Step Up Step Out (SUSO) News
June was a busy month for SUSO, starting and ending with participation in activities centering around reducing gun violence. On June 2, we joined with representatives of Mothers United Against Violence (MUAV) to attend a march and rally in Newtown, led by the Junior Division of Newtown Action Alliance; on June 27 we attended a Moms Demand Action meeting held at AHCC, which included a large group of young mothers galvanized into action by the school shooting tragedy in Parkland, Florida.
SUSO affiliates attended and helped with MUAV’s 14th Annual Day of Remembrance and community picnic at Sigourney Park on June 24. Members donated and served cake, cupcakes, and cookies. Sadly, two days later we were called to be present for an MUAV-led vigil for a shooting victim, where we gave the grieving family a prayer shawl.
Our interest in criminal justice reform and second chances continues as we seek ways to help people who are transitioning back into every-day living after their incarceration. On June 10, we attended a Forum, “Society’s Criminal Justice Challenge,” held at Immanuel Congregational Church and co-sponsored by AHCC. Gordon Bates moderated the interesting and engaging panel which included: Mike Lawlor, Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, State of CT; Iran Nazario, Founder/President/CEO, Peace Center of CT; Deborah Rogala, Program Operations Director, Community Partners in Action; and Victoria Steele, an advocate for women who have been incarcerated.
At the SUSO monthly meeting on June 21, all those present were inspired by the presentation by AHCC member Doe Hentschel and three Leadership Greater Hartford panelists who have been studying the topic of re-entry. They shared their research and findings about the needs of those who are newly released from prison. They each noted that with proper support the formerly incarcerated, whom they call returning citizens, are more likely to successfully transition back into the community. SUSO will be exploring ways that we as a faith community can help with this transition process.
In our desire to become more aware of the issues surrounding race and racism, many of us participated in the all-day workshop, “Un-doing Racism,” offered by AHCC and presented by the National Conference for Community and Justice. All who attended felt uplifted by the call to action presented by the workshop facilitators. The conversations and activities opened our eyes to the privilege which many of us enjoy, while at the same time opening our hearts and minds in a profound way to the discrimination and indignities suffered by many of our fellow citizens because of their race, class, religion, ability, or sexual orientation. We left wanting more than ever to continue our work to bring about meaningful change.