Positive Changes college trip for youth, community action

Acting out of Abundance

My hope is that you are finding fortification. That you are partaking in nourishment that sustains you. Fueling your heart for the contributions you are meant to make. When we build our inner resources, we are better able to share with the world around us.

I also hope you are appreciating your abundance. In my opinion, if you have access to a computer or smart phone and time to read this, you have abundance. Today’s post includes opportunities to use that abundance – your time, talent, and treasure – towards the greater good.

Positive Changes, community action for youth
High School students on a Positive Changes College Trip

Invest in Positive Changes
In addition to ongoing college prep programming, for the past two years Positive Changes Youth Ministries (PCYM) has taken a group of high school students on a summer college exploration trip.

Their objective is to: “introduce high school students to college options that they may not have considered, or thought was possible. This experience will, for a lot of the parents and first generation high school graduates, help establish a mindset of ‘I Can’ and create a college-driven culture outside of school and inside the home. PCYM is striving to improve the HS graduation and College enrollment rates by showing youth living in the underserved communities of Asheville and Buncombe County, who otherwise would not be able to afford to explore institutions of higher education, that a college degree and upward mobility is possible.”

Positive Changes college trip for youth, community action
Jumping on Positive Changes College Trip

Their efforts have been successful: “9 out of 16 Seniors who participated in the 2016 trip are attending colleges and universities and 6 out of 8 seniors who participated in the 2017 college trip have applied and been accepted into colleges and universities.”

After planning this summer’s trip, PCYM learned that some funding they were counting on had fallen through. To fill this gap, they are holding a fundraising campaign through July 9 for their trip which begins on July 29. Here is a PDF of their fundraising letter: PCYM Sponsorship. You can also click here to donate. They are seeking chaperones for the trip as well, if that appeals to you.

Vigil for families in Hendersonville impacted by the ICE raids.
Vigil for families in Hendersonville impacted by the ICE raids. Photo: JMPRO TV

WNC Businesses Take a Stand 
The news continues to remind us that our immigration system is cruel and unjust. Last week, I attended a vigil in Hendersonville for the people who were detained during the April ICE raids. We heard from Carlos Ortiz, who was detained while on his way to work and is now out on bond. With his wife and children sitting in front of him, he described the terrible ways he and others were treated while at the detention center. Holding back tears, he expressed distress about the men still being held, wishing they too could be reunited with their families.

We also heard from the mother of Luis Alberto Roblero Cifuentes, who was denied bond. Luis came to this country as a young boy, and is of great help to his family. His mother had collected letters of support for Luis, but the lawyer did not even mention them during the bond hearing. Her pain was palatable. Such unnecessary heartbreak.

I was at the vigil in part to collect signatures from business owners for the letter I mentioned in my previous post, which is an appeal to Rep. Mark Meadows and Sen. Thom Tillis to intervene on behalf of those detained by ICE, asking that they be let out on bond at the least. Click here to sign the letter, and/or share with businesses that want to stand up for the immigrant members of our community. To date, 39 businesses have signed the letter.

“A chart from Open Data Policing‘s analysis of the Asheville Police Department, showing that black drivers are far more likely than white drivers to be searched for the same offenses.” (Pulled from the May 2017 Asheville Blade article, A sense of urgency)

Support Policing Reform
Last week, the Asheville City Council approved measures that are a step towards addressing the racial disparities in local law enforcement and building community trust. The disparities are well documented, and have been explicitly discussed by council for well over a year. I encourage you to read the Asheville Blade articles on the topic (easily found by a search on their site, ashevilleblade.com).

At the council meeting, there was action taken to increase police data transparency, and directives approved for the City Manager to have the Chief of the Asheville Police Department implement the following measures, which I am quoting from the Asheville Citizen-Times: 1. [officers must] obtain written permission before conducting a search unless they have reasonable grounds or “probable cause” to believe a crime has been committed. 2. reduce the reasons for which officers should attempt consent searches, eliminating a past criminal record or behavior deemed suspicious as valid reasons. 3. de-prioritize “low-level” regulatory stops of drivers for such things as expired registration stickers.

There are already push back and challenges to these reforms from the Police Benevolent Association and Councilman Vijay Kapoor. Please write City Council and voice your support for these long overdue reforms. You can also express concern about the increased funding for the police department that is currently in the city budget (to be approved June 15), and ask for that money to instead go to free fare transit and a participatory “people’s” budget. Here is a tool created by Code for Asheville that makes it easy for you to submit your comments to council: AshevilleMegaphone.com.

Beloved House is building a Tiny House Village

Clear Land for a Tiny House Village
Beloved House is creating “a tiny house village with people who are experiencing homelessness or who are housing insecure.” They are holding a land clearing party this Saturday, June 1, from 9:30 am until 1 pm. Click here for more information.

Thank you
As always, thanks for reading. Please share if you know folks who might appreciate this information. Peace.


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