force if necessary… We have seen all of this before.”Robinson was conducting Bible study the evening bullets rang out inside Mother Emanuel.One glance at his phone afterward prompted a whirlwind of emotions: first confusion and disbelief followed by extreme anguish.As he absorbed all that had transpired that evening, Robinson couldn’t help but recognize the feeling that was sinking in.“I think I felt the same way about this that I did with Trayvon Martin,” Robinson says. “I think it’s just the pervasive presence of violence against the black community, black bodies, black institutions.”“And so you both have a deep emotional connection with all of it,” he adds. “Whether it’s Trayvon Martin or Eric Garner or any of those people, you feel a sort of personal connection. But then you also have a somewhat sort of numbness to it because you’re very clear of the history that much of this violence is rooted in. And so…you’re sort of lamenting, you’re sort of calling God into question publicly as well as praying for hope.”The self-effacing pastor portrays a calm demeanor amid heightened tension in black communities. Robinson has preached about the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Akai Gurley, as well as the tragic slayings of two NYPD officers fatally shot in an ambush last December, which further inflamed the political discourse. His sermons are a collection of current events woven within Holy Scripture reflecting God’s will.“The shooter had much to draw on as material for how he would dispense his brand of hatred,” he tells his congregation. “And if we are going to move forward from this together, people of all walks life, all ethnicities and races must come and talk truthfully about these issues and facts. The fact that America, in all its ideals, has an underside, and that place has been where the oppressed, including many in the black community, have found themselves for centuries.“There are tons of raw material for our shooter to draw on,” he continues. “But there are some deeper issues than just our history. The other question that comes up in my mind is: What happened to his heart? What happened to make this man so callous in the execution of his mission? What happened that made him forsake the voice of reason and good, the voice that told him not to shoot because these people were so nice to him? What happened to his heart, his compassion, his basic humanity?”Robinson has a lot to say, even when the pews are empty.“Like in most of these places, whether it’s Charleston or Bay Shore or Ferguson, the issues far predate anybody that has the wherewithal to try to change it,” Robinson tells the Press. “When you’re talking about a Confederate flag, even though the Confederate flag has a bunch more recent history, you know, you’re talking about a history of racism and slavery and the dehumanization of an entire group of people that spans 300 years. You can’t just undo 300 years of history.”Rev. Hayward agrees.The pastor was traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike when news reports of the horrific slayings came through his radio. Two hours earlier, Hayward was also teaching Bible study.“That hit me in a way that I’ve never felt,” Hayward says of the bloodshed.He talks about a persistent “racial divide” in the country, how when Africans were taken from their homelands they were transformed into slaves. He recalls the time Richard Allen was told, “You’re no longer allowed to pray at this altar.”Still, he keeps his faith.“So, when this young man set out to do evil, God has turned it around for good,” says Hayward. “He has brought people together in South Carolina that had not embraced each other before.”Hayward may take his cues from God, but he finds inspiration in how people have reacted since the shooting.The number of people who attended Bible study at Mother Emanuel skyrocketed to 250 in the weeks after the attack, he explains.“Love wins,” he says.People who never had shown interest in the AME church have now become members, Hayward says.“Love wins,” he repeats.“The church was born out of racism, Mother Emanuel the struggle and challenges they’ve been through was out of injustice and racism,” Hayward adds. “Bethel Church in Copiague dwells in a community that has racial divide and hate. I’ve met some phenomenal Caucasian men and women on this Island that have become good friends—there’s another side to this. Love wins.“When we show love, we produce love,” he continues. “I think that what we need to do is look at the value of individuals. What if God treated us the way we treated ourselves? But because he doesn’t, love wins—every time.”Similarly, Rev. Williamson of Mt. Olive in Port Washington went to church on the Sunday following the massacre planning to deliver a message of hope. Peruse the Bible and you’ll find something in the text that helps you find a way to overcome tragedies, she says.Williamson is not surprised that a half-century since the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act were signed into law that blatant racism still exists.The AME church was born out of racism, she says, echoing Hayward, therefore it knows how to respond to hate. And it will continue do so, whether it’s inside the hallowed walls of its churches or at community forums and at demonstrations.“What we’re doing now,” she tells the Press, “is we’re responding in a much more organized and political way: to say after the cameras are gone and it’s no longer a headline story, we’re still going to hold this nation accountable to 42 million of its citizens.”,Alure cube,Alure cube,Alure cubelast_img read more

Having it all: The keys to comprehensive data capture

first_imgby: Peter KeersCredit unions aiming to build Big Data & Analytics capabilities have a lot of decisions to make. One of the most fundamental decisions is how much source data to capture. The two dimensions of “how much” are depth and breadth.DepthDepth refers to the amount of historical data to be loaded into a data warehouse at inception. Loading a small amount of historical data is an option which may make the Big Data & Analytics launch quicker. For most credit unions, however, trending data over time is a major requirement. This option means it will take years to accumulate the necessary volume of data to support trending.The other option is to load as much historical data as possible. While this is the preferred approach for most credit unions, there are important factors to keep in mind.First, it is often the case that at least some of the historical data will be in an archival state. This typically means data that is stored on tape or some other offline medium. It can take significant effort to locate the data, restore it to a temporary repository, and then load it into the data warehouse. continue reading » 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Silent branding: Airport clothing ad leads to thoughts on brand culture

first_imgOn the way back home from a business trip earlier this year, I saw this advertisement on the airport wall. And while we are all bombarded daily with ads, for some reason, this one grabbed my attention long enough for me to snap a photo and think about it later.It’s a retail ad which is terrific, as all businesses (including banks and credit unions) are in the retail business, whether they know it or not. As you can see, it simply reads, “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”I don’t know who penned that, but it is a terrific job of summarizing the very essence of branding in only thirteen words.Think about it for a moment — and how it applies to your business. This ad is trying to sell clothing. But style is something more ephemeral – which can just as easily be said to apply to a variety of businesses, such as your style of dining, your style of entertainment, even your style of financial institution. And it is these businesses — restaurants, entertainment venues, banks and credit unions – that seek to establish their own style via a unique brand that will resonate in the hearts and minds of consumers with very little, if any, prompting. See the swoosh? It’s Nike. Think about a smart phone? Odds are, it’s Apple. Smell a pumpkin latte? You probably thought about Starbucks.Businesses that endlessly talk about how cool they are, are rarely actually that cool. If you have to talk a lot about how great your brand is, odds are, your brand is not all that great.So, in what ways is your business looking to establish its brand without actually having to talk about it? Posters, billboards and online ads that position your brand are fine. But what is your brand culture? What are you, when you cannot actually speak (or type) about it?For many businesses, the best way to exemplify this brand culture is by the behavior of it’s staff. If your brand promise is friendliness, are your employees all that friendly? If your brand promise is speed – can your staff deliver? If your brand promise is innovation, are you really on the cutting edge and when was the last time you came up with something new and cool?The ultimate goal for any marketer guiding a brand is to reach that ultimate level of consumer awareness (such as Nike, Apple and Starbucks) in which people think about or reference your product with an almost Pavlovian demeanor. To attain this however, you actually have to talk less about your brand and live it more. Or, as the ad reminds us, to say who you are without having to speak.Is this your brand? 51SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Jeff Kjoller Jeff has extensive experience in branding, art direction and graphic design, having served employers and clients in a creative capacity for more than twenty-five years. After graduating from the University … Web: www.loudthought.biz Detailslast_img read more