Tomorrow’s my birthday. I was not looking forward to this day until family, friends, colleagues, and CCO volunteers started to bring me flowers and chocolate, take me out to lunch, and most of all, people I admire and love wished me a good day. I am deeply honored to have my life celebrated by those I love and respect.
It has been a hard year for me and so many. There have been few organizing campaigns that CCO has lost in its 35 years of history making. As we approach the election, we mourn that voters were robbed the opportunity to vote on Capping the Rate on payday loans and Raising the Minimum Wage. We were robbed the opportunity to honor the lives of people who work hard for meager wages and to celebrate Missouri putting an end to triple digit interest.
And yet, we continue! Daily, dozens of CCO volunteers are in the office and on the streets engaging 35,000 people to be Faith Voices Voters. Hard working volunteers, organizers, and clergy have shown what faith really means. We are in this Communities Creating Opportunity work for the long haul and our history proves it. Rev. Wallace Hartsfield, pastor emeritus, reminded me recently that the civil rights movement wasn’t won with its first action. He is proud of the statewide faith movement he founded three years ago, Missouri Faith Voices, and knows Economic Dignity will soon prevail over predatory lenders.
Fr. Norman Rotert said to me yesterday, “I am proud of what we have built.” He should be, because 35 years ago he was the first of thousands to proclaim through deed that the people of St. Therese Little Flower church and the larger faith community of Kansas City metro would not stand by and watch racial redlining tear apart a community of God’s people.
Presiding Elder Joseph Forbes, founder of our Kansas work is leading our board of directors in active citizenry. Each week they are on the phones and walking the streets reaching out to new people who have yet to hear CCO’s mission to ‘bring people of all faiths together to build relationships, develop strong leaders and improve the quality of life in our communities.’ Under his leadership this past seven years, CCO has leveraged over ten million dollars for home repair, led a Cover All Children campaign that resulted in tens of thousands of children having health care, and impacted over twenty housing, lending, health care, safety, and immigration policies and ordinances that create opportunity for Kansas City families.
We will honor each of these leaders on December 1st with Lifetime Achievement awards as we celebrate our 35 years of Communities Creating Opportunity. It is our time to celebrate. The relationships CCO has built in 35 years have been transformative to our people and our communities. Let’s take time to celebrate and remind ourselves what we have accomplished and what we are building for in the next 35 years. Make sure to tell a CCO leader happy 35th! Let us celebrate our time and one another.
See you at the exciting new Bean Hanger event space at The Roasterie, 1204 West 27th Street, Kansas City, MO 64108, Saturday, December 1st at 6:00 p.m. for our celebration of Communities Creating Opportunity.
For over 12 years, Eva Creydt Schulte has served as a professional organizer within the PICO National Network. She serves as Executive Director for Communities Creating Opportunity in Kansas City and Missouri Faith Voices. Executive Director since 2004. Eva is a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA. Follow Eva on Twitter @CCOeva